The project which I brought into this year’s CHS-CCS Harvard Summer Program in Nafplio and Thessaloniki, entitled “Merging Networks: Innovation and Resistance to Changing Patterns of Exchange in Northern Greece,” aims at explaining the main threads of the complex exchange pattern in ancient Macedonia and in Thrace. Exploring the rules that dominated economic and other transactions there, I examine the longer-term process of the gradual integration of the three different monetary systems operating in this region in the Archaic and Classical periods into the Attic-weight standard monetary network in the Hellenistic period and the implications of this transition on local and international economies. I am also convinced that social relations are ultimately key to understanding historical transitions and that the employment of Social Network Analysis analytical tools on the archaeological record for the study of social movements is essential in highlighting them. The Summer Program’s theme for this year, addressing critical ideas such as mobility, migrations, exile, liminality, hybridity, borders and boundaries, constituted a most opportune forum not only for presenting my research about antiquity, but also for testing, developing and enhancing my approach to population and concomitant movements in Macedonia and Thrace; the last two formed a region, which was exposed to many, diverse, and not always well documented such movements in antiquity and beyond.
My initial intuition that the CHS-CCS course would challenge and improve my approach to mobility patterns, in order to overcome efficiently state, national or other boundaries, was certainly confirmed. In the first place, my project gained in perspective through exposure to constructive criticism by two distinguished experts studying the same region in the Byzantine period. I benefited from the discussion of the documentation and texts in class, from their feedback during and after my lecture, and from their comments regarding mobility (especially Byzantine) during our visits at Classical Greek and Byzantine monuments.
It is needless to stress how great a pleasure it was for me to spend a week in Thessaloniki, right at the heart of my research area, during summer: I was able to revisit the city’s monuments, including a most appropriate exhibition on early colonization in the area in the archaic period with our students, and to reconnect with colleagues and friends in the second capital of Greece. Not least, introducing the emblematic archaeological site of Vergina to the group during our guided tour on Saturday was unquestionably a treat, with an exceptionally heavy emotional burden for me.
Undoubtedly, sharing this experience with this course’s lively international student group deepened my perception of several aspects of mobility. Interaction with their multicultural community, coming from diverse backgrounds and with a broad range of interests, brought forth stimulating and often unexpected questions, as several students’ family members had experienced the effects of mobility processes themselves. In regard to teaching, I learned a lot from the most distinguished scholars who led the course and from the techniques that they employed in order to render the archaeological and literary material accessible (and engaging) to a lively group, not necessarily familiar with Classical or Byzantine studies. At the same time, the students’ eagerness to learn Greek customs and habits prompted us all to open up to them as many “windows” to Greek culture as possible.
Attending this course was also an invaluable experience in terms of joining an impeccably organized endeavor: I certainly admired how efficiently the program leaders, Evan Katsarelis and Asimina Tsentourou, managed the minutiae for that week and contributed substantially to the smooth implementation of the program, while charmingly but efficiently dealing with all sorts of emerging practicalities.
Last but not least, like other Greek scholars, I treasure most the full access obtained to the Harvard University Library facilities, as they open up a vast kaleidoscope of publications and research tools, unquestionably enhancing my project’s writing progress. I benefited massively from this facility before joining the group in July, and I am sure that I will be making the most of its potential throughout the year. I consider this is an invaluable gift promoting researchers from modern Greek universities.
By and large, my weekly participation in the Summer Course turned out to be a multifaceted experience, which went way beyond my initial expectations. It not only helped me to test the spread and transition process of commodities against the broader picture of human mobility and to deepen my approach to such issues, comparing my data with those of later periods and enhancing interdisciplinarity. It also enabled my stay in the heart of my research area for a week and my reconnecting with colleagues, while the most precious annual access to the Harvard library facilities is bound to speed up dramatically the progress of my research. At the same time, my week-long interaction with established members of the academic community engaging with a stimulating international group of students keen in unpacking critical and opportune notions opened up new pathways towards academic interaction, interdisciplinarity and towards broadening views. I take this opportunity to thank cordially the organizers of the Summer Program for their warmest welcome into the CHS Harvard community in Nafplio and Thessaloniki and for their remarkable initiative in bridging cultures, in promoting mobility and in overcoming cultural, linguistic, temporal or academic boundaries; and, not least, for gracefully transforming these into deep, hopefully long-lasting bonds.
Katerina Panagopoulou studied History and Archaeology at the University of Athens, Greece (1993) and obtained her PhD at the History Department at University College London in 2000 (supervisors: Profs. M. Crawford and A. Burnett). She has been a postdoctoral fellow at the Program of Hellenic studies at the University of Princeton in 2002 and at the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford in 2003, on a BSA/Foundation of the Hellenic World Fellowship. As an Assistant Professor at the University of Crete, she currently teaches Hellenistic and Roman History and has taught at the Universities of Patras, Corfu (Ionion) and at the Hellenic Open University. She has also worked as a Research Assistant at the Centre for Greek and Roman Antiquity / Hellenic Research Centre (1993-4) and at the Foundation of the Hellenic World. An enriched version of her PhD dissertation, currently entitled The Early Antigonids: Coinage, Money and the Economy, is under publication by the American Numismatic Society in 2019. She has also coedited, with Profs. I. Malkin and C. Constantakopoulou, a collective volume entitled Greek and Roman Networks in the Mediterranean, (Routledge 2009). Her research interests encompass ancient numismatics, the economic behavior of precious metals (primarily silver and gold) in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, demography, politics and economy in Hellenistic and Roman Macedonia, Social Network Analysis and economic history, social history of the Hellenistic and Roman Periods.