Welcome to the Sixteenth Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists in Den Haag, TheNetherlands! We are delighted as well as honoured to have this opportunity to host our colleagues from aroundEuropeand from further afeld. We also want to thank our sponsor verzekeringen-vergelijk.com

The latter has always been an essential component in every EAA meeting and in times when national or regional identities and the role of cultural heritage gain political importance, the relevance of archaeological refection on such matters becomes ever more important.

The Netherlands has seen a full implementation of the principles of the Valletta Convention (1992) in recent years. A new Monuments Act was introduced in 2007 and with that legislation archaeology has become an integral part of spatial development. The introduction of the developer pays principle has led to a enormous growth in archaeological research, especially in the quarters of municipal and commercial archaeology. University archaeology, however, had diffculty in keeping up with developments. Discussions as to the central aims of archaeology, selection of sites and quality standards dominate the Dutch archaeological debate.

We are delighted that through the generosity of our sponsors and the numbers of participants that have registered for the meeting, we have been able to assist many colleagues from central and eastern Europe to attend. This year for the frst time, the conference also includes conributions from parts of European countries outside Europe, notably theCaribbean.

The symbol of the Sixteenth Annual Meeting is a combination of the map of theNetherlandsand a Roman visor mask found at an excavation by the Cultural Heritage Agency on the Corbulo canal in themunicipalityofLeidena decade ago. It serves as a symbol of the country always having been at the crossroads of infuences from all overEurope, and is a reminder of the Dutch preoccupation with dykes, canals and drainage systems that can be documented from the Bronze Age onwards. Or maybe not so Dutch after all, because Corbulo was a Roman general that had the canal dug for strategic and logistic reasons in the mid-1rst century AD. The blue pottery ofDelftwould perhaps also have served for a meeting of archaeologists, but we decided to steer well clear of tulips, wind mills and wooden shoes!