Friday, March 14, 2014

Kalymnos on my mind and John Pendlebury’s personal papers revealed

David Rupp with the Mayor of Kalymnos, Mr. Demetrios Daikomichalis
A foreign archaeological institute such as ours conducts projects in various parts of Greece for a variety of reasons. Some are located where the Greek colleague of the project director has done previous field work. Others are chosen as the geographical location is dictated by the specific research questions that the director seeks answers for. Some are in the region where one’s dissertation advisor has worked before. A few even are the result of serendipitous invitations by the local authorities to undertake research in their locality or island.

view of the excavated area at ancient Damos
This week I spent three days on the island of Kalymnos in the Dodecanese islands in the eastern Aegean Sea. While my family may find it hard to believe, I had never visited the island! My visit was the result of a meeting two years ago at the Institute with the Mayor of the island Mr. Demetrios Diakomichalis that was arranged by the former Canadian ambassador to Greece, Dr. Renata Wielgosz and the former member of the Parliament of Canada John Cannis whose family hails from the island. Mayor Diakomichalis invited me at this meeting to visit the island to learn more about its rich archaeological heritage and to access the potential for an Institute fieldwork project there. With present Canadian Ambassador Robert Peck’s active support and the Demos of Kalymnos’s hospitality I was able to accept this invitation finally. As CIG Board member Professor Maria Papaioannou (University of New Brunswick) is contemplating starting an excavation project that focuses on the domestic architecture of a settlement occupied in the Hellenistic to Roman Imperial periods I thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to see if there is a suitable site on the island for such a project.

view of church of the Taxiarch Michaelis on the ruins of the Hellenistic fort at Empolas
In the two days at my disposal I was able to see many things, meet even more people, including John Cannis who is on the island at the moment, and to gain an excellent impression of the island. First, I did not know that the island’s hilly, and often steep, rocky terrain has made it a mecca for rock face climbers from around the world and that the island has over 16,000 inhabitants. Second, the archaeological museum in Pothia which opened in 2009 is one of the best small museums I have visited in Greece. The 2+ m mostly intact bronze statue of a draped woman, “The Lady of Kalymnos”, found in the sea off the island is spectacular. There are parts of other bronze statues, including pieces of an equestrian one, recovered during sponge gathering and fishing activities, in the exhibition as well. The large collection of marble statuary from the sanctuary of Apollo Dalios is impressive too. The island’s occupation goes back to the Neolithic period with evidence of Late Bronze Age activity. The resident archaeologist on the island representing the 22nd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and the 4th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities, Mr. Michalis Koutelas, showed me the Museum and discussed the archaeological investigations that had been done on the island since the 19th century.

I visited two archaeological sites dating to the Hellenistic and Roman Imperial periods to learn firsthand the nature of the remains here. The Byzantine period on the island is especially well represented from the evidence of churches, settlements and burials. In fact, the archaeological heritage of Kalymnos is not as well-known as it should be in my opinion. The Nautical Museum has a series of interesting exhibits that tell the story of sponge gathering and those who were involved from the 18th century to present. The Mayor arranged on Wednesday a public presentation of my visit and the possibilities of an excavation on the island under the aegis of the Institute and with permit from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture in the near future. There were over 50 people in attendance and it was covered by the two TV stations on the island. The reporters and a number of those in the audience asked many thoughtful questions about such a possibility. Only the future will tell what will come of this exciting initiative. Stay tuned for further developments!!!

If you have the opportunity I recommend highly that you visit the island and sample its many offerings!

Lecture on the personal papers of John Pendlebury at the BSA
On Monday, March 17th at 6:30 PM the Syllogos Philon tou Istorikou Archeiou tis Archaiologiskis Yperesias is hosting a lecture by the Archivist of the British School at Athens, Amalia G. Kakissis. The title of her lecture that will be given in English is, “Πατουχιά με πατουχιά”: Exploring the John Pendlebury Personal Papers at the British School at Athens.

John Pendlebury walking in Stavrochori, Crete
John Devitt Stringfellow Pendlebury (1904-1941) is best-known for his pioneering archaeological work on Crete in the 1920s and 1930s as well as giving his life fighting for its freedom from the invading German forces early in the Second World War. The “Personal Papers of John Pendlebury” held at the British School at Athens are unlike any other collection in the Archive in that they give us rare insight not only into John’s life from childhood until his death but also into the lives of his family members including his wife, Hilda, his parents and his children. A large part of the collection consists of outgoing correspondence written by John and Hilda to family members. It tracks the important events of their personal and working lives and provides an excellent narrative about their travels around Greece, Egypt and Britain. The remainder of the collection contains working materials (a minor part of which are excavation records), notebooks, travel logs, photograph albums, and papers relating to the events around and after John’s death on the 22nd of May, 1941 in Crete.

Cretan hospitality
The aim of Ms. Kakissis' lecture is to show that the personal archive of an archaeologist can be used for much more than simply extracting archaeological data. This unique collection of material offers an insight into the man’s personal development and his multifaceted relationship with Greece that has the potential to illuminate cultural, historical, and social aspects of the country at that time.

The lecture will take place at the Historical Archive at Psaromylingou 22 on the border between the Kerameikos and the Psyrri Districts. The Theseio Train Station is the closest one.

David Rupp

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