Friday, March 8 2019
Rijksmuseum van Oudheden

The History of Mediterranean Archaeology in the Low Countries

Dutch and Belgian archaeologists started fieldwork in the Mediterranean almost a century after Caspar Reuvens became the first archaeology professor and active excavator in the Netherlands. Carl Vollgraff worked in Greece (Argos, Thessaly) from 1902 onwards and in 1905 Jean Capart initiated excavations in Egypt (Sakkara). Only decades later did Mediterranean fieldwork become part of the academic curriculum. By the 1960’s, the field had developed from a few courses on Classical Art into an independent academic discipline, with a dozen university chairs of Classical and Mediterranean Archaeology all over the Low Countries.

How did Mediterranean Archaeology develop as an academic discipline in the Netherlands and Belgium? Who were the key players, where did they work, what did they investigate? What
were the most important intellectual and methodological currents? How was the archaeology of the Mediterranean related to other disciplines in the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences? What were the similarities and differences in approach and narrative between the Low Countries and their neighbours? What were the differences in research focus and approaches between the Netherlands and Belgium?

This English-language symposium intends to bring together research on the history of Mediterranean Archaeology as practiced in the Low Countries in the 19th and 20th centuries.




Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden, Leemanszaal
10.00-10.35 Opening & Keynote
10:00-10:05 Jeltsje Stobbe (UvA) – welcome
10:05-10:35 Ruurd Halbertsma (RMO) – keynote
„Benefit & Honour“: the first archaeological expeditions to the Mediterranean
10:35-10:55 Repository initiatives for future historical use
10:35-10:45 Anne Versloot (UvA) & Laurien de Gelder (APM)
Assembling archives: from documentation to access
10:45-10:55 Anita Casarotto (ULeiden, KNIR)
Fasti Online Survey: a KNIR-led project to unlock survey data of the Mediterranean
10:55-11:15 Coffee / tea
11:15-12:55 Histories of archaeologists and collections
11:15-11:40 Eline Verburg (UvA)
Between Cortona and Leiden: the Corazzi collection
11:40-12:05 Vincent Oeters (KU Leuven, UGent)
From insignificant to ‘the capital’: Jean Capart and the making of Belgian Egyptology
12:05-12:30 Asker Pelgrom (KNIR)
Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, 1930-1933
12:30-12:55 Carina Hasenzagl (UGent)
A Dutch pioneer in Roman Africa: the ceramic surveys (1960-1972) of J.W. Salomonson
12:55-13:05 Presentation of TMA60
13:05-14:00 LUNCH (self providing)
14:00-15:15 Histories of methodologies
14:00-14:25 Jan Driessen (ULouvain)
“Belgian” interests in the Greek past
14:25-14:50 Mark Van Strydonck (IRPA/KIK) & Guy De Mulder (UGent)
The enigmatic quicklime burials of the Balearic Islands
14:50-15:15 Bart Wagemakers (Hogeschool Utrecht)
Three dimensions and sources for analyzing past excavations
15:15-15:30 Coffee / tea
15:30-16:50 Histories of methodologies
15:30-15:55 Marianne Kleibrink (RUGroningen)
Reflections on art-historical methods in relation to Mediterranean Archaeology
15:55-16:20 Steven Hijmans (UAlberta)
The place of Art History in Mediterranean archaeologists of the Low Countries: from 19th century praxis to 21st century perspectives
16:20-16:50 Discussion: A future history of Mediterranean archaeology
Moderator: Miguel-John Versluys (ULeiden)
17:00 Drinks at De Keyzer, Kaiserstraat 2-4, Leiden (first drink offered by TMA and Argos)


‘Benefit and honour’: the first archaeological expeditions to the Mediterranean 
Ruurd Halbertsma (National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden)

The first state-funded archaeological expeditions to the Mediterranean area took place between the years 1820-1830. In this period, during which the Kingdom of the Netherlands comprised both Belgium and the Netherlands, the recently founded National Museum of Antiquities (1818) thrived under the directorship of professor Caspar J.C. Reuvens (1793-1835). The expeditions to the Mediterranean aimed at collecting antiquities for the new museum and conducting fieldwork in order to shed more light on topographical questions. As field agents Reuvens made use of two retired Dutch officers: Bernard E.A. Rottiers, who had served in the Russian army, and Jean-Emile Humbert, who had been chief-engineer in Tunisia. Rottiers was active in the eastern Mediterranean area, while Humbert worked in Tunisia and Italy. In the lecture ‘Benefit and honour’ attention will be given to these early years of Dutch archaeology, with a focus on questions concerning legality and ethical aspects of collecting and excavating in this period.


Assembling Archives: from documentation to access
Anne Versloot (University of Amsterdam) & Laurien de Gelder (Allard Pierson Museum)

Following soon!


Fasti Online Survey: a KNIR-led project to unlock survey data of the Mediterranean region
Anita Casarotto (Royal Dutch Institute Rome & Leiden University)

Survey data are of great value for archaeological research. As these data are collected in vast territories, they are the most suitable type of archaeological data to investigate regional-scale settlement patterns. In the Mediterranean region, field survey has been the most widely used method to detect archaeological sites and collect data about these sites. Regrettably, in the past the preservation, integrity, and accessibility of these data were not ensured by a majority of projects through, for instance, institutional data repositories with long-term access. The result is that scholars have accumulated an impressive quantity of data from their previous surveys, which are trapped in localized, proprietary, and usually obsolete digital or paper-based databases. Fasti Online Survey allows researchers to make their legacy survey data and related outputs findable, accessible and reusable: it is a ready-to-use digital system developed by the KNIR (Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome) with the support of the AIAC (International Association for Classical Archaeology) for the integration, sharing and permanent access of survey data of the ancient Mediterranean.


Between Cortona and Leiden: the Corazzi collection
Eline Verburg (UvA)

In 1826 C.S. Reuvens purchased the first Etruscan collection of North-western Europe for his in 1818 opened Cabinet of Antiquities, the predecessor of the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities. The collection of Etruscan bronzes was brought together by Galeotto Ridolfini Corazzi, who lived in Cortona between 1690 and 1768. The acquisition of this collection by C.J. Reuvens was remarkable and daring, because the Etruscan culture was not much appreciated yet in North-western Europe, and the price of 32.400 fl was high. In this research the possible motives for this purchase will be discussed. Furthermore this study will dive into the history of the Corazzi collection, to show through archival research of Corazzi’s letters, how and in what context these objects had been collected in 18th century Italy and how they came to Leiden.


From insignificant to ‘the capital’: Jean Capart and the Making of Belgian Egyptology
Vincent Oeters (KU Leuven, UGent)

In Belgium, Egyptology emerged later than elsewhere in Europe, but in the course of the first half of the 20th century it went through a remarkable rapid growth. In the 1930s Brussels was occasionally even referred to as ‘the capital of Egyptology’. This fast growing Belgian interest in ancient Egypt was largely sparked by one man, Jean Capart (1877-1947), unanimously recognized as the founder of Belgian Egyptology. This paper investigates how the pioneer of Belgian excavations in Egypt was influenced by, and influenced other archaeologists. To this end the networks of interpersonal relationships between Capart and his colleagues abroad will be inventorized, key themes in their research will be defined, and placed within the context of the then current academic debates and approaches in archaeology. An attempt is made to trace Capart’s accumulated network and intellectual evolution which in the end proved him able to give Belgian Egyptology the prominent position it finally acquired.


Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, 1930-1933
Asker Pelgrom (Royal Dutch Institute Rome)

This paper analyses the case of the famous Italian archaeologist Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli (1900-1975), who, in his younger years, acted as extraordinary professor in Greek an Pre-Asian Archaeology at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (1930-1933). It aims to show how Bandinelli’s experience in the Netherlands can shed new light on the ambitions and limitations of Dutch classical archaeology in the interwar period, particularly in Groningen, and will explain how this experience prefigures many of the achievements of the postwar period. Secondly, this paper intends to point out that this case can make explicit how classical archaeology, especially during this timeframe, was heavily politicized. Both the developments leading to the creation and continuation of Bandinelli’s chair and his professional activities prove to have been inevitably affected by fascist cultural politics, whether willingly or not. This cannot, however, only be seen as the consequence of the ‘long reach’ of the regime in Rome. It should also be explained in the light of the willing fascination for both ancient and modern Italy among Dutch archaeologists.


A Dutch pioneer in Roman Africa: the ceramic surveys (1960-1972) of J.W. Salomonson
Carina Hasenzagl (Ghent University)

In several campaigns from 1960 to 1972 the Dutch archaeologist J.W. Salomonson (12 September 1925 – 5 March 2017) surveyed 15 Tunisian and three Algerian sites and collected more than 2,000 pieces of ceramic. The majority of the finds are late Roman African Red Slip Ware, for which Salomonson developed a special interest. His research on African pottery, however, decreased over the years and led to a mainly unpublished survey collection stored at several European Universities for more than half a century. The story of this pottery ensemble has in itself become a chapter in the history of the discipline. This paper intends to highlight Salomonson’s pioneering fieldwork that traced back the origin of African tableware massively found at Mediterranean excavation sites and to evaluate the scientific impact an extensive study of his collection would have had in the 1960ies and 70ies and what information can still be gained today.


‘Belgian’ interests in the Greek Past
Jan Driessen (University of Louvain)

This paper gives a historical overview of actual involvement by scholars from the Southern Low Countries (later known as Belgium) in Hellenic Lands. It does this by distinguishing three moments of scholarly involvement. In a first phase, Travellers and Artists, I consider early travellers – diplomats, artists and adventurers – who left traces in the form of monuments, manuscripts and art work. Some of these early travellers remain largely unknown despite the historical role that some have played. I also discuss the changes that happened during the 19th c. when a rise in interest can be observed. It is the moment that some travellers started excavating and acquiring antiquities that were eagerly acquired by the new museums, first at Leyden then at Brussels. A second phase, Membres belges de l’Ecole française d’Athènes, considers the impact the founding and development of the French School at Athens had on the development of Greek studies in Belgium, especially since 1900, and the active participation of Belgian members in the excavations and research of the EFA. A third phase, the Present, discusses the start of independent fieldwork by Belgian Universities from 1962 onwards.

The enigmatic quicklime burials of the Balearic Islands
Mark Van Strydonk (Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage) & Guy De Mulder (Ghent University)

In the 1980’s the radiocarbon dating laboratory of the Royal Institute for Cultural heritage became involved in a dating project on quicklime burials. Then the general consensus was that this presumed Late Iron Age burial rite consisted of an inhumation in quicklime. It was before the time that AMS became available and many difficulties had to be solved to date the lime. In fact it was only when AMS became routinely available that progress was made. At the beginning of the 21st century the study of the bones was set up. This study demonstrated that the burial practice was not an inhumation in quicklime but a cremation involving the transformation of limestone into quicklime. It also could be demonstrated that the ritual started in the Early Iron Age as a cremation at low temperature without lime. This project was a success due to intensive cooperation between laboratory research and fieldwork.


Three dimensions and sources for analysing past excavations
Bart Wagemakers (University of Applied Sciences Utrecht)

Studies of archaeological campaigns organised in the past generally cover two aspects of an excavation: its archaeological and social features. The archaeological dimension of a dig concerns aspects such as the aims of the expedition, methods and techniques used on site, the entire processing of artefacts, etc. The social dimension involves the documentation of social networks that refer to (work)relations between people as well as to people’s affiliation to institutions or organisations. It is difficult to obtain a comprehensive picture of a past archaeological campaign on the basis of just these two dimensions. Moreover, the data used for generating these two dimensions usually derive from published and archival sources, which have their restrictions. Therefore, this paper will offer a third dimension and an additional type of source which will enhance the study of excavations carried out in the past. The methodology will be demonstrated by a case study on the archaeological campaign to Tell es-Sultan, ancient Jericho, in the 1950s in which the Dutch scholar Henk Franken was involved.


Reflections on arthistorical methods in relation to Mediterranean Archaeology
Marianne Kleibrink (Groningen University)

This paper concerns a reflective exercise on the shift from Classical Archaeology to Mediterranean Archaeology in the Netherlands during the last quarter of the 20th century. Roughly put, a focus on history, literary sources and art history became replaced by excavations and field surveys. This shift may have been partly inspired by the immediate effect of fieldwork, the collection of new data which generated new facts, and thereby may have reduced Classical Archaeology to a less relevant approach to the ancient world. The question I wish to pose here is whether the methodological toolkit of Classical Archaeology indeed became obsolete, or was simply incorporated and adapted to Mediterranean Archaeology. Students -including myself- who attended the classes of art historian Hans van de Waal (1910-1972) and archaeologists Hendrik G. Beijen (1901-1965) and Fred Bastet (1926-2008) in Leiden were trained in two methodological tools to analyse the ancient world: the ‘Panofsky’ method, after Erwin Panofsky (1892-1968), which focused on relating an item to a historical moment; and the stylistic method, after Alois Riegl (1858-1905), which was concerned with placing an item in a techno-stylistic period. In this paper I will look at a few examples of these tools of analysis and their ‘Nachleben’, and compare these to efforts in German and Italian archaeology. The question to answer is whether the analytical tools of the 19th and the first three quarters of the 20th century have been incorporated into Mediterranean Archaeology and do not need any specific treatment or care as such; or that they have become outdated in relation to how Mediterranean Archaeology is practiced nowadays, which reduces them to the sphere of the somewhat uncomfortable bakermat of our discipline.


The Place of Art History in Mediterranean Archaeologies of the Low Countries: from Nineteenth century Praxis to Twenty-First Century Perspectives
Steven Hijmans (University of Alberta)

The study of ancient art was long the main component of Classical Archaeology and most of chairs in the field were first held by historians of ancient art; one can think of H.G. Beyen (Groningen and Leiden), A. Zadoks-Josephus Jitta (Groningen and Amsterdam), C.H.E. Haspels (Amsterdam), J.W. Salomonson (Utrecht), M.J. Vermaseren (Utrecht), C.C. van Essen (Nederlands Instituut te Rome), J.M Hemelrijk (Amsterdam), W.J.Th. Peters (Nijmegen), and J.A.K.E. de Waele (Nijmegen), to name but a handful. This paper will discuss the place of art in Mediterranean Archaeology. It will first survey past practices, with particular emphasis on the very real problems and shortcomings of traditional approaches to ancient art. It will then discuss the current situation, arguing that the rapidly receding role of ancient art is an understandable, but nonetheless flawed response to those past flaws. The paper will close with a few concrete examples that demonstrate the importance and future potential of modern approaches to the study of ancient art. These case studies will illustrate the key role that art played in major discourses of ancient societies as an integral and indivisible part of material culture as a whole. It is therefore essential that art continues to be a central concern in the study of ancient material culture, albeit for very different reasons than those used to justify its study in the past.


Discussion | A future history of archaeology
Miguel John Versluys (Leiden University)

The discussion is led by Miguel-John Versluys, Professor of Classical and Mediterranean Archaeology at Leiden University. Miguel-John has published various papers on the history of Mediterranean archaeology in the Netherlands, including ‘Archéologie classique et histoire de l’art aux Pays-Bas: des liaisons dangereuses’ (Perspective 2010/2012) and ‘Roman Archaeology: theoretical developments over recent decades, a Dutch perspective‘ (TMA 40).


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