Three new professors in Archaeology
At the Faculty of Archaeology, three new professors are appointed with effect from February 1, 2018. They are Ann Brysbaert, Marie Soressi, and Joanita Vroom. How do they react to their appointments, and what will be their foci in the following years?
Ann Brysbaert: the relevance of archaeological knowledge on ancient technologies
‘What attracts me most about this new position is the fact that it energises my work, both research and teaching, in even more interdisciplinary directions. I will be teaching across the three departments within the faculty, and beyond, and I will motivate and supervise students to think across boundaries as early as possible in their own careers. Moving out of our comfort-zones is what makes us open-minded and creative, and we also learn most that way.
Studying how people solved issues in their day-to-day lives in the past through complex technical ways of handling, making, and thus communicating via situated learning, inspires me to research and teach this in current contexts. Archaeological knowledge on ancient technologies, and people’s making and crafting together, constantly illustrate how relevant these observations and findings are today. This is what I aim to share and build on in depth for the next decade or two.’
Past and current projects
Ann Brysbaert has been Associate Professor since 2015 and held a senior Marie Curie-G. Henkel co-fund Fellowship since 2013, both at the Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University. Prior to that, she held academic positions in the UK, Germany, Greece and France. She is currently principal investigator of the SETinSTONE project and leads a team of 8 people.
Marie Soressi: discussing our multi-layered identity
‘I’m thrilled to become a full professor and I’m particularly honored to become a professor at the University of Leiden. I’m also excited to become a member of the Faculty of Archaeology, which is well-renowned as a multidisciplinary, open-to-the world group, positioned strongly in the worldwide academic landscape.’
The origins of our kind
'My research focuses on the origins of our kind. For 99% of our evolutionary history, several human species or sub-species co-existed. Why are we the only human group left on the planet today? Why have other forms of humans – such as the Neanderthals, with whom we interbred - disappeared? The central foci of my research are the nature of the interactions between our ancestors and extinct forms of hominins, as well as the cultural and biological legacy inherited from extinct human groups through mixing and interbreeding. I believe it to be a powerful substrate to train future citizens to deal with complexity in a globalising world, especially when it comes to discussing our multi-layered identity.
My rapidly evolving field – Human Evolution studies – is an ideal laboratory to train students in understanding the limits and the strengths of a (scientific) argument, skills that will serve them in any later career, and that will in turn serve democratic societies by making argumentation more transparent.'
Joanita Vroom: linking the local with the global; from Dorestad to Xi’an
‘It is a privilege and great pleasure for me to start this month as Professor of the Archaeology of Medieval and Early Modern Eurasia at the Faculty of Archaeology, currently one of the most highly ranked and successful archaeological institutes in the world. The appointment enables me to continue my teaching at Leiden University and my longue durée research in the Mediterranean and Near East, but it will also enable me to widen my scope beyond that region and to function as a crossroad between other archaeological research carried out in Leiden focused on ‘East’ or ‘West’ during Medieval and Early Modern times.
Apart from my ongoing work on the production, trade and consumption of Byzantine, Islamic and Ottoman ceramics, I will pursue my interests in short- and long-distance contacts along various networks on the Eurasian continent, including the Silk Road and the Crusader routes. Thus, I will continue the efforts to give Medieval and Early Modern Archaeology a truly global perspective and to study the dynamics and interconnectivity of local cities and regions in the perspective of the wider world. In short, my goal is to link the local with the global: from Dorestad to Xi’an!’
‘It will be exciting to try to motivate more students to immerse themselves in my discipline, to attract new students and researchers, both local and from abroad, and to engage them actively in my present and upcoming projects. In fact, I hope to continue to organise the Summer Schools and a Master Class for BA, MA, RMA students in Greece, but this time in an Erasmus partnership with Siena University (Italy). It is inspiring to work in this way with students, as it is inspiring to collaborate with other scholars, with other disciplines and with other departments, both national and international. As any scholarly endeavour, archaeology is motivated by unlimited curiosity, and so am I.’