Tegea Workshop

The Norwegian Institute at Athens is organizing a workshop on November 5, 2016 dedicated to the discussion about the past, present, and future research at the archaeological site of Tegea in the Argolid. Tegea has been the flagship project of the Norwegian Institute for many years and we are soon to embark on a new phase of Norwegian involvement with research on this important site. At the same time, the Institute has recently published a capital two-volume set on the previous research at the temple and sanctuary of Athena Alea in Tegea, which we will highlight in a connected event on November 4 (Friday).

The workshop will take place at the Norwegian Institute at Athens, Tsami Karatasou 5, 5th floor, Koukaki, Athens.


The Democratic Mirage: The Athenian Model and Contemporary Practice

Dr. P. Stuart Robinson

Associate Professor

Department of Sociology, Political Science and Community Planning, University of Tromsø

Wednesday, November 2 at 19:00 h


1The Modern appropriation of the language and ideology of democracy depended heavily on the well-documented and conceptualised ‘democratic experiments’ of ancient times.  Hence, from the Italian Renaissance onwards, Classical Greece became ever more deeply ingrained in Western social and political thought as the metaphorical ‘cradle of democracy.’

Such a narrative projects an image (or paradigm) of democracy onto the past, which is, at least partly, a misleading reflection of the present.  Together, the curatorial efforts of monuments and museums, and the scholarly interventions of political theory and ‘science,’ propagate the popular view of classical Athens as the model of direct democracy from which modern forms of representative government are ultimately derived.

The ancient Athenians are thus romanticised and a formalistic tendency of democratic praxis revealed, to make procedure the measure and arbiter of substance.  Forms of collective decision-making are thus riven from the broader context, which might illuminate their meaning, becoming empty vessels to be imaginatively – or carelessly – filled with egalitarian or liberal content.

Such a conception of the past contributes to a dangerous complacency regarding the present.  Contemporary political practice bathes in the reflected glory of an idealised historical prototype, and the connection between decision-making forms and `democratic values,’ more broadly conceived, is taken for granted rather than interrogated.  There is a case to be made for an approach to politics in general and democracy in particular – past and present – which embraces more explicit constitutional thinking, not just in the sense of the juridical identity and governing principles of the polity, but also that of the substantive expression of a broader social identity and its associated – and always contestable – values.


On Friday, November 25, 2016, Sanja Vučetić, PhD candidate from the Institute of Archaeology at the University College London, will give a lecture titled:

Roman imperialism and provincial identities: Why is sexuality important to the study of cultural changes in the Roman provinces?


sanjaimageMuch of Roman provincial archaeology is concerned with the consequences of Roman imperialism on provincial peoples. While, traditionally, the nature of Roman imperialism was understood in terms of the 18th century European colonial thought (Romanisation model), in more recent times, archaeologists have successfully argued that the experience of being Roman was not uniformed but varied between individuals and groups, and across time and space. Roman provincial social identity is thus a complex and dynamic concept that necessitates careful consideration in terms of both imperialism and cultural change. In this vein, sexuality should also be treated as a variable in comparative studies of the Roman Empire. Yet, Classical scholarship has thus far remained only marginally concerned with sexualities in the imperial periphery. Generally, research has been limited to the study of ancient texts and sexual representations decorating luxury objects from the centre of the empire, which has subsequently produced the overwhelmingly elite-centric characteristic of the archaeological account of Roman sexuality. Sexuality of the Roman provincial populace is under-theorised and under-studied despite compelling arguments that sexuality, embedded in human interactions, is fundamental to the formation of one’s identity. The study of Roman provincial sexualities is, therefore, critical to our comprehension of provincial self-conceptualisation and self-placement within different dynamics of interaction brought by the imperial expansion.

In this talk I will first deliberate on past and current conceptual models for the study of sexual relations, practices, and identities in Classical archaeology. Drawing upon my current research, I will then explore ways sexuality can be approached as a lived experience of the communities who were subject to imperial, social and gender hierarchies. In doing so, I would like to make two key points: (1) since Roman cultural discourse was a result of imperial changes and novel economic and cultural contacts, visual and associated material culture must be viewed in terms of these dynamic shifts and according to time, circumstances, context, function, and its reception; and (2) mass-produced cultural objects with sexual decorations, such as moulded lamps, can offer an opportunity to postulate about the ways sexualities were produced through representations and practices in Roman provincial settings.


From E.A. Wallis Budge (1913) Coptic Apocrypha in the Dialect of Upper Egypt, London 1913, Plate XLIV

From E.A. Wallis Budge (1913) Coptic Apocrypha in the Dialect of Upper Egypt, London, Plate XLIV

Between Tuesday December 6 and Thursday December 8 the Norwegian Institute at Athens will host the first Greek-Norwegian collaboration in the field of Coptic Studies.

The project is initiated by Alexandros Tsakos, post-doctoral fellow at the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Bergen (UiB), who currently teaches the UiB’s introductory course in Coptic (KOP101). Dr. Tsakos will be joined in Athens by the previous course instructors, Professor Einar Thomassen from UiB (who originally introduced the course) and Dr. Christian Bull, researcher at the University of Oslo/Princeton University, who was the second one to teach KOP101.

The project’s principal collaborator in Athens is Dr. Nikos Kouremenos from the University of Athens School of Theology, who is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Dr. Kouremenos is teaching Coptic in Athens and will be joined at the seminar by his students and colleagues: Assistant Professor of Church History Dimitris Moschos, PhD candidates Lefteris Karakostas and Evita Sarandaridi, and MA students Vagelis Papanastasiou and Michael Youssef.

The seminar, which is closed to the public, will consist of reading, translating, and analyzing the Coptic Manuscript BL80, which is the most important source for the so-called Gospel of Bartholomew. This work was written for a recipient in Christian Nubia, which is Dr. Tsakos’s research focus. The goal of the seminar is to produce a new transcription and translation of BL80 that will be published under the co-authorship of the entire group.

Although the seminar readings will be closed to the public, on Tuesday (December 6) and Thursday (December 8) Drs. Tsakos and Moschos will present their research in public lectures at the Norwegian Institute at Athens, with the following topics:

Tuesday, December 6, 19:30:
Alexandros Tsakos
The Coptic Manuscript BL80 in the frame of medieval Nubian literacy

Thursday, December 8, 19:30:
Dimitris Moschos
Eschatological Motifs in Egyptian Monastic Literature



Lecture by Marianne Hem Eriksen

Dr. Marianne Hem Eriksen, Department of Archaeology, Conservation, and History at the University of Oslo, will give a lecture titled: Viking Foodways: Consumption, Space, and the Household in Norway, c. 550-1050 CE. The lecture will take place at the premises of the Norwegian Institute at Athens, Tsami Karatasou 5, 5th floor at 19:00 on November 12, 2015.


Foodways and consumption practices may not be the first thing that springs to mind when we think of the notorious Vikings of Scandinavia. Yet, preparation and consumption of food and drink, and their social, political, and ritual connotations, have become prominent topics of research in several strands of prehistoric archaeology. The production and consumption of food are pivotal social practices, also in the Viking Age, related to economy, social stratification, and the system of gift exchange between petty kings and their warrior-bands.

The diet of the Vikings has recently been illuminated through scientific methods, mainly stable isotope analyses, and these methods have successfully been used to examine not only diet but also migration patterns and others. Food practices clearly also have a spatial component; for instance, aristocratic Viking halls are intimately linked with conspicuous consumption and feasts of political and ritual nature. In regular households, as well, consumption practices are intertwined with many other social aspects of dwelling: gender roles, seasonal feasts and celebrations, ritualized intoxication, and social differentiation, e.g. dietary differences between house owners and slaves.

In this talk, I will draw on a new study of houses and households in Viking-Age Norway to discuss the role food practices played in socio-political and ritual processes of the Viking Age.


Lecture by Christopher Prescott – September 21

Dr. Christopher Prescott, professor of archaeology in the Department of Archaeology, Conservation, and History at the University of Oslo will give a lecture titled: Excavations in Skrivarhelleren in Sogn (Norway) – challenging notions of centre and periphery in Scandinavia. The lecture will take place at the premises of the Norwegian Institute at Athens, Tsami Karatasou 5, 5th floor (Koukaki) starting at 19:00.


The Skrivarhelleren rock shelter site, excavated in the late 1980s and again in 2013-15, embodies the variation inherent to the Bronze Age – a variation perhaps not fully accounted for in research discourse. Located in a mountain valley 800 masl in Sogn, western Norway, this site is geographically peripheral to both northern and southern Scandinavian Bronze Age traditions. Situated in the uplands of the Scandinavian interior, it lies along E-W thoroughfares, and is also readily accessed by maritime routes through the Sognefjorden. Located in the rich upland terrestrial hunting grounds, it also provides access to seasonal pastures. And perhaps most enigmatically; it is situated in a region with rich copper deposits.

With cultural deposits from the mid third millennium up to 100 AD, the cultural expression is no less fascinating. The osteological data demonstrates a strategy of hunting (for food, pelts, furs and antler), but also the oldest assemblage of domesticated species in Norway – as well as cereals from the Late Neolithic. Though in the mountains, marine species (mammals, shellfish, and seaweed) are a significant element. Lithic tools (largely non-flint materials) are the most readily identified archaeological element, but the site has also yielded 5-6 bronze objects, moulds and represents to date the oldest in situ evidence of casting in the Nordic region. The cultural expression is strongly related to the Nordic Bronze Age and wider European trade networks. Yet, the shelter offers the best dated sequence of asbestos-tempered Risvik ceramics in Scandinavia.

This paper charts the cultural expression identified in the Skrivarhelleren data from the Late Neolithic transition into the Pre-Roman Iron Age. By charting and discussing changing and dynamic relations through time, we hope to expand the discursive frames of Bronze Age research in Scandinavia.



Lecture by Christos Koutsothanasis – May 7

Christos Koutsothanasis, archaeologists with the Greek Ministry of Culture, Education, and Religious Affairs, will give a lecture titled: Protecting Cultural Heritage from Looting and Illicit Trafficking: The Case of Greece. The lecture will take place at the premises of the Norwegian Institute at Athens, Tsami Karatasou 5, 5th floor (Koukaki) starting at 19:00.


This lecture presents Greece’s efforts in combating the illicit trafficking of cultural goods. We begin with an overview of the problem, addressing both “internal” and “external” factors affecting the issue, along with their effects and consequences. I also introduce the national and international legal framework within which Greece is operating.

Following this, the means and tools that Greece is using in the struggle for the restriction of the illegal trade of antiquities are presented. The most important of these is exhaustive documentation in directories, records and archives, in forms that allow the structured classification and cross checking of information. Another tool is the proper use of relevant international on-line databases and communication platforms that diffuse information. Equally important is the constant and thorough checking of private and museum collections and the art market, mainly through auctions monitoring. The above are the most common ways of locating illegally exported cultural goods and the first and most crucial steps for their reclamation.

I also describe different forms of cooperation in the fight against illegal trafficking, such as among law enforcement services (police, coast guard), judicial and consular authorities, customs, and other national and international organizations. Finally, we examine several cases of restitutions and repatriations of cultural goods including request of antiquities illegally exported during World War II and the Parthenon sculptures.


Lecture by Prof. Ingvar Mæhle – March 20

Dr. Ingvar Mæhle, Associate Professor at the University of Bergen, will give a lecture titled: Patronage in Ancient Sparta. The lecture will take place at on Friday, March 20, at 19:00 h at the premises of the Norwegian Institute at Athens, Tsami Karatasou 5, 5th floor (Koukaki).


The ideology of the Spartan homoioi, the “equals”, or rather the “similars” masked vast differences in wealth, prestige and power. In such circumstances, as decades of anthropological investigations have shown us, personal patronage thrives. Yet, patronage is most commonly associated with Rome, despite the demonstration by several scholars that patron-client relationships did indeed play a role even in democratic Athens, a society before thought exempt from the universal laws of reciprocity.

In this lecture I discuss the role of personal patronage in classical Sparta, and the differences between unequal reciprocity in the society of the “similars” compared to democratic Athens and Republican Rome. I build on the findings of Stephen Hodkinson (Sparta), Rachel, Zelnick-Abramovitz (Athens), as well as my own research into patronage in the Roman Republic and the comparative structure of Athenian patronage, in order to demonstrate how patronage was a natural part of all ancient societies. Different systems allow different scope and venues to patronage, forcing the phenomenon to adapt to various circumstances. This changes the rates of exchange between patron and client, but does not abolish the institution (as claimed by Paul Millet).



Lecture by Dr. Avra Sidiropoulou

Dr. Avra Sidiropoulou, lecturer in Theater Studies at the Open University of Cyprus, will give a lecture titled: Henrik Ibsen’s and Jon Fosse’s Mental Landscapes: Myth, Allegory and Symbolism in “The Lady from the Sea” and “Someone is Going to Come.” The lecture will take place on Thursday, April 2 at 19:00 h at the premises of the Norwegian Institute at Athens, Tsami Karatasou 5 (Koukaki) 5th floor.


Norway’s world-famous contemporary playwright Jon Fosse has often been compared to Henrik Ibsen, no less because of the two dramatists’ common emphasis on the Nordic physical landscape as a mirror of dramatic characters’ inner being. In Ibsen’s A Lady from the Sea (1888) and in Fosse’s Someone is Going to Come (1996), in particular, characters and actions—generated within specific geographical and cultural co-ordinates—rise to the level of archetypes and become imbued with timeless significance.

This lecture traces a continuum from the Modernist Ibsen to Fosse’s postmodern écriture in so far as the authors’ treatment of psychology, structure and landscape helps expose thematic motifs, which in turn may account for similar patterns of staging. The markedly schematic representation of existential dread in both plays brings out strong visual conceits, which are uncannily similar, to the effect that one cannot really read or direct Fosse without making a mental note of Ibsen’s drama. Myth and allegory are projected against a background defined by the ocean and unfamiliar horizons. From the point-of-view of a theatre director, decoding the plays’ intensely symbolic activity and imagistic identity becomes primarily an immersive experience in the Nordic landscape –of both nature and the mind.



Avra Sidiropoulou is a lecturer at the Open University of Cyprus, where she is currently the academic head of the graduate program in Theatre Studies. She holds a PhD degree in Directing Theory (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece), an M.F.A. in Directing (Columbia University), an MPhil in American Literature (Cambridge University) and an M.A. in Text and Performance (King’s College London). Being the artistic director of Athens-based Persona Theatre Company, she has directed works from the classical and the contemporary repertory and conducted directing workshops in countries as varied as Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, the United States, the U.K, Bulgaria, Iran, Israel and Estonia. Her theatre company has received state subsidy and funding from several private foundations, as well as the E.U.

Avra’s main areas of scholarly specialization include the theatre of the director-auteur, adaptation and the ethics of directing and theory of theatre practice. She taught directing, acting, theatre history and theory at the University of Peloponnese (Greece), the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) and Bosphorus University in Istanbul (Turkey), as well as in various drama conservatoires. She has also contributed articles to international peer reviewed journals and chapters to international edited volumes.

Her monograph Authoring Performance: The Director in Contemporary Theatre was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2011.


Lecture by Dr. Maria Chidiroglou – February 27

Dr. Maria Chidiroglou, archaeologist at the National Archaeological Museum at Athens, will give a lecture titled: Artifacts from Euboea in the National Archaeological Museum at Athens: An Exploration of the Early Excavation Finds Per Context. The lecture will take place on Friday, February 27, 2015, at 19:00 h at the premises of the Norwegian Institute, Tsami Karatasou 5 (Koukaki), 5th floor.


In the excavations conducted on Euboea by Chr. Tsountas from 1885 to 1886, K. Kourouniotis from 1897 to 1917 and G.A. Papavassileiou from 1902 to 1908, sculptures, vases and metal artefacts dating from the Geometric to the Roman period were found. A large number of these finds are housed in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. A study of the finds per type, site and context reveals some interesting information about the main ancient Euboean cities of Chalkis, Eretria, Karystos and Histiaia/Oreos and the commercial, cultic and political networks they participated in. A selection of Attic and Euboean black and red-figure vases, terracotta figurines, bronze and lead objects, dating from the Archaic to late Hellenistic times and found mainly in Euboean cemeteries, will be presented in this paper, together with archival information that in many cases can be shown to lead to a preliminary reconstruction of grave assemblages.

The presentation will contain mention of literary and inscriptional sources about Euboea, through the study of which we will attempt to explore aspects of the topography of Euboean sites in combination with the information gathered from the finds, as well as from more recent research results. Finally, a short overview of some standard iconographic vase- and terracotta-motifs used in various periods by the social and political elites of the Euboean cities Eretria, Chalkis and Karystos, often combined with Athenian imports and influences, will be added, together with information on the local cults and mythical traditions attested for this island.