Friday, June 1, 2012

Mark's Greek Odyssey

Mark Walley, CIG intern
When I arrived at the Canadian Institute in Greece I was asked to write a small profile for the website, which was to include my aspirations for my internship. Nearly five months later I can certainly say that I have accomplished far more than expected!

My internship has primarily been focused on updating, cataloging, and evaluating the Institute’s offprint collection. My duties also included preparing for post-lecture receptions. Fellow intern Kyle Campbell and I created variations on the standard reception fare at CIG which included different sausages with curry sauce, combinations of hard and soft cheeses, and creative twists to the usual egg salad and tuna sandwiches. The success of our experiments lies in the positive feedback for the change as well as the quick consumption of the products.

Mark takes questions following his lecture at CIG
I was able to finish writing my M.A. thesis on magic in Athens during the Classical period. The library at CIG provided me with a quiet setting in which to write. I also had access to the libraries at both the British School at Athens and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Both libraries contain impressive collections and many items which have helped further my study. I was also able to take Modern Greek lessons through the Athens Center. I am far from fluent, but the lessons are certainly a valuable asset to living, working, and traveling in Greece. Over time I hope that my working knowledge of Modern Greek only increases. I also had the privilege of delivering a lecture for The Athens Association of Friends of CIG on the 29th of February. The lecture was essentially an overview of my thesis, outlining the methodology of creating parameters in which magic can take place and discussing examples. The lecture went well and was even attended by people in other countries via live streaming.

The academic/social aspect to Athens is incredible. I have met many people and have made some good friends here, many of whom are scholars who focus on a wide variety of interesting aspects of antiquity and medieval Greece. This same collection of people is right at home throwing darts at the Red Lion or attending the many lectures offered by the archaeological schools. It makes for a good balance of work and play. By the end of my internship I will have attended twenty-five lectures (not including those at CIG). One of the highlights of my time in Athens was meeting Dr. David Jordan. For those who are unfamiliar with his work, Dr. Jordan is a world expert on curse tablets, magic, and a former director of CIG. Soon after our initial meeting he invited me out to lunch! Over delicious food and wine at his favourite taverna, we discussed the past and current research being conducted on Greek magic. What a treat!

Mark at Sounion
I have made multiple visits to the many museums and archaeological sites in Athens. Often, especially during winter, there would be few people if anybody visiting the places at the same time. My excursions to archaeological sites did not end in Athens; I have been able to take day trips to Aegina (with the American School), Thebes, Delphi, Lavrion, Eleusis, Sounion, and Larissa. On one occasion Jonathan Tomlinson took two mutual friends and I on a wonderful daytrip to Mycenae, Tiryns, and Nafplion. On another occasion I was able to go on a week-long road trip around the Peloponnesus with friends I had made over the course of my internship. It was fantastic! It is difficult to choose a favourite site, but some of the many places we visited included the Diolkos and Hexamilion Wall, Nemea, Franchthi Cave, Sparta, Mystras, Nestor’s Palace, Messene, and Olympia. Many of the places we visited were places I had not been to before. As always it is exciting to see new archaeological sites, and I think it is very important to visit a site in order to gain a better understanding of the site’s role and function in history and its cultural significance. I have heard people refer to my time here in Greece as an once-in-a-lifetime experience. For the most part I agree. My internship has introduced me to the finer details of the Canadian Institute in Greece, gave me the opportunity to pursue my academic interests in ways not possible in Canada, and all while making some fantastic friendships in a unique setting. In a sense though this has not been a once-in-a-lifetime experience because I will be back.

Mark Walley
Memorial University of Newfoundland

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