Congratulations. What does a prize like this mean to you?
-The recognition by the University of Cadiz to work that is often slow, which gives long-term results, at least in our Humanities discipline... I am grateful to the University, but also to my parents, to my husband and my children, because without their support I would not have had a first level research career and, consequently, not have obtained this Award for Research Excellence. [The award recognizes his scientific activity in the last ten years].
How long have you been investigating archaeological finds?
-From before finishing my research, I've been an archaeologist, I dedicated myself to the Phoenician world, but I started in 1988. I worked with my prehistory teachers, who had projects in progress. When I graduated, I decided to do my doctorate and do a research career. I had a four-year predoctoral fellowship first. Thereafter, once I read the thesis I was in Italy with a postdoctoral fellowship from the Ministry. It was in Viterbo, at the University of Tucson, in a chair of Phoenician-Punic archaeology, with one of the best specialists at that time in Italy, Sandro Filipo Bondi. But above all I am a disciple of Diego Ruiz Mata, and he introduced me to the investigation of the Phoenician world and allowed me to work with him in the Doña Blanca Castle with ceramic materials from the site. Diego Ruiz Mata was the director of my scholarships and my doctoral thesis. In any case, archaeology is not an individual-work, but a group effort. We are many who worked on it, and I want to recognize my team and the work behind each article, each finding, each project. [Ana Niveau is a researcher responsible for the Group of the Andalusian Plan of Research Phoenix Mediterranean (HUM-509)]
Was graduation in Cádiz ...
-I could have gone away, my family had a house in Madrid, but I preferred to stay in a small university but close to the object of my research, which I was passionate about. And I do not regret it. When I had to leave, I left. Then, I had a postdoctoral fellowship in Madrid and then a Ramón y Cajal fellowship. My career has been research, which is not the most normal in Humanities. I was the first Ramón y Cajal that has been in Humanities and Social Sciences in the UCA. In fact I think I'm the first in Humanities. In 2011, at the University of Cádiz we were only thirteen Ramón y Cajal and three of us have been awarded with one of the Prizes for Research Excellence of the UCA this year.
|Professor Niveau, with her family, at the Rector of the UCA, after collecting her Award for Research Excellence.
Do you feel in Cadiz in the European Mecca of Phoenician archeology?
-It should be. We are going to try to make it so. For years the situation has been a bit stopped, with this time of crisis, lack of funding, problems to dig, because the Board has been paralyzing everything that was launched in 1985. Now, from the research group that I lead we are trying daily to revitalize all this. I am a member of the scientific committee of the Association of the Phoenicians of Spain, which belongs to European Cultural Itineraries. From there we are trying to work on this shortly. We are waiting for the necessary permits and to return to study of the bone remains of the anthropoid sarcophagi of Cádiz. A few days before this interview was made, a former director of the Museum and active participant in the discovery (and later study of the female sarcophagus), Antonio Álvarez, revealed what follows. In the recording of a program of Onda Cádiz the two sarcophagi contain remains of sexes opposed to those carved in their covers. Then, Álvarez and the former director of the Museum, Ramón Corzo , confirmed to Virginia León, in Diario de Cádiz, the relevant hidden data for almost 40 years.
"We try to revitalize this world from institutions such as the Route of the Phoenicians of Spain"
The anthropological and paleopathological study of the bony remains of the anthropoid sarcophagi will be carried out by the team's anthropologist, María de los Milagros Macías López . We hope to have the results before the XI International Colloquium of the Center of Phoenician and Punic Studies, dedicated to the funerary world, to be held at the end of November in Ibiza. This is planned to corroborate the results of the first work carried out in 1980 by Antonio Álvarez, which was never published. Antonio Álvarez knew from the beginning that the Lady of Cádiz was a woman, and so he communicated it to the then director of the Cádiz Museum.
In addition, we are participating in an international project on the Phoenicians at a Mediterranean level with foci on six fundamental points of the Phoenician culture, among them Cádiz. I am the main researcher of the project Paleogenetic study of the Phoenician population of Gadir-Gades (Cádiz, Spain) , within the framework of the Mediterranean project A Paleogenetic Study of the Phoenician Period. It is led by Professor Dr. Pierre A. Zalloua, of the American University of Lebanon, and Professor Elizabeth Anne Matisoo-Smith, of the University of Otago (New Zealand). DNA has been sequenced from populations of Lebanon (the original Phoenician), Carthage (Tunisia), Monte Sirai (Sardinia), Mozia (Sicily), Ibiza and Cádiz is underway. Within the framework of this project it is planned to include, after the latest developments, the bone remains from the two anthropoid sarcophagi. In Cádiz we should be, and in this we are, leaders in the Phoenician studies at Spanish, Peninsular and international level.
What is the finding of which you feel most proud?
-It is a mistake that exists in society to think that archaeologists are looking for something ... Archaeologists do not look for anything. Neither seek, nor unfortunately, almost find. What archeologists do is record the past. Many times it is more spectacular to find a piece of very small pottery, which gives you the age you are looking for, or the data you needed to confirm at that time, a spectacular find, for example, of a sarcophagus. The other day, in the recording of that television program at the Museum of Cádiz, I was thrilled. Those who participated in the discovery of the female sarcophagus were able to convey the excitement experienced by that group of recently graduated archaeologists when encountering a finding of these dimensions ...
"Many researchers today find it very difficult to stay on the front line"
Investigation in Spain is still difficult, as Ramón y Cajal said, or have things changed?
-No, no, it's still crying and it's something, also, very passionate, something very vocational. It's very hard. Many times it depends on the economic moment and the will. And that in the UCA there have been vice-rectors, like Casimiro Mantell, who have done a lot for research. In 2012, my contract end Ramón y Cajal coincided with an extension due to maternity leave. And then the offer of public employment had been completely frozen. I saw myself on the street. And she was not the only one. In the end it was very difficult to consolidate. They did not know what to do with us. In the end they decided to take a place. But I was unemployed for three months after having had a luxury contract, one of the best in Spain for researchers. Of those, between 250 and 300 per year in all disciplines. In mine, only five or six. It was a tough time that I do not like to remember but that you have to remember. Today I have my position as a professor and, in addition, in the subject that I like. I have participated in international projects thanks to all those stays I did in my predoctoral period. I cannot complain.
"A vice-rector came to ask me what Ramón y Cajal wanted? If I had a husband who loved me"
Then, today, the researchers cannot produce?
-I have had to hear from fellow men say that if I was taking advantage of the Ramón y Cajal to have children. My husband also works at the University. At that time he held a directive position and I never heard him reproached for having taken advantage of him to have children. There was a vice chancellor of more than a decade ago that when I applied for the scholarship he came to ask me what I wanted a Ramón y Cajal for if I had a husband who loved me. And I had to choose between denouncing it and going to the university defender and plunging my career forever or shutting myself up and swallowing it. And in the end, because you have fought a lot, you have to shut up if you want to continue with your research career. But I do not forget that phrase. And it was not in the 50s. Women always have to be showing that we are worth more. Because, Maybe this prize dedicated exclusively to women could seem to be enough, that I have also heard from a colleague that if we want to be equal, it should not exist. But I think it's not bad that it exists. If you realize, in the list of winners, apart from those specific for women, there is only one woman who is awarded ...
I mean, that research is still, in the worst sense, a thing for men ...
-Investigate no, but be in a first level, in the first line. I know -because I know many of the winners and they are all mothers and some of numerous families- that they have achieved this thanks to a total conciliation. In my case I can say that my husband takes care of my children and my house more than me, almost, because he is more organized. And other researchers I know enjoy co-responsibility. But I think of those women who do not have that luck. It is very difficult to maintain a front-line investigation, which is what one intends when embarking on a strictly research career like mine.
"In Humanities we have many more funding problems than in Science, and it should not be like that"
How much time does a researcher in Spain spend in obtaining the necessary funding to continue working?
-With the bureaucracy that we now have, a lot. We do not have a schedule, but that is common to all researchers. Financing, in Humanities ... We always think that we do not need money ... In my case, that I dedicate myself to archaeology, we are much closer to Science than in other eras of history, because we need continuously a multidisciplinary work, analytical, which are very expensive. I requested a bridge project for radiocarbon dating of certain structures, because they had asked me to do so from the Ministry. I requested 3,000 euros and they only gave me 1,500. And of six analytics that I needed, I had to settle for one ... It seems that we do not need money to investigate or that we can do things without funding. It is not like this. It costs us the same to go to a congress, to take our students.