Author Archives: niathens

My first online teaching experience

by ADAMANTIA PANAGOPOULOU, PhD Candidate at Leiden University

I would like to talk about my first online teaching experience on 8th September 2020. I had to teach ‘CONSERVATION AND PHYSICOCHEMICAL STUDY OF METAL ARTIFACTS IN THE CRUSADER PERIOD’. The Leiden University and the Netherlands Institute of Athens (NIA) did an amazing job switching to online learning very quickly.

I had six years experience of in-classroom teaching, and I was ready to embark on teaching an online class. I did not know what to expect or how difficult it would be. One important question that remained on my mind was how I would be able to connect with my students. It is difficult to establish connections online, and I learned from teaching face to face in a classroom that connection is key to student engagement. Online teaching allowed me to function at optimal level mentally and emotionally. I used every aspect of my skillset and imagination. My scope was to keep students engaged and curious. How do you make people listen to you online? Question of the era. Furthermore, one of the most overwhelming and utterly enjoyable aspects of this job was getting to envision a course. What is the best way to explore a subject in twelve online classes and how did I want to do it? At first, I felt absolute freedom to explore and make connections to topics. Brainstorming in all its glory, random ideas for class topics, assignments and activities. The endless possibilities give way to general points that take on a narrative, which is then whittled down to twelve online classes.

This was actually the first time I would do online courses. I was fairly nervous when I started. I needed to hold their attention, engaged them intellectually and connected them emotionally while carrying out the process of knowledge sharing. Students grasped the main concepts of the unit, but when there was perceived doubt that they were not fully comprehending abstract ideas, then I tried to show an alternative learning method by videos. At the end, students were required to answer three questions that connected to the unit topic. There was a two way exchange of energies. I tried to approach students with openness and flexibility.

My first teaching experience taught me a lot about myself, as a future online educator. For example, I always knew that coming up with lesson plans was not easy, so I’m glad that I was able to have this experience to prepare me for it in the future. I also learned that I do not have a good sense of time when I am teaching, so I now know to make sure to make a schedule of what will be done at what time. This job really let me explore my love for being organized, more than any other job to date. In my view, teaching is like a performing art. No amount of reading or attending workshops will prepare me for the challenge. I only get better with practice. For all my inexperience, I hope I made at least a small contribution to the students’ learning. Whatever the future holds for me, I hope to always be a sharer of ideas; ideas that follow a narrative and can be broken down into weekly goals with further reading tangents and fun assignments.

Easing the lockdown in Greece

by Winfred van de Put, director

The staff of the NIA  has been working from home the last couple of weeks, as best we can; I have a three year old toddler who wants to be entertained (just too young to be playing by himself for longer periods), so my time is unfortunately somewhat limited and frequently interrupted. We connect through Facebook chat, now moving to Viber, and Zoom. Working from home works quite well for some of us, so I’m sure we will keep on doing this in the future, even if everything has truly returned to normal (if this will ever happen). The isolation has broken with a very tough tradition in office work: that it is physical presence that counts, not the actual work done. One of the few benefits we may learn and gain from this otherwise miserable episode…

The measures in Greece have been largely successful (although one hates to think of the consequences for all the small tavernas, businesses, freelancers, but also for the most vulnerable group of all, the refugees). From next week,  there will be relaxation of some measu-


The gate to the NIA auli seems more closed than ever…

res, under constant surveillance of the behavior of both people and virus.  With education, Kindergarten and academia come last, and within schools all sorts of safety measures are in place. It is vital for the Greek economy that the tourist season is not lost, so from June onward there may also be some relaxation in travel restrictions, but this is all very unsure and it can be changed any minute. 


But what does it all mean for the institute? We can go and work there more easily, for which we will make a schedule to avoid rush hours and only incidentally working together at the same place. Working from home still remains important during this normalizat

ion period (official policy). But what is most important: in the foreseeable future we cannot receive guests (hotels and guest-facilities only gradually will start to reopen from June onward), and we cannot organize courses or lectures/conferences. Our activities, such as courses and conferences that can be rescheduled and research by students who have received a grant, must all take place from September onward, provided there is not an autumnal second wave of infections. Everything’s unsure, this is hard enough to deal with as individuals, but it is also very frustrating for an institute that exists to be a home to students and researchers abroad.

We are thinking of ways to be visible during this period, for instance by means of this blog, putting recorded lectures online, or even organizing online lectures. There’s quite a lot of work at the institute that would be hard to do with the presence of guests (reorganizing the library for instance). But it is still a bleak shade of what the institute would be without the virus..

This said, the most important thing is to stay safe and come through this period unscathed. For us, staff of the NIA, and for you, dear friend of the Institute. Stay safe!



Emmy Mestropian-Makri, secretary NIA

As you all probably already know, due to the general situation caused by the Corona-virus, the NIA closed its doors on March 8, postponed all its activities and restricted its services. This changed the way we work and communicate, as we all work from home, but most importantly changed the way we think. We are more flexible, more understanding and patient and we are not trying to control the uncontrollable. Crises in general have the power to change you. And change is often seen as a key component of life.

Greece is well aware of this as it has been experiencing an unprecedented economic crisis for almost 12 years. During the crisis various changes occurred to its people. Informal groups of citizens offering social solidarity have been created, such as ‘time banks’, whereby citizens have spent part of their time serving their fellow citizens. People became members of groups, functioned collectively and changed the sad atmosphere of the crisis somewhat. As Durkheim has argued morality begins where there is attachment to a group, whatever group that is.

Nowadays, the short stop of all activities worldwide caused by the virus keeps us isolated in our homes. But we can still interact in other ways such as this blog. Despite the negative consequences the virus might have, it will most certainly bring along changes, new challenges and re-definitions, definitely giving earth a break. Perhaps somewhere here in the midst of this small stop of our everyday lives we can find the time we are all constantly looking for. Relax, study, contact friends and family, stay in and stay close. We are all still accessible by phone, email, Facebook and twitter and willing to be of assistance any way we can. We hope to open soon and catch up all our old but also plenty new activities and welcome you once again to our NIA group as soon as possible!

Coronavirus lockdown @NIA

A personal blog from the director, Winfred van de Put.

As you may have read on our Facebook page, the Netherlands Institute was quick in reacting to the Corona virus threat, and the state measures caught up with us very quickly. Greece is in lock-down, and we are facing the brutal reality of cancelling a huge part of our activities. Most important, however, for me as director, is to ensure the safety of my colleagues (the guests were already back home from the 8th of March). I didn’t need the measures of the Greek state to ask my colleagues to work from home if they could, but for the guards and the cleaning staff, who HAVE to be at the Institute for our work, we made arrangements and a nice schedule which would enable them to keep on doing some work at Makri 11.

As the crisis became rapidly more severe, I realized that I was putting them at risk merely by asking them to move to between home and Institute (they all live quite far away). So quite quickly we decided to keep them at home as well, rather than let them do work they can also do in a few months’ time. Now we only will visit the institute if it is strictly necessary – for some of us it may be a welcome walk (or bike ride), while the lock-down restricts our movements outside to the bare minimum.. But still we will of course not go there unless we absolutely have to. It is no fun at all to move through a deserted city you know as a busy, vibrant metropolis.

On this festive 25 March there is little festive about the mood in Greece. The figures of the run of the disease are relatively low, compared to other countries, because stern measures were taken at once, and they were rapidly changed when they turned out not to work (closing the beaches almost instantly when a threatening lock-down and nice weather caused a run on them, for instance). We can hear the F16 jets and helicopters passing over our heads, and that’s about all that reminds us of the fact that 199 years ago, the rise against Ottoman rule commenced.

In the meantime, we have to organize our work so that our time at home is not entirely lost. I still have a yearly report to make, with the help of my staff; since we have access to our digital data, most can be done at home. We may use the time to work on our communication, such as a new flyer and maybe the English version of our website. There’s also the policy paper 2021-2024 to be written… All the while, a 3-year old toddler started to ask ‘why’ questions yesterday and runs around being in turn a cat, a car, a dinosaur, a school-bus, a ghost, a bridge, a policeman and a monster (and sometimes simply Tommy). Great fun, but.. I wonder how other parents manage, because this is probably an experience I share with millions of parents across the world. Probably lots of TV and computer games..

The most important thing, though, is to take the situation seriously and to stay healthy. Not only keeping the virus out (I wonder who are the volunteers for this ‘herd immunity’..), but also keeping sane mentally, as the situation gets on everyone’s nerves. Doing sensible things may help, so I hope working from home, home schooling and forms of remote teaching are actually going to work. Also for the future; especially working from home turns out to be of great benefit to mother nature…

For now: stay safe, and don’t forget those who cannot take care of themselves under these circumstances.

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