Didier Viviers

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Professeur ordinaire

Prof. Didier VIVIERS is President (Secrétaire perpétuel) of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Letters and Fine Arts of Belgium, and Professor at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). He was Rector of this University from December 2010 until September 2016. He chaired the Council of Rectors of the french-speaking Universities of Belgium (CRef) in 2010-2011 and 2015-2016 and the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research (FRS-FNRS) in 2011-2013. He is currently member of the Board of Directors of the FRS-FNRS.

Didier Viviers was the first President of the Académie de recherche et d’enseignement Supérieur (which organizes the Belgian french-speaking Higher Education) and is currently chairman of the Board of the Réseau français des instituts d’études avancées (RFIEA) and of several Belgian Foundations (David & Alice Van Buuren, Jaumotte-Demoulin or Wiener-Anspach Foundations).
He was Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities from 2008 until 2010 and Director of the Research Centre in Archaeology and Heritage (CReA-Patrimoine) (2003-2009). Since 2019, he is member of the Scientific Committee of the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (Belgium).

As an historian and archaeologist of the Ancient Greek World, former Member and Senior Associate Professor of the French School of Archaeology in Athens (Greece), Didier Viviers is teaching Ancient Greek History and Archaeology at the University of Brussels (ULB) and was visiting professor in several European universities.  He supervised a dozen of PhD in Belgium and abroad.  Member of Belgian and international scientific committees, Didier Viviers takes frequently part in assessments of scientific projects and institutions (e.g. France, Switzerland, Germany). Since 2014, he is a Honorary Professor and Senior International Advisor of Beihang University at Bejing (China); since 2017, he is member of the Board of the Casa de Velázquez (Madrid) and since 2018, member of the Scientific Committee of the MSH (Alsace –France). In 2016, the French Government made him an Officer in the Order of Academic Palms.


Présentation des enseignements

Mes enseignements touchent à l'histoire de l'Antiquité et, en Master, du monde grec en particulier. J'enseigne également l'histoire de l'urbanisme grec et du paysage urbain. Jusqu'à la rentrée 2016-2017, mes enseignements sont cependant réduits en raison de ma charge de recteur de l'université libre de Bruxelles.

Présentation des recherches

His research is concerned by the Greek Mediterranean in the 1rst Millenium BC, from different kinds of sources: archaeology, epigraphy, art history, which he tries to connect in order to describe the ancient Greek societies. He investigated three main topics: 

• Local history : Ancient Greek history has been centered on the city-state and citizenship, which was generally defined through institutions (laws, political regimes, etc.). Didier Viviers focused his approach on social and cultural behaviours. The paideia had a huge role in the construction of Greek citizenships and in the evolution of its contents. It was the topic of the first international conference that he co-organized with A. Verbanck-Piérard (1995) and that of the Series whose he is editor since 2002 (Culture & Cité, De Boccard, Paris). He personally has interest in the role of technicians and craftsmen in the constitution of civic identities (e.g. a book in 1992, and some papers [1998, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2014]). He studied more precisely Athens, Rhodes, but also the Cretan cities, which were the subject of his PhD. He also decided to approach the Cretan local history through an excavation programme of a maritime city, Itanos. The strategic position of the site explains a diachronic occupation, but in the context of the inward looking Cretan cities, it was also extremely interesting to study the specific pattern of a harbor (ex. Viviers-Tsingarida 2014). The proximity with the settlement of Palaikastro (located in the same civic territory) allows to explore relations between centre and periphery in the long-term (2nd and 1rst millennia BC) and therefore to understand the nature of both settlements and their relations to the sea or to the hinterland. This programme started in 1994 under the auspices of the École française d’Athènes and with the collaboration of many European institutions (Belgium, France, Italy, Greece). Since 2011, Didier Viviers co-directs a team about 30 members. The results were regularly published e.g. in the Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique since 1995 and in a recent paper (2019). He is preparing the final publication of the North Necropolis whose excavation ended in 2015. This excavation offers a response to the ‘archaeological gap’ which is often pointed out for the 6th and 5th cent. BC. In this period, the citizenship and the social status of citizens are not built anymore on the prestige of the cemeteries, but related to collective rituals which were brought to light during the excavation on the border of the necropolis. The excavation of the classical and Hellenistic necropolis was also an opportunity to describe the evolution of social and cultural pattern of a city opened to foreign influence (cf. Viviers 2011).  The local history is a way to underline the diversity of Greek cities which all are separate units linked to each other through an intense connectivity. Again, Didier Viviers used the craftsmen in order to appreciate the way the Greek cities asserted their specificity; he studied the role of these agents in the individuation of Greek cities but also in their connectivity (cf. Viviers 2002)

• Social and economic history: studying craftsmanship in the cities was a way to analyse the social and economic system. He studied craftsmen’s signatures which offer a rare link between producer and consumer. His approach was based on art history, starting from the production. But, it was over all a manner to define more precisely workshops. He proposed a new interpretation of the signature inscribed on some pieces in order to attest a specific order (2007) and he succeeded to prove that some workshops were linked more narrowly to some clients. He co-organized an international conference on the pottery markets (8th-1rst cent.B.) in 2008, which illustrated the role and the nature of pottery exchanges. His research also concerns the interaction between the economic system developed by cities and the dynamics of the construction of their territories, mainly in Athens and Crete (cf. Viviers 1999; 2005). In this context, he also studied the perception of the sea in Athens and the role of its harbors in its economic and political structure, in comparison with the case of Rome (Tchernia & Viviers 2000). It was an opportunity to show both interest in and resistance toward the external elements which are passing through harbors into the cities and the mechanisms of boundary maintenance which are activated in this context.

• Urban history : since 2002 until 2010 (when the situation did not allow anymore to work safely in the country), Didier Viviers conducted the excavation programme in Apamea (Syria), under the auspices of the Belgian Royal Academy of Sciences. The results were regularly published in the Revue Belge de Philologie et d’Histoire (Viviers & Vokaer 2007; 2008; 2009; 2010). Apamea was one of the biggest towns of Roman Antiquity (260 ha) and it offers a wonderful way to understand the evolution of urbanism in Antiquity. Didier Viviers studied more particularly the water-supply of the city and a public bath in the northern district of the town (cf. e.g. Haut & Viviers 2007; 2010; 2012; Debaste, Haut, Vannesse & Viviers 2014). But the team was also in charge of the investigation of the agora, where were found some testimonies of the first nucleus of the city. The vestiges are extremely well preserved and offer the opportunity to establish a precise chronology since the Hellenistic period into the Medieval times. He is editor of the collection which publishes the results of the research (4 volumes published since 2010 and 3 in preparation/press). He also approached the urban history of Greek communities from another angle : the processions. They express the social structure of the Greek communities, they keep a collective memory, but they also contribute to organize the urban space and more particularly to create an urban decor along their routes (Viviers 2010). He prepares the publication of a new inscription found during the excavation at Itanos and which present not only the poem (song?) devoted to a maritime goddess but also the list of the maidens who were processing. He also made excavations in Thasos and studied the evolution of the urbanism of this city during the archaic and classical times.

Didier Viviers is currently collaborating with Fr. Prost (University of Paris 1) and J.-M. Roubineau (University of Rennes) on a project about the Greek World in the 6th century BC.

Travaux sélectionnés
  • — D. Viviers 1992 : Recherches sur les ateliers de sculpteurs et la Cité d’Athènes à l’époque archaïque. Endoios, Philergos, Aristoklès  (avec une Préface de Jean Marcadé) Bruxelles,  263 pp., 59 figg.

    — D. Viviers 1994 : « La cité de Dattalla et l’expansion territoriale de Lyktos en Crète centrale », Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 118, Athènes, pp. 229-259.

    — A. Verbanck & D. Viviers (éd .) 1995 : Culture et Cité. L’avènement d’Athènes à l’époque archaïque. Actes du Colloque international organisé à l’Université libre de Bruxelles du 25 au 27 avril 1991, Bruxelles/Paris, xiv-252 pp., 18 figg.

    — V. Chankowski, N. Massar & D. Viviers 1998 : “Renommée de l’artisan, prestige de la cité. Réflexions sur le rôle des artisans dans les échanges entre communautés civiques”, Topoi 8, Lyon, pp. 545-558.

    — D. Viviers 1999a : “Economy and territorial dynamics in Crete from the Archaic to the Hellenistic Period”, in A. Chaniotis (éd.), From Minoan Farmers to Roman Traders: Sidelights on the Economy of Ancient Crete, Stuttgart, pp. 221-233.

    — D. Viviers 1999b : “Thasos”, in E. Greco (éd.), La città greca antica. Istituzioni, società e forme urbane, Rome, pp. 221-250.

    — Tchernia & Viviers 2000 : « Athènes, Rome et leurs avant-ports: ‘mégapoles’ antiques et trafics méditerranéens », in Cl. Nicolet, R. Ilbert et J.-Ch. Depaule (dir.), Mégapoles méditerranéennes. Géographie urbaine rétrospective, Paris, pp. 761-801.

    — M. Couvreur & D. Viviers 2001 : Antoine Galland. Voyages inédits. Édition critique établie par Manuel Couvreur et Didier Viviers. Tome I. Smyrne ancienne et moderne, suivie de J. Georgerine, État présent des îles de Samos, Nicarie, Patmos et du mont Athos et de J.-P. Babin, Relation de l’île de Tine, contenue dans une lettre à Mons. **** Paris, 356 pp. (Collection ”Littérature des Voyages”. 3).

    — D. Viviers 2002 : “Le bouclier inscrit du Trésor de Siphnos à Delphes. “Régions stylistiques” et ateliers itinérants ou la sculpture archaïque face aux lois du marché”, in Chr. Müller et Fr. Prost (éd.), Identités et cultures dans le monde méditerranéen antique. Mélanges offerts à Fr. Croissant, Paris [= Histoire ancienne et médiévale. 69], pp. 53-85.

    ­—  D. Viviers 2005 : “Rome face aux cités crétoises : trafics insulaires et organisation de la province”, in A. Di Vita (éd.), Creta romana e protobizantina. Atti del convegno internazionale, Héraklion 23-30 septembre 2000, vol. I, Padova, pp. 17-24.

    — B. Haut & D. Viviers 2006 : « Analysis of a large-scale water supply system of the Byzantine period using modern fluid mechanics”, 1st IWA International Symposium on Water and Wastewater technologies in Ancient Civilizations (A.N. Angelakis et D. Koutsoyiannis éd.), Iraklion, p. 623-630.

    — D. Viviers 2007 : ­« Signer une œuvre en Grèce ancienne: pourquoi? Pour qui?», in J. de La Genière (éd.), Les clients de la céramique. Cahiers du Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum, Paris, pp. 137-150 ; pl. I-III, p. 231-233.

    — D. Viviers & A. Vokaer 2007 : « Travaux de la mission archéologique belge à Apamée de Syrie. XLe campagne (2006)», RBPH 85, p. 125-156 ; pl. I-XIV.

    — B. Haut & D. Viviers 2007 : « Analysis of the water supply system of the city of Apamea, using Computational Fluid Dynamics. Hydraulic system in the north-eastern area of the city, in the Byzantine period”, Journal of Archaeological Science 34, p. 415-427.

    — D. Viviers 2008 : « Apamée sur l’Oronte, travaux de la mission archéologique belge, XLIe campagne (2007) », in Chronique archéologique en Syrie 3 (2008), p. 217-230.

    — D. Viviers & A. Vokaer 2008 : « Travaux de la mission archéologique belge à Apamée de Syrie. XLIe campagne (2007)», RBPH 86, p. 115-150 ; pl. I-XX.

    — D. Viviers & A. Vokaer 2009 : « Travaux de la mission archéologique belge à Apamée de Syrie. XLIIe campagne (2008)», RBPH 87, p. 105-144 ; pl. I-XX.

    — D. Viviers 2010 : « Élites et processions dans les cités grecques : une géométrie variable ? », in L. Capdetrey et Y. Lafond (éd.), La cité et ses élites. Pratiques et représentations des formes de domination et de contrôle social dans les cités grecques (VIIIe s. a.C. - Ier s. p.C.), Bordeaux, p. 163-183.

    — D. Viviers & A. Vokaer 2010 : « Travaux de la mission archéologique belge à Apamée de Syrie. XLIIIe campagne (2009)», RBPH 88, p. 113-133 ; pl. I-XVI.

    — B. Haut & D. Viviers 2010 : « Analysis of the Water System of the Ancient Roman City of Apamea », in L.W. Mays (éd.), Ancient Water Technologies, Dordrecht/Heidelberg/Londres/New York, p. 139-169.

    — D. Viviers 2011a : « Une cité crétoise à l’épreuve d’une garnison lagide : l’exemple d’Itanos », in J. Chr. Couvenhes, S. Crouzet et S. Péré-Nogues (éd.), Pratiques et identités culturelles des armées hellénistiques du monde méditerranéen. Hellenistic Warfare 3, Bordeaux, p. 35-64.

    — D. Viviers 2011b : “Nouvelles données archéologiques sur la fortification de Thasos”, in E. Greco (éd.), Architettura, Urbanistica, Società nel mondo antico. Giornata di studi in ricordo di Roland Martin, Paestum [= Fondazione Paestum – Tekmeria 2], pp. 65-77.

    — B. Haut & D. Viviers 2012: « Water supply in the Middle East during Roman and Byzantine periods », in A.N. Angelakis, L.W. Mays, D. Koutsoyiannis, N. Mamassis (éd.), Evolution of Water Supply through the Millenia, Londres/New York, p. 319-350.

    — A. Tsingarida & D. Viviers (éd.) 2013 : Pottery Markets in the Ancient Greek World (8th-1st centuries B.C.). Proceedings of the International Symposium held at the Université libre de Bruxelles. 19-21 June 2008, Bruxelles, [Etudes d’archéologie 5].

    — D. Viviers 2014 : « Quand le divin se meut. Mobilité des statues et construction du divin », in S. Estienne, V. Huet, Fr. Lissarrague, Fr. Prost (éd.), Figures de dieux. Construire le divin en images, Rennes, p. 27-38.

    — D. Viviers & A. Tsingarida 2014 : « Facing the Sea : Cretan Identity in a Harbour-city Contexte. Some Remarks on the Early Development of Itanos », in Fl. Gaignerot-Driessen et J. Driessen (éd.), Cretan Cities : Formation and Transformation. Aegis 7, Louvain-la-Neuve, p. 165-182.

    — M. Vannesse, B. Haut, Fr. Debaste & D. Viviers 2014 :“Analysis of three private hydraulic systems operated in Apamea during the Byzantine period », Journal of Archaeological Science 46, p. 245-254 (en collaboration avec M. Vannesse, B. Haut et Fr. Debaste).

    — D. Viviers & A. Vokaer 2015 : « Travaux de la mission archéologique belge à Apamée de Syrie. XLIVe campagne (2010) », RBPH 93, p. 179-199.

    — D. Viviers 2018 : Usages et enjeux des patrimoines archéologiques. Entre science et politique, Bruxelles, 158 pp. (Collection « L’Académie en poche »,