A quick heads-up to anyone planning to be in vicinity of Santander, Cantabria this autumn, where a very interesting conference, MESO 2010, (programme) is due to be held this coming September 13th-17th, plus post-Conference excursions the following weekend, September 18th and 19th, in addition to the field trip slated for Wednesday 15th.

I would strongly recommend this event to anyone with an interest in the archaeology and palaeoanthropology pertaining both to the Mesolithic and Palaeolithic of the northern Iberian peninsular, and Europe in general; here’s a welcoming word from the organisers:

The Eighth International Conference on the Mesolithic in Europe will be held in Santander from 13th to 17th September 2010, organised by the Cantabrian International Institute for Prehistoric Research with the support of the Department of Culture, Tourism and Sport of the Cantabrian Government and the University of Cantabria.

This is the first time this prestigious series of conferences is held in southern Europe; furthermore, in a region with a long tradition in prehistoric studies, particularly on the Mesolithic. Santander is situated in the centre of the north coast of Spain and is one of the classic areas for the study of hunter-gatherers in southwest Europe, not only because of its famous Palaeolithic sites and its outstanding collections of cave art, but also because of its concentration of Mesolithic sites. The study of these sites has been decisive in shaping  current ideas about the Mesolithic in the south of Europe. Since 1910, when the Count of Vega del Sella began his exploration of shell middens in the east of Asturias, Cantabria’s Mesolithic remains have been the object of sustained research which, in recent years, has culminated in the intense activity of a young, dynamic community of researchers. We are sure that the Santander Conference will be an excellent opportunity for colleagues from other parts of Europe to get to know at first hand the research and sites of this corner of Atlantic Europe.

The Santander Conference will attempt to reconcile the challenge set by increasing research specialisation, with the tradition of this series of conferences. It will try, therefore, to maintain the ethos set by the previous seven successful conferences. The Santander Conference has, therefore, been deliberately designed to be open and non-specialised. The conference aims to act as a forum for delegates from many different places and at different stages in their careers to meet and discuss any topic related to the Mesolithic on our continent. Delegates will also have the chance to attend as many lectures and debates as possible. Parallel sessions will, therefore, be kept to a minimum and an effort will be made to ensure that timetables are respected as strictly as possible.

There is, however, a growing interest in using this type of meeting in the discussion of highly specialized topics. Consequently, the Santander programme includes a new aspect: two sessions set aside for workshops and round tables based on topics proposed by delegates.

An important aspect of these conferences is the direct contact with the archaeology of the host region and, of course, the possibility to meet colleagues in a more informal setting. The Santander Conference will try to maintain this tradition by including a day trip to Mesolithic sites in the region and a full social programme. Those who would like to get to know the archaeology of Cantabria even better can join the post-conference fieldtrip to be held the weekend after the conference.

The Organising Committee and supporting institutions are honoured to invite the community of researchers to the Eighth International Conference on the Mesolithic in Europe.

Not only are there presentations, posters and lectures, but field trips also comprise a significant part of MESO 2010 – the weekend following the conference features excursions to various sites, including the Altamira museum.

N.B. The weekend excursions aren’t included within the registration fees, whereas the field-trip on Wednesday the 15th is covered by those fees. I’m advised that further details, including sites to be visited,  will appear on the MESO 2010 website in the near future, so be sure to check back.

If you’re planning on submitting material or otherwise participating, please check the Call for Papers section.

Assuming I can muster the required registration fees and accommodation costs, I fully intend to be there and cover various aspects of the MESO 2010 conference on this blog – it might be a bit of a long (but doubtless rewarding) trek for readers outside Europe to attend, but should be easily accessible for residents within the EU. Santander itself is a pretty nice town, and Cantabria in general contains much in the way of spectacular scenery, plus of course, a plethora of outstanding sites to visit.

I’m informed that all the presentations will be given in English, and it sounds like an excellent opportunity for attendees to meet up in person with fellow researchers in their chosen fields of interest.

For full details, just visit the website and follow the various links, describing the venue, details of accommodation options and more.

image: Vistas Los Canes from MESO 2010