The Italian Association of Archaeozoology (AIAZ) was founded in 1993. It represented the institutional formalisation of the Informal Group of Italian Archaeozoologists (GIAZI), on part of a group of researchers who had committed to promote archaeozoology within their country; the aim was that of integrating the discipline within the contemporary archaeological research programme of Italian institutions, both in the field and in lab-based activities.
At that time, several archaeozoologists were active in universities, museums, and as freelance professionals; their relationships relied on friendship and mutual support. However, they did feel the need to form a scientific association, which would have allowed to organise regular meetings and wider-ranging research programmes, as well as to better disseminate the results of their studies and to promote cooperation among people and institutions. The digital revolution, and the opportunities offered by the www, were in their infancy: soon enough they were acknowledged and taken by researchers all over the world, Italy included, in order to interact and spread the results of their work on a wider scale. With time, this revolution has changed our way of doing research; still, being able to meet other people (not just virtually, but face-to-face in a defined space) has remained a fundamental requirement of our community, as researchers as well as human beings.
It was also clear that the association had to promote the training and participation of new researchers in the community of archaeozoologists, embracing and benefitting from the energy, enthusiasm, spirit of innovation and optimism which characterise younger students.
Since it was founded, the AIAZ organised nine triennial meetings (Rovigo, Asti, Siracusa, Pordenone, Rovereto, Orecchiella, Ferrara, Lecce, Ravenna) and published their Proceedings, which represented key steps of scientific development as well as important networking opportunities. These meetings were complemented by several workshops focussing on specific topics and aiming at a more restricted audience, being characterised by an intensive formative programme.
The future of AIAZ is bound not just to the strength of its organisational structure and to its research objectives within the country; it also depends on the development of the world around us and the science it produces. There exists the need to better integrate Italian archaeozoology within the developments the discipline has achieved abroad, in countries where the field of humanities is highly valued and funded accordingly: the cultural and scientific stimuli they provide are remarkable. At the same time, we are aware of the contribution we can generate – if not on a competitive level, given the circumstances, at least on an equal footing.
The AIAZ relies on membership fees as well as on the hospitality of those institutions, mainly universities and museums, which host our meetings and workshops.
The scientific and administrative management of the AIAZ is regulated by the Statute and entrusted to an Executive Board elected by the members.