Another fall has come and gone and with that fall came REARC 2019. This year was hosted for the first time by Mary Washington University and Ferry Farm (George Washington's childhood home) in Fredericksburg, VA. As in past years the conference consisted of a day of paper presentations on Friday, followed by a hands-on day on Saturday involving not just conference attendees, but Museum staff, community groups, and the public. Dozens of attendees gathered from as far away as Canada and California to participate in these broad ranging activities.
Friday's papers included a keynote and 13 papers from a broad range of speakers representing undergraduates through long-term practitioners both within and outside of academia. Opening remarks were provided by Chief Emeritus John Lightner from the Patawomeck Indian tribe of Virginia who were also a strong presence in the hands-on day activities.
The keynote by Dr. Patrick McGovern focused on the archaeology underlying three of the beer collaborations with Dogfish Head Brewery (https://www.dogfish.com) as well as the decisions taken to produce a brew that would be palatable to a modern drinker, yet match the underlying archaeological elements. The papers ranged from reports on specific experiments, including one experiment series presented from both undergrad and professorial viewpoints, through to discussions of 20 years of related experiments.
As has happened in past years many members of the conference adjourned to a local pub to continue the discussion sparked by the day's presentations. The Capital Alehouse turned out to be a pleasant host for those discussions with hundreds of local and remote beers and ciders available to lubricate the discussion. Sadly, none of the beers covered in the keynote were available to sample.
The weather held allowing a full Saturday of activities. Including the Patawomeck Indian tribe of Virginia there were 7 stations provided by conference attendees: Viking-era bead making, atlatls, fire-starting, nixtamalization, flint knapping, and bronze casting. A number of additional stations provided through Ferry Farm including elements such as masonry and archaeological digs.
Plans are already in motion to prepare for next year’s REARC conference in October 2020!