Archives de catégorie : Presentation of the NEMESIS project

Synthetic presentation of the NEMESIS project

Thematic of the project

Thanks to new scientific approaches and more active heritage strategies, twentieth-century archaeology has made it possible to discover and excavate thousands of protohistoric sites throughout Europe. The development of this scientific archaeology continues at the beginning of the 21st century thanks to solid foundations laid in European universities and research institutes. Spectacular discoveries and archaeological excavations have generated a volume of archaeological data unprecedented in the history of research. This material and intellectual data provides today a solid and diversified corpus that makes it possible to update approaches to the functioning of the economy, social and political structures during the Protohistory.

The period of the Iron Age (8th-1st century BCE) occupies a special place in the history of European societies. Indeed, it concentrates a series of fundamental innovations that include the establishment of complex political systems, the rise of the first cities and an unprecedented economic development that triggered the monetarisation of trade. Analogies in the material culture of the archaeological communities of Eastern and Western Europe were detected very early in the 20th century and Celtic culture, even if it never constituted a homogeneous cultural unit, could be studied within a coherent geographical whole, that of the European continent. This European perspective was never lost sight of during the twentieth century and it continues today and is even being strengthened by the development of academic research networks.

European protohistorians are engaged in research with common objectives around several current issues. The first concerns the rhythms of evolution of the different subsets of inland Europe that protohistoric archaeology is usually dealing with separately or only in their relations with the Mediterranean states. These are the “Celtiberians”, the “Celts”, the “Dacians”, etc., to use designations that have become accepted by usage, even if their legitimacy is highly debatable, so problematic is the transposition to the archaeological field of the ethnic realities evoked by the Greco-Roman written sources. The second issue is that of the interactions between the Mediterranean world and the Iron Age societies, from the fringes of the Mediterranean Sea to the most remote parts of temperate Europe. The fundamental questions that arise are those of the political, economic and social strategies that the protohistoric communities were able to develop to accompany or, on the contrary, oppose the formation of Mediterranean states.

Among the scientific issues arising from these challenges, we have selected a series of particularly pertinent and federative themes to base the NEMESIS network:

  • Agglomerations and settlement networks (emergence and development of urbanization).
  • Economy and trade (production, nature and intensity of trade, trade flows, monetarisation).
  • Environment, agriculture and landscapes (farming systems and techniques, social and political implications).
  • The religious factor as a vector of the organization of territories and societies.

This thematic panorama will attempt to take into account the new observables that remain to be integrated into archaeological discourse (molecular archaeology and extensive archaeology). At a time when all levels of the archaeological discipline are particularly concerned by digital technologies, but insofar as its “digital transition” is still far from being completed, it also seemed to us essential to make use of the network to encourage exchanges of experience in this field. These exchanges are all the more interesting as the “digital humanities” are a priority axis of European research and innovation policy.

  1. Scientific objectives

The European community of archaeologists working on the Iron Age has become more structured over the last half-century. Two joint French initiatives have strongly contributed to this dynamic: on the one hand, the l’Association Française pour l’Étude de l’Age du Fer (AFEAF) which forms a network of several hundred researchers and students. It plays a fundamental driving role in the diffusion of knowledge on a European scale; on the other hand through the Mont Beuvray “project”, which since 1984 has united several generations of European researchers and students around the archaeological excavations of the oppidum of Bibracte.

  • In concrete terms, French archaeological research on the Iron Age can rely on a network of French laboratories (UMR) with specific research areas directly related to archaeological excavations in France and in the European area. The main laboratories concerned are: AOrOc / UMR 8546 (Paris ENS-PSL), ARTeHIS/ UMR 6298 (Dijon), Ausonius / UMR 5607 (Bordeaux), ASM / UMR 5140 (Montpellier), Chrono-environnement / UMR 6249 (Besançon), IRAMAT / UMR 5060 (Bordeaux, Orléans, Belfort), TRACES / UMR 5608 (Toulouse), Centre Camille Jullian / UMR 7299 (Aix-en-Provence), ArAr / UMR 5138 (Lyon), CREAAH / UMR 6566 (Rennes, Nantes), CITERES / UMR 7324 (Tours), ArScAn / UMR 7041 (Nanterre), Archimède / UMR 7044 (Strasbourg).
  • Abroad, strong links exist with researchers in all European countries, especially in Central Europe: Czech Republic ( Mazaryk of Brno and univ. Karlova of Prague), Romania (univ. Babeș-Bolyai of Cluj-Napoca), Hungary (Univ. Eötvös Lorand of Budapest ), but also in Germany (univ. of Kiel, Stuttgart, RGZM Mainz), Switzerland (univ. of Lausanne), Great Britain (univ. of Durham, Leicester, London), Italy (univ. of Bologne, univ. La Sapienza , Roma 1, Roma 3, univ. of Milan, univ. of Padova), Spain (univ. of Barcelona, univ. Complutense and univ. Autónoma of Madrid, univ. of Saragosse), Portugal (univ. of Coimbra), Austria (univ. of Vienna), to cite just a few examples.
  • The first objective of the IRN project is to contribute to the enlargement of the scientific network of protohistorians active in the Celtic field and to identify fields of research that can be shared on a wider geographical scale. In this context, the IRN should support researchers who prepare ambitious research projects of high scientific level and international scope with the objective of being submitted to European calls for proposals (ANR, European Research Council, Horizon Europe). IRN’s added value will consist in strengthening and developing the international academic research network to bring out new projects of high scientific level, particularly by stimulating young researchers.
  • The geographical scope chosen, from the Atlantic to the Black Sea, is legitimate in several points. These are essentially regions of middle Europe whose temperate climatic conditions have provided a relatively homogeneous natural framework for the development of agrarian societies. From the Iberian Peninsula and the British Isles to the Carpathians and the Black Sea coast, these are also regions which have seen the gradual emergence of urban societies over the last millennium before the change of era.
  • The privileged period for this shared discussion is the period that sees the development of urban societies during the Second Iron Age, mainly the third to first centuries BCE. This chronological narrowing is due to the richness and coherence of the issues related to the period and, therefore, to the cohesion of the scientific community concerned.
  • In practice, IRN’s activity will focus on annual meetings in a “thematic workshop” format. These workshops will be designed and organised in turn by the partner teams, with the aim of encouraging co-productions between a French and a European team.
  • IRN’s activities will be punctuated by meetings of the steering committee (core group) and the scientific committee backed by other regular opportunities for the community to meet, with a view to saving time and resources: AFEAF winter meeting (late January / early February) for the scientific committee and Bibracte end-of-campaign meeting (late September / early October) for the core group.
  • Part of the IRN budget will be set aside to finance individual researcher missions, provided that these missions are aimed at preparing applications for calls for scientific projects in the European space.
  • IRN will set up a flexible communication tool in the form of a research notebook on the platform
  1. The central action of IRN NEMESIS: five thematic workshops (2021-2025)

Annual thematic workshops will form the backbone of IRN NEMESIS. Each workshop will be organized by a dedicated working group, led by one or more members of the core group, with the aim of associating French and European researchers in the organization. The workshops will be organized in spring or autumn of each year for an average duration of 2.5 days. The themes and locations of the workshops are planned for the 5 years of the programme.

2021 – Bordeaux (France): Genesis and development of agglomerations in the 3rd – 2nd c. BCE

The first objective of the workshop is to group together European researchers working on these agglomerations in order to define the foundations of a common reflection and to propose common tools for the specific approach of these archaeological sites, in particular geophysical explorations. It also aims to confront this apparently specific phenomenon in the Celtic field with the contemporary situation in the other regions of the studied area.

2022 – Cluj-Napoca and Sarmizegetusa Regia (Transylvania, Romania) : The Expression of Ideology in Material Culture

This workshop proposes to examine the material manifestations linked to symbolic and ideological acts that may be part of different forms of individual or community devotion (sacrifices, iconographic deposits, decorations, images and signs, architecture). The objective is to determine a possible common symbolic space between Iron Age communities (Celts, Dacians, Thracians…) and its evolution over time.

2023 – Strasbourg (France): What digital strategy for protohistory research in Europe?

The objective of this workshop is to discuss the implementation of common, effective and efficient instruments and tools, precisely adapted to the specific problems developed by protohistorians in Europe.

2024 – Brno (Czech Republic) : Iron Age Environment and Landscapes

The objective of this workshop is to address the formation of territories, the evolution of social and political structures through the development of agricultural production in Europe in the Iron Age by crossing the important databases available in Europe.

2025 – Montpellier (France): The religious factor in the organisation of territories and societies in the Iron Age

The objective of this workshop is to examine the modalities of the progressive construction of a religious landscape which becomes an essential component of the territories of the late Iron Age in Europe.