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  • The School's adaptation to the needs of modern archaeology

    'Our establishment operates as it did 100 years ago', wrote G. Daux in 1959. The buildings had not been developed, there were insufficient technical staff (there was no librarian, photographer or architect - those who were taken on were paid from the materials budget), and only of support staff were there enough, if not too many. It proved possible to fill these gaps with greater or lesser speed: in 1962 a post of Librarian was assigned to the school, and in 1966 one of Sub-Librarian. More time was needed to win the posts for an architect and photographer, which were obtained by Pierre Amandry, shortly after he took up his duties, in 1972. The favourable economic climate of France's 'thirty glorious years' and policy of actively supporting research, from 1981, made it possible to appoint technical staff and develop all the services: the archives, drawing office (for the architect and draughtsmen), photograph library, library of plans, and restoration. Although all these needs were not yet met, the team that was brought together at the FSA was equal to the demands of a modern research institute. In order to organise these technical services, it was first necessary to house them. To do so, G. Daux obtained the funds to build, in 1962, a new building. On the other hand, neither he nor his successor managed to interest the government in renovating the library. Olivier Picard got a basement extension built only in 1987-1989 but, despite the benefits it brought, the fitting out of the library and the operational reorganisation of the FSA remained current topics. The School found it rather difficult to expand within premises that were full to overflowing and for the most part more than a hundred years old.

    Academic programmes: traditions and innovations

    In 1950, the FSA had not been touched by the developments in archaeology that had for twenty years been opening up new fields and transforming its methods. Nevertheless, as a short-lived mark of these new times, underwater excavations using the Cousteau-Gagnan diving suit were carried out under the auspices of the School in 1950. The results were very inconclusive, and a little more than thirty years passed before the FSA again showed an interest in the field of subaquatic archaeology.

    The most significant respect in which the School was behind was excavation methods, which had not evolved in a hundred years, whereas in the 1930s the Englishman Wheeler had devised a rigorous stratigraphic method for the exploration of archaeological sites and the recording of data. This lag was due to the forms of training followed by the 'Athenians', who were admitted on the basis of a competition that put most emphasis on their knowledge of ancient Greek and the history of ancient art. Excavating, for which the work was done by many labourers, was learnt in the field and was more a matter of clearing the ground than undertaking an academic project. The new methods were introduced by P. Courbin on the site at Argos: 'the method used this year was closely based on the principles formulated by Sir Mortimer Wheeler,' he wrote in 1956. It took a slow and difficult process for the new techniques to spread to all the School's excavation sites, but in the end 'modernity' prevailed.

    The site at Argos, reopened in 1952, thus became the School's pilot-site for forty years. From the 1960s onwards, new generations of 'Athenians' spent time there in order to learn to excavate. Areas of interest were extended to older periods, at Argos itself but also elsewhere: the School's previous excavation of the tell at Dikili Tash, in Macedonia, was resumed, and from 1961 to 1975 and then from 1986 excavations of the Middle and Late Neolithic levels were carried out in collaboration with the Archaeological Society of Athens.

    At Malia, a new impetus for research was provided by the opening in 1966 of the 'Mu Quarter', an establishment of the same age as the first palaces, from which the quality of finds means that it can rightly be deemed a new Protopalatial Knossos (the excavations went on until 1991 and covered 4000 m2). Although in academic terms the undertakings at the prehistoric and protohistoric sites were the most profitable, as they introduced the School to new methods and new ways of working in teams, the traditional areas were not neglected: the excavation of Gortys was completed (1951-55), the houses in the northern district of Delos were excavated (1963-1968), and excavations continued at Thasos, where the uncovering of a Classical residential district at the Gate of Silenus (1971-1980) was especially noteworthy. Outside the traditional major excavation sites, some initiatives that were restricted in space and time were also launched: the resumption of work at Lato in Crete, the excavation of the grotto of the Corycian Cave (1970), above Delphi, which was occupied from Neolithic times onwards and in historical times was dedicated to the cult of Pan and the Nymphs, the resumption of excavations of the sanctuary of Poseidon and Amphitrite at Tenos (1973), and the uncovering of three monumental funerary ensembles at the necropolis at Rhenea (1975).

    A major new initiative was begun in 1975. At the request of the local authorities, after the tragic invasion of Cyprus by Turkish troops in 1974, P. Amandry agreed to open a site at Amathus, co-funded by the excavations committee of the Foreign Ministry. This opening up to the eastern part of the Greek world revived a tradition by sending the School once again beyond the frontiers of Greece.

    New structures and new purposes

    Revision of the School's statutes was the order of the day from the 1970s onwards, since as a public establishment that was financially independent it could not do without, at the very least, a Board of Trustees. A 'review committee' met in Paris in 1975, former members were consulted, and a ministerial mission came to Athens and produced a report, which was not acted on.

    The 'crisis' of 1980-1981 affected all the overseas establishments that the Minister for Universities, Ms A. Saunier-Seïté, had decided to reform in a radical manner: the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres would lose almost all its prerogatives, the Foreign Ministry would be consulted for the nomination of the director, and the French Ambassador would chair a Board that would be virtually all-powerful, including in academic matters. The members would be obliged to deliver 'high-level teaching open to nationals of the country'. To place the FSA under the control of the Foreign Ministry and assign it a teaching role would have more or less gone back to 1846! The only slightly progressive element of the project was the expansion of admissions to all fields. Protests were raised from all quarters (the Academy, and Italian, Greek, Egyptian, Belgian and Swiss intellectual and academic circles), and the project was dropped.

    The 1985 reform was prepared with more consultation between the different parties. It allowed sufficiently for tradition and introduced a satisfying amount of innovation, and enjoyed broad support. Since then the School has had a Board of Trustees, to approve its budget in particular, and an Academic Board, to assist the director in decision-making. The Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres is reasonably well represented on the new boards (six seats of the 20 that make up the Academic Board), and retains its supervisory right over the academic dissertations of members and its right to present candidates for the directorship. The National Centre for Academic Research (CNRS), Higher Universities Council, French Museums Directorate, and Higher Council of Archaeological Research are also represented. The members of the FSA choose a representative on the two boards, and the staff are represented on the Board of Trustees.

    These transformations, which were aimed to enable all relevant bodies to participate in the School's work, satisfied the demands that had been expressed for 15 years (the Societies of Professors of Ancient History and of History of Art and Archaeology, and some members and former members of the FSA, had voiced concerns of this kind). They established useful links between the School and the major higher educational, academic and cultural bodies in France. These new statutes, however, were not merely a simple administrative reform, as they also broadened the School's purpose; from then on its 'mission [was] also to be open to the many different aspects of the civilisation of the ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary Greek worlds'. In 1990, the creation of a post for a ninth member, intended for a specialist in modern and contemporary Greece, enabled the School to realise this new mission and to reconnect with neo-Hellenic studies, which it had neglected to rather too great a degree. Similarly, the statutes of 1985 had created the category of 'scholarship-holders'. From 1991 onwards, a special budget was reserved for doctoral students whose research necessitated a period of time in Greece. In broadening its purposes and giving it the means to play a pivotal role in all the research on Greece in France, the 1985 statutes mark a definite turning-point in the School's history.

    Only admissions procedures were not affected by the 1985 reform, despite the criticisms that were audible in Athens and elsewhere; it was said that the competition favoured literary specialists and that aesthetic knowledge had a stranglehold over it, and that it did not take in account the recent development of archaeology. The competition was governed by no regulation and was dictated by custom. Thus, in 1929, Edmond Pottier, the head of the admissions panel, who had held the role for several years, wrote to the Director of Higher Education to ask him what the rules were: 'they have been revised several times, and I only know them by a few extracts out of context'. A ministerial committee, chaired by J. Marcadé, was appointed in 1993 to study the problem. From its conclusions the director drew up a draft regulation which, after being amended, was approved by the Academic Board in 1995. This regulation set out specific examination papers for Classicists, Byzantinists and modern specialists - which already existed in practice - and, in an innovation, created one for prehistorians. The latter were from then on exempted from the compulsory examinations in ancient Greek. The new rules introduced a test on archaeological techniques and methods for all candidates.

    Towards the School of the future: the 1980s and 1990s

    The directorship of Olivier Picard (1981-1992) was marked by three major changes in the School's life: the computerisation and development of its services, new programmes at the old excavation sites, to match the interests of modern archaeology, and the support provided to new undertakings outside Greece.

    The post of Publications Assistant, provided for in the 1985 statutes, was created in 1989. All the services - from the library to the archives, via hospitality management - were not only strengthened with skilled staff but also computerised. This computerisation initiative also covered archaeological materials, in the creation of databases of coins and amphoric stamps, and the recording of museum holdings (at Delphi and Delos). It now extends to excavation plans and the restoration of buildings.

    Although the FSA elected to pursue computerisation at the right time, it has been a little slow in areas of cutting-edge archaeology. Academic subaquatic archaeology has recently made an appearance in Greece, and the FSA has made use of it when excavating the port of Thasos, in collaboration with the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, and also the port of Amathus. Likewise, systematic research on the organisation of ancient territories, based on field surveys, interpretation of aerial photographs and, more recently, interpretation of satellite images, is well advanced in France - in the 1980s systematic surveys of Thasos, with the Kavala Ephorate, research on the chora of Delos, and surveys of the territory of Malia were carried out. Archaeology today excavates less and surveys more; it is less tied to sites and more concerned with archaeological maps and the relationship between humans and their environment.

    So a wider range of issues, but also a wider range of areas of interest. After being obliged to stay within Greek territory between 1923 and 1975, the FSA, especially after 1989 when it could benefit from changing circumstances in the east, gave renewed support to operations outside Greece. Although the excavations in Ukraine were a relative failure, its establishment in Albania succeeded, with programmes covering all periods from prehistory to the modern and contemporary eras. With sufficient resources, the FSA could develop its role as an international research centre. It has the requisite infrastructure and skilled staff, and it has proved able to demonstrate its presence in all fields of contemporary archaeology.

    © EFA

    ARCHIMAGE : The latest pictures

    Archimage is intended to gradually put online the graphic and photographic documents, kept in the Archives service of FSA.

    Archaeology in Greece ONLINE

    Vouliagmeni, Zephyrou 21 (property of G. Kritsa). Mairi Giamalidi (???' ????) reports on the discovery of 2 retaining walls and another 2 walls delimiting a property (Figs. 1, 2). The retaining walls were constructed with rubble and roughly worked boulders. The latter were extracted from the area for their immediate use in the retaining walls. The walls delimiting the property were built with rubble (Fig. 3). It appears that the retaining walls served to contain the soil and attest to farming activities in the area. Small finds include undecorated and black-glazed pottery sherds from plates, skyphoi and oinochoai, all of which date in the Classical and Late Classical periods. The excavation was conducted by I. Louretzatou.
    A collaborative project with the BSA.