The Groupe d’Anthropopologie et d’archéologie funéraire (Gaaf) was founded in October 2007. This national-scale association is an extension of a pre-existing regional association: the Gaafif (Groupe d’anthropologie et d’archéologie funéraire en Île-de-France). In keeping with the original philosophy of this former association, the Gaaf is today a meeting and sharing place about a wide-ranging topic: that of death in societies of the past, near or far. Our aim is to understand the mentalities and cultures through all the expressions of the “death of self” or “death of the other” by our ancestors. As archaeologists, funerary structures and human remains are our primary objects of study. Our tools are archaeological excavation, written sources, biological anthropology, archeosciences, iconography, sociology and ethnology. We promote an interdisciplinary approach and, in this perspective, we seek to build a network of exchanges in addition to the already existing research units and study groups.
The Gaaf aims to be a structure to share experiences, to expose the problems met by everyone on the field or during studies, and help their resolutions. For this purpose, the association organizes each year a symposium entitled “Rencontre…” and as soon as it is possible and relevant, more informal working sessions. These meetings are an opportunity to raise a matter in relation with the long-term questionings of the scientific community and/or in close connection with the scientific news. Thanks to the national nature of our studies and research group, we claim to remove the administrative and institutional borders between researchers. We are committed to spreading the information by developing the most pragmatic and open place of speech and production, without a spirit of competition or a monopoly of a person or a group. We come from various institutions (CNRS, universities, Inrap, Ministry of Culture, museums, local and regional authorities, commercial archaeology companies), and we gather together professionals, soon-to-be professionals and students. Our annual Rencontre are open to a wide audience and our foreign colleagues are welcome.
From the foundation of the association, we have chosen as a visual identity the image of Thanatos, personification of death in Greek mythology, or rather the butterfly, as it is sometimes represented. It appears in many cultures to evoke death or transfiguration. It symbolizes the soul, its rebirth out of its earthly body, its flight and its journey.