Minutes of the General Meeting in Münster (2006)
General Meeting of Members of the IAA
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
52nd Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale (RAI)
Aula, Schloß, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Those present are the members of the IAA board and ca. 150 Rencontre participants, half of whom are IAA members.
At 16.08 hours the President Jack M. Sasson welcomed the members of the IAA as well as other colleagues who attended this meeting. Anyone may participate in the discussion, but only members can vote.
The invitation for this general meeting together with the agenda and relevant documentation having been sent to the members on the April 3, 2006 in accordance with the requirements of the Constitution of the IAA, decisions taken at this meeting are binding.
Since the Rencontre in Chicago (2005) the following colleagues have passed away: Jin Jie, Paolo Emilio Pecorella, Henry William Frederick Saggs, Stanislav Segert, Tahsin Özgüç, David Pingree, Hayim Tadmor, Erica Reiner, T. Cuyler Young, Machteld Mellink, Emanuel Bouzon, Simon Parker, Jésus-Luis Cunchillos, Paul Garelli. Commemoration took place at the opening session of the Rencontre, Monday, July 17, 2006.
2. Report of the Secretary.
The last meeting took place at the 52st Rencontre in Chicago on July 18, 2005 and the minutes of this meeting have been communicated electronically to the members, with no objections posted back.
The secretary reports that the number of members of the IAA has risen from 95 at the end of 2004, to 141 at the end of 2005, an increase of nearly 50%. Just before this RAI (July 2006) the number stood at 168. During the Rencontre a special desk is available to apply for new membership.
Because the office uses email to communicate with IAA members, members are urged to report any change in address to the office. The office will not be able to send messages through regular mail.
For this Rencontre, membership identity cards have been prepared to distribute at the IAA desk. On presentation, publishers offer special discounts to IAA members in good standing. The use of such identity cards is a temporary solution, next year a system of membership numbers will be introduced.
3. Financial matters.
Report of the treasurer. On behalf of the treasurer Klaas R. Veenhof the Secretary presented the financial report over the year 2005. In the financial year that ended December 31, 2005, the balance was EUR 3,135.93, with as main revenues membership dues amounting to EUR 1474.71.
At the beginning of 2006, a few members had not yet paid for 2005 and 2006. When several reminders were ignored, the membership of nine members was cancelled. The Board urges members to pay their dues for at least two years at a time.
Recommendations by the controlling committee. The written conclusion and recommendation by the Controlling Committee, signed by its three members -D. Katz, N.J.C. Kouwenberg and Th.J.H. Krispijn- was read by the secretary. The financial statements were duly examined and found to be in order. The Controlling Committee recommended that members accept and approve the financial statements and reports. The General Membership voted to renew for 2007 the membership of the Controlling Committee.
Vote of acceptance and discharge. With no resolutions submitted, the General membership voted unanimously to accept the annual and financial reports. Discharge was granted to the Board and the Controlling Committee for their management of the finances of the Association.
RAI Registration Deadline. On April 1, the registration fee for the Rencontre rose by EUR 10, causing a stampede to gain the maximum discount of EUR 20 for IAA members plus EUR 10 for early application. Such rushes create difficulties for the main office, so the board has set a March 1 deadline for these applications, a month before the Rencontre deadline. Next year the membership will be asked to approve a change of the By-laws in accordance with this decision.
Automatic renewal of Membership. To reduce the amount of work for the office a new line will be added to the application form on the website which will give the option of automatic renewal to those who pay by credit card.
Office Expenses. The total amount reserved for office costs and travel expenses will be raised from EUR 600 to EUR 700, beginning this year. At the same time, the professional nature of the office will be enhanced.
Payments by Credit Card. Since the RAI in Münster was unable to accept credit cards the office in Leiden collected and forwarded to Münster card payments. Next year a similar arrangement will be put in place for the RAI in Moscow & St. Petersburg. The office will open a dedicated account on which Rencontre fee payments will be deposited. These payments will be regularly transferred to an account the Russian RAI organizers will create.
Life Membership. A proposal will be formulated during the coming year and a decision will be taken during the meeting in 2007.
4. The Board.
a. Composition of the Board
According to the By-laws, the Board may have up to 15 members drawn from three categories: 5 administrators (President, Secretary, Treasurer, and 2 elected members); 5 from past, present, and future RAIs; 5 from related scholarly associations.
At present, the board consists of the following members:
– Three officers and two appointed members: J.M. Sasson (president), W.H. van Soldt (secretary), K.R. Veenhof (treasurer), J. Cooper (appointed member), and B.E.A. Ottervanger (legal adviser).
– Five chairs of RAI organizing committees: P.S. Vermaak (2004), M.T. Roth (2005), H. Neumann (2006), N. Koslova [+ L. Kogan] (2007), and G. Wilhelm (2008).
– Five members of related scholarly associations: D. Charpin (Groupe François Thureau-Dangin), G. Frame (Canadian Society for Mesopotamian Studies), R. Mattila (Finnish Institute of the Middle East and Scandinavia at large), D.I. Owen (AOS), and G. Wilhelm (DOG).
b. Resigning members and new candidates
Shifts in Membership. Two members of the Board are resigning, J. Cooper and K.R. Veenhof (by request). One board member (P.S. Vermaak) cycles out as chair of the 50th RAI. Two candidates fulfilled constitutional requirements (art. 7.3) by acquiring support of 15 IAA members before a July 1 deadline: Dr. Jeanette Fincke and Dr. Cornelia Wunsch. CVs of both candidates were circulated three weeks before the Münster RAI.
Representatives of Scholarly Associations. The board has asked for stricter qualifications for IAA affiliation by scholarly intuitions, in view of potential interest by a number of societies and institutions. Only the larger associations will be admitted to the board and only those associations that are internationally recognized as representative bodies for our fields. The board will post on its website a statement on qualification and on application procedure. As a result, R. Mattila has stepped down as board member. D. Charpin will continue in the third category, but now represents SEPOA. G. Frame will be moved to category one, following his election at the Chicago RAI.
Ex Officio membership for the legal adviser. The office of legal adviser will henceforth be ex officio.
By acclamation the general meeting expresses its gratitude to the resigning board members.
c. New board members
J. Fincke and C. Wunsch are elected to the Board with only one vote against. They will serve in category 1 (officers). Fincke has accepted to be Treasurer.
For the coming year the board will have the following composition:
– Three officers and two appointed members: J.M. Sasson (President), W.H. van Soldt (Secretary), J. Fincke (Treasurer), C. Wunsch, and G. Frame (elected members).
– Five presidents of RAI organizing committees: M.T. Roth (Chicago 2005), H. Neumann (Münster 2006), N. Koslova [+ L. Kogan] (Moscow & St. Petersburg 2007), G. Wilhelm (Würzburg 2008), and TBA (Paris 2009).
– Five members of related scholarly associations: D.I. Owen (AOS), H. Neumann (DOG), and D. Charpin (SEPOA). Up to two vacant seats in this category will be filled by representation from newly affiliated scholarly associations.
J. Asher-Greve expresses the hope that the Board will have a broader representation from participating countries. The secretary urges members from as diverse a background as possible to propose their candidacy when future Board slots are open for competition.
Dr. Asher-Greve also points out that the rotation of board members in the middle of the year awkwardly matches the calendar year, which is the official association year (constitution art. 9). Especially the responsibility for the IAA finances needs to be handed over properly, preferably in writing. The secretary replies that the board members are in fact serving a five-year term, but that the last and first years of succeeding members overlap each other. This guarantees continuity of the board. The general meeting is held within 9 months of the end of the calendar year (constitution art. 10.1). The transition from one treasurer to another will henceforth be confirmed by a written statement signed by both functionaries.
5. IAA initiatives
The President reported that six logos have been received by the office. However, the logos did not meet with board’s approval and the members will be asked to send in new proposals. It is suggested that the Münster logo be taken as a useful example. New suggestions are welcome and should be emailed to him.
b. IAA-AIA cooperation initiative
Sasson has contacted the AIA to explore the possibilities for IAA lectures by three or four of our colleagues within the AIA lecture programme (in the USA). The initial response is promising, the discussion will continue.
c. Policy on unprovenanced texts
Because of powerfully-held but diametrically opposed opinions on issues related to the status of unprovenanced documents and artifacts, the IAA did not succeed in forming a committee of Assyriologists and archeologists that could formulate a position paper for presentation to the membership. Since no committee was formed the matter was tabled for the time being.
M. Müller-Karpe read a statement concerning the restriction of banned material in Germany. In his statement he urged the German government to lift the restriction.
D. George pointed out that the publication of looted tablets will lead to more looting. To make this stop the looted material should be handed back to the Iraq Museum in Baghdad.
There is a suggestion from the audience to prepare a data-base of looted material. However, most looted objects come from sites and are not previously known.
d. IAA sponsorship of web-based Akkadian literature in translation
This initiative will consist of three different compilations: bibliographies, texts in translation and the Coopération Assyriologique. The bibliographies and translations are to be reached through a portal on the IAA website. C. Wunsch has accepted to supervise the development of these compilations. CDL Publishers has kindly offered to post segments of B. Foster’s Before the Muses.
e. Coopération Assyriologique
M. Tanret (Ghent University) will revive the Coopération Assyriologique in an electronic format. The Rencontre website already has a link to this website. A notice will be posted on this initiative soon. The president urged those present to send in data on projects, books to be published, etc.
Occasionally the president receives pleas for help from threatened departments. The president will act as needed after consultation with the board.
g. Historiography of the field
It is suggested to the membership that each Rencontre dedicate a session to the history of its department and/or the colleagues who worked there. A special paragraph on this topic will be added to the Rencontre guidelines on the IAA website.
6. The Honorary Council
Membership of the honorary council is the highest honor that the IAA can bestow. The Board will formulate and soon post on its website a statement on qualification and on the nomination procedure.
7. Proceedings of past Rencontres
– 48th RAI Leiden 2002: “Ethnicity in Ancient Mesopotamia”. The proceedings were published in April 2005.
– 49th RAI London 2003: “Nineveh”. The proceedings were published in Iraq 66 (2004) and 67/1 (2005).
– 50th RAI South Africa 2004: “Fauna and flora in the ANE”. The proceedings will be published as an extended version of the Journal of Semitics.
– 51th RAI Chicago 2005: “Classifications of Knowledge in the Ancient Near East: Lexicography, Iconography, Stratigraphy”. The proceedings will be published as Assyriological Studies 28.
There is discussion with Eisenbrauns to achieve more uniformity and substantial savings in the production and sales of RAI volumes. Host institutions will continue to edit the volumes and to opt for publishers that are traditional at their institutions.
8. Future Rencontres
a. Moscow and St. Petersburg 2007
N. Koslova, M. Dandamayeva and L. Kogan informed the General Meeting of the plans for 2007. Written information was distributed among the audience.
The dates of the Rencontre are 23-28 July. The first three days will be spent in Moscow, where the subject will be “Language in the Ancient Near East”, followed by a day for traveling and two days in St. Petersburg. For St. Petersburg the subject will be “City Administration in the Ancient Near East”. A workshop on archaeology will be organized in St. Petersburg. Excursions to the treasury of the Hermitage and to its new storage are planned.
It will be possible to book return flights out to Moscow and back from St. Petersburg. The organizers will provide help (letters, etc.) to make acquiring the necessary visa easier. They will also assist in buying tickets and in finding hotel accommodation (the latter can also be arranged through the various websites). Special funds for students will probably be available. Credit card payments can be processed through the IAA office in Leiden (see above, Financial matters). Registration will be possible through the website in Russia, which will be up and running by the end of this year. Colleagues are urged to register as early as possible.
b. Würzburg 2008
The plans for Würzburg will be presented at the General Meeting in 2007.
c. Paris 2009
With an RAI in Chang Chun (China) no longer in the planning, Paris offered to host the RAI there in 2009 rather than in 2010. The membership voted unanimously to accept the candidacy of Paris for 2009.
e. Open venue for 2010
Since Paris will now be the destination for the year 2009 a new venue has to be sought for the RAI in 2010. Possible options are Barcelona, Vienna, or Budapest.
W.G. Lambert inquired about plans to acquire funds from the EU. The secretary replied that this idea has been mentioned in the past, but that so far no action has been taken.
J. Cooper urged all Assyriologists to become a member of the IAA.
J. Klein pointed out that the Israel Association for Assyriology and the Ancient Near East opens its lectures only to members and suggested that the IAA follow suit. P. Michalowski opposed this policy. The secretary added that any such policy would be incompatible with the concept of a broadly accessible Rencontre. However, he urged all colleagues to become IAA members.
10. Closing of the Meeting.
The President offered the membership this Resolution:
WHEREAS the great WESTFÄLISCHE WILHELMS-UNIVERSITÄT, Münster, graciously opened its facilities to all of us; and
WHEREAS its officers, Rektor Jürgen Schmidt and Dean Jürgen Hein, generously hosted fine receptions, among them a wonderful evening at the Mühlenhof-Freilicht Museum; and
WHEREAS its host committee, in alphabetic order, Rheinhard Dittmann, Christian Eder, Kristin Kleber, Hans Neumann (chair), and Anais Schuster-Brandis displayed hard work, personal warmth, and paradigmatic collegiality; and
WHEREAS its staff members and students, including Margit Thomas, secretary of the Institut, who shouldered much responsibility, Georg Neumann, who helped design the splendid RAI website, as well as Susanne Paulus and Christine Winkelmann, who gave much practical assistance, were unstinting in contributing time and energy;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR ASSYRIOLOGY, assembled this Wednesday, July 19, 2006, in Münster, Westphalia, herewith declares its most formal and deepest appreciation.
The resolution was passed by acclamation. The general meeting was closed at 17.30 hours.
W.H. van Soldt, Secretary
23 August 2006