This guest post by students Monika Dimitrova and Uli Botzojorns at the University of Leiden (Netherlands) features a collaborative team of three women, each deserving of their own posts-linked below as we post a new article each day this week.

“Duuh Duuh da da da Duuh”

The opening notes of the Star Wars theme song ring out over the trench, and trowelling stops for a moment as we look around for the source.  Madgolna Vicze stops mid-stride around the edge of the pit and whips her cellphone out of her pocket.  Flipping it open, the music stops and she starts emphatically speaking.  From the far corner of the trench, a bachelor student from the University of Southampton begins to hum the rest of the song, to the chagrin of her fellow trowellers.

We are working around 30 kilometres south of the Hungarian capital, Budapest, at one of the most well researched Bronze Age sites. The site of Százhalombatta-Foldvar, the largest-scale prehistoric excavation in Hungary, has been revealing its secrets to the archaeological team exploring it over eighteen years of detailed excavation. It has substantially enriched our perspective of the European Bronze Age and has gained an international significance. The current project owes its success to the co-direction and cooperation between three women archaeologists who have excelled in their respective fields – Magdolna Vicze, Marie Louise Stig Sørensen, and Joanna Sofaer.

The development of the archaeological excavations at Százhalombatta has been heterogeneous, and the project changed directors a number of times before settling with the current co-directorship. Begun in 1998, the original team leaders changed a few times over the years. Dr. Sørensen and Dr. Sofaer joined in 2000 as supporters of the project and in 2005, after the unfortunate passing of Dr. Proszlai, agreed to co-direct with Vicze.

More than 10 years later, the Százhalombatta project has turned into an internationally renowned excavation project, with a diverse archaeological team that changes from season to season. Given the impressive scholarly and personal background of the three directors, it is safe to assume that the international success of the Százhalombatta project is owed to its driving forces, each who deserve their own post:

Dr. Magdolna Vicze

Professor Marie-Louise Stig Sørensen

Professor Joanna Sofaer

During our participation in the 2016 season of the Százhalombatta excavation we were particularly interested in how these diversely accomplished individuals experienced working in close collaboration. The two authors of this article participated in the excavation and interviewed the three directors about their work on the project.

The continuity of the Százhalombatta project throughout transitions in directorship is successful and of international significance for prehistoric archaeology. The directors owe their success first and foremost to their professionalism and ability to form a well-functioning team. It is their compatibility (both with and without effort) as researchers and people that makes them so successful. Nevertheless, their womanhood facilitates their personal and professional relationships, and their shared gender helps them create a better team management. Together these women have maintained a project that will likely change our understanding of Bronze Age Tell settlement patterns and possibly even the European Bronze Age as a whole. Both authors felt motivated and inspired by working with Dr’s Vicze, Sørensen, and Sofaer and we are excited to watch the excavation proceed to its completion.

Image provided by Matrica Museum and used with permission. Pictures are (L to R) Vicze, Sørensen, and Sofaer on-site.


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