The History of NIA

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To date the Institute has been under the successive directorship of three university professors, each choosing an aspect of the overall activities upon which to place a particular emphasis. 

Upon the first director, the philologist Øivind Andersen (1989-1993), fell the load of physically establishing the Institute as a functioning institution, with premises, staff, and equipment. He was able to purchase an important collection of books, known as "The Professor Johannes Triantaphyllopoulos Library". Andersen emphasized the continued discourse with the Norwegian public on the desirability of a classic-humanistic component in Norwegian education and on the necessity and the prestige of a strong and active Institute. This found its expression in a series of books containing contributions by leading Norwegian and Nordic scholars on classical themes (ancient Greek religion, the travels of Pausanias, life in classical Athens, and the historical and literary contact between Greece and Norway). Parallel to this, the Institute organized lectures and symposia in Athens as within the framework of the customary scholarly offering to the wider public. Under Andersen’s directorship two archaeological projects were initiated, at Tegea in Arkadia (led by Erik Østby), and at Petropigi near Kavala (led by Siri Sande).

The second director, the archaeologist Erik Østby (1994-1998), shifted the main emphasis onto archaeological excavation. Active at Tegea in Arkadia since 1990, Østby continued his research there, now approaching publication. The excavation at Petropigi continued. In his final year as director he brought a more extensive Norwegian involvement with Arkadia to fruition, the "Norwegian Arcadia Survey", under the leadership of Knut Ødegård. A major event of the second period was the 1995 inauguration of the "Nordic Library", the joint library of the four Nordic countries, created on the foundations of the substantial holdings of the Swedish Institute at Athens.

The third director, the philologist Synnøve des Bouvrie (1999-2002 ), received a mandate to consolidate and widen the Institute’s activities. This has found its expression in the hosting of international symposia and seminars on topics outside a narrow definition of the Classics, but inside the committment of the Institute, for instance on myths and symbols, on myth motifs, and on the interaction between the Mediterranean countries. During des Bouvrie’s tenure the Institute celebrated its tenth anniversary. The archaeological activity has been enriched by the "Greek-Norwegian Deep-Water Archaeological Survey" at Ithaki, jointly directed by Katerina Delaporta and Marek Jasinski. In 2000 the inaugural intensive Modern Greek language course was organized for a small group of Norwegian students.

The fourth director, the archaeologist and historian Knut Ødegård (2003-  ), is facing the challenge of redesigning the rôle of the Institute in a Norwegian system of higher education that is undergoing profound changes. From autumn 2003, a radical reform will bring Norway more on line with other European countries, with shorter and more intensive courses of study and new forms of evaluation.  The reform undoubtedly provides new opportunities for the Institute and the coming years will witness a number of new courses for Norwegian students of the Classics, as well as for other programs of study. Ødegård will also continue the Norwegian commitment to the archaeology of Arcadia.  The Institute is currently working out a proposal for new archaeological projects in the area of Tegea, including a continuation of the excavations in the Sanctuary of Athena Alea and new high-tech investigations of the ancient city of Tegea.

Currently the Institute is constituted by the director and three staff members.  Although small and of limited means, the Institute has enabled to enter fully into the scholarly life of Athens and Greece in general. It plays an important role in research, teaching and publication, by obtaining research permits, by providing the framework for scientific discussion and exchange, and by organizing excursions and study courses for Norwegian students of the Classics.