Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Une nouvelle étape dans le démantèlement de la recherche française à l'étranger : la disparition de l'IFEA d'Istanbul?

Sign the petition here.
See the names of those who have signed here.
A l'attention de : Monsieur le ministre des Affaires étrangères et européennes

Nous apprenons que l’Institut Français d’Etudes Anatoliennes (IFEA) à Istanbul est appelé à disparaître au sein d’une structure unique qui regroupera également les trois instituts culturels français en Turquie (Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara). Si cette dissolution devait se concrétiser, c’est un pan essentiel de la collaboration franco-turque, dont l’IFEA est un centre important depuis les années 1930, qui en pâtirait gravement. En effet, la plupart des archéologues fouillant en Anatolie, des historiens de l’Empire ottoman et des spécialistes de la Turquie contemporaine sont passés par l’Institut. Ce passage par l’IFEA permet l’acquisition et le perfectionnement de la langue, l’approfondissement des recherches sur place, la mise à profit des ressources documentaires. Il est en outre à l’écoute des changements qui surviennent dans la recherche, il opère une veille scientifique grâce à laquelle les chercheurs en mission peuvent être très rapidement opérationnels.

L’institut est l’initiateur de programmes et de débats scientifiques dont les échos dépassent les frontières de la communauté des chercheurs. Il est un relais avec les institutions turques permettant la mise en place d’un réseau de collègues et de collaborateurs locaux indispensables à la poursuite des recherches. Cette institution continue de permettre l’établissement de solides liens scientifiques entre la Turquie et la France, leurs universités, leurs centres de recherche, leurs bibliothèques et leurs archives. L’IFEA est d’ailleurs le plus grand centre de recherche européen en Turquie.

L’autonomie est la condition de cette crédibilité par rapport à la communauté scientifique turque et internationale. C’est pourquoi le choix du directeur était jusque là proposé par un conseil scientifique ; l’IFEA est aussi un laboratoire de recherche du CNRS (USR 3131). Il en reçoit les subventions et en accueille les chercheurs.

La fusion ou la disparition annoncée de l’IFEA ne prend pas en compte ce statut spécifique d’une institution scientifique. Il serait le seul à disparaître parmi les Instituts français de recherche à l’étranger. Alors que les relations bilatérales sont soumises aux aléas de la politique, cette institution constitue un élément stable dans les relations franco-turques. Ce sont les raisons pour lesquelles nous appelons à préserver la nécessaire autonomie de l’Institut Français d’Etudes Anatoliennes.
Sign the petition here.
See the names of those who have signed here.
To: French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

We hear that the French Institute of Anatolian Studies (IFEA) in Istanbul will disappear within a single structure which will also gather the three French cultural institutes in Turkey (Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara).

If this dissolution were to be enacted, this would inflict a major blow to cooperation between Turkey and France in which the IFEA has been playing a major role since the 1930s. Indeed, the majority of archaeologists working in Turkey, of historians of the Ottoman empire and specialists of Modern Turkey passed by the Institute. This passage by the IFEA allows, among other things, the acquisition and the improvement of Turkish, the deepening of research on the spot, the efficient consultation of documentary resources.

It is moreover a place which allows the scientific community to follow the changes which occur in research, and it also provides facilities for scholars to efficiently carry out missions in various parts of the country. The institute is also the initiator of scientific programs and debates whose echoes exceed the borders of the community of scholars. It is a relay with the Turkish institutions allowing the establishment of a network of colleagues and local collaborators essential to the continuation of research.

This institution continues to foster solids bonds between Turkey and France, their universities, their research centres, their libraries and their archives. The IFEA is in addition the largest European research centre in Turkey. Autonomy is the condition of this credibility in relation to the Turkish and international scientific community. This is why until now the choice of the director was proposed by a scientific commission; the IFEA is also a research laboratory of the CNRS (USR 3131). It receives funding and staff from the CNRS.

The fusion or the announced disappearance of the IFEA does not take into account this specific statute of a scientific institution. It would be the only one to disappear among the French Institutes of research abroad. Whereas the bilateral relations are subjected to the day to day harmful effects of politics, this institution constitutes a stable element in the French-Turkish relations. This is why we invite you to preserve the necessary autonomy of the French Institute of Anatolian Studies.
Sign the petition here.
See the names of those who have signed here.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Petition to the President: Persepolis Fortification Archive

Members of the Societas Iranologica Europea request that colleagues read and sign the following petition:

To the President of the United States of America

Mr President,

It has been reported by the Press and confirmed by authoritative scholarly sources that an important part of the Elamite clay tablets forming the archive of the Achaemenid center of Persepolis, found during excavations at Persepolis (Iran) and presently on loan to the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, are currently involved in a lawsuit in the US courts, and face the threat of confiscation and sale in order to compensate a legal case brought by private persons against the Government of Iran.

Without entering the matter of the legal case, we the undersigned archaeologists from different countries of Europe, Oceania and America, remark that the Elamite tablets, being cultural property, should not be considered as a common property, whose financial value can be exploited for the purpose of legal compensation.
The antiquities belong to the cultural heritage of Iran on behalf of human kind and should therefore remain in public hands.

We therefore, well aware of the separation of powers, nevertheless apply to you in order that this unconscionable decision with irreversible consequences should be avoided.

A country such as the United States should not be complicit in the sale of the world’s cultural heritage.
Sign the Petition

For more information on the Persepolis Fortification Archive see the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project Blog, and for the lawsuit see the section Persepolis Tablets in the News.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Import Restrictions Imposed on Certain Archaeological Material from China

The text of Import Restrictions Imposed on Certain Archaeological Material from China was published today in Federal Register/Vol.74, No. 11/Friday, January 16, 2009/Rules and Regulations, pages 2838-2844.

Comparable Import Restrictions Imposed on Archaeological and Ethnological Material of Iraq were published in Federal Register/Vol. 73, No. 84/Wednesday, April 30, 2008/Rules and Regulations, pages 23335-23342.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

ISAW Newsletter

The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) Newsletter, 01/08

ISAW came into existence in the summer of
2007, as a center for research and graduate
education in the cultures of the ancient world
(see our mission statement on back). It was
the result of a vision of scholarship developed
over many years by Shelby White and the
late Leon Levy, and was tested and refined
through several years of planning. As ISAW’s
first director and first faculty member, I have
been privileged to guide it through the hectic
first year, in which we have tried to bring as
many of its programs to life as quickly as
possible. This process has involved heroic
efforts from many people. These are reflected
in the first part of this first Newsletter, where
four senior members of my staff describe the
work of their divisions: Academic Programs,
Exhibitions, Library, and Digital Programs. But
many other people, inside and outside New
York University, have played a part in thinking
through our programs and making them a
reality. Above all, ISAW’s Founder, Shelby
White, has been my constant companion
and support at every step, and the six other
members of our Advisory Committee (Glen
Bowersock, Daniel Fleming, David O’Connor,
Holly Pittman, Wu Hung, and Paul Zanker)
have given enormously of their time, particularly
in the search for our faculty. And finally,
John Sexton and David McLaughlin, president
and provost of NYU, have been ready to help
us throughout the developmental process.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Digital Humanities Manifesto

A Digital Humanities Manifesto is available for review and comment

Appeal on behalf of research at The University of Pennsylvania Museum

[Originally posted Tuesday, December 9, 2008, updated December 16, 2008; December 17, 2008 - see below; and see now, January 14, 2009, the new blog Layoffs at the UPENN Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology]

The following message is posted on behalf of Irene Winter (hyperlinks added):

All 'soft-money' research positions are easy targets in times of financial difficulty, as they are not protected by academic tenure. In an announcement made by Richard Hodges, Director of the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday, research positions in the University Museum have been summarily eliminated, including all of MASCA, the Museum's Applied Science Center for Archaeology.

Letters from colleagues in the archaeological community to the current Director of the Museum and to the President of Penn [addresses provided below] could be very helpful in getting this decision reversed.

The larger issue: the mission of the UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA and THE UNIVERSITY MUSEUM -- indeed all academic institutions -- MUST be to contribute to the accumulation and preservation of knowledge, ESPECIALLY in hard times.

History: The role of MASCA over the years in contributing to archaeological knowledge can be stressed in different ways: the importance of the work of its research scientists to the scholarly community [e.g., Patrick McGovern on ceramics & issues Mediterranean; Naomi Miller on archaeo-botany and the interpretation of archaeological materials in the ANE; Kathleen Ryan on the treatment of animal skins and the making of parchment, cited by all Medievalists working on mss. and codicology; and many more], as well as the importance of the MASCA Newsletter, to the broader scientific community at large. The importance of the CONTINUATION of that work and of the Newsletter as a vehicle for the dissemination of the results of scientific analysis in archaeology can then be underscored as crucial to the field.

The very future of scientific study in archaeology is on the line, and colleagues' voices are needed to support its importance. It should be noted that such programs can be sustained at relatively little cost, at the same time as other Museum programs and outreach are sustained, developed, and subject to cost-effective constraints, without wiping out a whole domain of scholarly endeavour in which the University Museum has played a pioneering role.

**Colleagues are also asked to pass this issue/message on to the various lists to which you subscribe. In the past, a number of threatened programs and positions have been flagged -- for example, in France and in Germany -- and in some cases at least, outcry from the scholarly community has proven effective in securing targeted programs/positions.**

Many thanks to all of you who help with this urgent matter.

Irene Winter
Harvard University

Relevant addresses:
Dr. Richard Hodges, Director
The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
3260 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Dr. Amy Guttman, President
The University of Pennsylvania
100 College Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6380

Articles on this issues in The Daily Pennsylvanian:

Financial crisis forces firing of 18 Penn Museum researchers
Scholars fired as part of ongoing "restructuring" process

By: Kathy Wang, 11/26/08

The Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is the latest to be affected by the financial crisis. Museum director Richard Hodges announced in a memo last Friday that the museum would discontinue 18 "research specialist" positions that have been part of the curatorial departments and the Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology, in addition to disbanding the MASCA division as a whole.

Museum researchers speak out against firings

By: Kathy Wang, 12/4/08

The forthcoming discontinuation of 18 research specialist positions at the Penn Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology, which was announced last Friday, may stem from reasons other than the financial crisis. According to several researchers who declined to use their names due to the situation's sensitivity, the economy's downturn is simply the trigger behind the changes, which they say are due to long-standing University and museum priorities that do not emphasize scientific and historical research.

Update December 16, 2008. See now Jennifer Couzin's article in Science Insider including a response on the issue by Richard Hodges.

Update December 17, 2008. A Philadelphia Enquirer report online Posted on Wed, Dec. 17, 2008: U. of Penn museum plans to go popular

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Open Letter Concerning the Recent Firing of the University of Pennsylvania Museum Researchers

[See now, January 14, 2009, the new blog Layoffs at the UPENN Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology]

Open Letter Concerning the Recent Firing of the University of Pennsylvania Museum Researchers:


To whom it may, it should or it would concern,

We the undersigned, academics and graduate students who are engaged with the future of archaeology, are deeply troubled by the recent announcement of the termination of eighteen research specialist positions at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the abolishing of those research positions, and the shutting down of their associated laboratories and centers such as MASCA (the Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology). We understand this gesture as a wholesale dismantling of the research mission of the University Museum, which has been at the forefront of international archaeological studies since the museum's foundation in 1887. We would like to bring to public attention that this is a historic decision in the long-term history of the University Museum, and we reject that this is simply a strategic tightening of the belts at the time of a financial crisis, as it has been widely claimed by the Museum administrators in the popular media.

Our main concern is related to the long-term identity and mission of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. We are confident that University administrators are aware of the University Museum's unique status as a research institution that has carried out many historically significant archaeological projects, most notably in the Middle East, the Mediterranean World, and Mesoamerica. In this way, like the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, the University Museum has uniquely characterized itself, as stated on the museum's own website, as a research institution to "advance understanding of the world's cultural heritage" (see the Museum's mission statement). We understand the dismantling of the research infrastructure of the Museum as a drastic surgical gesture, a decisive act that will discontinue the possibility of future archaeological research in the above-mentioned fields. We hope that the Museum administration, the Provost, and the President understand the long term responsibilities and the consequences of this historic decision.

Many of these researchers, such as Patrick McGovern, Kathleen Ryan, David G. Romano, Simon Martin, Barbara J. Hayden, Philip G. Chase, and Naomi Miller are high-profile senior researchers in their respective fields. They have contributed to the intellectual environment of the University and the greater archaeological discipline with their research, their numerous publications, and teaching for many years. We feel that the firing of these researchers in this financially strained environment is unfair since they may not be easily employed elsewhere at this time with their laboratory and facilities needs. Additionally, the administration's financially motivated decision not only violates academic ethics of respect to such scholarly accomplishments and intellectual labor, but also ignores the institutional memory of the University Museum all together. We urge the University of Pennsylvania and the University Museum administrators to reconsider their decision, to find ways to restore and fund the research positions, and to rehire for next year the research specialists who are now to be laid off.

We would like to remind the administrators that universities are not for-profit businesses, rather they are institutions of research and teaching whose component parts need to be supported and protected, especially in tough financial times. While calling for the reinstatement of the researchers, we also recommend the establishment of a Archaeological Research Grant Support Office in the University Museum. This will encourage the units to become more financially self-sustaining while at the same time provide guidance and grant-application support for the research specialists to alleviate some of the burden that comes with the arduous process of preparing grant applications. In addition, one of the criticisms directed at such research positions has been their disconnection from the teaching environment at Penn. We suggest then that it would be helpful to redefine these positions with greater interaction with students, some teaching responsibility, and greater public outreach.

We would like to reiterate that the discontinuation of eighteen research positions at the University Museum and the abolition of research centers and laboratories very well might be an irreversible decision for the future of archaeology both at Penn and in the broader field. Furthermore, this is undeniably a reversal of the original mission of the University Museum, as a research institution that supports both public intellectuals and contributes to the scholarly understanding of human past.


The Undersigned

American Academy of Arts and Sciences Launches Humanities Indicators Prototype

Press release (January 7, 2009)
...the first effort to provide scholars, policymakers and the public with a comprehensive picture of the state of the humanities, from primary to higher education to public humanities activities. The collection of empirical data is modeled after the National Science Board’s Science and Engineering Indicators and creates reliable benchmarks to guide future analysis of the state of the humanities...
Humanities Indicators Prototype

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Is Precolumbian America part of “The Ancient World” ?

Charles’s recent post on his new “The Ancient World Online” uses a definition of “the ancient world” that excludes the Precolumbian cultures of the New World (“from the Pillars of Hercules to the Pacific”). Those of us who work in the Americas are used to being excluded by historians and antiquarians focused on the Classical world. As something that periodically bugs me, though, here are some remarks on the topic. The benign interpretation of limiting consideration this way is logistical—departments, institutes, journals, blogs, and other professional entities must limit their focus for a variety of professional and intellectual reasons.

But all too often the exclusion of New World cultures is caused by intellectual chauvinism or tunnel vision. As an example, consider textbooks on the history of architecture, many or most of which ignore the New World entirely (e.g., Conway and Roenisch 2005; Roth 2007). This is changing now (e.g., Ching et al. 2007; Moffett et al. 2004), a good sign. If the goal is to understand the western architectural tradition, then omitting Mesoamerica or China makes some kind of sense. But if the goal is more general, to look at architecture as a human achievement across space and time, then the narrow focus should be questioned. In other words, if it is assumed that there is some unity to “ancient” cultures that allows their joint inclusion in a category such as “the ancient world,” then it is hard to identify an intellectual justification for excluding the New World.

Now the present blog (The Ancient World Bloggers Group) seems to take a relaxed attitude. Most of the content focused on the Old World, but New World interlopers such as myself are not excluded. As for Charles’s new project of looking at the “Ancient [Old] World Online”, I see nothing wrong with his focus, since it reflects his interests, his knowledge and his institutional affiliation. I am certainly not accusing any of the participants in these blogs of chauvinism or tunnel vision! I guess my peeve is that “The Ancient World” sounds like a broad and inclusive category, when in fact it is being used as a geographically limited category that excludes phenomena that many people would include in their conceptions of the term “ancient.”

PS – I think that this and other work in digital scholarship reported in these blogs is first-rate, and I am jealous that those of us working in the “ancient” part of the New World are far behind you guys!

Ching, Francis D.K., Mark M. Jarzombek, and Vikramaditya Prakash
2007 A Global History of Architecture. John Wiley and Sons, New York.

Conway, Hazel and Rowan Roenisch
2005 Understanding Architecture: An Introduction to Architecture and Architectural History. Routledge, New York.

Moffett, Marian, Michael Fazio, and Lawrence Wodehouse
2004 A World History of Architecture. McGraw-Hill, New York.

Roth, Leland M.
2007 Understanding Architecture: Its Elements, History, and Meaning. 2nd ed. Westview, Cambridge, MA.

A new blog: AWOL - The Ancient World online

With the new year I have initiated a new blog AWOL - The Ancient World online.

The idea for this blog began with a series of entries under the heading AWOL here at the Ancient World Bloggers Group Blog. I have decided to move it to its own space here beginning in 2009.

The primary focus of the blog will be notice and comment on open access material relating to the ancient world, but I will also include other kinds of networked information as it comes available.

The ancient world here is conceived as it is at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University, my academic home. That is, from the Pillars of Hercules to the Pacific, from the beginnings of human habitation to the late antique / early Islamic period. To a great extent it is a function of my work building the ISAW Library.

Much of what appears here will also appear in Abzu, and a newsfeed from there is included on AWOL as it is on the righthand sidebar here.

I hope readers will find it interesting and useful, and that you'll pass word of it, and add it to your blogrolls, feed readers, aggregators, and so on.

Comments are welcome and encouraged.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Making the LEAP II: A Transatlantic LEAP project

Are any readers here making proposals to this initiative?

With the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Internet Archaeology is offering $6600 to four successful applicants to facilitate article and archive preparation.

Internet Archaeology invites proposals for integrated electronic publications and archives for publication in the journal, with digital archiving by an appropriate US-based digital repository (or by the Archaeology Data Service), under the Making the LEAP II project. Proposals must be from projects hosted/co-hosted in North American institutions.

We seek four exemplars to investigate novel ways in which Internet publication can provide broad access to research findings in Archaeology, and can also make underlying data available in such a way so that readers are enabled to "drill down" seamlessly into online archives to test interpretations and develop their own conclusions.

Priority will be given to projects within the fields of Archaeology, Classics, Ancient and Medieval History and CRM as long as the subject falls within the editorial scope of Internet Archaeology.

Successful projects will be given dedicated editorial support to explore novel strategies for e-publication and to bring the article to publication (including mark-up and managing of the peer review process). Funding is also available to cover archiving costs. It will be necessary to impose a strict timetable to achieve the publication of each exemplar. Exemplar 1 should be submitted in full by April 2009 so that it reaches publication in Autumn 2009.

In summary, authors can expect:

* A grant of $6600 towards preparation of the paper and archive, half paid up front ($3300) and half on delivery ($3300)
* Dedicated editorial support in York
* Technical support for interface development using technologies such as VR & GIS
* A grant of up to $8250 towards the archiving costs (payable to the digital archive)

Project Web page

Please contact the Editor, Judith Winters (editor@intarch.ac.uk), as soon as possible to discuss the suitability of your project before submitting your proposal.


Judith Winters
Editor, Internet Archaeology

Thursday, January 1, 2009

All Things Are Better in Koine

Here is a light-hearted look at learning Greek ...

There is a "All Things Are Better in Koine" Facebook Group.