Friday, February 6, 2015

The CIG 2015 Road Show

Last Friday at this time my wife Metaxia and I were flying back to Montreal from Victoria, BC. The previous Friday we were in Calgary and three Fridays ago we were in frigid, snow-covered Montreal. What a 19-day adventure in spreading the word about the many significant achievements of the Institute via a series of lectures in western Canada!

This is the second year in a row that I have gone to Canada to give lectures about the work of the Institute. Once again the hard work and generosity of the Canadian ambassador to the Hellenic Republic, Robert Peck, made our trip possible. The universities where I gave the lectures gave significant support as well. Mr. Steve Mirkopoulos of CineSpace Film Studios in Toronto was very kind to support Metaxia’s intra-Canadian travel expenses.

We started in Montreal where my wife gave an excellent introduction to Minoan civilization sta gallika to a large audience. This was the first lecture of a series of six for the general public relating to the art and artifacts of the travelling exhibition entitled “The Greeks: From Agamemnon to Alexander the Great” that opened in December at the Pointe-à-Callière museum. In the later spring it will move to the Museum of History in Ottawa. It has an impressive assortment of objects, many of which have never been seen outside of Greece before. While there I had a chance to meet again Claude-Sylvie Lemery, the Director of Communications and Marketing at the museum, who had visited the Institute in November.

Besides our jovial host Jacques Perreault (Université de Montréal) serving as our guide we had a chance to see the amazing Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal with its curator of ancient art John Fossey. John, while at McGill University, was the first director of the Institute and held the Institute’s first archaeological field work permit from the Ministry of Culture in the early 1980s.

My first lecture was in Winnipeg at the University of Manitoba to the local A.I.A. Society. My lecture has two parts. The first describes the nature of the Institute, the facilities and activities in Greece and our relationship to the Hellenic Ministry of Culture. The second, larger part describes the results of our five current archaeological fieldwork projects. In honor of our visit to this famously cold city, the temperature was +1 C instead of -45 C! Nevertheless, from our hotel room we could see people skating on the frozen path along the Red River. Mark Lawall, Lea Sterling, Matt Maher (former Fellow), and George McKinnon made our stay most memorable. The inevitable Greek diaspora gave the reception afterwards a touch of home.

In Edmonton Margriet Haagsma made us work very hard. I gave two lectures (one on the mid-12th-century BC settlement at Halasmenos in eastern Crete) and Metaxia one (on her 30 years of excavation and study of the Minoan palace, settlement and cemetery at Petras outside of Siteia in eastern Crete) at the University of Alberta. I was interviewed about CIG for a podcast and we met grad students at a pizza lunch organized by Gino Canlas, a former Fellow. Sandra Garvie-Lok and her Ph.D. student Hillary Sparkes joined us to talk about some old bones we all knew. The members of the department and their students were most congenial.

In Calgary the mild weather we encountered in Edmonton continued. As a result almost all of the snow had melted before we left. Since all of the colleagues I had known in the department had retired, we met the talented next generation of scholars who had recently been amalgamated with religious studies.

Our hosts in Vancouver Kevin Fisher and Sheri Pak (my former students at Brock University) showed us the sights and views of the city. We immediately fell in love with the city and its setting. Hector Williams gave us an insider’s tour of UBC’s Museum of Anthropology - the setting, the architecture and the extensive collections impressed us greatly. We had never seen so much Northwest coast aboriginal art and artifacts. Again we did our three lectures. To PHAROS, the Hellenic Canadian Cultural Association, I gave my Institute lecture. To Professor Fisher’s graduate course in Cypriot archaeology I presented my Halasmenos lecture. And to the Vancouver A.I.A. Society Metaxia gave her Petras lecture. All lectures were very well attended.

We then climbed the mountain to Burnaby, BC, where Simon Fraser University is located. Our host John Pierce showed us the breathtaking campus and Dave Burley showed us the Department of Archaeology’s amazing archaeological labs. As SFU is a new institutional member, my lecture on the Institute introduced them to who we are and what we do in Greece. Their Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography added to our knowledge of the rich and diverse aboriginal cultural heritages of this province.

The last stop was a 24-hour sojourn in Victoria, BC. Before the lecture in the evening we were able to visit the extensive exhibitions of the Royal BC Museum and have lunch with my old colleagues from Brock University Noel and Laura Robertson. Our host at the University of Victoria was Brendan Burke. A large audience attended the lecture co-sponsored by the Classical Association of Vancouver Island. In the daylight UVic must have a very attractive campus.

To cover all this ground we were constantly on airplanes. We sampled the tasty beef steaks of Alberta and Manitoba as well as the incomparable salmon of British Columbia. Our conversations with our dining companions were wide ranging and most stimulating. Many of our conversations revolved around the Institute’s work and how it could serve a larger constituency. We gained insights into the current state of tertiary education in Canada, the high quality of the undergraduate and graduate students and the interesting personal lives of our colleagues. May our hosts and audiences have gained as much from us and our lectures as we have from each of them. I hope that the Institute will make these lecture tours by the Director a regular tradition.

Now it is time to immerse myself in the “normal” program of the Institute for the winter and spring in Athens. I hope that I’ve convinced CIG supporters in western Canada to watch our lectures via livestreaming as well as to follow this blog!

David Rupp

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