From Aksum to India: Inclusivity & the Classics

This documentary about our research was commissioned by the the Week of Classics (Dutch cultural festival 2021), and as such focusses on the parts of our research where we encounter evidence of Greek and Roman interactions with the wider ancient world (India, Egypt, Aksum, Arabia). The documentary premiered during a Dutch broadcast on Sunday April 11 2021. On this website we now host a version of the documentary with entirely English subtitles, to make it accessible for international audiences.

Watch the full Documentary here:

The Dutch language version of the documentary is also freely available to watch online: 

Premiere Event

On Sunday 11 April 2021 this documentary premiered at the Leiden Antiquities Museum (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden), followed by a live Q&A with Dr. Marike van Aerde and MA student Alexander Mohns, representing the team. We are grateful to the museum for hosting us - it isn't every day that we get to talk about archaeology during a live broadcast in front of an ancient Egyptian temple! Below you can see some images of the event. Despite the Covid restrictions and the absence of a large live audience, it was a festive evening that we will not soon forget. And via this website we hope to continue to share our work with a wide range of people.


When we speak of Antiquity, this often refers to ancient Greek and Roman history - also known as 'the Classics'. But the ancient world consisted of a great diversity of cultures and civilizations. Numerous interactions and contacts between these cultures, in turn, led to innovations and historical change and development. Greeks and Romans were certainly part of these processes, but they were not the only ones.

In this documentary, From Aksum to India: Inclusivity & the Classics, archaeologist Dr. Marike van Aerde and her international team of PhD and MA students will introduce you to several remarkable examples of this kind of culture contact in Antiquity. Artefacts from Leiden museums are presented (the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden and Museum Volkenkunde), alongside contributions from locations in India, Italy, and the Arabian desert. In this way, you will follow the team on a journey from Aksum to India.

Samatar Botan in the Arabian Desert (Empty Quarter)

Rishika Dhumal at the Karla Caves near Mumbai, India

Dr. Van Aerde and her team show various ways in which their research encountered Greeks and Romans and they explore different scientific and interdisciplinary methods that are needed to analyze and interpret these complex ancient interactions. The impact of colonialism from 19th-century studies in India and East Africa is also discussed in this context. By means of case studies that span all the way from the Mediterranean region to the Indian Subcontinent, the team also contemplates wider theoretical questions. In sum, the documentary explores how 'the Classics' constituted an integral part of a large and very diverse ancient world.

Daniele Zampierin conducting archaeometrical analyses in Evora, 2020

Alexander Mohns conducting fieldwork in Pakistan, 2019

Inclusivity & the Classics

Written and presented by:

Marike van Aerde
Samatar Ahmed Botan
Rishika Dhumal
Alexander Mohns
Daniele Zampierin

Coordinated and directed by:
Marten Jesse Pot
Estefanía Pampin Zuidmeer
Timo Epping

With many thanks to:
Rijksmuseum van Oudheiden
Museum Volkenkunde
De Week van de Klassieken

Leiden University, Faculty of Archaeology
Prof. Dr. Miguel John Versluys
Prof. Dr. Joanita Vroom

Nirant Dhumal
Aldo Grammatica
Luca Zampierin
Elena Angioletti
Michel de Vreeze

Marike van Aerde at Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden