You are invited to participate in the Discovering the Archaeologists of Africa project.
This project aims to bring a general perspective on who works in African archaeology and the ways that archaeology is done in African countries.
In this first stage of the project, we are asking people to complete a short survey that asks questions about employment in archaeology and academic provision. It will take approximately five to ten minutes to complete the questionnaire.
Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There are no foreseeable risks associated with this project. However, if you feel uncomfortable answering any questions, you can withdraw from the survey at any point.
It is very important for us to learn your opinions. Your survey responses will be strictly confidential and data from this research will be reported only in the aggregate. Your information will be coded and will remain confidential. If you have questions at any time about the survey or the procedures, you may contact Kenneth Aitchison by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would appreciate as many people as possible contributing as possible – so please send this link – https://discoafrica.questionpro.com/ – to any colleagues who you think could help.
Start the survey
Written by Katerina Konstantinou
The “loom-project” was centered on women’s weaving practices and drew upon art and ethnographic methods. The first seeds of this project were planted in the summer of 2015 at the 2nd Archaeological Ethnography Summer School organized by the Heritage Management Organization in Gonies, Crete, which I was attending as a postgraduate student. My contribution to the school’s fieldwork, conducted within the broader context of the Three Peak Sanctuaries of Central Crete research program, focused on unraveling the history of weaving in Gonies. A year later, Alexia Karavela, an Athens-based visual artist, joined me to further investigate the multitude of stories, reminiscences and songs related to woven textiles and their production. This was made possible due to HMO’s decision to host an artist-in-residence program alongside the 3rd Archaeological Ethnography Summer School.
My preliminary fieldwork on weaving raised many issues regarding the textile heritage and its multiple uses in the past, present, and future. Whereas non-mechanized cloth production was largely abandoned in Greece after WWII due to the industrial production of textiles, looms remained in use in Crete to meet growing demand for souvenirs in the early 1970’s. During this period, textiles were mass-produced throughout the island and were sold by wholesalers all around Greece. It was within this context that weaving provided a significant source of income in Gonies from the late 1970’s until 2000.
Material evidence of this relatively recent past abounds in Gonies. Nearly every house has its own loom. Many textiles, collected and preserved mainly by elderly women, have survived long past their period of use. These collections provide a rich source of information concerning the relation between memory and the material world. For instance, the textiles recall memories of the past in which almost every woman was weaving day and night.
The idea of continuing the research next year was born out of this relation between material and memory. In order to deal with the material nature of textile production and bridge the gap between research and practice, I invited Alexia Karavela to join me. Alexia has been concerned with ethnographic themes and issues of materiality, social memory and identities in her work as a visual artist (http://alekakaravela.blogspot.gr/). With a particular focus on the recent political history of Greece, she critically comments on the everyday life that continued alongside great political events of the 1980’s and 1990’s. In one of her previous works, presented for her Master of Fine Arts graduation in 2015, entitled “I Hira” (“The Hand”), she explored aspects of social memory in the manual production of textiles. Installed alongside other materials, Alexia used an old, very simple loom and textiles woven with unconventional materials such as magnetic tapes to refer to history-writing processes.
Her weaving experience as well as her critical thinking towards cultural heritage and material culture additionally inspired me to design a community engagement art project that combined contemporary art practices and fieldwork methods for the summer of 2016. Alexia was to apply her artistic practices on the fieldwork, and I was to coordinate the project and collect the ethnographic information. We were accommodated by the team of anthropologists and archaeologists, Aris Anagnostopoulos, Lena Stefanou and Celine Murphy, who were running the 3rd Summer School of Archaeological Ethnography in July of 2016.
Shortly after our arrival to Gonies, we transformed a hall of the abandoned school into an open studio, and a local man donated an old loom to Alexia. The loom was restored with the help of some locals and put to working condition. Having thus occupied the school and set up the loom, we set about encouraging locals to help weave a collective textile.
The community of Gonies enthusiastically responded to our call and the school was infused with new life as locals gathered daily to weave or to simply spend time with us. As one local would pick up where another had left off, all who participated left their mark on what became a collective, community rug. Locals of all ages had an eagerness to weave that had many different motivations: such as a desire to experience the past, to understand this old tradition, or even to reignite potentially profitable local industry. In all cases the experience of weaving in a loom was perceived as performing part of cultural heritage. On our part, weaving served as a point of departure by which to communicate with people and observe them interact with locally-significant objects. These interactions provided a rich source of ethnographic data not only regarding what people remember but also how they remember and how they forget.
Later on during this one month stay in Gonies, a second loom was brought to our studio in the school by local women. This loom was dismantled, moved in and restored again to weave a triopatitero, a weaving technique that is considered to be characteristic of the island of Crete and requires particular skills and knowledge. The energy with which elderly women commandeered the project made us step aside at times and watch them act. After all the “loom-project” aimed at making the local community define what was there to be preserved as part of their textile heritage.
Moving beyond the traditional fieldwork methods required that we collaborate with the locals and therefore made us reconsider the ways we do ethnography. Rather than imposing out own research framework, we hosted them in an open studio that was designed to inspire some artistic production through which Goniotes were actively involved in defining the textile heritage of their village by nominating heritage items and by ensuring local knowledge. We allowed locals to decide on the project, to a great extent, and thus avoided playing an over-determining role in the interaction. We found that artist Alexia Karavela’s presence considerably facilitated local involvement in interpreting their heritage. Her artistic approach to the field of ethnographic research elucidated issues relevant to the poetics of fieldwork. Such an approach strengthens the creative and metaphorical dimension of the discourse produced through ethnography and challenges the ethnographer’s conception of the ways we conduct fieldwork.
The “loom-project” incorporated a series of paintings produced by Alexia as a way to analyze and interpret the ethnographic material gathered in Gonies. An exhibition was put together almost a year later in DA, an artist-run space in Heraklio, which is the closest city to Gonies, where most Goniotes live during the winter. Through this exhibition, Alexia proved that artists can use their position to bring new dynamics and practices not only to the production of ethnographic data but also to its interpretation and representation.
Although ostensibly investigating the position of textile heritage in Gonies as cultural and economic resources, the “loom-project” was largely focused on an exploration of new ethnographic methods. Equally significant was the investigation of new ways of representing ethnographic knowledge. Several issues regarding the relationship of art and anthropology were raised during all phases of the “loom-project” such as the appropriation of methodologies and subjects between them that demand further consideration by the actors of the project.
Katerina Konstantinou is a PhD candidate in the Department of Social Anthropology at Panteion University. She is an art historian and holds an MA in Curating. Her research interests focus on the intersection of the fields of contemporary arts, anthropology and archaeology. She has participated in several research programs, such as the Three Peak Sanctuaries in Central Crete in Gonies. She has worked for museums and cultural institutions. She has participated in conferences and she has published texts in collective volumes and art magazines.
Written by Giannis Grammatikakis
Serpentinites have been widely used as a raw material in a huge variety of shapes during the Minoan period, mainly for the construction of artifacts both for domestic use as well as religious purposes. According to Warren (1969), almost half of the entire corpus of the Minoan stone vases is consisted of objects made out of serpentinite. However, the utilization of serpentinites is extremely limited in the Minoan palatial architecture. In all the cases where the use of serpentinite is documented in the palace of Knossos, it has been used for the construction of column bases. The aim of this study is to look into the material used for the construction of the drain located under the stair leading to the adyton (sanctuary) of the “House of the High Priest”, one of the peripheral monuments of the Palace of Knossos (fig.1). Despite the fact that Sir A. Evans documented the stone drain and described the raw material as stone, no further comments were made regarding the exact type of stone used by the Minoans. Furthermore, the fact that a rather unusual material was used for the construction of a drain, instead of a more typical material such as limestone or sandstone, enhances the ill-defined and controversial character of the “House of the High Priest”.
Written by Dr. Aris Anagnostopoulos
On the 15th of September 2015, we organized a day conference with the French School of Athens and SonorCities. This conference was intended as a launch event of the ongoing Histories, Spaces and Heritages at the transition from the Ottoman Empire to the Greek State research program to which the Heritage Management Organization contributes a research and heritage strand. This research program explores urban space during the transition from the Ottoman Empire to the modern Greek state.
There is a strong emphasis on the sensory aspects of urban spaces that highlights the interplay between materiality and everyday experience at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. The program aims to develop a methodological approach to studying the sensory history of Ottoman Heritage, especially as it develops within the contemporary politics of historical memory. To do so, the project brings together multiple research strands from an interdisciplinary perspective: scholars from cultural history, archaeology, urban studies, ethnomusicology and anthropology join forces to produce a multidisciplinary group that aims to interact with current trends in digital humanities. You can follow the project as it develops on the French School website: https://www.efa.gr/index.php/en/recherche/programmes-de-recherche-2/otheritages.
The conference wished to examine the current state of Ottoman Heritages as they are preserved and presented through policy and state institutions. The opening session focused precisely on that, with additional emphasis on the adoption of intangible heritage as a viable term in official policy. The second part of the discussion focused on critical approaches to Ottoman heritage and history, that aimed to problematize the definitions and assumptions on what constitutes Ottoman Heritage and history in the Aegean context. The afternoon session focused more strongly on particular histories of transition of urban spaces in Heraklio Crete, Nafplio and Thessaloniki. We were honoured to have professors Edhem Eldem and Eleni Bastea deliver the closing keynote speeches of this conference. At the end of the event, a group of students and teachers played music from the Jewish liturgical Maftirim tradition and the ritual of the Mevlevi sufi order https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzSHCrBXV-U&t=3750s. A fitting close to a full day of discussions and a significant beginning for our new research project.
Written by Kenneth Aitchison,
Landward Research Ltd & Heritage Management Organization ( email@example.com)
Archaeological remains in Africa are being damaged or destroyed without being adequately investigated, preserved, conserved or understood.
The reasons for this are rooted in a combination of global demand for minerals, rapid urbanization and the pressures of conflict and climate change, compounded by colonial histories, weak legislation, confused cultural attitudes to heritage and lack of investment in archaeological organisations.
We are now in a situation where “… sites that have been destroyed without having received any archaeological impact assessment prior to construction, vastly outnumber the ones that have been assessed and mitigated” (Arazi 2009, 97-98). Many sites are being looted with the ultimate resale value of stolen antiquities on the international art markets far exceeding the amount that is spent on systematic archaeological investigation (Ndoro 1997).
In the last two decades the sector has not kept pace with developing and ongoing threats to archaeological heritage from mineral extraction and infrastructure projects across the continent, together with the threats posed by conflict, looting, climate change and its economic consequences. Opportunities have been lost to create jobs, to add to knowledge and understanding, to stop looting and to protect African heritage for future generations.
The deeply rooted causes mean that these issues can’t be easily resolved, but a first step would be to ensure that people with the right skills, matched to needs, are working to address the pressures on archaeology.
There are Shortages of Professional Archaeologists in Many African Countries
The widely held, axiomatic, view is that there just aren’t enough archaeological experts in Africa to carry out the work needed in projects, both large and small, that are affecting African cultural heritage and landscapes.
And this view –– is relevant, and important, and true – but it is often anecdotal rather than evidence-based. The first step in building capacity is to measure current capacity, getting the evidence that can then be used to identify what is needed and then how to move towards supporting a sustainable workforce.
To protect heritage needs skilled, trained staff, and to set a baseline we first need to know how many archaeologists there are in Africa, and what their capabilities are.
Learning from previous work in Europe (the Discovering the Archaeologists of Europe project, where partners from 21 countries worked together to map professional archaeology in Europe, it would be possible to look at how many people work in archaeology across Africa (in all work situations – academia, private companies, governmental, NGOs), what they do, what their skills, qualifications, ages, genders and cultural backgrounds are, and how archaeology “operates” in each country.
Landward Research Ltd and the Heritage Management Organization are building up a network of partners in Africa who want to share methodologies and results to support African archaeology today and to plan for its development tomorrow, creating opportunities for employment, to contribute to knowledge and for heritage protection.
Knowing about the professionals who identify, interpret, curate and manage the physical remains of the human past allows those professionals to be supported, their needs to be identified and nurtured to lead to better heritage protection in the future.
The value in doing this is not just in counting archaeologists – it is in mapping out the current situation in order to then develop professional capacity that will better protect African cultural heritage. Archaeologists need to understand what is important, why it is important and to be able to explain and use it to tell a story that people will understand and value.
 Landward Research Ltd is a global labour market intelligence, skills development and monitoring & evaluation consultancy. We identify and deliver ways to measure and strengthen the skills, competencies and capabilities of individuals, organisations, professions and communities around the world. We have worked to undertake capacity measurement in professional archaeology for the European Commission, heritage agencies in the UK and the Society for American Archaeology.
 The Heritage Management Organization (HERITAGE) was established in November 2008 with the goal of enabling key heritage managers, through targeted training, to independently transform heritage assets from decaying objects of study to dynamic sources of learning, community identity and economic development.
The Heritage Management Organization trains professionals in the management of heritage sites, independently of project specifics. Training practitioners in the essential skills and best practices which define heritage management is at the heart of the HERITAGE mission.
The Heritage Management Organization is delighted to announce that Dr Kenneth Aitchison is joining the Organization as Head of Capability Mapping.
Kenneth is the Executive Director of Landward Research Ltd, and was formerly Head of Projects and Professional Development at the UK Chartered Institute for Archaeologists. He was awarded his PhD by the University of Edinburgh in 2012 for his work on three labour market intelligence projects (Profiling the Profession) studying professional archaeology in the UK which he led between 1997-98 and 2007-08. He has also led two pan-European Discovering the Archaeologists of Europe projects, with the Heritage Management Organization participating in the second of these.
He is now working to develop an HMO-led project looking at professional capabilities in archaeology in Africa, thinking about how to use this information to support capacity building for African archaeology. He presented a poster at HerMA 2017 and then spoke at the ICAHM conference in Tanzania, and is currently recruiting partners and participants for that initiative.
The Sklavokampos documentation project is an interdisciplinary project that aims to record the conservation needs of the archaeological site of the Sklavokampos Minoan second order centre as a monument. This project was a part of the Three Peak Sanctuaries project of the University of Kent and the Heritage Management Organization which aims to document and study three Minoan peak sanctuaries of the Malevyzi area which define the greater area around the plateau of Sklavokampos both in antiquity and in its current social setting. The Sklavokampos documentation project is essential for the greater integration of this particular site into the current and future social, cultural and economic networks of the area. As such the Sklavokampos documentation project begun with ethnographic, bibliographical and archival work to determine the important values of the site of Sklavokampos Minoan second order centre and its environs. It is these values that have to be documented and protected and as such both the tangible fabric and the intangible values of the site form essential parts of this project.
In parallel with the documentation of the tangible constituents of the Sklavokampos Villa, an effort has been made for the documentation and preservation of the intangible values of the monument. Values such as the archaeological and physical man-made evidence as well as the non-archaeological evidence. We designed our project as a ‘conservation program’ that is not merely about the materials for the material’s sake, but it should help preserve the materials because, they are the basis on which important values are predicated. The materials should be preserved, so as to help us preserve the values based on them. Within this context we propose a series of actions aiming to the enhancement of all the values the archaeological site that include education and training programs both for visitors as well as locals for the preservation of these intangible values.
This is a first such effort to combine the tangible with the intangible in the same documentation project and as a result this project has recommendations for both. We firmly believe that this is the only way we can document conservation needs, since the word ‘conservation’ should not only include the tangible but also the much richer ‘intangible’.
The tangible heritage documentation’s initial stage included the deforestation of the site and the surrounding slopes. That way the complete photogrammetric documentation of the site was made possible. This work was the foundation on which the orthophoto maps, the master plan and all of the walls of the monument were created. The processed draws that were created from the photogrammetric plans, were used as the foundation on which all the documentation of the building elements was materialized regarding their categorization and their current state of preservation. Those plans were used also for the precalculation of all the surfaces of the monument that have to be restored.