The First International Congress of Archaeology

Letter of the Hotel «Grande Bretagne» offering special prices to participants of the Congress

The creation of an international congress of archaeology that would meet at regular intervals in order to advance the discipline of archaeology through the discussion and examination of both scientific and practical issues had been an important goal of the Greek Archaeological Service during the late 19th century. The idea had also been fervently supported and promoted by the foreign archaeological schools established in Greece but early attempts to realise this project where unsuccessful. It was at the turn of the 20th century, in 1901, that a Royal Decree finally established a Congress of Archaeology and appointed a committee that would organise the first meeting in Athens, during which a permanent charter setting the aims and the organisational structure of the International Congress would be decided.
The first meeting of the International Congress of Archaeology took place in Athens in 1905. Organised by the Greek Archaeological Service, the Archaeological Society of Athens and the University of Athens, in collaboration with the foreign archaeological schools in Greece, it was highly successful. Invitations had been issued at a state level and all the participating countries had sent representatives of their governments, making this an important diplomatic event.
The Congress was attended by 459 delegates and 406 associated members from 19 countries, representing universities, scholarly societies, museums and governmental bodies. The expressed aim of the Congress was to examine archaeology in the broadest sense possible. Over 120 papers, covering both general and specialised subjects within a broad geographic and chronological spectrum, were presented within a multilingual environment (English, French, German, Greek, Italian). The Congress raised many of the issues which remain central to the practice of archaeology today (e.g. museum ethics and the illegal traffic of antiquities) and prompted the creation of long-term projects (e.g. the creation of detailed corpora of antiquities, inscriptions etc.).

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