Valentin Szántai, Leiden University
Having the opportunity to develop my thesis for my ancient History research master programme at the NIT for four weeks was an immersive experience. The open shelf libraries of the NIT and the ANAMED enable thematical browsing and provide a great atmosphere that often results in the whole day passing as if it were only a few hours you spent there. This strangely fast flow of time is boosted further by the many sites and vibes of Istanbul one can only recommend exploring to the furthest possible extent. At the end of the day, returning to the fabulous NIT apartment is a pleasure not only for its pomp but because it is centrally located, one corner away from the NIT, and can be reached after a nice walk in the city. Discussing your progress, difficulties and uncertainties with your fellow while enjoying the view from the living room is a second-to-none closure of the day. For scholars, Istanbul offers countless hubs of knowledge which I had the privilege to visit, apart from the already mentioned, very well-stocked libraries, the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, the Institut Français d'Études Anatoliennes, and the Museum of Archaeology which all contributed to my research by allowing access to rare books and artefacts that brought my subject of study closer to me.
My project focused on civic identities of Western Anatolian poleis under Roman rule. During my time at the NIT, I was working on my chapter that analyses the effects of the urban environment on residents of Aphrodisias, Ephesus, Hierapolis and Pergamon. I profited immensely from the archaeological reports available in the abovementioned libraries that contained some of the most recent issues pertaining to each of the cities. The comparison of these settlements in the Republican and Julio-Claudian periods suggested how diverse the same times can be for people living in the same province but experiencing different socioeconomic trends while trying to interpret far-reaching political and ideological changes in a way that tied these into their local mythological and social discourse of self-perception. Tracing further the remnants of the manifestation this negotiation process left in the following periods should shed light on diachronic developments, which I am eager to write up, but unfortunately, that remain to be done after my stay in Istanbul.
Finally, I would like to express my gratefulness to Aysel and Fokke for granting me this unique opportunity and for their continued support and kindness throughout my stay. This fellowship is excellently structured to provide students with facilities and freedom to explore their field and the city and, thus, to make progress and make connections.