February 6, 2024
At the 2024 AIA Annual Meeting (Chicago, IL), we saw a variety of posters featuring work from around the world. Annual Meeting participants were treated to an incredible array of diverse research presented in a visual format.
We asked the winner of this year’s First Runner-Up Poster Award winners a few questions about themselves and their project:
First Runner-Up Poster Award Recipient: Jennifer S. Tafe, Cole M. Smith, and Eleni Hasaki
“Nikosthenes’ Networks of Production and Trade”
The name “Nikosthenes” represents an individual artist and entrepreneur in late archaic Athens, as well as an artist collective and a brand. The Nikosthenes workshop is a vase-making enterprise, active between ca. 545–510 B.C.E. with a strong collaborative basis, a leading innovator in shapes and painting techniques, and a savvy brand maker for its overseas trade to Etruria though strategic use of signatures and trademarks. With a total of 351 signed and attributed vases, 35 collaborators, 13 shapes including its hallmark Nikosthenic amphora, six techniques, 149 signatures, and seven trademark types, the Nikosthenic workshop constitutes one of the most interesting test cases to study communities of practice in the Athenian Kerameikos and communities of traders and consumers in Etruria. The 149 surviving Nikosthenic signatures account for nearly 25 percent of all extant epoiesen signatures in black-figure. A total of 31 trademarked Nikosthenic products, mostly Nikosthenic amphoras (26), exist. Products of the Nikosthenic workshop comprise one of the largest and most focused surviving sets of trademarks known for a particular Attic workshop. These trademarks, when coupled with those of related workshops and individuals, reveal a calculated system for trade. The most prominent marks, ΣΟ and ΕΡ, suggestive of specific traders, provide two of the best examples of dedicated trademarking of a specific style of pots by a specific workshop. Through network visualizations of these related datasets, often studied separately, we can reassess the workshop’s centrality and recapture its importance in the dynamic landscapes, both artistic and economic, of late archaic Athens. With this more comprehensive and integrated approach to the Nikosthenic brand we highlight the potential of the Nikosthenic workshop, often underrecognized in modern scholarship, to inform us about vase artists, innovation, and trade networks more broadly.
How long have you been a member of the AIA?
JT: Member since 2010
CS: I have been an AIA member since 2020.
EH: I think since the mid 90s as a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati. I still remember with awe when I attended my first AIA meeting and I read the name tags of some giants in our field whose works are the cornerstones of Classical archaeology. Since 2002, I have been a proud member of the AIA Tucson Society (aiatucson.arizona.edu), which I have served in various roles, currently as its co-President. I encourage everyone to join their local society and contribute time and resources to its success.
How many Annual Meetings have you attended (in-person or virtually).
JT: Attended at least 10 AIA meetings
CS: I believe I have attended four meetings
EH: About 15. In my first poster in 1999 in Dallas I presented my doctoral research on ceramic kilns in ancient Greece. In almost half of all my meetings I have participated with a poster, often as a co-authored endeavor. I have collaborated with colleagues and with graduate and undergraduate students. An earlier poster entitled “Bronze Age Terracotta Statues of Ayia Irini, Kea: An Experimental Reconstruction and Technical Examination” coauthored with then Honors student Rachel DeLozier won the Best Poster Award in 2015.
How did you first come to this project/topic?
JT: This project is based in part on my dissertation, but I met Eleni Hasaki at her AIA talk in 2020 on using social network theory in Greek vase-painting studies in DC and we thought a collaborating would be interesting. And Cole’s expertise in trademarks made it the perfect collaboration. Next step is to drill the data down even more to show how Nikosthenes’ workshop was a major center for innovation that spurred many successful artists.
CS: I came to this topic at the invitation of Eleni and Jennifer, as I had done some network research relating to trademarks for my Master’s thesis which Eleni supervised
EH: After our brief encounter at an AIA session I co-organized in 2020 Jennifer, with her PhD completed, reached out to me again to explore a collaboration. As Cole had just completed his MA thesis on trademarks on Athenian pottery under my supervision at the University of Arizona, and with my continued interest in potters’ communities in ancient Greece, it was the perfect timing to join our individual areas of expertise to address the Nikosthenic workshop that is such an outlier in the Athenian Kerameikos.
What is one cool fact or interesting result from this project that didn’t make it onto the final poster?
CS: Many more network diagrams were created to model the data that unfortunately didn’t make the cut for the poster. But it was interesting to see that when the full dataset of trademarked Attic figured pottery from various workshops was charted out, from late Archaic through late Classical, that Nikosthenes and those close to their workshop still stood out immediately for the nature of the trademarking practices. Models were also complete relating to the shapes of vessels and Nikosthenes again stood out.
EH: I think a map with shapes, locations, and trademarks would have highlighted the combined strength of distinct types of evidence.
What is your advice to students/new authors who are preparing posters for upcoming conferences?
JT: My advice to poster authors would be to start early! 🙂 And definitely collaborate with other colleagues if you can. It’s much more educational to have multiple minds and perspectives at work on a project.
CS: Advice I would give to anyone preparing posters for upcoming conferences is that if you are not enjoying your poster neither are your viewers.
EH: A poster is a great way for a finishing PhD student to participate in their first AIA meeting as a presenter. The poster session does not compete with other sessions in terms of scheduling, and the visitors have more time to interact with the presenter than in a standard open session oral presentation. Moreover, once the meetings are over, one can exhibit their poster at their institution to highlight academic research and/or bring it to community outreach events.
[Here are some of Dr. Eleni Hasaki’s tips for prospective Poster Session participants]: