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Anastasia Dakouri-Hild / Profile

Visiting assistant professor, Aegean and Near Eastern Archaeology | Faculty

Home Page: http://www.virginia.edu/art/arthistory/faculty/dakouri-hild.html

My current research interests are in material culture and value: in particular, the mutual feedback between value, meaning and style articulation on one hand, and identity construction and negotiation on the other; the archaeological manifestations of value judgments in the realms of production and consumption (including hoarding and gift-exchange); and the intricate play between dominant/élite and non-élite beliefs and identities in shaping the ‘regimes of value’ that broadly characterize any given society.

My field of specialty is Greek prehistory, located within the broader framework of prehistoric societies and material cultures of the Old World. I have a strong interest in the application of digital technologies in heritage management and archaeology, which has led to the GIS-based Digital Thebes pilot project. I have published on the Mycenaean civilization and the site of Thebes, while I am the co-editor of Autochthon: papers presented to O.T.P.K. Dickinson on the occasion of his retirement (2005) and co-editor of Beyond Illustration: 2D and 3D Technologies as Tools for Discovery in Archaeology (2008). I am currently formulating a book project, Visual cultures of antiquity, aiming to more fully integrate material culture and archaeological context in the study of ancient art.

Formerly an employee of the Greek Archaeological Service (heritage management and excavation), I have collaborated with the 9th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities since 1997 in the re-excavation and publication project of the House of Kadmos (or Old Palace of Thebes). The study is being written up in a monograph entitled The House of Kadmos at Thebes, Greece: the excavations of Antonios D. Keramopoullos (1906–1929).

I have taught courses and seminars on the ancient Near East (ARTH 211), the ancient Levant (ARAH 592), ancient Egypt (ARTH 212, ARAH 713), the prehistoric Aegean (ARTH 491, ARAH 916), the politics of Greek art (ARTH 491) and gender theory in archaeology (ARAH 592).


Current Focus

I am currently working on a monograph relating to the House of Kadmos in Thebes, Greece, under the auspices of the 9th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities. Excavated between 1906 and 1929, this monumental, two-storeyed Late Bronze Age building on the celebrated citadel of Thebes (fig. 1) features an impressive plan (fig. 6) and elevation and frescoes depicting a ceremonial procession of women (fig. 2). Notable among the finds are gold, glass, agate and quartz pieces of jewellery, many of which represent various manufacture stages and highlight production practices (figs. 3-4). The building also yielded the largest corpus of transport stirrup-jars (amphora-like ceramic vessels for the long-haul transport of goods) found in Greece to date (fig. 5). Many of these had been imported from Crete and inscribed with the administrative script of the Mycenaean era, Linear B. Such discoveries testified to the palatial character of the building in the early 20th century. They put Thebes on a level with other major palatial centres of the Aegean Bronze Age, such as Mycenae and Tiryns. They also led the excavator, A. Keramopoullos, to identify the site as the palace of Cadmus, the legendary Near Eastern founder of Thebes and brother of Europa.

Despite earlier studies on certain aspects of the site (e.g. Jacques Raison’s, Les vases à inscriptions peintes de l’âge mycénien et leur contexte archéologique, 1968) the lack of an integrated approach has led to an unbalanced representation of the archaeological record and a piecemeal understanding of disparate categories of finds, approached with little consideration of context and without reference to the built environment. Moreover, the site’s complex occupation history (prehistoric to Medieval) within the Theban landscape has been largely neglected. My research tackles both these problems. The monograph is a primary source of information for further study. At the same time, it transcends the standard definition of an archaeological monograph as a compilation of finds, by interpretatively making sense of the assemblage, placing it against a theoretical background. The general theme explored is the ‘economy of symbols’, i.e. the ideological and political control of art and the articulation and maintenance of elite identities through ‘high’ visual culture, such as pictorial frescoes and prestige artifacts made of exotic and precious materials.

In more detail, volume I casts light on the vexed issue of Theban topography and chronology, taking into account new evidence from more recent excavations in Thebes: since the House of Kadmos has guided the dating and interpretation of other palatial sites in Thebes, it is key to addressing this problem. Further issues addressed relate to: a) the imported transport stirrup-jars from the site, which illuminate trade relations between Crete and the Greek mainland in the late 14th-early 13th century; b) the small artifacts, especially the workshop material, which allow a rare glimpse into production practices within the palatial ambit and in particular, the production and consumption of prestige goods under monopolistic terms; c) the ceramic workshop, whose kiln (fig. 7) permits an understanding of utilitarian pottery production within the palatial realm and therefore augments our current understanding of the economy; d) sumptuary activities attested at the site (e.g. hoarding, banqueting) and the social uses of commodities in the elite ambit.

Volume II, the publication and study of the wall paintings in stylistic terms, is expected to be the first comprehensive study of Theban mural art and a major contribution to Aegean archaeology. The volume will deal with the Procession fresco (fig. 2), which depicts several lifesize women in aristocratic garb, processing both to the left and right and carrying gifts of symbolic/cultic significance. Originally installed at an upper or ground floor space, this fresco, which ran at least 14 m long, was shattered to pieces during the Mycenaean era (perhaps due to an earthquake). Its fragments were deposited underneath a later floor surface of the House of Kadmos; fortunately, therefore, they were not blackened by the conflagration that completely destroyed the building ca. 1300 BCE. In her landmark publication Die zeichnerische Rekonstruktion des Frauenfrieses im bootischen Theben (1954), Helga Reusch presented a paper reconstruction of the Procession fresco, based on 42 sizeable fragments. That the 1954 publication is a partial one is known to the academic community. Wall paintings with geometric designs and pictorial fragments of great archaeological and art historical interest (e.g. bird or griffin fragments, lion or griffin limbs, imitation marble dadoes) have been mentioned only in passing, in preliminary reports or excavation diaries. Moreover, recent work on the excavated material in storage at the Museum of Thebes has recently led to the realization that the majority of wall paintings, in fact, remain unpublished (an estimated 500-700 fragments). Significantly, included in this material are several pieces from the Procession fresco itself, unknown to scholars and the public alike. This fact raises questions about the accuracy of the 1954 reconstruction and, given the art historical significance and early date of this particular fresco, our understanding of the development of Mycenaean mural art. My research on this material aims at: a) a new reconstruction of the Procession fresco based on new fragments; b) a reconstruction of other disjointed pictorial themes long suspected to have been present at the House of Kadmos (e.g. a shield frieze similar to the one from the Mycenae palace; and a griffin or Nilotic scene); c) the identification of hitherto unknown murals from the site (e.g. geometric designs); d) the recontextualization of the wall paintings and illumination of their relationship with the building itself.

My teaching range encompasses the visual, and generally material, culture of Greece and the ancient Near East, 8000-900 BCE. The geographic coverage includes mainland Greece, Crete and the islands (with the Asia Minor coast); Egypt (with Nubia and parts of Libya), Mesopotamia, Syria-Palestine (with contemporary Israel, Jordan and Lebanon), Cyprus and Anatolia (with the Troad). Emphasis is placed on the wider societal context of the visual cultures in question; ‘ordinary’ housing and mortuary architecture and artifacts that highlight aspects of everyday life are incorporated as much as possible in teaching material to bring about a spherical understanding of the ancient societies in question.

Courses: Undergraduate ARTH 491 The visual culture of the prehistoric Aegean (Fall 2006, seminar) ARTH 211 Art and architecture of the ancient Near East and prehistoric Europe (Spring 2007, lecture course) ARTH 212 Art and archaeology of ancient Egypt (Spring 2008, lecture course) ARTH 491 The politics of Greek art (Spring 2008, seminar) Graduate ARAH 916 Minoans and Mycenaeans (Fall 2007; seminar) ARAH 713 Art and archaeology of ancient Egypt (Spring 2008, lecture course) ARAH 592-1 Advanced readings in the archaeology of the Levant (Spring 2008, reading course) ARAH 592-2 Advanced readings in gender and feminism (Spring 2008, reading course)

Future Goals

Among my future research goals are: a book on visual culture in antiquity, aiming to more fully integrate material culture and archaeological context in the study of ancient art; and a revised and expanded version of my doctoral thesis, on elite craftsmanship and performance in the Aegean world.

Visual culture in antiquity will grapple with the notion of ‘visual culture’ as a key characteristic of contemporary societies, and consider its applicability and use in an ancient societal context. Certainly, human experience is nowadays more visual than ever, and there is a tendency to visualize everything—even things not intended to be visual by nature (such as brain activity). But if we concede that visual culture is an active component of society, a “constantly challenging place of social interaction and definition in terms of class, gender, sexual and racialized identities” (N. Mirzoeff, An Introduction to Visual Culture, 1999), is it the case that a focus on the visual is pertinent to today’s societies only? The above definition of visual culture seems entirely compatible with the theoretical-archaeological notion that material culture, far from merely expressing static meanings, entangles people and things in dynamic processes of mutual signification. A new perspective that immerses visuality in context and culture emphasizing the specificity rather than universality of meaning, recognizes the dialectic rather than fixed nature of the image as relationship between past and present, viewer and viewed, and moves beyond competence, elite, dominant ideologies and langue, to performance, the everyday and parole, is a promising way of further bridging the art history/archaeology divide that is worth exploring further.

Interests

Archaeology, prehistory, Aegean, Minoan, Mycenaean, ancient Thebes, ancient Boeotia, GIS, paleosurface reconstruction, digital humanities, surveying, excavation, history of archaeology, theoretical archaeology, value theory, production and consumption of ancient commodities, ancient economy, artifact biographies, social uses of material culture, chemistry and geology in archaeology, petrographic and chemical analysis of pottery, ceramic production

Scholarly Disciplines
Anthropology (5), Archaeology (2), Art History (4), Classical Archaeology (1), Classics (2)
General Interests
Aegean (1), Archaeology (2), Digital Humanities (5), GIS (6), Minoan (1), Mycenaean (1), ancient Boeotia (1), ancient Thebes (1), ancient economy (1), artifact biographies (1), excavation (1), history of archaeology (1), paleosurface reconstruction (1), prehistory (1), production and consumption of ancient commodities (1), social uses of material culture (1), surveying (1), theoretical archaeology (1), value theory (1)
Time Periods of Interest
generally 7000-1000 BCE (1), more specifically 14th -12th c. BCE (1)
Places of Interest
Aegean (1), Anatolia (1), Cyprus (1), Egypt (1), Greece (2), Israel (1), Mesopotamia (1), Palestine (1), Syria (1), Turkey (1)
Technologies of Interest
GIS (8), ICP-MS (1), XRF (1), ceramic petrography (1), image analysis (1), mapping (1), statistical analysis (2)

Overview

Since 1998 I have been working on the final publication of a palatial site, the House of Kadmos in Thebes, a major center of prehistoric Greece equivalent to Mycenae, Pylos, Knossos and Troy. The site, located on central mainland Greece and excavated in the early 1900s, yielded the first evidence for socially stratified, state society in central Greece. The characteristics of this society include a political and economic system centered on the wanax (‘king’), the ideological control of visual culture, wealth and religion by the elite, and the state-wide mobilization of resources through central administration and script. Among the finds are unfinished prestige artefacts, which highlight virtuoso craftsmanship and the monopolistic production of elite goods, of key importance in the constitution of Mycenaean palatial identity (jewelry, weapons, elaborate furniture and chariot parts). The lifesize, ceremonial processional frescoes illuminate the iconographic representation of performance and ritual in prehistoric Greece and provide insight in the symbolics of the elite body. The building itself, the earliest Mycenaean palace known to date, features a unique plan and is key to understanding Theban topography and the evolution of palatial architectural design on the mainland in the context of Creto-Mycenaean relations. The pottery workshop, which includes the only known ceramic kiln in the region, illuminates the production of everyday commodities (such as plain pottery) under the auspices of the palace. The site also affords glimpses into long-distance trade in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean (with respect to wine, oil, pottery and precious exotic materials).

Publications

Books Edited volumes With B. Frischer (eds.) in press (expected 2007). Beyond illustration: 2D and 3D technologies as tools for discovery in archaeology, Archaeopress: Oxford, and ACLS Humanities E-Book. With S. Sherratt (eds.) 2005. Autochthon: papers presented to O.T.P.K. Dickinson on the occasion of his retirement, Archaeopress: Oxford. Monographs In prep. The House of Kadmos at Thebes, Greece: the Excavations of Antonios D. Keramopoullos (1906–1929). Vol. I: Architecture, Stratigraphy and Finds, Istituti Editoriali e Poligrafici Internazionali: Rome and Pisa (under contract). In prep. The House of Kadmos at Thebes, Greece: the Excavations of Antonios D. Keramopoullos (1906–1929). Vol. II: Wall-Paintings, Istituti Editoriali e Poligrafici Internazionali: Rome and Pisa (under contract). Book contributions With B. Frischer in press (expected 2007). “Introduction: from digital illustration to digital heuristics”, in B. Frischer & A. Dakouri-Hild (eds.), Beyond illustration: 2D and 3D technologies as tools for discovery in archaeology, Archaeopress: Oxford, and ACLS Humanities E-Book. “Theban workshops and the construction of prestige”, in V. Aravantinos & E. Kountouri (eds.) in press, A century of archaeological work at Thebes (1900–2000), Greek Ministry of Culture, T.A.P.: Athens. “An update on the House of Kadmos: the latest study campaigns”, in V. Aravantinos in press (ed.), Proceedings of the 5th international conference on Boeotian studies, Society of Boeotian Studies: Athens. With S. Sherratt, “Introduction”, in Dakouri-Hild & Sherratt 2005 (eds.), Autochthon: papers presented to O.T.P.K. Dickinson on the occasion of his retirement, Archaeopress: Oxford: 4-8. “Breaking the mould? Production and economy in the Theban state”, in Dakouri-Hild & Sherratt 2005 (eds.), Autochthon: papers presented to O.T.P.K. Dickinson on the occasion of his retirement, Archaeopress: Oxford: 207-24. 3 With E. Andrikou, V. Aravantinos & E. Kountouri 2003. “A Geographic Information System (GIS) in Boeotian Thebes: taking measures for heritage management, archaeological research and public outreach”, in R. Laffineur & K. Foster (eds.), Metron: measuring the Aegean Bronze Age, PASP: Liège: 49-56. “Plotting fragments: a preliminary assessment of the Middle Helladic settlement in Boeotian Thebes”, in K. Branigan (ed.) 2001, Urbanism in the Aegean Bronze Age, Sheffield UP: Sheffield: 103-18. “Thebes”, in E. H. Cline (ed.) in prep. The Oxford handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean, OUP: Oxford. “Boeotia”, in E. H. Cline (ed.) in prep. The Oxford handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean, OUP: Oxford. Articles “Something old, something new: current research on the ‘Old Kadmeion’ of Thebes”, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 48 (2006): 173-186. “A fragmented landscape and the Digital Thebes project”, Boeotika Analekta 2002: 110-14. “The House of Kadmos in Mycenaean Thebes reconsidered: architecture, chronology and context”, Annual of the British School of Archaeology 96 (2001): 81-122. “Research note: the House of Kadmos (Kadmeion archaeological site)”, Teiresias 32/2 (2001): 12.1.04. “Work in progress”, Teiresias 28 (1998): 98.1.03. “The origin of the tholos tomb”, Archaeology and Art 68 (1998): 60-68. With V. Aravantinos, L. Godart & A. Sacconi in prep. “New inscribed pottery fragments from Thebes: an archaeological and epigraphic commentary”, Minos. With M. Morgenstein & M. Johnson in prep. “Chemical and petrographic analyses of pottery from the House of Kadmos, Thebes”, Journal of Archaeological Research. Reviews N. Papalexandrou, The Visual Poetics of Power: Warriors, Youths and Tripods in Early Greece, Classical Review 57/1 (2006): 204-205. I. Malkin (ed.), Ancient Perceptions of Greek Ethnicity, American Journal of Archaeology 109/2 (2005): 305-307. 4 J. Siapkas, Heterological Ethnicity: Conceptualizing Identities in Ancient Greece, American Journal of Archaeology 109/2 (2005): 304-305. S. German, Performance in the Aegean Bronze Age, American Journal of Archaeology 111 (in prep). R. Gillam, Performance and Drama in Ancient Egypt (2005), American Journal of Archaeology 111 (in prep.)

Miscellaneous

The Digital Thebes project, whose first, pilot phase was successfully completed in 2002, aims at the digital archiving, mapping and visualization of antiquities and sites from Thebes in Boeotia using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and more conventional digitization methods. Based on the pilot project, I have able to discuss the value and potential of digital technologies in the dissemination of specialized archaeological knowledge, and to ponder on the ability of digital cultural heritage to bridge the past and the present in the context of a contemporary city.

CV URL: http://www.virginia.edu/art/arthistory/faculty%20cv%20pdfs/dakouri-hild%20cv.pdf

Positions

  • Visiting assistant professor, Lindner Center for Art History (Aegean and Near Eastern Archaeology)
  • Assistant director for research, IATH (2006-2008)

Education/Credentials

  • B.A. (Art History and Archaeology), University of Athens
  • M.A. (Archaeology), University of Durham
  • Ph.D. (Archaeology/Classics), University of Cambridge

Memberships/Affiliations

  • European Association of Archaeologists (1999-2000) American Philological Association (2000-2003) Classical Association of Virginia (2005-) American Anthropological Association and Archaeology Division (2005-2007) Archaeological Institute of America (2000-

Skills

Languages Contemporary Greek (mother tongue), English (fluent); Italian (good); German, Spanish, French (reading). Ancient Greek, Mycenaean Greek.

IT skills Arcview GIS, AutoCAD and AutoCAD map, database design (Access), most professional imaging software (incl. Image Pro) and all standard Office/Open Office software

Mailing Address

Lindner Center for Art History


Fayerweather Hall, PO BOX 400130


Charlottesville

,

VA

,

22903


US

Direct Contact

Email: n at hild org
Office Phone: 434 9824717

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