Author Archives: niathens

field work? (1)

Kitty Ka Wai Chan, anthropology student from Hong Kong, allowed us to repost her blog about her participation in the summerschool “Visual Ethnography of Cityscapes”.

the kitty group

Kitty’s project group

the summer school is ongoing. it is more technical in nature than i expected. due to the lack of prior knowledge and my (still) broken english, my participation in the course and film-making is, well, moderate. i wanna find my passion in this school. kitty, please keep asking questions!!

it’s my second time to conduct field work. the first one is done at a herbal tea shop in hong kong. as i remember, the owner did not really want us to stay  at his shop for the whole week. hardly could we get the permission. and, one point, the owner, i doubt, did not behave “naturally” (such as their family conversation and gathering) because of our presence. however, they were supportive to provide us with information, they even suggest us to take fake photos , like asking our parents to pretend as customers, to fulfill the requirements  (so that we could finish our fieldwork early, i guess). yet,while we were doing the research, the research question needed (should) be reformulated in order to suit the context, and achieve theoretical saturation.

this time we conduct the field work with our camera. on the one hand, visual method indeed records much influx of information at once; on the other hand, there is much more restrictions of filming various place and people. apart from the informants, other people sometimes refused to be filmed, which is understandable and related to the ethics of research. camera, the so-called ethnographic eye, does not only represent the power of researcher, but also a filter which excludes certain data. in addition, how to preform as an anthropologist is also an issue, to hold a camera we need confidence to film the people (which i don’t really have).

Today, we talked about what we learnt from the field work and what ethnographic research is. tough questions. i said sth like how to be myself, if not an anthropologist, in the field. i doubt if it is because of the language barrier or i was too “shy” (in fact i was not sure what i should do, i concerned so much about how other people think). as for ethnographic film/research, i mentioned to know (make sense of) the perspective of informants (well, the so-called natives’ point of view). I should have mentioned, also, the study of interaction between the structure and individuals………. More importantly, ethnographic and anthropological research to me means to get to know the inner world of others in a respectful manner, instead of judging the people (but at the same time need to be critical, or reflective). this is not only related to reflexivity but also relativism. (shit i keep using academic jargon, as one of my friends said about my self introduction)


will i do an anthropology master at uva? i hope so! for the sake of good, which is not merely personal.

glad to announce that i will be going to the nl for a few days NEXT WEEK! yeah!

next part will be focusing on the film, the interpretation of it and its relation with public anthropology, hopefully.

Iris de Fuijk studying Neolithic Households in the Central Aegean

Athens. Really, it’s a big city for someone from the small, Dutch city of Utrecht. During my three previous trips to Athens (which were all very short) I’ve always been struck by the city’s size, its chaos, its large amounts of coffee-bars and of course its variety. Variety in wealth, poverty, grimness and also in the phenomenon of modern architecture alternated by archaeological remains. In February, I had the great opportunity to get to know the city a little better: I stayed at the NIA for 5 weeks. The main reason to go to Athens was to obtain as much literature as possible for my master thesis, which is about Late Neolithic/Final Neolithic houses and households in the central Aegean. Indeed, soon after I started my thesis in September it became clear that most literature on Greek Late Neolithic and Final Neolithic sites cannot be found in the Netherlands. A trip to Athens was crucial. Fortunately, the trip became a reality thanks to a scholarship granted by the NIA.

And so it began. I landed in an unfamiliar library-world in Athens. But, it didn’t take long before I sat among other people, all engaged in their archaeological and/or ancient historical research. It was not very hard to become encouraged by the library-atmosphere in the NIA and in other institutes.  And of course there are plenty museums and archaeological sites around every corner in the city. So no lack of inspiration there. In fact, the acropolis is right outside the NIA, and honestly, I still can’t get enough of the view.

IdF Athens from Philopappos

Athens city-view from Philoppapos hill

Every morning, I walked with a fellow student to the American and British institutes in the Kolonaki area (yes, we walked. Most people thought we were insane, but we had our reasons: 1. we got at least some exercise during the long library-days, 2. we could save some metro-money and 3. we could see and experience the city). In the institutes, I spend the days searching and scanning dozens of books and articles The evenings were filled with “household-stuff”, such as cooking (preferably on a decent Dutch time. Apparently, diner after 9 pm in Athens is not only a summer thing, which I still do not understand). Or it was possible to go to a lecture. In my mind, this is an extraordinary phenomenon: there are lectures on all sorts of (ancient) subjects in the multiple institutes all over Athens. Despite the differences in venues (from sitting in a cosy environment, almost in the bookshelves, to sitting in a huge hall with cinema-like chairs) the people, students, PhD’s, professors and researchers, often stayed the same. Apparently, this library-world is a small one.



IdF Library BSA

British School at Athens Library


Besides my scanning-tasks and the lectures, I also paid multiple visits to the archives in the Blegen library of the American School. This was a completely new, but interesting experience. One of my case-studies is the Final Neolithic site of Kephala, located at the Cycladic island Kea. The records of the Kea excavations (1960’s) have been inventoried quite recently and this gave me the opportunity to search through all the information about the site. I looked at the old notebooks, first drafts of reports, letters, photographs and maps. Although it was sometimes a challenge (it took me a while to decipher the handwriting), these visits were informative and a welcome addition to my research.

IdF EBA Kolonna

Early Bronze Age Kolonna

Looking back, I feel like I’ve had quite a diverse experience in Athens. On the one hand, I could finally grasp the long-wanted articles and books, which will definitely contribute to my thesis. On the other hand, there were opportunities to visit archaeological sites and museums in Athens (e.g. Kerameikos, National Museum and Acropolis museum) in order to actually see the material I’m dealing with. AND while I was Greece, why not make some trips outside Athens? In the weekends, I went to Brauron (also the location of a Final Neolithic settlement of which the material can be seen in the museum), Delphi (never been there before, absolutely beautiful!) and Aegina (also the location of a Final Neolithic settlement, i.e. Kolonna). In the end, I realized how much I haven’t seen yet, but obviously, one has to save some things to see (and read) for a next time.

IdF Delphi


Iris de Fuijk, Research Master Archaeology, University of Amsterdam

Alline Sinke reports on her development grant (in Dutch)

In februari 2016 heb ik de mogelijkheid gehad om met een ontwikkelingsbeurs in het NIA in Athene te verblijven. Athene is een stad waar de mogelijkheden om je onderzoek uit te werken en data ervoor te verzamelen ook letterlijk op straat liggen. Het is de moeite waard om na een ochtend in de bibliotheek, de middag in deze stad rond te lopen. De Acropolis ligt op een steenworp afstand van het NIA en op een zondagmiddag zijn ook de Atheners er rond en op te vinden. Niet alleen de bibliotheken van het NIA en van de verschillende instituten die er gevestigd zijn zoals de meest bekende Britse, en de Amerikaanse, maar ook de vele lezingen, de musea  en de uitstapjes naar verschillende archeologische sites hebben substantieel bijgedragen aan mijn verkennend onderzoek.

De eerste dagen van mijn verblijf heb ik in de bibliotheek van het NIA gezocht naar opgravingsverslagen van Egeïsche sites en naar boeken over de achtergrond van mijn onderzoek. Daarna werd het tijd om lid te worden van de bibliotheken van de Britse en Amerikaanse scholen. Vrijwel elke dag liep ik met een studiegenoot van het NIA de heuvel op naar deze bibliotheken. Daar heb ik de bibliotheken uitgekamd om data te verzamelen en te evalueren.  Ook ben ik er mensen tegen gekomen die ik bij vorige opgravingscampagnes heb leren kennen. s ’Avonds op de terugweg kregen we in de eerste weken nog enkele demonstraties te zien, zoals die van de boeren uit Kreta, die op de tractor met flink geraas en getoeter naar het parlementsgebouw op het Syntagma plein reden. Zeker drie tot vier avonden in de week waren er presentaties en lezingen gepland.  Vaak aten we snel ons avondeten (zoals Nederlanders dat vroeg plachten te doen) om daarna naar een lezing te gaan. Deze worden op de verschillende instituten aangeboden en het is leuk om veel verschillende bij te wonen. Op de woensdagen en in het weekend ben ik naar archeologische sites en musea zowel binnen als buiten Athene gegaan, zoals Brauron, Delphi en Aegina, maar ook naar het Nationaal Archeologisch Museum, het Acropolis museum, en de Kerameikos begraafplaats. In de wintermaanden kun je er rustig rondlopen zonder te smelten van de hitte en zonder omver gelopen te worden door hordes mensen. De sites en musea sluiten echter wel vroeg, ca. 15.00 u.

In tegenstelling tot de Atheners zelf, die alles wat verder weg is dan 50 meter, met het openbaar vervoer afleggen, heb ik veel gelopen. Het is de moeite waard om alle facetten, zoals de schoonheid, maar ook de lelijkheid en de armoede van Athene mee te krijgen. Ik heb naast een vruchtbare studieperiode ook indrukwekkende ervaringen gehad. Ik heb tijdens mijn verblijf in het NIA een goed idee gekregen wat de mogelijkheden maar ook wat de beperkingen voor mijn onderzoek zijn.

Alline Sinke,  02-2016

ReMa Classics and Ancient Civilizations, VU-Amsterdam.

Geraki, Lakonia, 2015

In the beautiful mountain village of Geraki in Lakonia, the University of Amsterdam and the VU University Amsterdam/Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam have a long-running, very interesting fieldwork project. This year, material from the Early- and Middle Helladic periods were studied. Mieke Prent, Joost Crouwel (arriving later) and Els Hom coordinate a small team comprising the students Rosa Feenstra and Susanne Strijbis. Ayla Krijnen started her PhD research this year on exactly this material, and visited the site for the first time during this campaign.

Geraki Susanne Geraki ElsGeraki Ayla Geraki Ayla2  Geraki Rosa

Halos, 2015

Fieldwork and study at Halos (near Almyros), Thessaly. The Universities of Groningen and Amsterdam, in collaboration with the Greek colleagues of the Ephorate of Thessaly, have been studying Halos and its surroundings for decades. The field survey, done mainly in the nineties, is being rewalked to see if anything has changed, and to check if new methods and fresh eyes give different interpretations. In the apothiki in Almyros, a team is working through the sherds from last year’s test trenches at the Magoula Plataniótiki. These excavations showed interesting walls, and even a podium of a monumental building, but the stratigraphy was very complicated. The study of the finds will help to clarify the chronology of the site, which may well be the Classical polis of Halos.

Halos discussie veldHalos tekenen veld3    Halos lopen veld3Halos lopen veld

Halos AnnaHalos Vondstverwerking

Ancient Cities of Boeotia project 2014

The Ancient Cities of Boeotia project of John Bintliff, Leiden University, descends from the Boeotia Project, started in 1978 by Anthony Snodgrass and John Bintliff (Cambridge and Bradford at the time). More than 35 years of field-walking, collecting sherds, noting features and scanning the ground with and a wide gamut of technologies have resulted in a far better understanding of the workings of cities and hinterland in this central area of Greece. The project also filled up the storerooms with hundreds of thousands of sherds and other artifacts.

The last years, not a sherd was collected. All effort went into (re)studying the pottery and other finds. This season, Vladimir Stissi of the University of Amsterdam was working hard on the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic pottery, while Philip Bes, assisted by Dean Peeters, tried to make sense of the Roman stuff. A team of Eastern Atlas generated insight into the make-up of Koroneia by non-destructive methods such as ground-radar. Also, Bart Noordervliet and Janneke van Zwienen catalogued and photographed some 1600 architectural pieces from the city of Hyettos, assisted by Leiden students.

Posted by Winfred van de Put

Plakari 2014

The NIA is responsible for the Dutch archaeological fieldwork in Greece. Therefore I visited the surveys, excavations and material campaigns of 2014. For the one-but-last I went by bus and boat to Southern Evvia, to the site of Plakari near Karystos.
Plakari is a hilltop settlement and sanctuary, with a magnificent view over a valley, natural harbours, and a wide stretch of sea with a scattering of distant coastlines. It is situated near Karystos in the south of the island of Evvia (Euboea). A team of the VU University Amsterdam/Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Greek 11th Ephorate under the direction of Jan Paul Crielaard and Maria Kosma is presently excavating the site.
This convenient and breezy place was already occupied in the Final Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (3500-2000 BCE). In the Middle and Late Bronze Age, the site seems to have been unoccupied, to flourish again as a sanctuary and settlement from the early Iron Age on (11th-10th century BCE). The first finds, a few years ago, were part of a very rich Iron Age and Archaic votive deposit, situated on the hill side. This season, several structures are being uncovered to get a clearer picture of the development and significance of the cult site. Was it a local site of worship, or did the gifts come from a wider area? More generally, what was the place of Plakari in the network of Aegean connections throughout the ages? These, and other, questions are addressed in this very interesting NIA project.
Posted by Winfred van de Put