Friday, July 26, 2013

The Height of the Cretan Summer

The INSTAP crane photography equipment in action at Petras
It is hard to believe that the Petras excavation ended two weeks ago and the Halasmenos site study work finished just a week ago. Why it was only early June just a little while ago! As is often claimed the best finds come at the very end of the field season as one is trying diligently to close up. This was true for my house tomb room too. An EM II Vasiliki ware beaked juglet appeared in the last hour of the last day as I was cleaning along a wall for final photographs. As the lower stratum in this room had already given up many vessels in the previous two weeks I shouldn’t have been surprised. Eleni and Despina, the physical anthropologists from the University of Thessaloniki removing the skeletal material, had only finished their painstaking work just before I did. Just in time does it, eh!

The happy campers at the end of the last day of the dig
A wealth of finds in a trench means much paper work for the associated bags, tags, photographs, drawings, elevations and notebook entries. Doing this under a constant strong wind adds to the challenge when you have only two hands. I am still inserting details into my locus entries, finishing drawings and polishing my final report. My colleagues who excavated other parts of the cemetery have their own stories to tell too. Each of us seemed to find different types of burial contexts, votive deposits and offerings, so that no one felt that their area was less interesting than the others. All in all we had a productive and good-humored season and it was difficult to say good bye.

View of the 2013 work at Halasmenos
The week at Halasmenos was a much different experience. Instead of the fourteen archaeologists and seven workmen at Petras there were only three archaeologists and two workmen. Our work involved a careful study of architectural features discovered previously. One was a circular kiln that is totally preserved except for the superstructure which was dismantled after the last firing. The other was an enigmatic feature of rings of stones stacked on top of each other at the entrance to the settlement. While the kiln’s components could be delineated with reasonable accuracy, the latter construction defies easy and immediate characterization. It was also difficult to draw as its highest point is in the center. Was it just a pile of stones randomly thrown there? Or was it a purpose-built structure? If the latter possibility, might it be a symbolic miniature tholos tomb as there was no evidence of a burial and/or grave offerings? Was it a type of cenotaph for a mythical ancestor of the settlement perhaps? In archaeology there are normally more unanswered questions than there are answered ones. This one definitely is unanswered!!!

David's pile of stones at Halasmenos
Despite the crisis, each city in eastern Crete mounts a cultural program that utilizes the proclivity of Greek singers and stage groups to tour the provinces during the summer. In Ierapetra we were treated to a very professional and lively concert by the talented singer Alkistis Protopsalti. She was joined by the Greek-Canadian singer from Montreal George Perris. In Siteia we enjoyed a program of Cretan-flavored international music crafted by Ross Daly. While born in the UK, he’s of Irish decent and has become a well-known Cretan lyra player. On the stage with him besides his group of Cretan musicians were a Spaniard, an Italian and an Iranian. Each performed on the traditional instruments from their countries along with the Cretan standard ones. This was unbelievable music under the stars by the sea. In our own village of Kavousi the Cretan cult lyra player Psaroantonis and his group gave a concert of sorts in a tree-covered plateia next to an old church. While the setting was magical his performance was most disappointing. Ti na sas po;;;;

Life is not all relaxation here, by no means! Jonathan and I are readying the contributions for the Frederick Winter memorial volume for the copy editor to start working on. Our publication date goal is May. The new CIG portal also has received our attention in preparation for its launch in late October. Conference papers that I gave earlier need to be converted into proper contributions. Articles that I submitted previously require adjustments and fine tuning. A book review is due by the beginning of September. My never ending revision of my guidebook to Athens as an e-book nags at me in the background. There is no rest for an archaeologist for sure!

David Rupp

No comments:

Post a Comment