Project notice: Centre of Excellence in Ancient Near Eastern Empires (ANEE)

22.6.2017
The Academy of Finland has granted a multi-million Euro funding for a new Centre of Excellence in “Ancient Near Eastern Empires” (ANEE) at the University of Helsinki. ANEE will be launched January 2018 and will run for 8 years, directed by Dr. Saana Svärd.

ANEE asks: How do changing imperial dynamics impact social group identities and lifeways over a millennium? Marshalling a cross-disciplinary arsenal of methods and scholars through the Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, Persian, Hellenistic, and early Roman / Parthian eras, ANEE overcomes the very real challenge of dialogue between ancient historians, archaeologists and social scientists. ANEE investigates dialectical identity-building processes with three interlocking teams.

Team 1: “Digital Humanities Approaches” develops and uses the digital humanities approaches of social network analysis and language technology, using these to supplement more traditional Assyriological approaches. Team 1 is led by Saana Svärd.

Team 2: “Social Scientific Theory & Applications” tests and refines theoretical models from the social sciences for ancient evidence, integrating anthropological approaches to archaeology with sociological readings of textual and archaeological evidence. Team 2 is led by Dr. Jason Silverman.

Team 3: “Material Culture & Community Heritage” investigates the impact of each empire on ancient local communities inhabiting the imperial fringes and provides a sustainable future for this heritage, including both survey work in Jordan and cultural heritage initiatives. Team 3 is led by Dr. Antti Lahelma, who is also the vice-director of ANEE.

− A fantastic network of scholars collaborated in the application for the Centre of Excellence, with whom we are very much looking forward to co-operating. The core application team consisted of the three team leaders along with Dr. Helen Dixon (Wofford College) and Dr. Rick Bonnie (University of Helsinki). Further invaluable help and feedback with the application was provided especially by museum director Elina Anttila (National Museum of Finland), Prof. Martti Nissinen (University of Helsinki), Dr. Suzie Thomas (University of Helsinki), Prof. Niek Veldhuis (UC Berkeley), and Prof. Caroline Waerzeggers (Leiden University), Svärd thanks.

− ANEE will engage in methodologically varied yet integrated research on the long-term processes by which social group identities and lifeways were negotiated in the first millennium BCE. On a broader scale, we hope to answer one of the challenges facing the humanities: the simultaneous need for specialization and more comprehensive, largescale research results, Svärd says.

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