Category Archives: THALES

Text & Data Mining (TDM)

Symposium, organised by the Office of Scholarly Communication, University of Cambridge, 12 July 2017

This fascinating workshop provided not only very helpful insights into the wider field of Text & Data Mining (TDM) but also to a number of exciting projects.

Following the call for promoting TDM applications and help increasing TDM across the EU, I list here a couple of projects which offer a huge amount of informations (i. e. on TDM processes, copyright laws etc.) and services (software download, advice on workflows, training etc.).

The FutureTDM project set out to improve the uptake of text and data mining in the European Union. This project is funded by the EU in order to identify barriers which hinder the usage of TDM for research and determine necessary actions remove those barriers:

The ContentMine project provides open source software to analyse research papers. They also offer workshop and training sessions:

The OpenMinTeD projects also provides training and offers a platform which allows miners to share their tools and create there own workflows:

The National Centre for Text Mining (NaCTeM) is a publicly-funded text mining centre. It provides a number of services and is operated by the University of Manchester. For more informations visit:

For more information about the symposium and the full programme see:

Ceramic Petrology Course

Introduction to Ceramic Petrology Course, 15-26 May 2017, organised by the Fitch Laboratory, British School at Athens


Since 2010 the Fitch Laboratory has offered a course entitled ‘Introduction to Ceramic Petrology’ led by Dr Evangelia Kiriatzi and Dr Ruth Siddall. The first week is dedicated to Geology & Petrology (led by Ruth) and the second week focusses on Petrology Applications to Ceramic Studies (led by Vangelio). Both weeks were filled with lectures and practicals.

For detailed information on the course and how to apply visit:


During these two weeks we learnt how to use the Polarized Light Microscope, how to recognize rock types and fossils in thin sections, how to read and interpret geological maps. We went on a field trip to Aegina which offered an insight into geological prospection and sampling as well as the usage of local clay in a traditional pottery workshop. And with all this newly acquired geological background we then set out to handle clay-rich materials, examined ceramic thin sections, learned how to find out about provenance and technology and how to systematically describe ceramic fabrics.


Michalis Sakalis showed us how to prepare thin sections, Noemi Müller gave us a introduction to chemical analysis, Georgia Kordatzaki showed us how to make and fire a pot and John Gait used up all his patience to talk us through the practice on microscope photography while Zoe Zgouleta took care of all the administrative issues.

My warmest thanks go to all of them for sharing their knowledge and for teaching us with this amazing enthusiasm and patience.


Trust, Branding and Fakes in the ancient World

AIAC Cologne/Bonn 22 – 26 May 2018

Panel 5.18 – Call for Papers

Considerable research effort has been devoted by archaeologists to the idea of standardisation, both in terms of manufacturing techniques and by identifying the standard volumes and sizes for containers, such as amphorae. Recent work has also been devoted to mapping these standardised vessels and hence establish the networks by which they travelled. But less work has focussed on how these ‘standard’ vessels functioned from a material perspective in the everyday sphere of interaction. In essence, how was trust between strangers established in the vastly dispersed markets of the ancient Mediterranean?

This panel will showcase different forms and concepts of trust, examples of commodity branding in the ancient world and the production of fakes (the inverse of market trust systems) in order to address some underlying dynamics of interaction in ancient economic systems. Contributions are sought from all areas of research on ancient societies (i. e. ancient history, numismatic, material culture studies, literature, provenance studies etc.) that offer a fresh approach to the phenomenon of trust, commodity branding and the appearance of fakes in ancient markets:

  • What are the processes or key features lying behind the creation of trust around certain products or commodities?
  • What factors promote the introduction of new brands, their maintenance and sustainability?
  • How can we characterise the relationship between commodity branding and mass-production?
  • How often were brands abandoned and what are the dynamics or lifespans of certain brands?
  • To what extent can we detect copies and/or forgeries and how did the market cope with these? Under what of circumstances do they occur?
  • Can we define stylistic choices as brand management?

Potential themes for discussion include:

  • Enhancement of trust in specific products through the creation and maintenance of branding.
  • Different forms of commodity branding (makers marks, stamps, signatures, coinage, other imagery).
  • Creation of sub-markets or alt-markets, profiting from selling imitations, forgeries and copies of prized and familiar commodities.

Call for Papers open until 31th August 2017

Registration & submission of abstracts (max. 1500 characters including spaces):


Shedding Light on the Matter: Ideascapes and Material Worlds in the Land of Thales

Workshop, University of Cambridge, 22-23 March 2018

The land of Ionia became the cultural, economic and intellectual power- house of the Greek world between the 8th and 6th centuries BC. During this era of intense pan-Mediterranean trade and interaction, Ionian cities began monumentalising their settlements and sanctuaries, they set up colo-nies around the Black and Mediterranean Seas, and ultimately they became embroiled in wars and revolts against the major terrestrial force of the era, the Persian empire. In addition, these cities were intellectual incubators, and many of the earliest identifiable philosopher-scientists (especially Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, later Pythagoras, Heraclites, Xenophanes, Melissus, Anaxagoras) were active in or originated from this region, or from its colonies. How, then, can we explain this florescence of intellectual production, known more generally as the ‘Ionian Enlightenment’? To what extent were these ideas generated by international connections, or by the specific social contexts of Ionia? In what ways did the material and natural environment of archaic Ionia play catalyst for philosophy? Can the same dynamics or concerns – those experienced by philosophers, tyrants and humble city-dwellers alike – be documented in the material imprint left by the contemporary society?

Modern archaeological research now offers the opportunity for a richer insight into Ionia’s industrial and knowledge economy, but so far the archaeology of the region has been studied according to isolated material categories (ceramics, metals, terracottas, sculpture etc.). Similarly, textual studies of early Greek science and philosophy have, for the most part, ignored any potential insights from primary archaeological data. A surpris- ing and hidden lacuna thus lies between apparently allied disciplines, a void which nonetheless offers opportunity for radical new methodologies which treat these distinct research traditions.


This workshop aims to create a new approach to the origins of the earliest Greek scientific thought in light of the material and archaeological contexts of archaic Ionia. Through participation in cross-disciplinary dialogue, we shall consider how it is possible to identify correlation between the natural and spatial characteristics of archaeological evidence and ancient textual discourse. Our objective, therefore, is to explore the ‘ideascapes’ and ‘material worlds’ which inhabited the archaic plain, and to uncover the relationship between these two concepts, which fundamentally drove the ‘Ionian Enlightenment’ in synergy.

For more details on the workshop see


Para-colonial legacies: German & British imaginaries of ancient Aegean landscapes

Photo Credit: T Wilkinson
Photo Credit: T Wilkinson

This two-day workshop aimed to review diverging imaginaries of, and approaches to, the ancient Aegean resulting from para-colonial and subsequent historical legacies and to seek ways to create new cross-fertilising approaches and international collaborations.

Cambridge 16./17. December 2016, Supported by the DAAD Cambridge Research Hub, the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and Churchill College

Organisers: Toby C Wilkinson (Archaeology) and Anja Slawisch (Classics)


Figures in Motion: de-centring Athens from the creation of the ‘Severe Style’

Figures in Motion: de-centring Athens from the creation of the ‘Severe Style’

The general perception of the economic and cultural success of Ionia in Archaic and Hellenistic times is well supported by substantial epigraphic and archaeological evidence. This is starkly confronted, however, by our lack of knowledge and understanding of the Classical period.

It is well known that the Ionian cities were conquered by the Persians in 546/5 BCE which led, among other things, to the obligation to pay levies to and provide soldiers for the Persian state. Researchers of ancient history have argued extensively whether or not the outbreak of the Ionian revolt in 498 BCE can be attributed to an economic decline of Ionia under the Persian reign [and high taxation]. However, it seems certain, at least, that the Ionian revolt, and in particular the defeat of the Ionian cities in 494 BCE, marked a decisive event for everyday life, cult worship and political- and administrative organization in the entire region. Therefore two general questions arise:

  • How can we use the meagre archaeological evidence to understand the consequences of the Ionian Revolt, the extent of ‘continuity’ in the Ionian landscape and therefore the dual physical and psychological processes of urban destruction and renewal in the ancient world?
  • To what extent are archaeological categories prejudiced by the Atheno-centric lens of surviving historical sources, and can a close examination of the archaeological data from Ionia lead us to alternative reconstructions of Aegean artistic, political and economic history?

Both the Ionian revolt and the later victory of the Milesians at the battle of Mykale in 479 BCE have often formed the basis for the dating of sculptural evidence. The historical events have been used to characterise particular material as either the last exponents of Archaic prosperity, or else the proof for a quick resettlement after liberty.

Similarly, it is at about the same time that the transition from the Archaic to the Classical style is attributed. The end of the old period and the beginning of the new is generally dated around 480 BCE when the Persians sacked and burned down the Athenian Acropolis. Traditionally in art history, the suggestion has been that the new Classical style was invented by Athenian artists after the Persian invasion, and as a response to the trauma caused. Doubts about this interpretation have been common, particularly after J. M. Hurwits showed that the context of the Kritios Boy and the so-called Blond Head could not be described as safe and thus could not be taken as fixed points, or as the first representatives of a new tradition[1]. In a number of articles Andrew Stewart re-dates the beginning of the Classical Style down to 477/6 BC suggesting that the 2nd group of Tyrannicides, those by Kritios and Nesiotes, inaugurated the shift in style, and that the Greek victories of 480 and 479 BCE somehow inspired it[2].

For our purposes the dating of the earliest Classical Sculpture, the so-called “Severe Style”, is of considerable importance because of three sculptures found in Miletos that have been interpreted on stylistic grounds as examples of Early Classical sculpture, and therefore suggested as having been made immediately after 479 BCE when Miletos was freed from the Persians. Given the questions of continuity or disruption in the region, it is very important to know whether monumental sculptures of such high quality were made before or after the Ionian revolt, in order to place the whole 5th century in context.

A starting point for exploring this question is an article published in 2002 by V. M. Strocka on the statue of Apollon Didymeus, a monumental sculpture made by Kanachos, and through which the dating of the beginning of the Severe Style in Greek sculpture may be foregrounded[3]. This sculpture is known only from written sources, and as K. Tuchelt aptly quipped “Sie verdankt ihren Ruhm ihrem Schicksal” -This work owes its fame to its curious biography: originally manufactured for the Didymaion by a famous bronze caster from the Peloponnese, Kanachos from Sikyon, it was robbed by the Persians and given back to the Milesians by Seleukos I. Nicator. Based on the notes of Herodotos, the plunder and pillage of the sanctuary of Apollon Didymeus and with it the robbery of the Kanachos-Apollon is generally dated to the year 494 BCE, a date which gives us at the same time a terminus ante quem for the deposition of the statue into the sanctuary at Didyma/Branchidai.

Beside these examples, Ionia offers a number of original sculptures, terracottas and coins, which are – on stylistical grounds – assigned to the ‘Severe Style’. It is the aim of the paper to present an overview over the existing material by discussing not only their dating but also their importance for the wider question of the artistic development during the late 6th and the first half of the 5th century BCE.

The re-assessment of the dating of the Ionian evidence makes a strong case for the idea that both technical skills and the knowledge of the human body necessary to create the Severe Style were developed independently and primarily in Ionia and not, as is conventionally argued, in Athens.

Poster thumbnail
Poster thumbnail

[1] J. M. Hurwit, The Kritios Boy: Discovery, Reconstruction, and Date, AJA 93, 1989, 41–80.

[2] A. Stewart, The Persian and Carthagian Invasion of 480 B.C.E. and the Beginning of the Classical Style: Part 1, The Stratigraphy, Chronology, and Significance of the Acropolis Deposit; Part 2, The Finds from Other Sites in Athens, Attica, Elsewhere in Greece, and on Sicily; Part 3, The Severe Style: Motivations and Meaning, AJA 112, 2008, 377–412. 581–615.

[3] V. M. Strocka, Der Apollon des Kanachos in Didyma und der Beginn des Strengen Stils, JdI 117, 2002, 81–125.

Presented at: Ex Ionia Scientia – ‘Knowledge’ in Archaic Greece; International Conference, 12th to 14th December 2016; Athens