About the Zenobia Foundation

About the Zenobia Foundation

The area around the Mediterranean Sea has never been quiet. Cultures and peoples have met there for thousands of years. These encounters have resulted in countless cross-cultural influences, from antiquity to the present and in all aspects of society: from religion to law and from technology to art, literature, and music. The Foundation takes its name from Zenobia, the third-century queen of the Syrian desert city of Palmyra. As a historical figure she lives on in many traditions in the Mediterranean.


The Zenobia Foundation primarily wants to provide a platform for research into the fluctuating interactions and dynamic connections between the various cultures in and around the Mediterranean. The Foundation exerts to realize this goals in three social-cultural sectors and searches for the connection between these three: 1) scientific research; 2) the cultural and artistic world, and the world of journalism; and 3) primary and secondary education, especially the courses Greek, Latin and History. A broad(er) approach to antiquity and later periods is not only historically correct and therefore necessary, but also has the potential to connect with a larger and more diverse audience, whether interested lay people or students. By operating within these three sectors, the Zenobia Foundation aims to provide broadening and deepening of historical and current East-West relations for a wide audience.


The Zenobia Foundation was established in 2008 with the aim of promoting scientific research into east-west relations in the Mediterranean. Since then, a nuance of this east-west dichotomy has entered the scientific debate. For a long time, thinking in terms of a contrast between “east and west” determined how people (in the West) perceived and studied the Mediterranean cultures. Today, however, it is considered more appropriate to use terms like cross-cultural interaction, interconnectivity and continuity to describe the encounters between the different cultures surrounding the Mediterranean. The Zenobia Foundation aims to present these scientific nuances of east-west relations to a wide audience. The growing importance of societal discussions about cultural and historical identity, in which an east-west contrast often plays a role, makes this mission all the more urgent.


The Zenobia Foundation achieves these objectives primarily by offering a platform to academics, journalists, writers, musicians, and artists. The Zenobia Foundation develops initiatives of its own accord, but is also open to supporting ideas from outside: in both ways the Foundation promotes the study of encounters in the Mediterranean world. The Zenobia Foundation organizes, among other things, the annual Zenobia conference, lectures, interviews, and special symposia, for example in relation to exhibitions. The board is also developing a Podcast series.

With these activities, the Zenobia Foundation enables senior scholars to make their research known to a wide audience, while young scholars have the opportunity to gain experience in speaking in front of a large audience and to boost their academic career. Musicians and artists are given a stage on which their work receives an interdisciplinary background. All Zenobia Foundation’s activities are open to the widest possible audience, consisting of students, academics and interested laymen.

In addition, every two years the Foundation awards a sum of up to 1000 euros to a project that aims to make the results of the study of east-west relations in the Mediterranean visible to a wide audience. The grant invites study and output in the broadest sense: a final product could, for example, be an article, exhibition or podcast. Applicants need not be affiliated to a scientific institution. Applications from, for example, journalists, artists, students and new Dutch nationals or status holders who know the Eastern Mediterranean like no other are warmly welcomed. For more information and the application form, please refer to De Zenobiabeurs.

Finally, the Foundation’s activities include the publication of popular-scientific books in the Zenobia series.

The Zenobia Foundation and the Dutch cultural sector 

The Dutch Media Act and various cultural laws stipulate that cultural and media organizations must meet four criteria (https://www.ocwincijfers.nl/cultuur-media). The Zenobia Foundation contributes to diversity by approaching historical and current events, places, and persons from different disciplines and with different perspectives and (art) forms. In addition, it aims to make its activities and publications accessible to a wide and diverse audience in the Netherlands. Apart from the large annual conference, the Zenobia Foundation’s other activities can be visited free of charge as much as possible. Thirdly, the board guarantees the substantive quality of everything the Foundation undertakes and reflects annually on its policy by means of the Annual Report. The board is assisted in its day-to-day management by the Advisory Board. In addition, the strategic and financial policy is tested annually by the Supervisory Board. Finally, the board determines the course of the Foundation independently of sponsors, partners, and donors. The editorial board of the Zenobia series in turn operates independently of the board and independently assesses applications for publications in the series.

Finally, the Zenobia Foundation draws on various core values ​​shared with museums. Where the conservation of cultural heritage is the main goal of a museum, the Zenobia Foundation helps museums fulfil the equally important core values ​​of appreciating, enjoying and understanding cultural heritage. Because the Zenobia Foundation has proven itself as an added value to the cultural sector in the Netherlands with these qualities for more than a decade, it enjoys the status of a Public Benefit Organization (Dutch acronym: ANBI).


We warmly welcome gifts from those who share Zenobia’s objectives.

Sponsors may choose between becoming Zenobia’s friend, benefactor or patron.

Yearly gift* Priviliges
Friend € 25
(€15 for students)
Discounted access to our conferences
A complimentary copy of ‘Architectuur in Egypte’
Benefactor € 50 Discounted access to our conferences
Invitations to special events
One complimentary Zenobia publication of your choice
Patron € 100 Discounted access to our conferences
Invitations to special events
Two complimentary Zenobia publications of your choice
Honourable mention in communication regarding the Zenobia awards

* For a period of five years, as required by the regulations of ANBI.

If you wish to give to Zenobia, we invite you to get in touch with us at info@stichtingzenobia.nl.

Our details for wire transfers:

Name: Stichting Zenobia
IBAN NL46 TRIO 0391 1649 02


The Zenobia Foundation oversees two series of publications. The first is the accessible, Dutch-language Zenobiareeks (“Zenobia Series”), currently consisting of ten titles, the most recent one being ‘De Huid van Cleopatra’. The other is a more scholarly, English-language series, consisting of the proceedings of our annual Autumn conference. The scientific series includes the books Empires of the Sea, and Late Antique Responses to the Arab Conquest.

Contact information

Any questions you may have may be directed to the foundation’s secretary, Arjan Breukel (secretaris@stichtingzenobia.nl).