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Joint Interdisciplinary international conference on Island Identities 28-30 March 2023

Joint Interdisciplinary international conference on Island Identities 28-30 March 2023
View of the A. G. Leventis Gallery of Ancient Cyprus at the Fitzwilliam Museum. Copyright Fitzwilliam Museum 2021.

The Fitzwilliam Museum and the Ashmolean Museum are pleased to announce an interdisciplinary conference to be held March 28–30, 2023 in Cambridge, London and Oxford. The first day (28 March 2023) will take place at the Old Divinity School, St John’s College, Cambridge, the second (29 March 2023) at the Cyprus House, St James’ Square, London and the third (30 March 2023) at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

The conference will accompany the two major exhibitions opening February 2023 in Cambridge Islanders: The Making of the Mediterranean (as part of the Being an Islander project) and Labyrinth: Knossos, Myth & Reality, in Oxford on the theme of the Mediterranean islands, exploring research questions which are complementary between the two projects.

The conference will include keynote lectures from leading researchers in the fields of Mediterranean archaeology, island archaeology, and the archaeology of Crete and Knossos, as well as neighbouring scientific fields (archaeobotany, archaeometallurgy and ceramic studies) in dialogue with the broader disciplines mentioned above.

Throughout history, islands have been treated as distinct places, unlike mainland and continental masses. In geographic terms, islands are merely pieces of land surrounded by water, but the perception of island life has never been neutral. Rather, the term ‘insularity’ – belonging to/being of an island – has been romanticised and associated with otherness. Islands have often been deemed to have different histories from the mainland and with more readily isolated socio-political, cultural and economic characteristics. Yet connectivity has also been an important feature of island life as the sea can be a linking rather than just a dividing body, motivating and maintaining informal and formal connections. This has been made evident by the flourishing studies of the archaeology, art and history of the Mediterranean islands.

‘Being an Islander: Art and Identity of the Large Mediterranean Islands’ research project addresses the above questions under a broad diachronic scope and applies integrative analytical approach to our exhibits. The associated exhibition will also engage works of contemporary artists whose creations contemplate what belonging to an island means. Papers presented in this joint conference by the Being an Islander research consortium (Fitzwilliam Museum, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, The Cyprus Institute, Department of Antiquities, Cyprus, Greek Ministry of Culture, National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari) will present the project’s findings on topics of insularity, mobility and migration in the Mediterranean diachronically.

The second theme of our conference, centred on the Ashmolean’s Labyrinth exhibition, will focus on the archaeological site of Knossos. For many, Knossos was the Labyrinth, the mythical home of the Minotaur, while others know it as the centre of the Bronze Age Minoan civilisation and the home of the earliest farmers in Europe. Using objects excavated over the course of over nearly 150 years, archival documents and digital technology, the Ashmolean will reveal the history of this world-famous archaeological site. Collaborating with the Greek Ministry of Culture, the British School at Athens and Oxford’s School of Archaeology, this will be UK’s first major exhibition focussing on Knossos, including many significant loans from Greece. Papers presented in the joint conference will bring together speakers from these partner organisations and the excavators responsible for new discoveries in and around Knossos.

Provisional programme

28 March 2023 Cambridge Day

9:30 – 9:45am Anastasia Christophilopoulou, Introduction

9:45 - 10:15am: Keynote speaker Katerina Kopaka (Professor Emerita, University of Crete) Little islands, big cultural issues. The Gavdos interdisciplinary experience

10:15 - 10:35am: Eoin Parkinson, Simon Stoddart & Caroline Malone Malta: the current evidence for identity and interaction. (Delivered by Eoin Parkinson).

Tea break 10:35- 11:00 am

Islands beyond the ancient world horizon

11:00 – 11:20am: Dr Polyxeni Adam-Veleni & Asterios Peltekis (Καλλιτεχνικός Διευθυντής του Κρατικού Θεάτρου Βορείου Ελλάδος) Insularity and being an islander in ancient Greek theatrical literature

11:20 – 11:40am: Dr. Laura Dierksmeier (Early Modern History, Universität Tübingen, Germany), The Island Studies Academic Network (Sponsored by the German Research Foundation)

11:40 – 12:00pm: Discussion on morning papers

Lunch break 12:00 – 13:00 pm

Being an Islander research network presentations

13:00- 13:20: Prof James Whitley, (Cardiff University), Being Cretan, Being Knossian: Nested Island Identities Compared Through Time

13:20 – 13:40: Dr Evi Margaritis (Associate Professor, The Cyprus Institute), Parallel or similar lives? Agricultural choices in Bronze Age Crete and Cyprus

13:40 - 14:00: Anastasia Christophilopoulou, West area of Samos Archaeological survey

14:0) - 14:20: Jan-Marc Henke (Director of the Heraion Samos, excavations) The trans-Mediterranean relations of Samos in the 7th and early 6th century BC and their impact on the Samian community and the cult in the Heraion

14:20 – 14:40: Dr Giorgos Artopoulos (Associate Professor, The Cyprus Institute) & Nicolas Loucas (Research Assistant, The Cyprus Institute) Field-to-Museum VR: use of immersive visualisation for archaeological data interpretation

14:40 - 15:10: Dr Helen Dawson (Università di Bologna / Freie Universität Berlin) Closing remarks

Coffee break 15:10 – 15:30

15:30 - 16:30: Being an Islander Documentary projection

18:00pm Dinner for speakers and key partners at the Olive Grove restaurant, Cambridge

29 March 2023 Cyprus High Commission (11:30 am – 20:00 pm)

11.30am: High Commissioner’s welcome

11:40 - 12:00pm Andrew Shapland & Anastasia Christophilopoulou, Introductions to the 2 exhibitions.

12.00 - 13.00: Cyprian Broodbank (Disney Professor of Archaeology, University of Cambridge). Mediterranean islands in global perspective.

13.00 Lunch


14:00 - 14:30: Polyxeni Adam Veleni (Director General of Antiquities, Greece). Are the Euboeans islanders? Colonization in Northern Greece, an overview.

14:30 - 15:00: TBC.

15:00 - 15:30: Francesco Muscolino (Director of the National Archaeological Museum Cagliari, Sardinia). Insularity and Mediterranean networks in the collections of the National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari from prehistory to the contemporary age.

Coffee break: 15:30 - 16:00


16:00 - 16:30 Stella Mandalaki, (Director, Heraklion Archaeological Museum) The Minoan Legacy of the Heraklion Archaeological Museum

16:30 - 17:00: Vasiliki Sythiakaki, Elisavet Kavoulaki, Maria Kladou, Conservation, restoration and site management of the Palace of Knossos

17:00 - 17:30: Rebecca Sweetman (Director, British School at Athens), Early excavations at Knossos: women and an alternative perspective

17:30: Reception and buffet dinner

20:00: Close

30 March Oxford Day

New Research at Knossos

Venue: Headley Lecture Theatre, Ashmolean Museum

10:00am: Registration

10.10am: Andrew Shapland Introduction

Morning session: chair Stella Mandalaki

10.20: Despina Ignatiadou, Human versus hybrid. Theseus and the Minotaur in sculpture

10.45: Eirini Galli and Kleanthis Sidiropoulos, The epigram of Knossian Tharsymachos. A walk down memory lane.

11.10: Senta German, Arthur Evans, Piet de Jong and Building of Modern Knossos.

11.35 - 12:00pm: Break

12.00: Katerina Kopaka (Emerita Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology, Department of History and Archaeology, University of Crete), A guide to the ancient city of Knossos – the Palace of King Minos I – the Knossos Labyrinth. A new manuscript of Minos Kalokairinos in the Historical Museum of Crete

12.25: Georgia Flouda (Head of Department of Prehistoric and Minoan Antiquities, Heraklion Archaeological Museum), Alessandro Greco (Professor, University of Sapienza) and Erika Notti ( Assistant Professor, Università Milan) Exploring the materiality and epigraphy of Knossian Linear B tablets through 3D modelling and RTI: research objectives and results of the Pa-i-to Project

12.50: Katerina Athanasaki (Head of the Department of Exhibitions, Communication and Education, Heraklion Archaeological Museum), Reproducing the Minoans: Travelling plaster copies, made in Crete (1900-1935)

13.15: Lunch

Afternoon session: chair Vassiliki Sythiakaki

14.30: Peter Tomkins (Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Humanities, University of Catania), Neolithic Knossos: from legacy excavations to histories of people and place

14.55: Amy Bogaard (Professor of Neolithic and Bronze Age Archaeology, School of Archaeology, University of Oxford) and Valasia Isaakidou (Postdoctoral Researcher, School of Archaeology, University of Oxford), Farming and food at Knossos: the long-term story

15.20: John Pouncett, Knossos 3D model (title tbc)

15.45: Todd Whitelaw (Professor of Aegean Archaeology, UCL Institute of Archaeology), Maria Bredaki and Andonis Vasilakis (both Emeritus Ephors, Ephorate of Antiquities of Heraklion), The Knossos Urban landscape Project: documenting the long-term development of the city

16.10: Break

16.40: Colin Macdonald (British School at Athens), Excavating Evans and Hogarth: the contribution of the SW Houses excavations (1992-1993, 1995) to Knossian prehistory

17.05: Maria Roussaki (Archaeologist, Ephorate of Antiquities of Heraklion), A new Minoan Fresco from Knossos: ‘The Swallows Fresco’

17.30: Vassiliki Sythiakaki (Director, Ephorate of Antiquities of Heraklion), Early Byzantine Knossos. Attempting a re-examination

18.00 Reception

View of the entrance hall of the Ashmolean Museum. The Antiquities Department of the Ashmolean Museum is a partner of the a joint conference, happening March 28-30, 2023. Copyright Ashmolean Museum 2020.
View of the entrance hall of the Ashmolean Museum. The Antiquities Department of the Ashmolean Museum is a partner of the a joint conference, happening March 28-30, 2023. Copyright Ashmolean Museum 2020.
The second day of the conference (29 March 2023) will be hosted at the Cyprus House, St James' Square, London, SW1Y 4LB.
The second day of the conference (29 March 2023) will be hosted at the Cyprus House, St James' Square, London, SW1Y 4LB.
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