Friday, April 18, 2014

Γειά σας, Αθήνα καλή

Tanner and his Waterloo roommate, Matt, in front of the Propylaia
I would not call myself an archaeologist by any stretch of the imagination. I can’t even say that I’ve taken a class dedicated to archaeology back home – my interest in the ancient world has always been rooted in stories rather than objects, which has translated to a focus on language and literature rather than art and archaeology. I am admittedly a library historian, more engrossed by books and words than by landscapes and digs. Before my arrival in Athens, my concept of archaeology was primitive to say the least. You just dig things out of the ground and catalogue and analyze them, right?

Hardly. It didn’t take very long for me to realize the depth and breadth of the field of archaeology. While scanning and producing PDF versions of some articles written by the Canadian Institute’s Director, Dr. David Rupp, I was exposed to the gritty details of archaeological analysis as described by a career archaeologist. I quickly learned that there was so much more to it than systematic digging. Like many areas of Classical study, archaeology is a hugely interdisciplinary field which not only draws on knowledge of ancient history, but also relies heavily on modern scientific advances to produce some truly remarkable results. I have been hugely impressed by the critical, multi-faceted approach to the remains of the ancient world which I have seen here in Athens, and I have discovered that my idea of archaeology was still weighed down by thoughts of figures like Schliemann.

These rules were not enforced... welcome to Greece!
My time here has also given me a sense of how much the library historians of the world owe to those who pursue archaeology. This is certainly exemplified by the lecture given by the Canadian Institute’s Fellow, Myles Chykerda, in which he presented his attempts at reconstructing the structure of the Thessalian political landscape on the basis of the physical landscape’s archaeological record. My personal interest in Greek (and Latin) inscriptions brought me to the Epigraphic Museum, where I was blown away by the incredible volume of preserved inscriptions and by the massive size of some like the 5th-century Athenian tribute lists. Epigraphists may be responsible for studying and deciphering the characters which are sometimes nearly illegible (and other times entirely so), but they would have nothing to study at all if it were not for the dedicated efforts of archaeologists who are even today still discovering artifacts from antiquity.

The Temple of Olympian Zeus in all its colossal glory
Besides the value of such artifacts for historians, the remains of ancient Athens which survive in the modern city obviously have an immense cultural impact as well. There is no experience which quite compares to standing at the Temple of Olympian Zeus and craning your neck to see the full height of the columns, imagining the building in its colossal ancient glory; or to standing atop the Acropolis and looking down at the Agora where millions of people have walked over thousands of years. For a North American, that kind of feeling simply can’t be found at home. For a historian, reading about ancient events is one thing – but going to the places where those events occurred and being able to physically contextualize the space which is described allows you to connect with the history in a way which can’t be duplicated. I know that the next time I’m reading about the history of the ancient city of Athens, it will be that much more vivid, even if it is about something as mundane as the length of the long wall between Athens and Piraeus during the Peloponnesian War. I had read about that space in Thucydides, and thanks to the sweeping (albeit windy) view from our Assistant Director’s rooftop balcony, I was able to actually see where that wall would have been and how far it would have stretched. Polybius was adamant that any true historian must be able to physically engage with the environments being described, and although the task of the modern historian is not really the same as the task which Polybius undertook, his words still hold true.

The cramped hustle and bustle of Athens
Of course, my time here in Athens was not entirely about connecting with its history. Having been raised in the suburbs with swimming pools and well-maintained lawns, cities have always seemed special to me. I enjoy the lived-in feeling of a large city, where dirt and noise are simply facts of life, and Athens certainly has its fair share of those. It is truly a fascinating city, where your environment can completely change with a short walk in any direction. Monastiraki and the area around the Acropolis provide a vacation-y, tourist feeling; Syntagma is all class with the beautiful Parliament building, polished stone and night fountain (and of course McDonald’s, a by-word for class around the world); yet leaving the city centre and experiencing the more Greek neighbourhoods like Ilissia (home of the Canadian Institute) provides a unique, if sometimes overwhelming, experience as well. Happily I only found myself lost twice in my three months here, although I owe thanks to my arsenal of city maps for that good fortune. Even when lost, however, I drank in the cultural gap between Greece and North America: whereas North America is the land of chain restaurants and super-stores, so many shops and businesses have a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ feel to them which somehow makes the experience more personal, despite a language barrier. And thankfully, that language barrier began to fall as I spent more time here – I still find that most Greeks speak impossibly fast and I struggle to even discern one word from another, but after a little study I have at least been able to go to a store or taverna and communicate in Greek, however crudely… and I like to think that I’ve given lots of Greeks an opportunity to practice their English, as well.

It’s hard to believe how quickly these three months went by. I’ve met a lot of extremely warm and welcoming people from the international community here; I’ve thrown a lot of darts at the Red Lion, though I can’t say that I was any more accurate in my final week than I was in my first; and I’ve been able to cross a few things off my bucket list. Despite the fact that I start my MA program in September and am committed to many long hours in the library and in front of a computer, I would love to be able to return to Athens sometime in the not-too-distant future. I have to thank everyone at the Canadian Institute – Jonathan, David, Myles, and Chris – for making my stay here so enjoyable, and I hope to see you all again soon!

Tanner Rudnick,
University of Waterloo

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Fred Winter Collection

Panoramic view of Psili Korphi above Mavriki. (Professor Fred Winter, 1987)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Pascha Recess; Updated Catalogue of the Books and Monographs in the CIG Library; Origins of the modern conservation of ancient bronzes

Greek Orthodox Pascha is fast approaching! For this major Christian holiday in this country we will take our annual Pascha Recess for two weeks. Thus, from today, Friday, the 11th, at 13:00, until Monday, April 28th, at 09:00, the Institute will be closed.

For those rabid blog junkies among you, next Friday, Megali Paraskevi, you can read Tanner’s guest blog on what he did here in Athens while he was our undergraduate intern for three months.

Some new acquisitions in the CIG library
What’s happening in the Library of the Institute
The Library is one of the key components that define the Institute. Its purpose is to serve the research needs of our members while in Athens and of other scholars, especially our Greek colleagues. As the Institute is only in its fourth decade the holdings of the Library cannot rival those of the older foreign schools and institutes of archaeology in Athens. The donation over the years of the personal libraries of Canadian scholars has enabled us to fill some of the gaps that we have. Exchanges with other institutions and donations by authors help to give us abreast of current publications over a broad range of subjects. Rather than attempt to duplicate the other libraries across the board, however, we have adopted a strategy to concentrate on purchasing materials in selected areas that we believe are unrepresented in the holdings of other libraries, such as archaeological theory and method, landscape archaeology, computer applications in archaeology, biological anthropology, ceramic analysis, faunal analysis, stone tool studies, and GIS. In addition, there are topics that our members have traditionally conducted research in, such as Boeotian and Euboean studies as well as Byzantine art and archaeology.

An opportunity presented itself recently to purchase volumes that we did not have in the Acta Instituti Atheniensis Regni Sueciae series , the Acta Instituti Athenisis Regni Sueciae series, the Studies in Ancient Mediterranean Archaeology and the Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology Pocket books. These volumes have added depth especially to our Aegean Bronze Age holdings. Further, a gift of a number of volumes on a wide variety of topics, including reference works, was made by an American friend of the Institute who was returning to the States. These are the ways that a library’s holdings grow over time.

All of these acquisitions over the past year have been added to the updated Catalogue of Books and Monographs that is accessible from our website under “Facilities: Library”. Please check our holdings and then come to visit the Library to use what interests you!

Othon A. Rousopoulos
The origins of the conservation of ancient bronzes in Greece
Archaeometry or the use of various chemical and/or physical analysis techniques of archaeological remains or contexts is considered by many to be a relatively recent development in archaeological research. This is not the case, however. In the later 19th century a few scientists were interested in determining the chemical composition of ancient objects as well the processes for cleaning and preserving them. One such pioneer was a Greek professor of chemistry at the University of Athens, Dr. Othon Rousopoulos (1856-1922). In 1892 he invented the electrolysis method for cleaning bronzes. Among other activities he worked on cleaning the bronze objects recovered from the Antikythera shipwreck which are in the National Archaeological Museum.

Bbronze ephebe from the Antikythera shipwreck, National Museum, Athens
Georgiana Moraitou, department head of conservation for the 2nd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of the Hellenic Archaeological Service, will discuss Dr. Rousopoulos’ life and work in her lecture in Greek entitled, “Ο Όθων Α. Ρουσόπουλος και η συντήρηση των χάλκινων αρχαιοτήτων στο Εθνικό Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο της Αθήνας στις αρχές του 20ου αιώνα. Φως μέσα από τα τεκμήρια του Ιστορικού Αρχείου της Αρχαιολογικής Υπηρεσίας”. It is based on her research in the archival material held by the Historical Archive.

This lecture will take place on Monday, April 14th at 18:30 at the Historical Archive at Psaromylingou 22 on the cusp of Kerameikos and Psyrri. It is part of the 2013/13 lecture series of the Syllogos Filon tou Istorikou Archeiou tis Archaiologikis Yperesias.

Kalo Pascha!
David Rupp

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Fred Winter Collection

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina in the Forum Romanum in Rome. (Professor Fred Winter, 1988)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Fred Winter Collection

Marble table of measures (possibly for liquids) from Dion. (Professor Fred Winter, 1987)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Join us on the excursion to Kiapha Thiti! And a Canadian Embassy documentary film screening

A view from Kiapha Thiti
Spring is sprung and it is time to escape for a day from the urbanscape of Athens for the landscape of eastern Attica. On Saturday, April 5th we are venturing to visit the Neolithic through Late Bronze Age acropolis of Kiapha Thiti between Vari and Koropi. Our expert guide will be Dr. Margarita Nazou who has studied the Neolithic and Early Bronze pottery found during the Queen’s University excavations there. The acropolis had extensive Mycenaean fortifications, a sanctuary to the Nymphs, and a 5th-6th CE century church. While not a walk or a scramble it will take around 20 minutes to scale the heights. The views of Attica from every direction are worth the journey.

After such effort we will then go for lunch at the nearby Roumeli tavern. The menu has tasty food for every palate and budget. Fortified, we will then visit the well-regarded Domaine Vassiliou winery ( near Koropi for a tour and wine tasting.

The Domaine Vassiliou winery
We will depart from the corner of Vasilissis Sophias & Gennadiou (near Evangelismos metro) at 09.00 sharp on the 5th and expect to return at approximately 17:00 to the same location.

The cost per person is €20 (Members/Friends of CIG: €15). This price includes transit by private bus, tour of site, tour of winery and the wine-tasting. The lunch not included.

For reservations, please send a message to: . For further information, please call (09.00-13.00 weekdays). Please sign up by Monday, March 31.

A Canadian Embassy documentary film showing at the Institute
On Wednesday, April 2nd at 7:30 PM we are pleased to host the Canadian Embassy's screening of a documentary film in the Library of the Institute.

The award winning documentary film No Place on Earth by Janet Tobias commences with explorer and investigator Chris Nicola’s remarkable discovery that five Jewish families spent nearly a year and a half in pitch-black caves to escape the Nazis in southwestern Ukraine. This is the story of the longest uninterrupted underground survival in recorded human history. It goes back to 1942, when 38 men, women and children, seeking refuge from the war, fled to an underground world where no human had gone before. These five Ukrainian Jewish families created their own society where young men bravely ventured into the harrowing night to collect food, supplies and chop firewood. The girls and women never left. Held together by an iron-willed matriarch, after 511 days, the cave dwellers, ages 2 to 76, emerged at war’s end in tattered clothes, blinded by a sun some children forgot existed. Despite all odds, they had survived. 67 years later four of the survivors who now live in Montreal Canada and New York USA return to the Ukraine to say thank you to “the cave.” Learn more at: http://www.noplaceon

We look forward you to joining us at these two events!

David Rupp

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Fred Winter Collection

Letoon at Xanthos, view from the north of Temple B. (Professor Fred Winter, 1987)