About the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (AAIA)

The Institute is one of 16 foreign research facilities established in Athens that focus on Greek, and wider Mediterranean, studies, with a heavy emphasis on archaeological fieldwork and research. The earliest of these was founded in 1846, and the ever growing number of such institutions demonstrates the very broad interest in Greek history and archaeology, of all periods, in many regions of the globe. In Australia, all universities which have Classics, Ancient History and Greek studies programmes (12 in total) are Institutional Members of the Institute; Ohio State University is a Foreign Institutional Member. We are proud that five high schools have also chosen to become Institutional Members, thus underlining the importance they place on the humanities.

The Institute aims to promote Greek studies as well as to foster wider Australian involvement with Greek cultural output. To this end it has established its Contemporary Creative Residency which enables Australian literary and visual artists to reside in Athens for a period of time so as to absorb and reflect on aspects of this very lively modern city. In a similar vein the Institute’s most recent Institutional Member, the University of Wollongong, has instituted a parallel programme for its graduate fine arts students.

Among the most important tasks encompassed by the Institute’s brief is to facilitate the work of Australian academics and students researching topics related to Greece and the Greek past. To this effect it liaises with various departments of the Greek Ministry of Culture and Greek research institutions. Importantly, the Institute – as it is recognized by the Ministry as an official research foundation – provides a conduit through which Australian archaeologists can undertake fieldwork in Greece. The current projects conducted under the Institute’s aegis are located at Torone in the Chalkidike, Zagora on the island of Andros, in Lakonia, and on the island of Kythera. The Institute also enthusiastically sponsors the University of Sydney’s excavations at Nea Paphos on Cyprus. The scholarships offered by the Institute and its Institutional Members have over the decades enabled a large number of Australian students to spend considerable periods in Greece to conduct research on a very wide range of topics indeed.

In Australia the Institute annually invites an internationally-renowned archaeologist who travels to all our Institutional Members in order to deliver seminars to the staff and students as well as to deliver lectures to our Friends groups and the general public. In this fashion recent archaeological discoveries and theories are disseminated widely throughout the country. The Sydney library of the Institute is a major national research facility. Its holdings will continue to grow thanks to a very generous bequest by the Honorable David Levine.

In Greece the Institute offers a venue at which Australian academics and graduate students can present their work to an audience comprised of members of the other foreign schools, staff and students of the local universities and the staff of the Greek archaeological directorates. Furthermore, the Institute actively aids the study travel programmes of its Institutional Members which bring significant numbers of Australian university students to Greece most often to study its past but not exclusively so: the University of Western Australia has for many years conducted an Architectural Studio in Athens which focuses on contemporary developments.

The Institute’s mission of promoting Greek cultural studies and underlining their relevance to contemporary Australia, first officially realized in 1980, continues undiminished.

to hear more about the AAIA, listen to Acting Director Dr Stavros Paspalas in conversation with Themis Kallos on SBS radio, recorded September 2017.

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