National and EU grants awarded for 2011.

ERC grants

Prof. Dr. Maarten Jansen (Archaeology)

ERC Advanced Grant

Time in Intercultural Context:  The Indigenous Calendars of Mexico and Guatemala 

European libraries and museums hold a small corpus of – still quite enigmatic – ancient screenfold manuscripts from the Aztecs, Mixtecs, Mayas and other indigenous cultures in Mexico and neighbouring Central America. The central structuring principle of these pictographic and hieroglyphic texts is the prehispanic calendar, which was not only the dominant framework for historiography and astronomical observations, but was also used for divination, medical treatment, ritual performance, community organisation and moral codes. The comments from authors writing shortly after the Spanish conquest (A.D. 1521) are crucial, but give a generalised, incomplete and biased picture.

A wealth of additional and very relevant information is still to be found in the on-going use of this calendar by “daykeepers” (specialists in traditional healing and other rituals) in contemporary indigenous communities in the region. So far, however, little attention has been paid to this fascinating cultural continuity, which is rapidly disappearing. 

This research project has three interrelated aims. 
1) Documentation of the endangered knowledge, ideas, practices and oral literature related to the indigenous calendar, still in use in Mexico and Guatemala, through simultaneous ethnographic fieldwork in different indigenous regions. 
2) Connection of the resulting data and insights with the archaeological and historical information in order to extract an in-depth interpretation and reading of the ancient manuscripts, which in turn will lead to a better grasp of the symbolic meaning and social function of time in Mesoamerican thought and culture. 
3) A comparative and theoretical analysis of the role of perceptions and conceptualisations of time in the construction of memory and identity, and of how this role is affected by (and influences) long-term and intensive cultural interaction (colonization – modernization - globalization).

More information here.



Dr. Bleda During (Archaeology)

ERC Starting Independent Researcher Grant

Consolidating Empire. Reconstructing Hegemonic Practices of the Middle Assyrian Empire at the Late Bronze Age Fortified Estate of Tell Sabi Abyad, Syria, ca. 1230 – 1180 BC.

The origins of imperialism, a socio-military system in which hegemony is achieved over alien territories, are poorly investigated. This applies in particular to how imperial strategies affected local communities. This project will investigate the hegemonic practices of one of the earliest stable empires: that of the Assyrians, by focussing on new data from the Late Bronze Age fortified estate at Tell Sabi Abyad, ca. 1230-1180 BC.

The Assyrians created a network of strongholds, ranging from cities to farmsteads, in conquered territories to consolidate their hegemony. The fortified estate at Tell Sabi Abyad is the only extensively investigated of these Assyrian settlements. This settlement is both small and well preserved and has been almost completely excavated. The complete plan facilitates a study of the spatial properties of this fortress and how it structured interactions. Further, the estate contained a wealth of in situ finds, which allow for a reconstruction of activity patterns in the settlement. Finally, over 400 cuneiform tablets were found which shed light on the local social and economic situation and the broader imperial context.

More information here.

Marie Curie Grants

Dr. Guido Tintori (EUI Florence)

Marie Curie Fellowship

Guido Tintori will come to Leiden in the fall of 2011 to study the comparative history of nationality laws and how they evolve under the influence of immigration and emigration flows (Sponsor: Leo Lucassen)

Last Modified: 28-11-2011