International Union for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences

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The International Union for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences (IUPPS) is a learned society, linked through the International Council for Philosophy and Humanistic Studies to UNESCO, and concerned with the study of prehistory and protohistory. In the words of its constitution:

The UISPP is committed to promote prehistoric and protohistoric studies by the organisation of international congresses and of large-scale excavations of international significance; by sponsoring scholarly publications of international scope as well as conferences and other learned meetings; and in general by advancing research by the co-operation and mutual understanding among scholars from all countries.


The origins of the IUPPS lie in an 1865 meeting of the Società Italiana di Scienze Naturali (English: Italian Society of Natural Science) that led to the creation of the Congrès paléoethnologique international (CPI; English: International Paleoethnologic Congress). The first meeting of the CPI was held in 1866 and in 1867 the name was changed to Congrès international d'anthropologie et d'archéologie préhistoriques (CIAAP; International Congress of Prehistoric Anthropology and Archaeology).

A permanent council of the CIAAP was founded in 1880, and in 1930 a merger with the Institut International d'Anthropologie led to the creation of the Congrès international des Sciences préhistoriques et protohistoriques (CISPP). In 1954, the permanent council decided to affiliate the CISPP with a member organisation of UNESCO, the International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences. This required a change of name, and the CISPP became the International Union for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences (IUPPS) in order to gain access to UNESCO funds.

Congresses of the CISPP and IUPPS[edit]

The Eleventh congress should have been held in 1986 at Southampton, but the decision of the British organising committee, led by Peter Ucko, to exclude South African and Namibian delegates led to the foundation of the World Archaeological Congress and the delay of the IUPPS congress until 1987. Writing in 1987, Peter Ucko described the IUPPS as,

a dinosaur which continues to seek to manipulate the world situation according to its archaic Western European preconceptions about what is relevant and important and what is not. It does so by devices such as the imposition of white rules and regulations which no one bothers to explain and by the manipulation of bureaucratic procedures.


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