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Bert de Vries, global movements

“Global Moments in the Levant,” a Norwegian Research Council Grant

Excerpted and adapted from a news article by Myrna Anderson and Phil de Haan.

Calvin College history professor Bert de Vries will be joining an international team of 16 archaeologists, anthropologists, geographers, historians and sociologists, including West Michigan colleagues Bethany Walker of Grand Valley State University and Øystein LaBianca of Andrews University, in a wide-ranging study of “Global Moments” in Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria - an area known as "the Levant."

The Project, entitled “Global Moments in the Levant,” will be funded over four years by a $2.6 million (16 million Norwegian kroner) grant from the Norwegian Research Council. The team, which is headed by Leif Manger, professor of anthropology at University of Bergen, Norway, will use that university as its center of operations, and focus the team aspect with four annual workshops in Bergen.

For his part of the project de Vries will study the transition from Late-Antique rural villages to early Medieval fortified hilltops, a transition that took place between the eighth and twelfth centuries. The end of that period is characterized by such structures as the castles of the Crusaders and counter-Crusaders. He will use the abandonment of his own site at Umm-el-Jimal in northern Jordan as a case study.

Participation includes extended stays at the University of Bergen every spring from 2005 to 2008 and travel in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Israel.

"This project is not intended to just be dry history," he says. "It's intended to provide living understanding of the people of the Levant and their cultural background. The (research) team includes everything from people who look at the Paleolithic era to people who look at the present."

The study also reunites de Vries with team members who have previously worked with him on a Calvin partnership with Birzeit University in Ramallah, a project that studied a West Bank Watershed. The report of that study appeared spring 2006: Abdulfattah, Kamal and Bert de Vries eds., Wadi el-Far’a Project Report: An Environmental Assessment of the Wadi el-Far’a Watershed. The Lower Jordan River Programme Publications 8 (Ramallah: Birzeit University 2006), pp. i-iii; 1-193. Please see Calvin-Birzeit Partnership Teaching and Research for details on this project.