Minutes of the General Meeting of the International Association for Assyriology
held during the 63rd RAI in Marburg, Germany on Thursday July 27, 2017, 4:30 pm.
1. Opening by the President
At 4:45 pm the President opens the meeting after the members of the Board have distributed the forms for voting the new member of the Board and to change the name. The Secretary and the Vice-Secretary checked the active memberships of all the participants. The President reminds the participants that anyone may take part in the discussions, but only active members of the IAA can vote, those who have paid their membership fee of this year. Furthermore, active members can be appointed to be a proxy to vote only for one other member according to the Art. 12.1 of the Constitution of the IAA.
Since last year’s general meeting, the IAA board met three times by skype in October 2016, February and May 2017 and a fourth time Monday evening in Marburg. The President thanks all the board members who have participated in these skype meetings and thus allowed an efficient work since last summer.
2. Report on the previous meeting Philadelphia 2016
The President asks the members to approve the report on the previous General Meeting, made available online by the former secretary, Wilfred van Soldt. The Report has been approved unanimously.
3. Report of the Board Membership
The current number of members is 305. The number of the active members suffered a strong decline in the last year. Colleagues use to pay their membership at the RAI, and few Europeans attended the RAI in Philadelphia.
a) IAA Office
Erwin Djiskra is in charge of the membership fee registration and he is the IAA webmaster.
b) Mailing List
The mailing list of the members of the IAA has been updated. If active members are not receiving regular IAA announcements they should contact the IAA desk at the RAI or email the Secretary at: email@example.com
c) The website of the IAA/RAI
The IAA Website has new sections dedicated to 1) teaching materials for Assyriology and Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology, with online videos, 2) IAA Dissertation prize, 3) Heritage works in Iraq and Syria, and 4) a new designed Mār Šiprim Newsletter.
d) The Newsletter Mār Šiprim
Sophus Helle presents the new issue of Mār Šiprim, which has been improved with new sections. Thanks to him and Jon Taylor, the IAA newsletter is more and more consistent.
e) IAA statements
In December 2016, the IAA published a second statement concerning the humanitarian crises and the challenges facing cultural heritage in the Middle East: “The IAA is particularly sensitive to this human tragedy since the ancient societies that we study all had their homes in the region, and our members have a long history of working with colleagues and communities there. Alongside the danger to human life, these conflicts pose a grave threat to the rich tangible and
intangible cultural heritage of the Middle East. Damage to this heritage strikes at the identity and valued traditions of the peoples of the region (…) The IAA calls on its members, the international community, and all parties to respect the right to life of all citizens and to work to prevent, minimize and repair damage to the heritage of the region.”
In February 2017, the IAA published its third statement on the order restricting entry to US, urging the suspension of this executive order. The response to this order showed that our society must pay attention to the actions of our own governments and not only to those in the Near East.
4. 2016 Financial Report
Report of the Treasurer:
The Treasurer of the IAA sent the financial report to be read by the Vice-Treasurer. The total revenues of the year 2016 is € 6287,91, including € 6.110,84 from the membership fees and € 177,07 from the interests of the savings account. The total of the costs is € 9681,32, including € 4.150,00 for the salaries, € 4.250 for the prizes, € 238,39 bank costs, € 1002,15 for the LIP party in Philadelphia and office supplies for the IAA desk in Philadelphia, and € 40,78 for maintaining the Website.
IAA members asked to receive the finances in advance of the General Meeting. It is also suggested to check if savings in the Netherlands are limited for associations.
Over 2016, the IAA built up a negative balance of € 3.350 and € 1.800 euro had to be taken from the savings account which still has € 28.200. The expected costs for personnel in 2017 will be lower, i.e. € 1.500 less than in 2016. The matching costs of the LIP party in Philadelphia amounted to the max. of 1000 euros has been exceptional in the recent history of the IAA. The notes of the Treasurer refer that the IAA needs to increase our income from membership fees.
Recommendations by the controlling committee:
The controlling committee consisting of D. Katz, N.J.C. Kouwenberg, and Geert De Breuker, declared that they have inspected the financial records of the IAA over the fiscal year 2016 and that they are satisfied that the financial statements are accurate and in good order.
Vote of acceptance and discharge of Board and controlling committee:
The meeting accepted the report of the controlling committee.
Payments of annual dues by IAA members:
The Vice-President submits to the members the need to raise up the membership fee to € 30 for regular members and € 15 euros for the students. In the past years the IAA has been offering the newsletter, several prizes for early career scholars, supporting the travel costs for colleagues from the Middle East, discounts on RAI fees, and discounts on publishers.
The participants to the General Meeting discussed this point and decided to postpone the issue to the next year. Several noticed that the membership fees of the IAA are very low.
5. Composition of the Board
a) Present composition
1) Cécile Michel, Director of Research, CNRS Nanterre, France, and Prof. University of Hamburg, Germany (president)
2) Steven J. Garfinkle, Prof. Western Washington University, Bellingham, USA (vicepresident)
3) Caroline Waerzeggers, Assistant Prof., University of Leiden, The Netherlands (treasurer)
four elected members:
4) Heather Baker, Assistant Prof. University of Toronto, Canada (vice-treasurer)
5) Aaron Schmitt, Assistant Prof. Mainz University, Germany (vice-secretary)
6) Ahmad Kamil, Director General of Museums of Iraq, Baghdad, Iraq
7) Jan Tavernier, Assistant Prof. Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium
Four presidents of RAI organizing committees:
8) Antoine Cavigneaux, Prof. University of Geneva, Switzerland (Geneva and Bern 2015)
9) Grant Frame, Prof. University of Philadelphia, USA (Philadelphia 2016)
10) Walter Sommerfeld, Prof. Marburg University, Germany (Marburg 2017)
11) Cinzia Pappi, Assistant Prof. University of Innsbruck, Austria (Innsbruck 2018) (secretary)
Four members of affiliated scholarly associations:
12) Paul-Alain Beaulieu, Prof. University of Toronto, Canada (AOS)
13) Dominique Charpin, Prof. Collège de France, Paris, France (SEPOA)
14) Mirko Novak, Prof. Bern University, Switzerland (SGOA)
15) Jonathan Taylor, Dr. Curator at The British Museum, London, Great Britain (BISI) (head of the website team)
b) Resigning members and candidates
The President refers that there are still two slots open for membership on the Board. The seat in the category “president of a RAI organizing committee” has to be filled. A. Cavigneaux (RAI Geneva/Bern) rotates off and he will be succeeded by D. Charpin as president of the organizing committee for the Paris Rencontre in 2019. As a consequence, Dominique Charpin, will no longer represents the affiliated organisation SEPOA.
c) Election of new Board members
Adelheid Otto, who is currently the president of the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft, candidates as a new member of the Board. The candidate has been elected by the meeting.
a) IAA prize for the Best First Article Written After the PhD
The committee, consisting of H. Baker (chair), P. Delnero, D. Katz, and C. Suter received seven applications, two of them has been refused for not filling the requisites.
The winner of the prize is Johannes Hackl. Forthcoming. “Zur Sprachsituation im Babylonien des ersten Jahrtausends v. Chr. Ein Beitrag zur Sprachgeschichte des jüngeren Akkadischen.” In S. Finck, M. Lang and M. Schretter (eds), Sprachsituation und Sprachpolitik in Mesopotamien. AOAT. [accepted for publication]
The runner-up is Elena Soriga. “Mari(ne) purple: western textile technology in Middle Bronze Age Syria,” in H. Enegren & F. Meo (eds), Treasures from the Sea: Sea Silk and Shellfish Purple Dye in Antiquity. Ancient Textiles Series 30, Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2017, p. 79-95.
b) IAA Subsidies
The winner of the IAA Subsidies is Odette Boivin, University of Toronto, for her project on: “The Archive of the Sons of Labashi in the British Museum”.
c) IAA Fund for recent PhDs to attend Rencontres
- Netanel Anor – The interdisciplinary abilities of Babylonian Seers: Evidence from a newly edited oil-omen tablet from the British Museum
- Mary Frazer – Dealing with antiquity after the Neo-Assyrian period: the case of the Akkadian royal letters
- Virginie Muller – The use of the dead and mortuary ceremonies in order to ensure social cohesion, according to Akkadian texts (2nd-1st millennium BC)
- Silvia Salin – Words for loss of sensation and paralysis in Assyro-Babylonian medical texts: some considerations
- Lisa Wilhelmi – “Akkadograms” in Akkadian texts: on the pseudo-logographic use of multi-element, mixed language spellings
d) IAA Dissertation prize
Jan Tavernier, chair of the IAA Dissertation Prize sent a report:
The Board received a number of 23 applications. The Board members have carefully examined all the dissertations that were sent to us and that complied with the Prize conditions. And it has been decided that the winner of the IAA Dissertation Prize is Bastian Still with a dissertation entitled “The Social World of the Babylonian Priest”. The standard of competition was very high. In particular, it was very difficult to separate the top two candidates. The Board gave an honorable mention to the runner-up, Grégoire Nicolet with a dissertation entitled “La “Maison aux Tablettes” et l’enseignement à Mari à l’époque paléo-babylonienne (ca 1800 av. J.-C.)”
The Board submits to the GM the following changes to the actual rules of the IAA dissertation prize:
- The applicants to be eligible for the prize the dissertation must have been completed and approved within two calendar years prior to deadline of applications, that for this year has been set on November 1st 2017.
- Under exceptional circumstances the possibility to have a second prize (500 euros).
- Applicants can apply just once.
- Applicants should be member of the IAA.
The President explains that the new IAA dissertation prize was launched last fall and has been extremely successful! The board received twenty-three dissertations. This success demonstrates the vitality of Assyriology and Near Eastern archaeology and is a great sign for the future of our disciplines. Furthermore, it confirms the good visibility of the IAA among the young generations of researchers. Following the process, the submitted dissertations have been read by all the board members, and the President wishes to thank them for their collective commitment in this new adventure.
7. Vote bout changing the name of the IAA (see below for additional information)
According to the IAA website, “The goals of the IAA are:
- to serve as a platform for scholars working in Cuneiform Studies, and Near Eastern Archaeology;
- to discuss all matters concerning these fields;
- to encourage and promote the study of these fields in all their aspects on an international basis.”
Although Near Eastern Archaeology has always formed an integral part of the IAA, this is not reflected in its name, the ‘International Association of Assyriology’. The proposal to change the name to the ‘International Association for Assyriology and Mesopotamian Archaeology’ was presented to the members at the General Meeting held on Thursday 14th of July at the 62nd RAI in Philadelphia. Following a brief discussion, it was decided to defer the issue until this year’s General Meeting after a discussion of a forum set up on the IAA website. The President wishes to thank all the colleagues who contributed to the lively discussion on the IAA website. On this forum, some of the colleagues explained why they want to keep the current name of the association, others approved the idea to change the name, and some others suggested another name: International Association for Ancient Near Eastern Studies, which would mean giving up the word Assyriology, which is the founding name of our discipline.
Following the result of this discussion, the IAA board decided to make two votes:
– The IAA members are first asked to vote for or against a change of name for the Association.
– If there is a majority of negative answers, then we will stop there.
If there is a majority of positive answers, then we will proceed to a second vote, the IAA members will be asked to choose between the following options:
– International Association for Assyriology and Mesopotamian Archaeology
– International Association for Ancient Near Eastern Studies
If the General Meeting votes in favor of a change of name, then we will take advantage of this change to make additional small amendments to the constitution. These changes must also be voted during the General Meeting.
The question is whether we have the required half of the active membership present to make the vote valid. And this also suggests that we may want to move forward and allow changes in the method of voting as allowed by Article 17 (below).
The article related to by-laws also addresses voting and changes to voting procedures:
Art. 17. By-laws
- The General Meeting may formulate further provisions regarding membership, introduction of new members, the level of annual subscriptions and conference fees, the duties of the Board, the organization of meetings, the way in which votes are cast, the management and use of any Association building and all further matters which require regulation under the bylaws.
After the present members handed in their votes, the Vice-President counted the active members present (including the proxies) and concluded that the necessary quorum could not be reached. The voting process as explained above stopped at this point, and the General Meeting approved the possibility to have an electronic voting following the General Meeting when there is no quorum during the General Meeting.
8. Report on the general discussion on professional ethics organized by the Board on Tuesday July 25 at 5:00 pm
The President presents the main points that have been addressed and explained why the board decided to open a discussion on ethics. Indeed, the board is asked routinely to weigh in on questions related to professional behavior when we work in countries in time of war. So, the discussion intended to be a base for a text, which could suggest answers to these colleagues, whether they are IAA members or not. This discussion was open; therefore, it has been planned outside of the IAA General meeting. Each individual is free to adhere or not to the content of the text that will be written, we do not want to impose anything on anyone.
The main points addressed were the following:
- Integrity and responsibility in research practices (CNRS)
- Working abroad and working at home
- Working in Countries in Wartime
- Scholars and Non-Governmental Organizations
- Working with unprovenanced material from the Near East
The discussion went on smoothly and we agreed to continue this discussion on an open forum, colleagues representing the Near Eastern countries will participate in this open forum as well.
9. Honorary Council
Three nominations for new Honorary Council members have been received by the IAA board. The necessary documents were also received. The Board discussed the nominations during its meetings and concluded unanimously that all the three scholars will become members of the Honorary Council. The President is glad to welcome as members of the IAA Honorary Council:
Jakob Klein, who was present and received his diploma
Wilfred van Soldt
The President warmly congratulates all three of them.
10. Proceedings of past Rencontres (Jim Eisenbraun)
Jim Eisenbraun could provide the IAA members with the latest information. Activity since last year’s meeting in Philadelphia, then, is:
RAI 60 Warsaw 2014: Fortune and Misfortune in the Ancient Near East published in January 2017
RAI 58 Leiden 2012: Private and State in the Ancient Near East Manuscript received March 2, 2017; proofs sent to all author June 5, 2017
Note: it’s unlikely to be published before Marburg; but we may be in press close to that time.
RAI 59/60 workshop: Studying Gender in the Ancient Near East Manuscript received January, 2017; proofs expected in summer, 2017
These manuscripts are derived from two sets of workshops.
RAI 59 Ghent 2013 : Katrien De Graef explained that the work is in progress and hope to send the texts to Jim Eisenbrauns at the end of the summer.
RAI 62 Philadelphpia 2016: We are also in regular contact with the organizers of RAI 62 Philadelphia and expect manuscripts late this year.
The organizers of the Swiss RAI 61 (Geneva and Berne) decided to publish in Switzerland; Mirko Novak: Since the Swiss Society for the Ancient Near Eastern Studies (SGOA) has partly funded the RAI we have decided to publish the proceedings in SGOA’s own series OBO. We have almost finished the editing of all the contributions but still have to write the introduction and the report on the shirin extraordinary session. Finally, we will have to produce the index. We hope to finalize everything until September and forward the file two the publisher.
11. Future Rencontres
64 – RAI, 2018, Innsbruck, July “The Intellectual Heritage of the Ancient Near East” (presented by Cinzia Pappi)
65 – RAI, 2019, Paris (presented by Anne-Isabelle Langlois for D. Charpin)
66 – RAI, 2020, Mainz/Francfort, Germany, Kultur-Kontact-Kultur (Cultural Contact – Cultures of Contact). It will take place on July 20th through 24th 2020. (presented by Alexander Pruß); organizing committee: Doris Prechel (Mainz), Alexander Pruß (Mainz), Thomas Richter (Frankfurt), Dirk Wicke (Frankfurt). Future member of the IAA board will be Alexander Pruß.
There is no new business. The President thanks everyone in attendance, and closed the General Meeting.