The Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures of the Polish Academy of Sciences was established in September 2010 as a result of the merger of two research institutions of great merit for Polish science - the Department of Mediterranean Archeology of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Department of Non-European Countries of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
Department of Mediterranean Archeology of the Polish Academy of Sciences
The Department of Mediterranean Archeology was created by Professor Kazimierz Michałowski as a unit of the Academy. The department was established in 1956 as a key element of the "Polish School of Mediterranean Archeology", an interdepartmental scientific consortium aimed at managing Polish excavations and coordinating scientific activities in this discipline. Institutions closely cooperating with the Department were units of the University of Warsaw: the Department of Mediterranean Archeology and the Polish Station of Mediterranean Archeology in Cairo, as well as the National Museum in Warsaw. The political changes that took place after 1956 made it possible to resume Polish excavations in the Mediterranean. The Department of Mediterranean Archeology of the Polish Academy of Sciences acted as an institution collecting and processing excavation documentation and then publishing the results of the research in its publishing series. These series were devoted, on the one hand, to individual sites, such as Alexandria, Deir-el Bahari, Tell Atrib, Saqqara, Faras, Mirmeki, Nea Paphos, and Palmyra, but also intended for the publication of selected groups of monuments of ancient sculptures and vases: Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum, Corpus Signorum Imperii Romani. The series Travaux du Center, publishing monographs, and the Etudes et Travaux journal were also created.
After the death of Professor Kazimierz Michałowski in 1981, the union of the three above-mentioned institutions co-creating the "Polish school of Mediterranean archeology" changed its character. The period of the Plant's restructuring has begun. The system of cooperation between the Department of Mediterranean Archeology of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the institutions of the University of Warsaw: the Institute of Archeology and the Center of Mediterranean Archeology has changed. The first director of the AAS PAS after prof. K. Michałowski became prof. Tadeusz Dzierżykray-Rogalski. From 1982, the institution was headed by prof. Karol Myśliwiec. The Department has developed cooperation with scientific institutions from all over Poland, incl. with the Institute of Archeology of the Jagiellonian University, the Archaeological Museum in Poznań, the Archaeological Museum in Kraków, the Institutes of Classical Archeology and Classical Philology of the University of Wrocław, as well as the Institute of Non-European Countries of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The necessity to introduce changes became even more visible after 1989. Responsibility for some of the existing series was then taken over by other institutions, and new institutions were created in the Department, presenting the results of work on newly opened positions in Nubia, Saqqara, and Tell Atrib. The Department's library has become a nationwide leader in Mediterranean archeology, particularly Egyptian archeology. In recent years, work has commenced on the digitization of the Institute's archives, and since 2006 also on the construction of an electronic library catalog. The three main fields of activity of the institution were: archeology of Egypt, archeology of Nubia, and archeology of the Middle East in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The research programs of the Department were related to the excavation projects of the Center of Mediterranean Archeology of the University of Warsaw. Prof. Kazimierz Michałowski, as well as with the fieldwork of foreign institutes in Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Sudan, and Syria. In three cases, the Department concluded formal cooperation agreements: with the National Corporation of Antiquities and Museums of Sudan, with the Institute of Archeology. Zinman of the University of Haifa and with the Cairo Branch of the German Archaeological Institute. Moreover, the Department co-created a project with the HISOMA Laboratory (UMR 5189) from Lyon, devoted to studies on sigillata class ceramics from French excavations in Delos. This project is part of an agreement between the National Center for Scientific Research of France (CNRS) and the Polish Academy of Sciences and is continued under the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
Department of Non-European Countries of the Polish Academy of Sciences
In 1962, on the initiative of a member of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Józef Chałasiński, the Laboratory for Social and Cultural Issues of Contemporary Africa was established, and prof. Józef Chałasiński took over the position of director. He resigned from his position when he retired in 1974, and was replaced by prof. dr hab. Anna Mrozek-Dumanowska (1975-1976). In 1976, the Laboratory was transformed into the Department of Non-European Countries of the Polish Academy of Sciences, and the director was held successively by prof. dr hab. Edward Szymański (1976-1981), prof. dr hab. Andrzej Zajączkowski (1981-1992) and prof. dr hab. Jerzy Zdanowski (1993-2010). The department was established to conduct interdisciplinary research on the development of Asian, African, and Latin American countries. Initially, they dealt with issues of culture and writing. Then, socio-economic and political issues were taken up, research into social structures, the issues of religious transformation as well as intercultural communication and cooperation. From 1993, the research was conducted by 3 groups: sociology of religion; development sociology; intercultural dialogue. In 2009, the Department undertook to coordinate the participation of the Polish scientific community in the international project African Borderlands financed by the European Science Foundation (ESF). As part of the program, on September 10-12, 2009, a scientific conference was held in Johannesburg and, apart from that, numerous workshop sessions in Europe in 2009-2010. Further conferences and seminars are planned for 2011, and the cooperation of the Polish side with the African Borderlands Research Network (ABORNE) is coordinated through the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures of the Polish Academy of Sciences. As a result of research conducted by the Department of Non-European Countries, several dozen books and several hundred articles were published in national and foreign journals. They make a significant contribution to Polish research on the development of Asian, African, and Latin American countries and refer to world achievements in a given field. Their value comes from the fact that they are based on source materials written in oriental languages and coming from the countries and regions they cover.
As a result, they break the Eurocentric approach to many issues related to the development and introduce authors from outside the European cultural circle to the literature on the subject. In this way, through the publications of the Department, the ideologists of negritude, philosophers of Muslim fundamentalism, the sociology of the Arab Mediterranean countries, and Indian representatives of intercultural dialogue were introduced to Polish literature. The results of the Department's research on beliefs and religious syncretism in Black Africa, on nation-building processes in Africa, and on state-building processes in the Muslim countries of the Middle East, turned out to be pioneering in Poland. The Department has produced many monographs, such as the first historiography of Chinese works on Chinese history in the 19th and 20th centuries in the literature on the subject; the first history of Taiwan in Central Europe; the first history of East Arabia in the literature. The Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures of the Polish Academy of Sciences is the heir of the Department of Mediterranean Archeology and the Department of Non-European Countries of the Polish Academy of Sciences, and the employees and management of the Institute deeply respect the achievements of both institutions and their contribution to the development of Polish science. Thus, the Institute carries out research projects commenced within both Departments and also continues cooperation with research centers from around the world.