In honor of the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens was invited to speak at the Acropolis Museum in a conference titled, “Φιλό-ξενη Αρχαιολογία. Ξένες Αρχαιολογικές Σχολές και Ινστιτούτα στην Ελλάδα (Foreign Archaeological Schools and Institutes in Greece). Organized by the Directorates of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Antiquities, Antiquities and Cultural Heritage of Greece’s Ministry of Culture, the lecture series highlighted the contributions of the foreign archaeological schools and institutes to the study of Greek and European culture.
On the first day of the conference, Associate Director of Corinth Excavations Ioulia Tzonou presented in the section, “Foreign Archaeological Schools and Society: Dialogue and Interaction.” In her lecture, Tzonou spoke about Corinth’s outreach programs on the local and global level. At the site, Tzonou oversees the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth’s programming that serves the immediate community. Elementary students often visit the museum for tours and hands-on educational workshops, such as drawing in the galleries and even creating pebble mosaics inspired by pieces they see in the museum. Tzonou also emphasized Ancient Corinth’s global reach through new initiatives integrating technology at the site and in school classrooms abroad. Supported by the Steinmetz Family Foundation, the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth hosts a Museum Fellow who then globally disseminates K-12 curriculum on Ancient Greece with educators via resources like Skype in the Classroom.
"What I enjoyed most about the conference is to see the intense passion and love Greece inspires to exceptional people worldwide with diverse rich personal backgrounds," said Tzonou when reflecting on the conference. "The Foreign Schools are laboratories that research the past and present, give to the local communities as well as the international community, in all aspects of human culture, with some of them focusing on archaeology, but also the arts, and sociology. They all are doing outstanding work in outreach. The conference was a tangible expression of philhellenism and showed how the collaboration between the Greek Ministry and the Foreign Schools can produce very rewarding results for all involved."
Associate Director of Corinth Excavations Ioulia Tzonou at the podium in the Acropolis Museum.
American School staff and faculty represented the institution in multiple lecture sections on the second day of the conference. Mellon Professor Sylvian Fachard co-chaired, “Foreign Archeological Schools Today: Their Contribution in the Academic Education.” Fachard facilitated discussions and introduced Directors and Members of the Danish Institute at Athens, Netherlands Institute at Athens, Swedish Institute at Athens, Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens, and Belgian School at Athens. All lecturers spoke on how their individual institutions encourage academic connections between their home countries and Greece by promoting cultural links and recruiting the next generation of scholars.
ASCSA Mellon Professor Sylvian Fachard co-charing conference section while Panagiotis P. Iossif, Deptuy Director, Belgian School at Athens presents.
ASCSA Director Jenifer Neils shared new developments at the American School in a section titled, “Foreign Archeological Schools and Innovation: Research and New Approaches.” In her lecture, Neils addressed the American School’s dedication to implementing up-to-date archaeological research techniques through the development of the iDig application and projects at the Malcolm H. Wiener Lab for Archaeological Science. She also expressed the importance of improving access to the School’s resources by highlighting the inauguration of the School's new exhibition space, the Ioannis Makriyannis Wing, and the Archives recent move to a larger facility in the east wing of the Gennadius Library.
ASCSA Director Jenifer Neils speaking on the new developments of the American School.
At the close of the conference, Director of the Wiener Lab Panagiotis Karkanas participated in a round table discussion regarding the future of archaeological research in Greece. The panel included representatives mainly from the archaeological departments of the Greek universities and the foreign schools and institutes as well as a former director of the Greek Archaeological Service. One of the main topics of discussion was the importance of making archaeology accessible to the public. "The future of foreign institutes in Greece and the archaeological departments is strongly depended on the influence of archaeological research to the public and specifically how archaeology is made relevant, accessible, and socially meaningful to the society," explained Karkanas. "Lately foreign schools and institutes have given great importance in this direction and have focused in disseminating archaeological research by public dialogue, community outreach, educational programs for children and the public in general, and popular publications."
Another topic discussed at the round table, and particularly raised from the side of the American School, is the importance of true interdisciplinary research and international orientation of the archaeological research in Greece. "Given the steadily decline of governmental funding levels, research should be focused on large scale collaborative projects that address key archaeological questions and are of international importance," advocated Karkanas. "In order to bring students back to Classical studies and in archaeology again research has to be more oriented to global questions such as society sustainability, human environment relationship, climate change and society, and similar topics."
Director of the Wiener Lab Panagiotis Karkanas sitting on the discussion panel.
In addition to the conference, organizers curated a photography exhibition. The show, which displays images and text from the archives as well as current projects of the foreign archaeological schools and institutions in Greece, is on view until November 28, 2018 at the Fethiye Mosque, Athens. The American School would like to thank Greece’s Ministry of Culture for arranging the event and express our deepest gratitude to the Directors of ASCSA Affiliated Excavations from whose contributions were invaluable to representing the School at the conference and exhibition.