Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Swedish Institutes saved: the celebrations

Archaeologists at Stockholm celebrating

Yesterday, Monday November 17, brought by the eagerly waited news that the new Swedish Government withdrew its budget framework proposal and stated officially that the state funding of the Mediterranean Institutes will continue in 2017 and afterwards. This means that all those almost 14,000 supporters who signed the Save the Mediterranean Institutes petition, did help us to save the Swedish Institutes. And many who did not manage to sign were supporting in principle

Vi fikade

The government published a press release on the Education Ministry's web site around 1pm on Monday and the news spread like a wild fire (thanks our tweeting Ida, the Facebook group and private e-mails; now also in English). The news even reached the Director of the Swedish Institutes in Rome, travelling with students in Sicily. It was not only the social media but the ongoing discussion in the Swedish newspapers and blogs plus the background work of the Rectors of the Swedish Universities, the boards of different Institutes and the friends of different Institutes that did the trick - not to mention all the research, courses, talks, publications, art events, conferences and networking the Institutes do, and the support from the other institutes, foreign and national, universities, researchers and citizens. Now we all can enjoy the Institutes in the future.

The printed out petition lists and articles

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Snodfest: the children of the Classics revolution

How do you define a good professor? I got one answer last weekend in the 80th birthday conference of Anthony Snodgrass. It is clear that he did not only write groundbreaking books and start a revolution within classical archaeology by advocating survey archaeology and not concentrating on vase painting, but also nurtured a legion of students many of whom are nowadays in prominent positions all around the world. They were prepared to (wo)man three separate organising committees – one in Britain, one in Holland and one in America. Then they all flew to Britain and spent one weekend in Cambridge giving first-class papers and seemed to have great fun throughout. I know – I paid for the Saturday dinner and saw how the people in my table seized the moment to chat with their friends they had not seen socially for ages.

James Whitley, Sara Owen and Lisa Nevett present Snoddy with the book

When I heard who were organising this conference, I knew I had to be there in order to witness it, even if I had been at the Department of Archaeology and not the Faculty of Classics at Cambridge. However, I remembered a gentle, kindly spoken man during his last years in the high office at the turn of the millennium – and now all these big names were coming to one place to celebrate him. At that time I did not guess just how much of a warm group hug it all was going to be. The students and colleagues had not only prepared one, but two volumes of papers – one from his students and one from the colleagues – all given to the birthday boy in a preliminary format. An old mountaineering friend had painted a landscape to commemorate the occasion. This was even if his 90-odd years did not allow him to come to the occasion himself. It also turned out that these ‘big names’, such as Susan Alcock and Ian Morris, were good company and I had splendid time in the pub and in the ‘fun table’. I now owe Susan a pint and hope to repay one day, if I ever get to an AIA (American Institute of Archaeology) conference.

The Saturday dinner in the Cripps Court

The conference itself was top notch and all the people had taken care of preparing something special. Instead of carting to the pulpit the same old, same old, all were either presenting new research or drawing long-term conclusions out of their old projects. Thus, we heard John Bintliff to draw together 30 years of the Boeotia survey, peppered with delightful photographs from the 1980s. David Small discussed his new ideas about applying complexity theory to pre-Classical Greece – work so recent that the graphs presented only the results of a preliminary work from the Iron Age Knossos – not that he had remembered to put the titles in the graph (thus, I had an easy question to pop in the lunch table). Rolf Schneider discussed his and his student's reconstruction of the Phrygian sculpture programme of Basilica Aemilia – a piece of research that only have become possible lately when the collection of the marble fragments have been available for the scholars. Alexandra Coucouzeli discussed the potential gods in the shrine at Zagora on Andros. The absolute revelation was Tom Gallant’s project in contemporary or near contemporary archaeology in Greece, combining archaeology of field terraces and mills to the archive study of migrant flows from the Ottoman times to the free Greece. He also explained that his book on a murder on a Greek island will be made as a Hollywood movie. Why study property deeds, when you can look at a cold case straight from the archives!

Bintliff on the Boeotia survey

I also learnt more about the references to archaisms in Hellenistic art, how to study manuring in the Mediterranean and agencies presented in the pre-Classical times by a krater and a pithos. I also managed to behave like a true Oxbridge brat. The constant travelling and a late arrival night before and early departure in the morning had resulted in me being a bit zonked, so I ended up suggesting slightly in a wrong tone of voice (and actually not only slightly, but in a full-on feisty duelling mode) to de Polignac that Mill and Rajala’s ceramiscene actually had already brought the suitable concepts into the interpretation of the hinterland of a polis in Italian archaeology. Even if I tried to pacify him later by saying that I do agree with his interpretations and admire him very much, he did seem to stare me with an icy look the reminder of the time. I feel guilty now, since how much literature in Greek archaeology I have time to read?

Snoddy's postscript

Those two and half days were memorable and provided food for thought for weeks to come. After all the talks Snoddy asked the younger generation to carry the torch and remember that agriculture was during the pre-Classical times 10 times more important than commerce and the painted pottery is 10 times more important to classical archaeologists than for the people in Greece or Etruria. Slowly I have realised that with my survey work, agricultural modelling and archaeological computing, I am a Cambridge girl and actually I am part of the revolution.

Things seem always happen to me. Luckily, nothing truly serious, but again one of those unexpected little irritations and puzzlements of life. When all was over in the Snodfest, I realised that my coat had vanished. Somebody else had used the hanger I had laid my coat on in the morning and in the rack next to mine, there was another beige trench coat. Unfortunately, although it was of a more expensive make, it was a full-length male one and of no use for the shorty me. I can only commiserate the person who apparently was wearing a suit and ran away before lunch to the train station or airport – and only too late noticed that instead of his well-made and beautiful coat, he had grabbed my old £25 Tesco sad-excuse-for-a-coat that was in a desperate need of a good wash and had had half of the buttons replaced by more or less similar kind of buttons of variable colours. Good for making a bad Columbo impression but not for much else. I only still had it for that short month-or-so-long period in Stockholm between summer and winter, when it is not yet cold enough for a woolly winter coat – with no time to spare for coat shopping. Any way, the fancy coat was still in the Cripps building on Tuesday when I was in Cambridge and checked if my coat had come back. If somebody overseas is moaning about grabbing an awful coat, he can contact the porters at the Magdalene college Cambridge!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Migration and the Mediterranean – USI and the Swedish Institute in Rome together

Very demanding two weeks have come to an end. It has been a time of running from one airport to another and crisscross Europe in a couple of days intervals. It has been the most rewarding time with two major conferences – both in their own way magnificient – this week. The week has also seen more exciting events with me joining those people who leave their laptop in a taxi. Luckily, my hotel in Rome had booked the taxi to the airport, so the company they normally use could track down the driver and I got my laptop back in time for my flight. In addition, the already late aircraft was stopped in the runway due to a brief thunderstorm and hale shower. Unfortunately, the aircraft was hit by lightning, so we were forced to return to the terminal for a check-up. An hour or so later we finally made our way to the skies. I arrived home at 11pm – only to leave for a train to Cambridge 7.25am. But I made breakfast to my son before leaving!

Kristian Göransson adresses the conference

I was in Rome in the Migration and the Mediterranean conference, where a multidisciplinary group of scholars discussed the migration across the Mediterranean in the past and present. The event was organised in co-operation by the University of Rome Tre, Lund University, the Swedish Institute in Rome and USI network (Universities and Swedish Institutes). This is an example of the kind of events the Swedish Institutes host these days. Collaborative, international and bridging the past and modern times. Together with the USI network the institutes in Rome, Athens and Istanbul organise MA-level university courses that have a residential part in the Mediterranean and that are frequented by students from all over Sweden. This time – during the week when the Mare Nostrum rescue operation in Italy came to an end and was replaced by the EU border control programme Frontex – much of the attention was concentrated on the North African migration to Europe and asylum situation in relation to the war in Syria. Many of these asylum-seekers try to enter Europe via Tunisia or Libya and Lampedusa is their point of contact with European officials.

Reception in the Swedish Institute for the delegates

Almost a half of the researchers were jurists discussing the migration flows from North Africa, international sea rescue laws and marine principles, the definition of minors in the asylum process and the principle of solidarity and Dublin convention in the European Union. The director of the Swedish Institute in Rome, Kristian Göransson, talked about the early migrations of major civilisations across the Mediterranean and I presented my case study from Nepi discussing Latin colonisation as migration. My argument needs definitely more work and I overrun and had to cut my talk short, since one has to explain more to non-archaeologist audience, but I could give an inkling how a local archaeological study can have implications to regional and even global issues. I also asked people to sign the Save the Mediterranean Institutes petition.

This week saw the Swedish newspaper articles that seem to confirm that the source of the financial cut plans in regard to the Mediterranean Institutes came from the Swedish Treasury. There was also a suggestion that these plans were drawn a significant time ago and were now presented suddenly in the budget framework. Another development is that the Higher Education Minister has been asked to face the Culture committee of the Swedish Parliament in order to answer the questions about the preparations of the budget framework item(s) and if the concerned parties and stakeholders were consulted as required by the Swedish law. Apparently the law states that if the cuts have consequences in the functioning of the organisations in question, these have a right to make their case BEFORE the plans are made public. The hearing will take place on November 18 and it will definitely make interesting hearing and reading. It was confirmed in the papers that the head of the governing body of the Institutes was phoned on October 22 – a day before the plans were made public on October 23. The procedure may have been incorrect. This makes the collection of names to the petition important, since it will show the government the support, contacts and collaborations the Institutes have nationally and internationally.

The most important contribution

The opening panel in the Migration conference saw the current Swedish ambassador in Italy speaking about the ancient civilisations and their migrations and influence in the Mediterranean and over our culture in her talk. The current Italian ambassador in Sweden talked about the urgency of the migration issues in Italy and Europe and the need for co-operation. In their diplomatic and tacit ways they supported the Institute and USI in these unexpectedly turbulent times.

The conference was finished with a panel on the Syrian issue of more grass-root experts ranging from a Syrian refugee, Syrian researcher living in Sweden, Italian journalist based in Beirut and specialising in Syria and advising different public bodies and different NGOs helping Syrian refugees in Turkey and France. They had concrete suggestions how the situation could be eased or even slowly solved, but they saw a few years of war ahead of us. Some of the suggestions were such that one would have hoped that the representatives of Italian government and European Union had been present. It made a lot of sense, but the whole panel reminded everyone in the audience how much Turkey is bearing of the refugee support and how small numbers of refugees are taken officially by different European Union countries. Sweden is there among the two biggest helpers, but sadly my homeland is sticking to its traditional hundreds and my adopted homeland is not pulling its international weight.

Mare Nostrum ensemble on stage

The conference finished with a delightful concert of the Mare Nostrum ensemble, a special event organised by Roma Tre in the honour of the conference. The ensemble played Renaissance and Baroque themes that had travelled Europe-wide and influenced Bach and other great composers in order to bring a pan-European message to Rome. The lovely evening with music and song finished with a Neapoletanean version of Santa Lucia – originally a local boat song. It lightened the atmosphere after the serious discussions on Mare Nostrum, Frontex and Syria. With the openings of potential new lines of co-operations between archaeologists and lawyers, we live exciting times – and not just worrying ones.

The following sentences are left only to keep the historicity of this blog intact: "We will still need all the signatures we can get in order to show that we have support both nationally and internationally. Please, sign and tell your friends to sign too, if you already haven't:
Save the Mediterranean Institutes petition". We won! The Swedish Government has now promised to provide state funding for the Mediterranean Institutes in the foreseeable future.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

A perfect storm – and how to respond

Back at Stockholm all classical archaeologists have been acting against the absurd suggestion in the budget framework that the Mediterranean Institutes in Rome, Athens and Istanbul should lose their funding by 2017 and effectively close. This in effect would also threaten the existence of our subject, Classical Studies, that combines ancient history and classical / Mediterranean archaeology. It may feel for a person who is not into classical studies that it is surprising that this discipline is taught in four universities in Sweden, but there is a good explanation to it. No, I do not mean the tradition with the King Gustav VI excavating in Etruria, but the way all foreign and Italian institutes in collaboration save our common World Heritage.

The Mediterranean studies have a long tradition in ecological investigation, too, so archaeologists and historians are not only revealing the origins of agriculture and metal production in Europe, not to mention Classical art, architecture, Latin and Greek alphabet, law making and drama to list a few things we have still among us today. No, archaeology has been helping in such Europe-wide investigations erosion in the Mediterranean as ARCHEOMEDES and MEDALUS for decades now. One country alone cannot grasp the vast heritage around the Mediterranean or exhaust research questions. The management and protection of this heritage is a huge effort and countries like Greece need joint efforts – especially in these times when conflict and economic misery bring added problems to the Mediterranean. Naturally, we have to care for the people first, but the Mediterranean heritage in its entirety including both the eastern and western and northern and southern traditions deserves us working together.

If there is one person in whole Sweden personifies carrying the flame that is Ida Östenberg, a docent in ancient history at the Gothenburg University. She wrote quickly an opinion on the web page of the Swedish Broadcasting Company (SVT) on Friday October 24 when the whole issue had became apparent to the Mediterranean humanists in the afternoon of the day before, Thursday, October 23. She also spoke in the radio and has been active on Facebook and Twitter and helping to pass different screenshots from the Rädda Medelhavsinstituten Facebook community. In one place one could find the letters written by Elizabeth Fentress on the behalf of the International Association of Classical Archaeology (AIAC), the letter written by Christopher Smith on the behalf of the Union of the International Research Institute in Rome, the images of key tweets, such as that of Mary Beard, and the signatures on the Save the Mediterranean Institutes petition, such as that of Andrew Wallace-Hadrill. Swedes from both sides of the political spectrum have signed and the Swedish and other Nordic signatures are alternated with those from both sides of the Atlantic, bringing together professors, students and people who live around or visit the Mediterranean.

The Humanities have felt threatened for some time when the usefulness of the natural sciences have been emphasised. Nobody seems to remember that in order to sell anything across the globe, one cannot only to go about speaking English and expect everybody thinking similarly and having the same customs. Our economic situation has parallels and one has not to look further than the late antiquity to see stagnation and diminishing living standards. In addition, we humanists and scientists do work together today nowadays, so natural sciences and humanities cannot live totally without each other. Some of us are not without scientific studies, even if we are mainly humanists. To expect to build internationalisation elsewhere while cutting away decades of development and building up that has been carried out in order to allow students and scholars to see the monuments first hand, interact and find the books and series not available in the Nordic countries – or even Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh, London or Oxford – would be unimaginable hit to the heart of the Mediterranean studies. By collecting names and my colleagues filling the notice boards with notices at the University, we remind the government what would be lost and could not be rebuilt. And our colleagues are giving their helping hand.

I will post this blog entry already today, since tomorrow I have to write another piece like this, but for a more serious forum and then I will head to Rome to the Migration and the Mediterranean conference, organised partly by the Swedish Institute in Rome. For my talk I have had to think why I am doing this in the Mediterranean, why my work is relevant and what use is my little footnote in the history of Latin colonisation. I have to verbalise it as I had to conceptualise the potential Mediterranean archaeology has this week in a trial lecture – and it has huge potential. I woke up late to the situation and have contributed mainly by sending few e-mails that may or may not have been helped the cause. I do not know what the next week in Rome brings – or if I have woken up anybody so that they will wake up for Kristian’s, Director’s, talk on the coming Wednesday morning – but maybe I can contribute from my tiny part to the preservation of our common heritage.

Nevertheless, hats off for Ida, our shining light. With her kind of people, and such as the journalist Sanna Ryman, whose early column shed light onto the situation, and archaeologists Moa Ekbom, who got the Facebook community and the petition going being the first to sign, Ingrid Berg, who linked the whole budget suggestion text to Facebook with the crucial page 308 on the morning of October 23, and Julia Habetzeder, who collects all blog entries in one place, and with media such as Aftonbladet, which apparently was first to notice this scandal, we can show that we Mediterranean scholars and all humanists and our friends are modern, sassy and sharp, and protect something we could lose so easily.

The following sentences are left only to keep the historicity of this blog intact: "We will need all the signatures we can get in order to show that we are united and value humanities and international collaboration. Please, sign and tell your friends to sign too, if you already haven't:
Save the Mediterranean Institutes petition". We won! The Swedish Government has now promised to provide state funding for the Mediterranean Institutes in the foreseeable future.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

“Taliban politics”, says Carl Bildt

Rarely you are suddenly facing a fact that is so gobsmacking, you have to check the date. No, it was not an April Fools’ Day on Thursday, Friday or Saturday, even if the new Swedish government had suddenly decided to cut all the funding for the Swedish Mediterranean Institutes by 2017 as part of their higher education policy. This decision came totally from behind the woods and came as a total surprise: nobody in their right mind had expected anything like it. The Swedish Mediterranean Institutes include those in Rome, Athens and Istanbul. The commentators in the Svenska Dagbladet and Dagens Nyheter, the major Swedish broadsheets, have been wondering especially the sense of cutting funding from the last one that spearheads the humanistic research into Turkey, the Middle East, Central Asia and Islamic countries. In the current situation in the Mediterranean with the war in Syria and Irak and asylum seekers pouring in to Europe via Lampedusa in Italy we need to understand the region better and have outposts in the Mediterranean.

The Swedish Institute in Rome in the 1940s

I myself have been on a half-term holiday and taking care busily about the family matters and spending time with my son. I only noticed the alarming situation when spotting the mailings from the Antiquitas, the Finnish classical discussion forum in one of my mail boxes when sending e-mails. The check to Facebook and the Swedish classical studies group resulted with getting a link to the petition to save the Swedish Mediterranean Institutes. By the time I signed, 8000 people had done the same. After this I started to read the news coverage from the Swedish broadsheets. What an interesting reading it made!

It seems that the incoming higher education minister had no previous experience from the higher education – and neither did her political secretary. Somebody had decided that this saving of 22 million Swedish krona (about 2 million sterling) would not hurt Sweden’s reputation as a cultural superpower in any way. Somebody had not realized that, even if the institutes are foundations, they have next to none independent funding. There are no huge past will donations or such like, and all work is dependent on public funding. No money means closing down in this context. The new budget framework also came out just when the governing bodies of at least Rome and Athens Institutes had had their board meetings, where this kind of threat was not discussed. On the contrary, the meetings were in Rome and Kavalla respectively and celebrated the cultural heritage and achievement there in the Mediterranean. The Swedish government does not look like being highly competent here (this came just after the ‘traditional Swedish submarine hunt’ as well – coincidently, the cost of the hunt seemed to be the same 22 million Swedish krona).

The situation remains unclear, even if the higher education minister Helene Hellmark Knutsson started backtracking after remaining silent and not answering the enquiries about the matter. Since the funding for the institutes remains in 2015, there is plenty of time according to her to listen and hear criticisms on the the matter before the funding is halved in 2016 and abolished in 2017. This statement was considered cryptic and the matter worth backtracking by Anders Q. Björkman in the Svenska Dagbladet. There have been suggestions that this whole cancelling of funds is related to the building of a particle physics research centre near Lund, but the government has denied this. Ironically, the policy came from a government that tries to be seen as culture friendly - we have clearly a left and right hand situation here.

Personally, I am about to attend the Migration and the Mediterranean conference in Rome in a week’s time, supported and co-organised by the Swedish Institute in Rome. I also organised an international workshop in the Institute just a month ago, so I can say I have contributed to the work of the institute and understand its meaning in the modern world in the Mediterranean networks. In the conference I do speak about ancient matters, but power struggles during different periods are the background to the relevant discussions on asylum systems in Europe, Lampedusa and Syria. An Institute that organizes such a conference is not just some vanity project, but an organisation Sweden needs in the modern world.

The following sentence is left only to keep the historicity of this blog intact: "It is still worth signing the petition as long as the situation is unclear:
Save the Mediterranean Instituts petition". We won! The Swedish Government has now promised to provide state funding for the Mediterranean Institutes in the foreseeable future.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Across the Baltic Arch

This week saw me unexpectedly being a northern expert at Stockholm - thanks to my docentship at the University of Oulu that has resulted me keeping an eye on my colleague's work presented in a closed Facebook group and more widely in Facebook and different archaeological media. Speaking and reading Finnish is sometimes a plus, even if we Finns have to learn more than two languages in order to communicate properly in the modern world. My expertise had its use during the questions of Per H. Ramqvist's interesting talk about the large Recalling the past research programme that tries to shed light to the little known late Iron Age and Medieval period in Norrland, Lappland and elsewhere in the northern Sweden. This area was the meeting point of the Sami, Scandinavians and Finns during this period and very few archaeological monuments related to permanent [Scandinavian] farming communities are known even if there is an understanding that animal fur was one of the high-status exports during the time and there are unique farm stead of Gene (Ramqvist 1983) in Norrland and a few burial mounds and stray metal finds from the coastal area near the modern Finnish border.

A reconstructed house at Gene

Archaeology tends to be a national discipline and the research follows national [and language] boundaries. Thus, in most of the maps in Ramqvist's presentation the colours and symbols restricted to the area within the Swedish national boundaries and Norway and Finland were almost empty. However, this is actually far from the truth and I know that the last two years have revealed a new Late Viking Age inhumation burial ground in Ii in the northern coastal area in Finland. There are also plenty of both Sami monuments in Finnish Lapland (that starts basically where the Swedish finishes - a source of one stilted discussion at the department this week, since mentally I perceive Swedish Lapland as 'Norrland', since Finnish coast line is still technically northern Ostrobottnia, not Lapland) and the same stone settings plentiful on the Swedish side and connected to seal hunting are similarly plentiful also on the Finnish side.

I proceeded to ask if the University of Umeå that is running the research programme does collaborate with the University of Oulu, which has its seminar dig at Ii and has for decades studied northern Iron Age and Medieval period. The answer was delightful 'yes'. It seems that different projects and programmes at Umeå and Oulu discuss with each other and are in some kind of merging process. Thus, we can expect that in the future we will see distribution maps where there are colours and symbpls for example fpr different monument types and Sami placenames from both sides of the border.

Ramqvist, P. H., 1983. Gene. On the origin, function and development af sedentary Iron Age settlement in Northern Sweden (Archaeology and Environment 1). Umeå: Umeå universitet.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Landscape Archaeology Conference 2014 Part 2

A landscape: Stockholm from Skinnarbacken, its highest point

Now that I and my notes are in the same city and land I can write more in detail what I learnt in the LAC 2014. Since this conference was in Italy, many of the important sessions were run by famous Italian scholars. This meant a series of papers on relatively local topics. Not that my own paper presented really material from more than one place – I thus fit the Italian framework well – but it was an occasion to hear more about the research that is going on in different less ‘crowded’ research areas. This does not mean that all papers presented local case studies. The opening keynote lecture was by an earth modeller who is not an archaeologist but an environmentalist who is interested in how much prehistoric humans affected the general vegetation levels and climate. Jed O. Kaplan’s models suggested that most of the Europe was lacking wilderness by the Medieval period and the large scale influence on landscape fragmentation can be assumed for the whole Holocene. He suggested that the deforestation was a factum of most of Europe already by the Early Iron Age (1000 BC). This actually fits well to my own local example where the GIS models suggest that all suitable agricultural land was needed for cereal production by the Archaic period (500 BC).

Running conference in three different institutes meant that one had to spend more time consider the papers one really wanted to hear, since the move from one location to another always required exiting and entering institutes through a public road. However, it was clear from early on that there were generally less people in the Swedish Institute, which meant that it was the place to be at lunchtime. You needed to queue less and there was food left when you reached the table. The poster sessions were cosier and you generally discussed more with people. The queue to the toilet tended to be shorter, but not as short as in the Belgian Institute. Small things are important when you need to catch a paper in another building...

It is always a pity that people cannot come and read their papers and I have been sinner as well, even if I try to avoid the matter now as far as possible. It was interesting to notice that one speaker who had apparently fallen ill (or whose family member had) let read two papers in the conference: one should not have been read by anybody else, since the point was lost when the replacement reader monotonously ploughed through the text and the author was not there to explain the key inscriptions and patterns on maps freely. Contrarily, the latter one was clear presenting an interesting online Republican family name database with well-thought narrative arch and nice maps of individuals from Praeneste moving around the Mediterranean in the past.

I was hoping to hear a lot of GIS papers, but ended up sitting quite a lot in the ancient topography session. It was nice to give definite faces to some people whose work you have read for ages and there was extremely good papers, too. Sadly, not the one about the Sicilian find distributions. Apparently all distributions on the maps were random, but when I looked at them, terracottas and cooking wares definitely peaked in different areas. Did the author mean that the correlations between grids and numbers were not significant, or did he not want to interpret small variations? This way or that way, I hope he does not dismiss the evidence. However, the work at Verucchio was highly interesting, as could be expected, and the other Finnish input, the geophysical survey Jari Pakkanen runs at Naxos was just such an interesting piece of solid research with a mathematical twist in the end.

The conference ran a competition for PhD students, a.k.a. young researchers (when will they have a ‘thank you that you still bother come up with new things, darling’ award for us slightly frustrated golden oldies?), notified some researchers I had noticed in the conference. One of the poster awards went to a female PhD student,Felicity Winkley, who had already flown back in the afternoon, which I communicated to the organisers. She studies metal detector finds and was generally fun to talk to. The runner-up award in the paper competition went to another female PhD student from Glasgow, Francesca Scalezzi, whose hair took the centre stage during the presentation. Do not take me wrongly, her paper on the use and data entry classification of legacy data was excellent, but her hair did need drawing back constantly and even so stayed hovering above her notes most of the time. A true performance on so many different levels!

The great papers I enjoyed and that were relevant to what I do were the discussion of sensitivity analysis by Marieka Brower Burg, the latest on the salt production and transhumance in central Etruria, read very quickly indeed by Franco Cambi and Gijs Tol’s paper on how Groningen projects in the Pontine Region try to incorporate inscriptions in their study. Gijs also spotted important points from our paper and got the very important amphorae observation as an answer. We will need to look at that thing elsewhere, too.

However, this was a conference of meetings of old friends and giving faces to people behind different work. I did meet ‘the poster lady’ in flesh, saw Michael Tiechmann and Thomas Whitley after so many years and shared a taxi with Jari after a decade or 15 years of no see. I discussed a couple of times with Matthew Fitzjohn and heard the latest from Gianna and family and Liverpool. Every meeting, not to mention spending time with my Swedish colleagues from the Swedish Institute, Riksantikvarieämbetet and Uppsala University, made the conference fee worth every euro.