CAA History

CAA has grown over the past half century from an annual event at the University of Birmingham to an international conference attracting more than 300 participants every year. The organisation has evolved alongside major changes in the role computing has played in academia and people’s personal lives, through the availability of computers at academic institutions, the introduction of GIS, the affordability of computers for private use, the rise of user-friendly operating systems, and last but not least the emergence and extreme impact of the world wide web. These events have strongly influenced the way archaeologists have used computing and quantitative techniques, and no organisation is a better reflection of this than CAA.

CAA grew out of a small group of archaeologists and mathematicians interested in computer applications working in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s. The first conference was organised in Birmingham, England, in 1973. It has gradually evolved into an international event, having met in more than 20 countries and on 4 continents. CAA’s 50th conference will take place in April 2023 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Personal Histories of CAA

The 2012 conference at Southampton, England, marked the 40th meeting of Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology Conference (CAA). A special session entitled “Personal Histories of CAA” brought together some of the organisation’s founders, former chairs, and key members from the past four decades to to share their personal experiences. Speakers included Susan Laflin, Phil Barker, Hans Kamermans, Clive Orton, Paul Reilly, Nick Ryan, Irwin Scollar, and John Wilcock, and the panel was moderated by CAA chair, Gary Lock.

The “Personal Histories of CAA” session aimed to shed light on the significant changes in archaeological computing since its founding as well as the advances in the field fostered by the the organisation. The panelists also provide perspectives for charting future research avenues as well as their memories of the conference. The “Personal Histories of CAA” film tells the story of CAA throughout the years as experienced by previous chairs and key participants. For more information about the Personal Histories project, please visit the project’s website.

Susan Laflin, who founded the CAA and organised the first CAA meeting in 1973, has published a book in which she reflects on her contributions to the conference and discipline.

CAA’s 50th Conference

3 – 6 April 2023, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Special sessions focusing on CAA’s history as well as its impact on the field are currently being planned for the 2023 conference. We hope that many long-time attendees as well as new members will come together in Amsterdam for this special opportunity to reconnect and reflect upon the organisation’s legacy and future as we celebrate 50 years of CAA.