Last week Vestlandet was immersed in Ancient Corinth

The first major event that Foreningen organized this year was the visit to Volda and Bergen of archaeologist Socrates Koursoumis, who is working for the Korinthia Ephorate and has been pivotal in the renovation of the museum at the site. Socrates is also the author of a book on “The Apostle Paul in Roman Corinth“.

The venues in Bergen took place under the auspices of the research group on Antiquity and the NeRoNE project, in the frame of two workshops that were a sort of continuation of earlier activities of the group, namely on topics of Archaeopolitics and Urbanism.

Socrates Koursoumis talking to members of the Research Group on Museology and Archaeopolitics based on the experience from the renovation of the Museum at Ancient Corinth
Socrates Koursoumis talking to members of the Research Group on the urban development of Ancient Corinth

Socrates’ talks were followed by interventions prepared by members of the research group. All presentations were thought-provoking and the comparison of different cultures spanning the Mediterranean, the Nile, the Middle East and Central Asia created ample space for vivid exchanges and debates that all participants hope to continue through the web-page of the research group.

Foreningen was the sponsor of the venue at the library of the University College at Volda. There, Socrates talked about “The Apostle Paul in Corinth: Old and new narratives on religious ethics and groups in Roman Greece.”

We hope that this arrangement marked the beginning of a fruitful collaboration with Høgskulen i Volda in particular, and Foreningen’s new home-town in Volda, more generally.


Monsters of Reality

Monsters of Reality are taking over the National Theatre on Sunday 25th of September!


A constellation of invited artists from Norway and Greece will fill the gilded corridors with live performance, installations and interactions, using fiction to get at truth. From their differing standpoints they will share their responses to historical and contemporary ideas about ritual, identification, imitation and reality.

This one day event is the culmination of an extended project that started in February 2016 when a group of Norwegian artists and theatre makers travelled to Athens in an attempt to trace the ancient theory of mimesis which lies at the core of the entire history of Western discourse on representational art and its values. It has been a passionate concern for artists and philosophers for thousands of years, but the term might also be considered a curious relic from the past.

Ever since Plato laid the foundations for the concept of mimesis, theatre has been subjected to claims of suffering “a crisis of representation”. In our times this concerns a discourse related to concepts of truth and reality, or rather the deconstruction of them – a theoretical debate that mostly has engaged Western philosophy. We should perhaps also turn our minds to another very real crisis of representation. The European Union is creaking at the joints and there is an increasing distrust in a true and just democratic representation.

Monsters of Reality uses the axis Oslo–Athens as a starting-point for an artistic investigation into this crisis and our means of representing it.


Participating artists:

Blindspot theatre group (Yota Argyropoulou & Michalis Konstantatos) (GR), Rafika Chawishe (GR), Trine Falch (NO), Crispin Gurholt (NO), influx artist collective (Charis Pechlivanidis & Korina Vasileiadou) (GR), Victoria Meirik (NO), Poka-Yio (GR), Pia Maria Roll (NO), Helle Siljeholm (NO), Mona Solhaug (NO), Bo Krister Wallström (NO) and Universet (Kenneth Ishak & Bård Torgersen) (NO).


For more information visit:


Concept/production: Siri Forberg

Dramaturg/production: Marit G. Eggen

Production assistant: Frances Gerono

Ilustration: Timon Botez

An Aegean church of ginger bread won an award at “Pepperkakebyen i Bergen” 2015

Sometimes pictures can say so much more than words 🙂

But if you want to know more about the photos that illustrate the pepperkake (gingerbread) achievement of Birthe Holm Dyrnes and Ingrid Nøttveit and Eira Holm Dyrnes, then keep on reading…

Birthe is the mother of Ingrid and Eira (as well as of Oda, Karen, Martin, and Eivind!). They live in Bergen in Norway and participate in the main social venues of their country and folk. Before Christmas, during Advent, the Norwegians bake a lot. They bake a lot of gingerbread cookies. And they shape them. And they build them together. And make houses, pyramids, the Eiffel, Bergen, churches. That was their idea for this year: they would bake a church for the annual competition of world renown “The gingerbread town” (not to be confused with “The gingerbread lane” in NY!) of Bergen, Norway.

Birthe and Eira also spend every year a month in their home on the Greek island Paros. During summer. Good memories to take back to the long rainy months of autumn, winter, and spring in Western Norway. Birthe is very interested in understanding the Greek language and the customs of the Greeks. All in the family have been attracted by the whiteness of the Cyclades under the heat of the summer sun over the Aegean. The churches attract the eye especially.

So, in the heat of working for an autumn course of Greek language at the Foreningen; with a Greek-mythology-film for the children who are also active at the courses; and with quite some reading and learning to do on Greek traditions; Birthe got enough motivation to materialize the idea that was first discussed at the Paros convention of the Foreningen in summer 2015: she invited Ingrid and Eira to make a white Aegean church out of … gingerbread and to send it to – where else? – “The gingerbread town” in Bergen!

And the girls agreed. And they all did a great job! And they handed in the creation to the administrators of “The gingerbread town” as a contribution by the Foreningen!! And this contribution, Birthe’s, Ingrid’s and Eira’s pepperkake-gresk-kirke, won the Cultural prize, Kulturprisen, at “The gingerbread town”!!! And we are very proud and thank you most warmly for this dedication!! 🙂

By now, the price is decorating the kitchen window of Birthe’s home, and the setting of the gingerbread church in “The gingerbread town” of Bergen has become Foreningen’s wish card for Christmas 2015!

god jul fra foreningen

Now, what is a further interesting point is that the white church from the Aegean became in the lighting of the Hall set to receive “The peppercake town” in Bergen sentrum very different than the sun-shining-white churches that Birthe had experienced in summer Cyclades. The pepperkake-gresk-kirke is lit for dark hours and is placed on top of a white sheet. It looks like there is snow on this Aegean church! It is indeed winter. And the lights invite us in. To pray for a good new year and being thankful for what we enjoyed this year.

As for Foreningen, we think we found in this gingerbread tale an inspiration to make the best out of 2016! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

The waves of a trip south hit Trondheim in the north

Today, the Vitenskapsmuseet of NTNU at Trondheim hosted the fascinating presentation by Ivar Papadopoulos Samuelsen of his unique journey between Norway and Greece in a … rowing boat!!

Ivar's talk

The presentation took place in the frame of the photographic exhibition ”Descending North” by Yannis Skoulas that after some very successful venues in Greece was brought to Norway by our Organization and has been hosted in Hordamuseet in Bergen and at the Vitenskapsmuseet in Trondheim.


The trip of Ivar gave to Yannis the counter-balance that he needed to build the story that his photographs are telling about the experience of being Greek-Norwegian. In fact, one of the photographs exhibited is the boat of Ivar that stands today at a village in Central Greece!

Ivar @ NTNU

The hosting of Yannis’ exhibition at Vitenskapsmuseet was planned to end today, but it was decided by the museum staff that it should be kept until the end of August! Surely, a great opportunity for all those visiting Trondheim during the summer holidays to see this great work!


Ivar’s talk was engaging and Øylov Cyvin – who reported for us from Trondheim today – stressed how she was impressed by the hospitality of all those whom Ivar met in his long way south, and how she wished that more such adventures are undertaken, so as to inspire all of us both in action and to enjoy such nice venues like the one today.

In fact, the whole arrangement was dedicated to the experience of traveling and in that framework right before Ivar’s talk, Heidrun Stebergløkken gave a talk about Rock Art and how journeys are depicted through it!

Spor etter forhistoriske reiser

Wish we were there, but hopefully more events will bring us to Trondheim or all of you to our Organization’s venues!

A Greek-Norwegian view on the combat against illegal trafficking of cultural goods

Last month, there appeared in the news in Norway an essay about the possible role played by Norwegian collectors at the receiving end of antiquities from the Middle East, where the acts of the IS have devastated many archaeological sites and museums, and have provided plethora of objects for illegal international trafficking of cultural goods.

The pictures accompanying these news consisted among other things of superb mosaics found in these areas. There was a striking peculiarity with some of those: their inscriptions appeared flipped and for at least one of them reasons of photography seem not to lie behind the bizarre appearance of the Greek letters. Nobody commented on that in the news, and we think that this shows how distanced the Norwegian public has become from things “classic”.

On the same token, there is also distancing from the value of the knowledge carried in the antiquities, a value that prevents them from being equalized with trade objects depending on the laws of offer and demand. Especially with the inscribed (in Greek) objects, we are naturally reminded also of the critical situation that the classical studies have reached in many Norwegian institutions.

So, we found it a very timely thing that the Norwegian Institute in Athens hosted on the 7th of May a talk by the Greek archaeologist Christos Koutsothanasis titled: “Protecting Cultural Heritage from Looting and Illicit Trafficking: The Case of Greece”. And thanks to our long-standing friendship with Christos, he was kind enough to allow us to reproduce hereby the powerpoint presentation of his talk. As for those interested in reading the entire paper, they can download it HERE.

A Byzantine historian visiting Bergen

This is the first post in the new category of entries in the internet space of the Organization for Greek-Norwegian cooperation in the field of culture and humanities.

This new category concerns topics of academic interest in the fields of humanities, complementing thus the posts presenting or commenting the cultural events that we have organized.

We thought that there is no better case study to open this series of posts than the only known instance of a citizen of Byzantium visiting Norway (and more precisely Bergen), and leaving a written record of his visit!

This person was Laskaris Kananos, sometimes identified with John Cananus. He made a trip in 1438-9, perhaps linked with the Ferrara council. The trip attracted the attention of several scholars among whom the late professor Tomas Hägg stands out.

book cover

Hägg has been, among other things, a leading figure in the study of Greek in medieval Nubia, and in his article on Kananos from 1990 (En bysantiner besøker Bergen, In: Ø. Andersen & T. Hägg (eds.), Hellas og Norge, Bergen 1990, pp. 221-228), compares the lack of references to Norway in Byzantine sources with the equal silence in the same corpus of written sources on the Christian kingdoms of medieval Nubia. The interest in this detail stems of course from the main academic interest of Alexandros & Henriette, namely Nubian Studies.

In any case, for those interested in first-hand contact with Kananos’ narrative, his work has been put online since 2009 at

“Descending north” had opening at Trondheim today!

We arrived at the museum today early enough to check that all was ready to receive the first visitors at the Trondheim venue of “Descending North”.


The welcoming was informal, but informative, warm, and cordial.


People were magnetized by the images that Yannis has put together, and those who had also descended north in their lives talked with him about their own experiences of being Greeks in Norway.

Gradually, the visitors started moving towards the table with the publications by Yannis and with the comments’ book. With the exhibition at a cross point of the museum’s building, it is sure that Yannis will have hundreds of comments to read by the time his photographs will be packed in May to go to their next destination.

A last round of talks with those closest to Yannis at the set-up of the venue at Trondheim…

…and we had some time left to visit another exhibition that NTNU-Vitenskapsmuseet was hosting these days.

But more on the other exhibits at NTNU in retrospect when I am back to Bergen tomorrow.

On the eve of the exhibition at Trondheim

The weather forecast had announced extreme conditions for Trøndelag for today. And it was indeed the case.

However, work had to be completed at NTNU-Vitenskapsmuseet where tomorrow at 13:00, the photo exhibition by Yannis Skoulas, Descending North, is opening to the public.

It was a great experience to be part of the setting up of the display, working with Yannis and Øylov Cyvin, the key person for the exhibitions at the museum.

Looking forward to seeing the reactions of the visitors tomorrow, meeting the Greeks of the town, colleagues from the university – and all of you who will honour us with your presence 🙂

Some good reasons to return to blogging

We just came back from the third course of Greek language that the Organization for Greek-Norwegian cooperation in the field of culture and humanities is offering (for a very reasonable price) to all interested in Bergen. It has been a very long day, just as all days with an afternoon course are…

In fact, this semester Alexandros is responsible for the four groups of students who are following the introductory course on Ancient Religions of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, plus Nordic and Sami religions, at the Department of Religious Studies at the Institute of Archaeology, History, Cultural and Religious Studies at the University of Bergen, and all four groups are in after-noon hours. Tough weekdays…

With this and that it has become a luxury to write in our blog, although in several occasions there were things we wanted to share from here.

For example, we were very happy to see that the 50 years anniversary of the School of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen was celebrated with special references to Gunnar Haaland and Fredrik Barth, the whole net-presentation being accompanied by images that we have put online in the “Darfur Before” internet-exhibition.

On the other hand we were not happy to have our fears confirmed from friends on the field at Sai that the so-called Cathedral site has received no protection either against the electrical company which has placed the main pylon next to the ruins, or against the looters who seem to continue illegal digging as a side-activity to gold mining…

Especially since we really wish to find a way to return to the field, starting with work on the pottery masses that have accumulated in the two years of digging…

Actually, it sounded even intriguing to consider contributing to the planned volume on Egyptian pottery in Ancient Sudan – a publication project launched by Romain David with whom we have had such fine time and good collaboration on Sai Island – using the material from the earliest phases of the Christian era. But this decision will have to wait.

In the meantime, we are enjoying glimpses of the island and archaeology on it through the very good blog of Julia Budka:

Things are not uninteresting in the North though. For obvious reasons the venue that stands out, at least for Alexandros, is the lecture that Joost Hagen will give in Oxford next Friday the 13th of February about Four Coptic letters from Qasr Ibrim concerning the relations between Christian Nubia, Muslim Egypt and the Blemmyes/Beja in the summer of 760 AD. Hope some friends who promised to attend will report back the juicy contents that surely Joost will offer to his audience!

As for us, well, we’ll close the post as we opened it: with a reference to the activities that are taking place in the frame of the Organization for Greek-Norwegian cooperation in the fields of culture and humanities:

Poster "en sydlig tur mot nord"

Yes, the marvelous exhibition by Yannis Skoulas will be hosted in Trondheim and we invite you warmly to attend the opening, at least those of you who can make it to the Science Museum of the University of Trondheim on Sunday at 13:00!

Invitation en sydlig tur mot nord

Jews in Sudan and Aurora in Bergen

Here in Bergen, the second week in May is proving most active in matters of Sudanological interest!

The second part of the Aurora collaboration between the Center for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies of the University of Bergen and the Institute du Monde Arabe of the University of Paris is taking place. Tomorrow, at 12:15, begins the main seminar, titled “Contesting Archives: Colonial and oral sources in Northeast Africa” and presented by Elena Vezzadini (post-doc research fellow at UiB) and Silvia Bruzzi (post-doc research fellow at Paris).

By the time it ends (ca. 14:00) there will remain just three hours before professionals and amateurs of Northeast Africa gather again at the University premises (this time at Sydneshaugen skole) for an event about the Jews along the Nile, combining short presentations and a unique cinematographic experience:


Looking forward to enjoying it all and we hope that those in Bergen join in!