Archaeologist Lennart Kruijer's year: a Cum Laude dissertation, a grant, a fellowship
In May 2022 Lennart Kruijer succesfully defended his PhD, which he wrote as a member of the VICI Project ‘Innovating Objects’, led by prof. Miguel John Versluys. So succesfully, in fact, that he was awarded the Cum Laude honors. Just a short time later he was awarded a grant and a fellowship to further build upon the research touched upon in his dissertation. More than enough reason to sit down with him and talk about these exciting times.
First of all, how does one's dissertation get awarded with the Cum Laude honors? ‘They do not really state this explicitly,’ Lennart Kruijer explains. ‘From what I know it is a process that starts some months before the actual defence. The reading committee and the promotores decide whether they deem a dissertation to be valued Cum Laude.’ When Lennart learned about the committee's verdict, he went from surprised to flattered and overwhelmed. ‘It took away some of the imposter's syndrome every PhD candidate walks around with. It's a great moment during your PhD to have a committee read your dissertation and report about what in their mind is valuable about your research.’
Now Lennart's dissertation makes for a great stepping stone into his research career. ‘In some ways it was an ambitious dissertation. At the one hand it was a detailed in-depth archaeological analysis of a specific palatial context in the Late-Hellenistic city of Samosata, in current day Türkiye, working closely together with the Forschungsstelle Asia Minor (University of Münster).' The site had been excavated in the past, and Lennart for the first time brought all available data together. 'It tried to be the new standard work for the archaeology of Samosata. In doing this, I have also tried to engage with the long-lasting debate on Hellenism in the Near East. I was always afraid the theoretical and data driven sides were not in equilibrium, but it seems to have worked out well.’ He laughs. ‘The problem of course is that if you look at your own work you are always ten times more critical.’
To continue his investigations into Late-Hellenistic Anatolia, Lennart was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at the ANAMED Institute (Koç University) . ‘With this fellowship I will be able to live in Istanbul for almost a year. The ANAMED, a research institute for the study of Anatolian Civilisations, has extensive libraries and research facilities, offering the ideal environment to start a new project and to develop new ideas.’
During his time in Istanbul, Lennart will work on rewriting his dissertation into two publications. ‘One book will be ‘archaeological’ in nature, an analysis of legacy data, published in the Asia Minor Studien series. The other one has a more theoretical scope, dealing with the Hellenism debate in the Near East and the ways that New Materialist theory can help us to reconceptualize change in what we traditionally call the Hellenistic period.’ Aside from this already daunting project, Lennart will also start a new investigation into the archaeology of Commagene, the Late-Hellenistic kingdom of which Samosata was the capital. ‘While we know a lot about the court life of Commagene, which is very innovative and cosmopolitan, we hardly know anything about its wider society. There have been excavations and surveys conducted around the tomb-sanctuary of Arsameia on the Nymphaios by the University of Münster in the 1960's which have never been published, so these legacy data will be the starting point of my new project.’ In the end this hopefully leads to a field survey project that investigates the rural landscapes of Commagene, but permits are hard to get.
Into the archives
Closely linked to this future project, Lennart also was awarded the Chastelain-Nobach award, by the Leiden University Fund (LUF). ‘This was granted to me a couple of months ago. It gives me a fantastic opportunity to go to Münster to explore the archives and digitise materials related to their early research on Arsameia. It will also allow me to travel extensively through Commagene, visiting sites and museums, and gathering data relevant for an analysis of non-royal Commagene.’ The ambition is to also apply for a Rubicon grant. ‘If I manage to get a Rubicon, it will enable me to go abroad and work in a different academic environment. After all my years in Leiden, it is time for something new.’