General Meeting Würzburg 2008

Minutes of the General Meeting in Würzburg (2008)

General Meeting of Members of the IAA
Thursday, July 24, 2008
54th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale (RAI)
Lecture Hall, Julius-Maximilians-Universität, Würzburg, Germany
Those present are the members of the IAA Board and ca. 75 Rencontre participants, most of whom are IAA members.

1. Opening.
At 16.05 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 8, 2008 in accordance with the requirements of the Constitution of the IAA, decisions taken at this meeting are binding. Since the Rencontre in Russia (2007) the following colleagues have passed away: Carol F. Justus (67), Lin Zhichun (97), Jeanny Vorys Canby (78), Jean Bottéro (93), Marie-Joseph Seux (about 90), Blahoslav Hruska (63). Commemoration took place at the opening session of the Rencontre, Monday, July 21, 2008.

2. Report of the Secretary.
Minutes from the General Meeting of the 53rd Rencontre in Moscow on July 25, 2007 had been communicated electronically to the members and they had no emendations to propose. None was offered from the floor at this time. The acceptance of the Minutes was reaffirmed.
The Secretary reported that the IAA has a new technical assistant. Mr. G. Suurmeijer resigned on February 1 and he was succeeded by Mr. C.P. Randau who is now responsible for the websites and the membership cards and codes. New homepages were created for both the IAA and the RAI websites by Mr. Suurmeijer. Also, the new logo that had been chosen in 2007 was introduced on the website and the IAA stationary.
The number of members of the IAA rose from 227 at the end of 2006, to 310 at the end of 2007, an increase of 83. Especially during the Rencontre in Moscow and St. Petersburg many new members signed up.
During the Rencontre a special desk is available to apply for new membership. Members are asked to pay their dues at the beginning of the new year, the deadline is February 15. Since for the Russian Rencontre only payments by credit card were admitted the credit card service of the IAA office was used for the fees, the accommodation and other costs. For the Würzburg Rencontre only participants outside the euro-zone were able to use this service. For both Rencontres a special mailform was created.
As in previous years, membership identity cards were readied for distribution at the IAA desk. These cards are meant for new members only; the other members received a membership code. On presentation, publishers offer special discounts to IAA members in good standing.
Finally, the IAA organised an appeal to the British Academy on behalf of the British School for Archaeology in Iraq. Jon Taylor reported that the letter written by the office to the British Academy has had a positive effect; BISI has been granted better facilities.

3. Affiliated members
The American Oriental Society (AOS) has been unofficially represented at the Board by D.I. Owen since 2003. An official request by the President for an extension of this affiliation by the President was accepted by the Board of the AOS.
A new candidate for affiliation is the British Institute for the Study of Iraq (BISI). The Board has voted in favor of accepting BISI as an affiliated member. Dr. J. Taylor has been nominated by BISI as a candidate for the IAA Board (see below).
The general meeting accepts the affiliations by acclamation.

4. Financial matters
The Financial report over the year 2007 is submitted by the Treasurer J.C. Fincke. It shows a positive balance of EUR 508.87, with membership dues as the main revenue amounting to € 1,461.63. A sum of € 5,000 has been transferred to a savings account; the interest will only be added in 2008. The Treasurer reads the testimony of the controlling committee, consisting of D. Katz, N.J.C. Kouwenberg and Th.J.H. Krispijn, that the report accurately reflects the current state of the IAA finances. The general meeting unanimously approved the report and discharged the Treasurer. The controlling committee was also discharged, but its members will be asked to perform the same job next year.
For the annual fee, see under 10.

5. The Board.
a. Composition of the Board
According to the By-laws the Board can comprise 15 members divided over three categories: 4 members representing affiliated scholarly associations, 4 representing the organizing committees of the RAI (the preceding, the current, and the succeeding two), and 7 officers and elected members. At present, the board consists of the following members:
– Three officers and four elected members: J.M. Sasson (president), W.H. van Soldt (secretary), J.C. Fincke (treasurer), G. Frame, N. Marchetti and C. Wunsch (appointed members). One seat is vacant.
– Four chairs of RAI organizing committees: N. Koslova (2007), G. Wilhelm (2008), M. Durand (2009) and J. Sanmartín (2010).
– Four members of affiliated scholarly associations: D.I. Owen (AOS), H. Neumann (DOG), D. Charpin (SEPOA), J. Klein (ISAANES).

b. Resigning members and new candidates
Shifts in Membership. In the category of officers and elected members W.H. van Soldt steps down, but he is willing to serve another four years. There is one new candidate who has acquired the support of 15 members of the IAA before the deadline of 1 July: Prof. Dr. F. Abdallah of Damascus University.
Representatives of Organizing Committees. N. Koslova cycles out as chair of the 53rd RAI. A. Archi joins the Board as the representative for 2011.
Representatives of Scholarly Associations. Both the AOS and BISI have already been welcomed as members of the IAA (see above, 3). The representative for the AOS, D.I. Owen, steps down this year, but he will stand for re-election. For BISI J. Taylor will be the candidate for the Board.
c. New board members
K.R. Veenhof pointed out that more information about the new candidate F. Abdallah would be welcome. Sasson regretted that the CV that he had drafted was not passed on to the membership due to a misunderstanding. He, D. Charpin and A. Archi provided more information on this candidate. The meeting voted unanimously to accept F. Abdallah as a new Board member. He will serve as elected member in category 1. The meeting also voted in favor of a new term for the present Secretary. A new member in category 2 (organizing teams) is Prof. A. Archi; he will be the head of the organizing team for the Rencontre in Rome (2011).
The Board membership of the candidates Owen and Taylor is decided by a formal vote by ballot. The number of cast ballots was 81, of which 48 were in favor of Taylor and 25 in favor of Owen; 8 were invalid. The Secretary thanked David Owen for his help in founding the IAA (2003) and for his work as a Board member. The meeting thanked him by acclamation. The meeting then welcomed Jon Taylor as a new Board member, also by acclamation.
For the coming year the Board will have the following composition:
– Three officers and four appointed members: J.M. Sasson (President), W.H. van Soldt (Secretary), J.C. Fincke (Treasurer), C. Wunsch, G. Frame, N. Marchetti and F. Abdallah (elected members).
– Four presidents of RAI organizing committees: G. Wilhelm (Würzburg 2008), J.-M. Durand (Paris 2009), J. Sanmartín (Barcelona 2010), and A. Archi (Rome 2011).
– Four members of affiliated scholarly associations: H. Neumann (DOG), D. Charpin (SEPOA), J. Klein (ISAANES) and J. Taylor (BISI).
d. New business
J.M. Sasson announced that he will not be available for a new term as President. A new President needs to be elected at the coming Rencontre (Paris). Sasson will shape a draft proposal for creating a nominating committee that will solicit nominations from the membership and will present a slate of candidates to the members for election. This draft proposal will be posted to the members for approval in the coming months. G. Beckman asked why a committee is necessary; Sasson answered that it is necessary to evaluate the candidates who might apply for the Presidency.
6. IAA initiatives
Progress reports
a. IAA sponsorship of web-based Akkadian literature in translation (eTACT)
Cornelia Wunsch gave a PowerPoint presentation to show what has been achieved over the last year in creating a powerful yet easy to use tool with which to post online accurate translations of Akkadian texts of any genre and any length. The eTACT site can be reached at
She calls on members to contribute from their translated material. Submitted translations can be already published, with a link to the original publication. If it comes from a book, a link will take the reader to where to purchase that book. Sasson and Wunsch will help to properly format translations before they are made avaialable on the web.
b. Coopératiom Assyriologique
M. Tanret gave a powerpoint presentation. The new website for the Coopération is All projects (personal, Ph.D., etc.) newa, calls for papers, etc. can be submitted. The site will be searchable and its organization principle will be chronological.
There are questions about the relation to Wikipedia (eTACT will produce full and reliable translations) and about the dating of updates. The Secretary reminds the meeting of the special page for Ph.D. research on the RAI website.
Proposed initiatives
a. A new initiative concerns the project Biography of Assyriologists and ANE Archaeologists. Obituaries from journals and elsewhere will be collected and made available. Two or three volunteers should be able to carry out this project.
b. Another initiative is the Book Exchange. If colleagues wish to sell or exchange books they will be invited to advertise their sales or exchanges on the RAI/IAA websites. The IAA office will strive to create such a page for easy usage.
7. Honorary Council
There are no proposals.
8. Proceedings of past Rencontres
a. South Africa 2004
The proceedings have still not been published. The Secretary will inquire with F. Vermaak about the scheduled date of publication, reconsidering a venue for its publication if stalled.
b. Chicago 2005
The volume has appeared.
c. Münster 2006
H. Neumann reported that the proceedings (65 contributions and ca. 920 pages) will be published in the Harrassowitz series SANTAG. The volume will be sent to the publisher in January 2009.
d. Moscow and St. Petersburg 2007
L. Kogan reported that the Rencontre volume is in progress and that it will be published in the series Babel und Bibel (Eisenbrauns).
e. Würzburg 2008
G. Wilhelm will communicate presently to the membership a call for the papers presented there. The proceedings will likely be published in the Rencontre series (Eisenbrauns).
9. Future Rencontres
a. Paris 2009
D. Charpin informed the meeting about the plans for the Paris Rencontre. The congress will take place during the first week of July (6-9 July) and the location will be the Collège de France. The duration will be four days. The theme for this Rencontre will be The Family. Accommodations can be arranged by participants themselves, as it has been done during previous Rencontres in Paris.
b. Barcelona 2010
J. Sanmartín spoke about the forthcoming Barcelona Rencontre. The RAI will take place on 19-23 July. The topic will be Time and History in the Ancient Near East. A number of workshops have already been planned; the halls have been reserved. The accommodation situation is more or less like in Paris. There will be an excursion to the Montserrat monastery. The proceedings will be published in Aula Orientalis, Supplementa or in the new Rencontre series to be published by Eisenbrauns.
c. Rome 2011
A. Archi gave a sketch of the Rencontre to be held in Rome. The organizers prefer the second week of July, but a definitive choice has not yet been made. The topic will be Tradition and Innovation in the Ancient Near East. The General Meeting voted by acclamation in favor of the Rencontre in Rome in 2011. J. Asher-Greve reminded the meeting that Rome is a highly attractive city for tourism.
d. Other Rencontres
For 2012 Leiden has been nominated, for 2013 there is an offer from Innsbruck. Ghent has volunteered to organize this Rencontre in case the offer from Innsbruck is withdrawn.
e. Other issues
Sasson invited institutions who are willing to organize a Rencontre to send in proposals. The calendar is more or less filled till 2013.
10. New business
J. Eidem regretted the splitting of assyriological and archeological congresses and expressed the hope that still some sort of cooperation can be achieved. For example, in the year that no ICAANE takes place the Rencontre could pay more attention to archeology. R. van der Spek advocated to have a Rencontre every other year, so that assyriologists and archeologists could visit each other’s congress. However, this proposal was submitted to the assyriologists several years ago and the large majority preferred to have a Rencontre every year. J. Taylor suggested that a delegation of assyriologists could go to ICAANE and vice versa. B. Porter thanked all those who are responsible for running the IAA.
Finally, J. C. Fincke urged organizers of an RAI to explicitly instruct, in both their first and second circulars, that members who need a visa to attend should write the host committee for a letter of invitation. Such a letter may be essential for securing the required visa and a host committee may not always know who needs one.
Business that had not been inadvertendly left out was reinstated after the offering of the Resolution (below). Sasson pointed out that the RAI membership fee, now set at € 10, is inadequate to carry out and expand on the IAA’s business, including maintaining an office, developing an internet link, panning for active support of student participations at the RAI, etc. He proposed that the membership approve a new fee of € 20. After a brief discussion, the motion carried.

11. Closing the meeting
The President then read the following resolutions:

“WHEREAS we will soon have just completed our work for 2008 at the great Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, having listened to fine papers, excellent panels, and stirring oratory;
“WHEREAS the following officers of this worthy intuition–President Axel Haase, colleagues Gernot Wilhelm, Rainer Czichon, Gerfrid Müller, Astrid Nunn, Karin Schmidt, as well as Lena van Aaken, the department’s secretary–pulled no stop to make us feel welcome, hosted us to gracious receptions in impressive surrounding, treated us to restorative refreshments, and hovered solicitously over us;
“WHEREAS the High-priest of Würzburg and all his associates pressed the Storm gods of Hatti, Hurri, Aššur, Babylon, and Eshkenaz to favor us with fine weather for a spectacular excursion to Rothenburg;
“WHEREAS the same colleagues coaxed, cajoled, and persuaded the local purse-keepers to fund a superb meal, with succulent dishes and unlimited libations;
“THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that, in behalf of all those attending the 54th RENCONTRE ASSYRIOLOGIQUE INTERNATIONALE, this INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR ASSYRIOLOGY, about to bid adieu to Würzburg on Thursday, July 24, 2008, offers its sincerest expression of gratitude to our host institution, its officers, its professors, and its administrators;
“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that as many of us as possible, as well as others not with us today, shall look forward to gather in Paris, inshallah come the July forthcoming.”
The President declared this meeting closed at 17.45 hours.
W.H. van Soldt, IAA secretary,
6 September 2008