Greek Archaeology

• Archaeology

At the CReA-Patrimoine, Greek archaeology is being developed around several thematic axes and by means of various research projects: archaeological excavations at the site of Itanos (Eastern Crete); the study of ceramics (production, forms and uses, distribution, cultural and economic exchanges); the question of public spaces and social practices; archaeometallurgy; the study of cultural heritage and the history of collections. These themes, which sometimes intersect with each other, bring together a large number of researchers, doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows and they are integrated into a network of international collaborations. 

Archaeological excavations of Itanos  

Pottery studies 

• Public spaces and social practices 
Several projects are attached to this research axis. They address various issues, geographical regions and periods, from the beginning of the Iron Age to the end of the Hellenistic period.  

- The research project "Beyond the Polis. Ritual Practices and the Construction of Social Identity in Early Greece (12th - 6th centuries B.C.)", supported by the Ph. Wiener - M. Anspach Foundation, was carried out from 2012 to 2015 as part of a collaboration with Professor Irene Lemos (Oxford University). The scope of the project is currently being opened up through the inclusion of a broader geographical and chronological framework and the incorporation of new researchers. 

This project examines the role of collective and ritual practices in the construction of social identities that were shaped in the Greek world after the collapse of the Mycenaean palaces. Based on a selection of case studies that cover a chronological range from the Late Helladic to the Late Archaic and the Early Classical periods, the involved research addresses the question of continuity and/or transformation of such practices from the Late Bronze Age down to the periods of the establishment and development of the Greek polis. 

The project began with the analysis of certain case studies, which were drawn from mainland and insular Greece and allowed for the examination of specific practices, such as communal feasting, the votive deposition of artefacts or funerary rites, in association with specific structures. All these case studies lay outside the chronological and geographical framework of the polis: the sacred area of Lefkandi (Euboea) (I. Lemos - Oxford University); the "Sacred Houses" in Attica (A. Alexandridou); the first phases of occupation, namely, the period between the 12th and the 7th centuries BC, of the Amyklaion of Sparta (V. Vlachou) (fig. 1), and the protoarchaic and archaic building of the Northern Necropolis of Itanos (Eastern Crete), which was used from the 7th to the 5th centuries BC (A. Tsingarida & D. Viviers). In a second phase, the project was extended to include regions at the fringes of the Greek world, such as Macedonia and Thrace in the Northern Aegean, with the aim of addressing the various functions of collective and ritual practices in culturally mixed contexts and among societies that developed political models that differed from that of the city-state, which was widespread in the main Greek world (V. Saripanidi), (Y. Chalazonitis). These analyses focus particularly on funerary practices and grave goods, which are considered as key factors in the construction of multiple social and cultural identities and, at the same time, as signifiers of status, relationships and interactions among the different groups that inhabited these regions (e.g. Greek colonists, Macedonians, Thracians). 

Fig. 1 : The Amyklaion of Sparta, seen from the southeast (©The Amykles Research Project)

Looking further into the question of collective practices and the construction of identities in Northern Greece, a new project investigates the processes of formation of the Macedonian kingdom and its sociopolitical organization from the 7th century BC until the rise of Philip II in the mid-4th century BC. This project takes as its starting point the burials that have come to light at a series of Macedonian cemeteries and analyses them from an interdisciplinary perspective, combined with the application of theoretical models (V. Saripanidi). 

- The Cretan world, and more precisely Eastern Crete at the beginning of the Iron Age and during the Archaic period, forms the subject of in-depth research project that examines those practices that were involved in the expression of social and cultural identities and aimed to affirm the coherence of certain groups, which were formed particularly on the basis of kinship ties. The analysis of a set of archaeological contexts (necropoleis, settlements, sanctuaries) aims to elucidate the changes that transpired in the island's social and political organisation and to clarify the ways in which certain identities found material expression on the ground at various scales, from micro- to macro-regional  (C. Judson ; A. Tsigarida & D. Viviers) (fig. 2). 

Fig. 2 : Aerial view of the archaic complex in the Northern Necropolis of Itanos, view from the south (© Itanos Excavations, CReA-Heritage)

- The investigation of practices that were related to the construction of social and cultural identities also lies at the heart of a project that focuses on the Etruscan world and more specifically on the diachronic examination of elite feasting practices during the 7th and the 6th centuries BC. Through the analysis of feasting pottery shapes within their context, this project examines feasting practices, communal drinking and rituals that involved the consumption of drinks or foodstuffs in Central Etruria (Chiancano Terme) and Padana Etruria (Bologna, Spina)  (D. Tonglet).

- Certain projects focus on social practices that were developed within the religious contexts of sanctuaries. 

A first study analyses ancient architectural restorations and repairs, examining both building techniques and the involved institutions on the basis of archaeological, literary and epigraphic evidence. This project also aims to assess the costs of building construction in ancient Greece by applying quantitative methods, the use of which has been traditionally confined to the study of non-literate cultures and the Roman world. Particular emphasis is placed on the panhellenic sanctuaries at Delphi and Delos (J. Vanden Broeck-Parant). 
The doctoral project under the title “Maritime Trade and Votive Practices in Archaic Greece: Towards an Archaeological Interpretation” (Marie de Wit), also falls within the research axis "Public spaces and social practices". This project is in line with research on economic and cultural exchange networks within the "connected" Mediterranean, as this has been conceptualized by recent studies on networks. It aims to provide a better understanding of the relationship between religious and commercial practices and especially of the role of sanctuaries in economic and cultural exchanges in the archaic Mediterranean.

Publications (a selection)

D. Tonglet, "Etruscan Melting-pot: Some Considerations about Etruscan Banquet Sets in Funerary Contexts", in M. Bentz & M. Heinzelmann (éds), Archaeology and Economy in the Ancient World. Proceedings of the 19. International Congress of Classical Archaeology. Cologne/bonn, 22-26 May 2018, à paraître.

A.  Tsingarida and I. Lemos (eds.), Collective Practices and the Construction of Social Identities in Early and Archaic Greece (12th-6th centuries B.C.), Brussels, 2017 –CReA-Patrimoine [Études d’Archéologie 13]

I. Lemos and A. Tsingarida (eds.), Beyond the Polis. Rituals, Rites and Cults in Early and Archaic Greece (12th-6th centuries B.C.), Proceedings of the International Symposium held in ULB, Brussels, 24-26 September 2015, Brussels, 2019  – CReA – Patrimoine [Études d’Archéologie 15] (sous presse)

V. Saripanidi, “Macedonian Necropoleis in the Archaic Period: Shifting Practices and Emerging Identities”, in H. Frielinghaus, J. Stroszeck & P. Valavanis (eds.), Zwischen Identitätskonstruktion und Unterweltsvorstellungen. Griechische Gräber und ihr Kontext im Spiegel neuer Funde (Beiträge zur Archäologie Griechenlands 5, Möhnesee forthcoming).

J. Vanden Broeck-Parant, « L’entretien des monuments à Délos à l’époque hellénistique d’après le vocabulaire des inscriptions », in Ch. Davoine, A. d’Harcourt et M. L’Héritier (éds), Sarta Tecta. De l’entretien à la conservation des édifices. Antiquité, Moyen Âge, début de la période moderne, Presses universitaires de Provence, 2019, 37-50.

V. Vlachou, “Feasting at the Sanctuary of Apollo Hyakinthos at Amykles: The Evidence from the Early Iron Age”, in F. van den Eijnde, J. H. Blok and R. Strootman (eds), Feasting and the Polis Institutions, Brill-Leiden/Boston 2018, 93-124.


In recent years, the research axes addressed by the Greek archaeology team of the CReA-Patrimoine have been enriched with an additional one, in the field of archaeometallurgy, which is particularly centred upon the Northern Aegean (the islands and the mainland). A first project focuses on military technology and the organization of weapons production on the island of Thasos and the surrounding Thracian regions, from the 11th to the 6th centuries BC (Y. Chalazonitis, Wiener-Anspach post-doctoral Fellow [2017-2019] ; chargé de recherches du FNRS 2019 - 2021).  On the one hand, the typological study of weapons and the chemical analyses of the metals used for the construction of those should make it possible to identify the centres of production, as well as the specific links between certain weapons and the Greek, Thracian and Macedonian populations that were present in the broader region (Fig. 3). On the other hand, the project also aims to clarify: the processes of introduction, into the island of Thasos and its surrounding region, of Greek types of weapons that were typical of the Central Aegean; and the processes of diffusion of such weapons among the local populations. 

Fig. 3 : 3D reconstruction of a Greek shield porpax (c. 575-550 BC, Oisyme) (© Ioannis Chalazonitis).

A second project, which was developed in the frame of a European Marie-Curie Individual Fellowship (ME. Tech. NAS), pertains to metal technology. This project examines the extraction and exploitation of minerals in the Northern Aegean from the prehistoric times down to the Classical period and, furthermore, the role of the exploitation of metal ores into economic systems, ritual practices, the construction of political power and social interactions  (N. Nerantzis). The selection of the continental Northern Greece and the islands of Samothrace and Thasos as focal loci of this research is due to the fact that these particular regions count among those with the highest mineral deposits in the Aegean (Fig. 4). In all, the project explores issues of technological expansion through connectivity and mobility, two concepts that have become essential in archaeological discussions.   

Fig. 4 : From left to right and from top to bottom: entrance to the mining site in Lekani, Kavala; experimental reconstruction of the melting of copper; bronze objects discovered in Thasos (Bronze Age); optical image under a microscope of a copper blade showing four distinct mineralogical phases (© Nerantzis Nerantzis).

Publications (a selection)

I. Chalazonitis, Ch. Koukouli-Chrysanthaki & D. Malamidou, ‘“ΕΝΤΟΣ ΑΜΩΜΗΤΟΝ” : an ‘Argive’-type shield from the sanctuary of Oisyme’, Annual of the British School of Athens 113 (2018), (Disponible sur Cambridge FirstView: ).

Bassiakos Y., Nerantzis N. and S. Papadopoulos, “Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age metallurgical practices at Limenaria, Thasos: evidence for silver and copper production”, Journal of Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, Volume 11.6 (2019), 2743-2757.

• Heritage and Collection Histories

The construction of national identities owes a great deal to archaeology. The collection and uncovering of witnesses to a past that was physically anchored in a territory has contributed greatly to the cohesion of human communities, to the legitimization of power, but also sometimes to the domination (at the very least cultural) of certain States. Archaeological heritage is therefore an important issue for people who claim it, in one way or another. How has this heritage been apprehended or used over the centuries? What questions does it invite us to ask about our relationship to the world, to the past, to others? What is ultimately the role of science and politics in its interpretation?  Heritage research addresses all these questions.

The research project on the History of Collections focuses on antiquities collected in the 19th century by a group of European amateurs, particularly of Belgian and British origin (Lord Elgin – D. Williams). This century was a pivotal period, since it was marked by the formation of archaeological science, with the publication of numerous museum catalogues and the creation of university chairs dedicated to this discipline. It was also during this period that the majority of public museums appeared, often housing important sections devoted to Antiquity, which were now integrated into the newly shaped notion of national heritage that was developed along with the Nation States.  Classical culture was thus opening up to a greater number of people, becoming a pedagogical and educational issue, and was even going to be diverted by some towards the use of propaganda.

This research theme was initiated at the CReA-Patrimoine in 2002, as part of a collaborative project between ULB (Athena Tsingarida) and Oxford University (Donna Kurtz), funded by the Wiener-Anspach Foundation (2002 - 2005). Since its inception, it has sought to restore some of the great collections that have now disappeared and to understand the motivations that led individuals to acquire these antiquities. Beyond that, it is the multiple visions, uses and diversions of Antiquity that we are trying to understand, as well as the relationships woven between amateurs and scientists, between collectors and artists, among collectors, merchants and antique dealers. The main question addressed through the study of certain collections is the reception of classical antiquity and the role it has played in the formation of European taste, in the development of decorative arts and the construction of certain large national collections belonging to Belgian or European museums. Particular interest is shown in certain collections that are present in Belgium (G. P. Campana S. Sarti], A. van Branteghem [A. Tsingarida], R. de Ravestein and L. Somzée[C. Evers]) with the aim of analysing the role of antiquity in the construction of a Belgian identity and culture, through the formation of major museum institutions and a national history. At the same time, we wish to highlight the originalities that characterize the Belgian modes of appropriation of the classical past. 

Publications (a selection)

S. Sarti, The Campana Collection at the Royal Museum of Art and History (Brussels), Bruxelles, 2012 [Etudes d’archéologie 4] – CReA-Patrimoine. 

A. Tsingarida, “The Search of the Artist. The van Branteghem and Bourguignon Collections and the Connoisseurship of Greek Vases”, in S. Schmidt, M. Steinhart (eds.), Sammeln und Erforschen. Griechische Vasen in neuzeitlichen Sammlungen, Munich, 2014, 115 -122 [Beihefte zum Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum 4].

A. Tsingarida & D.C. Kurtz (eds), Appropriating Antiquity. Saisir l’Antique. Collections et collectionneurs d’antiques en Belgique et en Grande-Bretagne au XIXe siècle, Bruxelles, 2002 

A. Tsingarida & A. Verbanck – Piérard (éds), L’Antiquité au service de la Modernité ? La Réception de l’Antiquité Classique en Belgique au XIXe siècle, Bruxelles, 2008

D. Viviers, Usages et enjeux des patrimoines archéologiques. Entre science et politique. Bruxelles, 2018 [Académie royale de Belgique, Collection l’Académie en Poche].

The team

- Professors

A. Tsingarida (Professor, ULB); D. Viviers (Ordinary Professor, ULB; Royal Academy of Belgium)

- Doctoral students

A. Attout (PhD candidate, Assistant in classical antiquity); M. de Wit (FNRS Doctoral fellow)

- Post-doctoral researchers

Y. Chalazonitis (FNRS Postdoctoral researcher); C. Judson (Marie-Curie COFUND Postdoctoral fellow); N. Nerantzis (Marie-Curie Postdoctoral fellow); V. Saripanidi (FNRS Research associate); D. Tonglet (FNRS Postdoctoral researcher); J. Vanden Broeck-Parant (Postdoctoral fellow, substitute lecturer); V. Vlachou (Belgian member of the French School of Athens). 

- Visiting professors, scientific collaborators

N. Massar (Scientific collaborator, Curator at MRAH-KMKG); K. Neeft (Visiting Professor); S. Sarti (Scientific collaborator CReA-Patrimoine, Archaeological Service of Tuscany); D. Williams (Visiting Professor).

Contact Information
Athéna Tsingarida

Note: Due to space constraints, for a more detailed presentation of individual projects and programmes, reference should be made to the web pages of the team’s individual researchers.