National and EU grants awarded to researchers in 2010.
Prof. Dr. Ineke Sluiter (Classics)
The NWO Spinoza prize, the most prestigious academic distinction in the Netherlands, is awarded to Dutch scientists who are at the very top of the research profession. The Laureates are internationally renowned and are an inspiration to young scientists. NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) requests selected persons to nominate candidates for this prize. A maximum of four prizes are awarded annually. The winners each receive 1.5 million euro to spend on research of their own choice for five years. An NWO Spinoza Prize is an honorary award, but is above all an incentive to promote research.
Read an interview with Ineke Sluiter here.
Dr. Miguel John Versluys (Archaeology)
NWO VIDI Grant
Cultural innovation in a globalising society: Egypt in the Roman world
Where Greek influences on Roman cultural innovation have always been dominant and well studied, the picture is not balanced and complete without an integrated understanding of the second important influence by Egypt. An integrated synthesis based on analyses of different forms of appropriation of Egypt in different contexts and in different sources will deepen our knowledge on the Roman motives for the selection and use of ‘foreign’ elements.
Read more here.
Dr. Alex Geurds (Archaeology)
NWO Veni Grant
Fixing history: Ancient cultural practices of stone sculpture in central Nicaragua
For three millennia, carved sculptures were ubiquitous among ancient peoples in the Americas. Sculpted in stone, metal or wood, they developed into the well-known totem poles, colossal Olmec heads, royal Maya stelae and golden Inca statues. Today, they remain central to local museum collections and cultural heritage management as iconic hallmarks of ancient American material culture. However, in several cases archaeological understanding has remained limited to stylistic comparison of individual sculptures, mainly due to poor documentation of the original archaeological context. This study instead draws on emerging approaches in archaeology to question what people in practice did with such large monoliths and how these stones related to people’s cultural identity.
Read more here.
Dr. Vincent Lagendijk (History)
NWO Veni Grant
Transnationalising the TVA: International River Development in Troubled Waters.
Since 1933 millions of visitors have flocked to the banks of the river Tennessee, in the United States. A substantial number of these visitors were not “mere” tourists; they came to learn from American experiences in river management, hydroelectricity generation, and public-private partnerships. Their destination of travel was the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The TVA was the epitome and an emblem of Roosevelt's New Deal in the 1930s. Established in 1933, the TVA was a public authority that took responsibility for electricity exploitation, flood control, and improvement of navigation through the construction of large dams in the Tennessee Valley region.
The TVA idea of multi-purpose development radiated beyond the United States. Ideas of river management and regional development became part of the programs of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Labour Office, and the United Nations. This project sets out to uncover the transnational network of people and their agendas that carried the TVA idea, first to the United States, and second, from the banks of the Tennessee to the global stage.
Whereas the American influence on proposals of international application is beyond doubt, I question two elements. First, to what extent did TVA-like ideas merge with pre-existing thoughts of river developments? And second, how did the socio-economic and political climate help to shape the implementation of TVA-inspired ideas? I wish to answer these question by “transnationalising” the TVA, in other words to take it out of an American-only context as currently is the case, and to place international “imitations” in a long-term perspective. Three cases will be examined: the Danube, the Jordan, and the Mekong. It is hypothesised that the TVA-model proved durable and malleable, and that several ideological agendas were pursued at the same time.
Dr. Jan Gerrit Dercksen (Assyriology)
NWO Veni grant
The Impact of Migration: Migrant-Related Change in the Ancient Near East
The programme analyses representative and well-documented periods in the history of Mesopotamia ( Iraq and part of Syria) and Anatolia to answer these research questions:
a) What institutional changes can be perceived in ancient Mesopotamia and Anatolia during the selected periods and what is the role of migration therein.
b) Did migration lead to cultural uniformity or rather to diversity.
c) What interregional effects of economic or political expansion can be observed.
The programme is divided into three sub-programmes:
1) The effects of the Amorite migration to Mesopotamia: an analysis of the social, legal, economic and religious consequences of the settlement of Amorites in Babylonia (PhD: Drs R. de Boer).
The whole-community migration of Amorite pastoralists (a West-Semitic people divided into two main groups, the Simalites and the Benjaminites) entered Mesopotamia during and following the Ur III period (ca. 21st c BC). One visible result of their settlement is the emergence of Amorite (mostly Benjaminite) rulers in Babylonian cities after the demise of the Ur III state.
2) Non-Assyrian population groups in the expanding Neo-Assyrian Empire: a study of the consequences of mobility, conquest and deportation (Post-doc: Dr J.C. Fincke).
The expansion of Assyria in the 9th-7th centuries BC led to numerous displacements. Members of the Babylonian elite and some Egyptian scholars went to Assyria. Arameans and other populations from Syria and the Levant became subjects of the Assyrian Empire; some groups were deported to remote places in punishment of political rebellion or to populate newly founded cities.
3) Kanesh: an early multi-cultural urban centre? The impact on and by Assyrian merchant colonies in Anatolia: a study of the changes on immigrant Assyrian merchants and local societies as a result of intensive commercial contacts in 19th-18th century Anatolia (Post-doc: Dr W.J.I. Waal).
Assyrian trade with the Central-Anatolian city of Kanesh (Kültepe) is documented for a period of over 150 years, which makes it the best documented trade of antiquity. These data contain detailed information on the social, religious and economic interaction between local inhabitants and highly mobile merchants from Assur, many of whom settled in Anatolia and founded families there.
Dr. Renzo Duin (Archaeology)
NWO Veni Grant
Beauty and the Feast: Social Landscapes in Greater Amazonia and the Caribbean Materialized Through Ritual Performance.
Archaeologists and anthropologists often regard the villages of the indigenous peoples of the Guiana Highlands as autonomous units. As a result, historical and regional processes of socio-political cohesion remain underexposed. This project is grounded in the current archaeological debate on: (1) the dynamics of socio-political organization and social landscapes in Greater Amazonia and the Caribbean, and (2) the exchange and ownership of material and immaterial valuables, particularly exclusive ritual objects, accumulating artifact biographies.
Read more here.