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Welcome to the Danish National Research Foundation's Centre for Black Sea Studies


January 2013




Pia Guldager Bilde

*11 February 1961      ✝10 January 2013


Pia Guldager Bilde passed away on Januar 10th 2013. She lost the battle with the cancer which had been diagnosed in 2003. Pia studied first at the University of Copenhagen and later at Aarhus University, where she graduated in 1990. After a research fellowship she was employed at the Department of Classical Archaeology from 1993 until 2012.

As part of this position she also assumed the direction of the Museum of Antiquity which had until then been a study collection mainly. During her years as a director from 1993-2002, Pia transformed the Museum of Antiquity into a proper museum with a digitised collection of antiquities and casts, annual exhibitions and publications. She also added substantially to the collection acquiring objects from Luristan, as well as loans from a private collection of objects from Carthage and loans from the Israel Antiquities Museum in Jerusalem.

Pia was an excellent and devoted field archaeologist. As a student she took part in the Nordic excavations of the Castor and Pollux temple on the Forum Romanum in Rome (1983-1985). Her passionate interest in the sanctuary of Diana led to the direction of the joint Nordic excavations of an imperial villa at Lake Nemi south of Rome in 1998-2002.

In 2002 Pia became the director of the Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre for Black Sea Studies based at Aarhus University. As director of this centre of excellence Pia was ambitious, enthusiastic and extremely hardworking. The centre’s research programme reflected in every way the impressive width of her professional interests spanning a variety of topics such as cultural strategies and interaction; patterns of trade and exchange; polis and chora; the transition from Hellenistic kingdom to Roman province; climate change and long term history; power and communication; and the Bosporan Kingdom.

She immediately initiated a number of important international collaborations: In 2003, the project The Lower City of Olbia (Sector NGS) in the 6th century BC until the 4th century AD in collaboration with the Institute of Archaeology of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kiev. This project resulted in the publication Black Sea Studies 13. In 2007, the Džarylgač Survey Project was initiated in collaboration with the Crimean Branch of the Institute of archaeology NASU (Ukraine), the Groningen Institute of Archaeology, University of Groningen (Holland), Institut für klassische Archäologie, Freie Universität, Berlin, Institut für geographische Wissenschaften, Physische Geographie, Freie Universität, Berlin, as well as the Eastern Atlas, Geophysical prospection, Berlin. The results of this project have recently been published in Black Sea Studies 14.

Alongside the field projects the Centre for Black Sea Studies arranged annually major national and international conferences to which two series of conference volumes are dedicated: Sortehavsstudier (in Danish) and the international Black Sea Studies (BSS). Pia’s engagement and enthusiasm towards the conferences and their publication have left a significant mark on the series, which offer its readers an impressive insight into some of the most distinguished international research of the region and its varied topics. Fourteen volumes of the BSS have been published, and several volumes are on their way.

Within the framework of the Centre of Black Sea Studies, Pia also founded a large library on Black Sea archaeology and ancient history, one of the best of its kind in Western Europe. The library has now been incorporated into the Aarhus University library.

Pia possessed an extraordinary ability to form professional networks, and the Centre of Black Sea Studies benefitted enormously from this capacity. She generously shared her contacts with all her employees and colleagues and made the name of the Centre widely known and respected internationally. In her efforts to promote the Centre and Black Sea studies and establish international collaborations, Pia travelled the world tirelessly, visiting Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Bulgaria, Rumania, USA, England, Germany, France, Italy and many other places – everywhere she managed to leave with a new established professional collaboration in her suitcase as well as many a close personal friendship. Her enticing professionalism and generosity also brought many international guests to the Centre in Aarhus a fact from which both employees and visitors benefitted enormously.

Although she never spared herself in regard to the often overwhelming workload, she was never too busy to listen, discuss and offer advice. Her door was always open and a chair available next to her desk. Her legacy is one of tireless enthusiasm, never-failing encouragement, generous sharing, and an open office door. This is what we take with us in our hearts.



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