2018 October - Reconstructive and Experimental Archaeology Conference (REARC), USA

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Photo Copyright: Photograph by NG Studios/Tahria Sheather

Once again experimental archaeologists from around the world will be gathering at Colonial Williamsburg for the 8th International Conference on Reconstructive and Experimental Archaeology (REARC). In addition to hearing scholarly presentations, attendees can engage with a variety of historic craftspeople as well as experts in prehistoric technologies while touring one of eastern North America’s most important early colonial sites.

This year’s conference will be held from October 18-20, 2018.  Activities will include a day of paper sessions and a day of hands-on activities on the Williamsburg grounds.  This year's REARC meetings will be integrated into Colonial Williamsburg's facilities and programs, providing attendees with a unique conference experience.

Publication is offered through the EXARC Journal (online at exarc.net/journal, but edited). If enough papers get published, these will be collected in a separate online volume.

Saturday will see REARC craftspeople working at various locations throughout the Colonial Williamsburg site. We also seek expressions of interest from craftspeople interested in offering educational sessions as a part of this program.

Reconstructive and experimental archaeologists strive to expand our archaeological understanding of the past by attempting to recreate material culture, technology, or life-ways by using the same materials, techniques, and strategies believed to have been employed in the past through structured experimentation. REARC promotes and stimulates interest in reconstructive and experimental archaeology; serving as a bridging organization between open-air museums, academics, primitive technologists, related groups, and individuals involved in the field. By supporting and facilitating an active and open exchange of information between related groups; REARC serves as a bond among those interested in this and related subjects. We encourage publication through the EXARC Journal to aid in the conservation and development of related data; and to encourage high standards, development and support for the scientific application of reconstructive and experimental archaeological research.

Registration Form

Please see our page with Registration Form and payment details. You need to both pay through PayPal and register online before your registration is final.


Draft September 20, 2018

Day 1 - Thursday, October 18, 2018

  Arrival day


Day 2 - Friday, October 19, 2018

Friday’s conference presentations will take place at: Colonial Williamsburg’s Bruton Heights School, Lane Auditorium
located at 301 1st Street, City of Williamsburg, Virginia 23185.
For details see: https://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/locations/bruton-heights-school

For Abstracts click here

8:00-9.00am On-site registration
9:00-9.10am Opening Remarks
9:10-10:25am Papers Session #1 (4@15 min + 15 min Q/A)
  Experimental Replication of an early Mississippian Fabric-Impressed Pottery
Jane Eastman
  Bone Flutes
Caitlin Gaffney
  Of Boyling and Seething 
Susan Verberg
  The Making and Breaking of Moulds: An Experimental Approach to Non-ferrous Metalworking in Sweden
Rachel Cogswell
10:25-10:40 Coffee Break
10:40-11:55am Papers Session #2 (4@15 min + 15 min Q/A)
  Experimental archaeology as a teaching tool in a methods class
Scott Stull
  Experimental learning: a Case for Living History Programs in All Types of Museum Settings
Kelly Arlene Grant
  Experimental archaeology in High School
David Spence
  Becoming Social Media Savvy: Using Modern Technology to Share Ancient Messages
Christina Schindler
11:55-1:25pm Lunch
1:25-2:40pm Paper Session #3 (4@15 min + 15 min Q/A)
  Were Ötzi’s bow stave and arrow shafts intended for hunting and warfare?
Manuel Lizarralde
  Socketed axes of the Irish Late Bronze Age
Terry Runner
  Pride in Production: The Meaning of a Musket Ball
John Michael Whisenant
  Cultivating Chenopod: An Experimental Investigation into an Extinct Cultigen of the Eastern Agricultural Complex
Amber L Rounds
2:40-2:55pm Coffee Break
2:55-4:25pm Paper Session 4
  The Big Burn - Report on a pilot bead furnace
Neil Peterson
  One day, one year, one decade: time as an issue in experimental archaeology
Linda Hurcombe
  “I have myself constructed flint implements many years ago, and by that means acquired a thorough knowledge of the fracture of flint” (Pitt-Rivers 1882): And a History of Experimental Archaeology
Carolyn Dillian
What Comes First: Experiment or Experience? Undergraduate Historians Debate the Disciplines
Katelyn Snyder, Brenden Malloy, and Jonah Arndt
This 30-minute panel will explore the experiential vs. experimental debate from the perspective of undergraduate history majors. Experimental archaeology, as we will discuss, has a great deal to offer historians.  But many historians are more grounded in the humanities than the social sciences and have even less experience with the scientific method.
4:25-4:40pm Coffee Break
4:40-5:55pm Keynote Lecture
Fusion: ancestral diets, modern culinary techniques, and experimental archaeology
Bill Schindler
An applied experimental archaeological approach holds tremendous promise for addressing the biggest health issue facing humans today: diet. Beginning with the interpretation of the archaeological record and ancestral, traditional and modern food practices dedicated to increasing the density and bioavailability of nutrients, and experimenting with ways to fuse them with modern culinary techniques, we can develop strategies that support the creation of relevant, meaningful and accessible food system solutions. In order to be effective these solutions must simultaneously meet our biological nutritional needs as well as our modern cultural expectations of taste, smell, texture and visual appeal. This address will offer a unique perspective on our dietary past, provide insight from the Food Evolutions Project, and discuss the vision for The Eastern Shore Food Lab, the new center at Washington College dedicated to using this approach to reconnect people with their food and to learning to eat like humans again.
6:00pm Pizza for students, pub for other attendees


Day 3 - Saturday, October 19, 2018

10:00-4:00pm Demonstrations 
On Saturday, conference attendees will have the opportunity to tour Colonial Williamsburg in a very special way. Some of EXARC’s members will be demonstrating alongside Colonial Williamsburg’s craft specialists in order to enhance and contextualize the technologies typically seen there.  In fact, most of our demonstrators will showcase the worldwide technological precursors to the colonial crafts typically shown at Williamsburg. In this way, conference attendees and park visitors will walk through virtual prehistoric timelines on their way to observe the colonial craftspeople. 

(note: conference registration does not cover park entrance fees. It does provide access to all areas where EXARC/REARC demonstrations will take place.)

Bronze Casting
Fergus Milton

Glass Beads
Neil Peterson, Wilfrid Laurier University

Atlatl Competition
Tim Messner PhD, SUNY Potsdam

Manuel Lizarralde

Book Binding
Barbara Klessig