Robert Laffineur

Robert Laffineur

Emeritus Professor of the University of Liège, Belgium
2018 Grant Recipient

Prehistoric Thorikos (Lavrion, Greece). The archaeology of one of the oldest and most prominent Mediterranean mining and metallurgical communities.

This grant will be used to publish the prehistoric remains excavated on the acropolis of Thorikos (Attica, Greece) by the Athens Archaeological Society in the 1880-1890s and by the Belgian Archaeological School in Greece in the 1960-1970s. The site of Thorikos (37° 44’ 25” N, 24° 03’ 20” E) extends over the slopes of the Velatouri, a double-peaked hill in eastern Lavrion. The metal resources of the Lavrion region fueled the Athenian economy from the late Archaic period onwards, but there is also clear evidence that access to (and perhaps control over) local ores was already of strategic importance during the Bronze Age. As demonstrated by lead isotope analyses, metal from Lavrion was exchanged in the Aegean and the wider East Mediterranean. The earliest evidence of occupation at Thorikos date in the Final Neolithic and the discovery of six monumental tombs (late MBA/early LBA) suggests that the site had become a major center ruled by an elite by the 17th-16th century BC. Yet, due to incomplete and piecemeal publication, the significance of Bronze Age Thorikos tends to be overlooked, which, in turn, affects our understanding of the technological, economic and socio-political processes at play in Lavrion between the 4th and the 2nd millennium BC. This project will redress this investigative imbalance by studying and contextualizing preliminary published and unpublished data, to produce a monograph on the prehistory of Thorikos. This monograph will act as a stepping-stone towards a renewed exploration of prehistoric Thorikos and thus give the site its rightful place in Aegean and Mediterranean archaeology.

Prof. Dr. Robert Laffineur is Emeritus Professor of the University of Liège (Belgium). After his PhD in Greek Archaeology and Art History at the University of Liège (1975), he has been a foreign member of the French Archaeological School at Athens (1976-1978) and then assistant (1979), Chargé de cours (1980-1990), Professeur (1990-2000) and Professeur ordinaire (2000-2010) in Liège. He has been teaching also at the University of Iasi, Romania (Erasmus exchange, 2003), at the Université catholique de Louvain (tenure of the Francqui Chair in 2006-2007), and as Visiting Professor of the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (Australia, 2010). He has been working in excavations and surveys in Greece, Crete and Cyprus (Amathus), and is director of the Belgian excavations in the Mycenaean sector at Thorikos (Attica) since 2005. His research activities focus on Mycenaean productions, especially from the Shaft Grave period, and on metalwork, especially jewellery, of Bronze Age and early Greek times, as well as of Cypriote gold and silver productions. He is the founder and now co-organizer of the International Aegean conferences/Rencontres égéennes internationales, every two years since 1986, and editor of the periodical Aegaeum. Annales liégeoises d’archéologie égéenne (42 volumes since 1987). He has been appointed as Honorary Consul of the Hellenic Republic in Liège in 2014.

Dr. Sylviane Déderix is currently a research fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt foundation at the Universität Heidelberg (Institut für Klassische Archäologie). She specialises in Aegean archaeology, archaeological GIS, landscape archaeology and the archaeology of death. She obtained her PhD at the Université catholique de Louvain (Aegis research group, Belgium) in 2014, before holding postdoctoral research positions in Belgium (Université catholique de Louvain; F.R.S.-FNRS), Greece (GeoSat ReSeArch lab, FORTH), the USA (Fulbright and BAEF fellow at the University of Arizona) and now Germany (Universität Heidelberg). She has participated in archaeological projects in Belgium (Tournai, dir. R. Brulet), Greece (Sissi, dir. J. Driessen; Malia, dir. M. Devolder) and Cyprus (Pyla-Kokkinokremos, dir. J. Bretschneider, J. Driessen and A. Kanta), as well as in geophysical prospections in Greece, Cyprus and Italy with GeoSat ReSeArch lab (dir. A. Sarris). At Thorikos, she is field director for the prehistoric component of the new five-year project (EBSA, dir. R. Docter).

Fig. 2. Thorikos. The necropolis on the saddle seen from the summit of the Great Velatouri (courtesy Maria Kayafa).



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