Friday, March 24, 2023

Metrical Structures in Prehistoric Cretan Tablewares

On Wednesday 29 March the Institute will host its ninth event of the 2022-2023 academic year. This will be an in-person lecture in the auditorium of the Institute’s premises at Orminiou 3A, Ilisia. [Metro: Megaro Mousikis or Evangelismos.]

Starting at 19.00, Charles Sturge (Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati) will deliver a paper entitled, “Metrical Structures in Prehistoric Cretan Tablewares: A Case Study from Knossos”.

“Prehistoric Cretan (“Minoan”) tableware has been studied for over a century, predominantly with regard to the establishment of relative chronology, typology and interconnectivity. Less attention has been paid to understanding functionality and behavioural implications of these pots, in part because of the difficulty of directly establishing ceramic function.

This paper proposes, through a synthesis of published data, that despite problems with the quality of data, it is possible to indirectly approach these questions through a close study of the inherent affordances of the individual vessels, which are reflective of consumer choice and demand, and thus underlying behaviours and etiquettes.”

“Using the late Neopalatial period at Knossos (LM IA – B) as an example, this paper offers a case study of this approach, blending qualitative, metrical and volumetric criteria to explore the range of ceramic tableware produced and consumed during this period at Knossos. Heuristically organising the material into ware groups (decorated, monochrome and plain) several suggestions will be made by exploring relationships within and between these groups diachronically.”

“First: Neopalatial plain and decorated pottery are sufficiently different in typological range and size as to suggest different consumption modes for their use, contrary to the typically held view that these represent cheap/expensive variants. Second, Prehistoric Cretan pottery has, to some extent, a hierarchical structure in relation to size and volume in the Neopalatial period that is too systematic to be not deliberate. Finally, qualitative evaluation of the differences between LM IA and LM IB, suggest that aspects of the social change that culminated in the transformation of Cretan dining habits by LM II are already visible in LM IB with an increased individualism, alongside hints at experiments with forms that would become popular in the following period. In sum, these points aim to shed light the ‘hidden processes’ of archaeology demonstrating that even if precise aspects remain murky, we can draw into the light broad contours of the demands of Prehistoric Cretan consumers.”

We look forward to welcoming you to the Institute for what promises to be a very informative presentation.

Jonathan Tomlinson 
Assistant Director

Friday, March 10, 2023

An 'Iliadic' Reading of the Foundry Painter Name-Vase

On Wednesday 15 March the Institute will host its eighth event of the 2022-2023 academic year. This will be an in-person lecture in the auditorium of the Institute’s premises at Orminiou 3A, Ilisia. [Metro: Megaro Mousikis or Evangelismos.]

Starting at 19.00, Jeffrey Banks (Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati) will deliver a paper entitled, “The Return of Achilles and the Cassandra Complex: An ‘Iliadic’ Reading of the Foundry Painter Name-Vase”

“In 1835, excavators recovered a Late Archaic (490–480 BCE) Attic Red-Figure type-B kylix from a tomb in Vulci, currently in the Berlin Antikensammlung collection. Studies of the vessel have focused on the scenes of a bronze foundry workshop decorating the exterior of the cup, which are used to reconstruct the style(s) of Late Archaic bronze statues and bronze casting technologies and techniques. The foundry scenes are so well-known in scholarship that Sir John Beazley used the “Berlin Foundry Cup” as the name-vase for his “Foundry Painter”.”

“Far less attention has been paid to the interior tondo scene beyond the identification of the mythological narrative represented thereupon. The tondo scene is almost universally accepted as a representation of Hephaestus giving the newly-smithed arms for Achilles to Thetis.”

“In this presentation, Banks reexamines the tondo scene on the Berlin Foundry Cup and the use of shield motifs by Archaic–Early Classical Greek vase painters. Banks argues that the depiction of the famous mythological scene represents one of the more plausible instances on Greek pottery where a potter’s familiarity with a “literary” version of a mythic narrative can be demonstrated. It is posited that the Foundry Painter’s original intention was to provide a key to interpreting the scene as an “Iliadic” narrative, suggesting, in a single image, an incredible amount of narrative depth in an almost synoptic narrative manner, and referencing the Return of Achilles. A new reading of the tondo scene on the Berlin Foundry Cup impacts our understanding of shields and shield motifs painted on Greek pottery, their narrative potential in Greek figural art, and craftsperson–viewer audience discourse.”

We look forward to welcoming you to the Institute for what promises to be a very interesting lecture.

Jonathan Tomlinson 
Assistant Director

Friday, February 24, 2023

The Challenges of Representing Long-Term Histories

On Wednesday 1 March the Institute will host its seventh event of the 2022-2023 academic year. This will be an in-person lecture in the auditorium of the Institute’s premises at Orminiou 3A, Ilisia. [Metro: Megaro Mousikis or Evangelismos.]

Starting at 19.00, Shannon Crewson (Homer & Dorothy Thompson Fellow, The Canadian Institute in Greece; Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Anthropology, McMaster University) will give a talk entitled, “The Challenges of Representing Long-Term Histories: A Middle Pleistocene - Anthropocene Case Study at Stelida, Naxos”.

“This talk will present a discussion on Shannon’s research while under the tenure of the Homer and Dorothy Thompson fellowship at the CIG. Focussing on the narrative approaches to writing prehistory for public audiences - this talk will address the issues faced by archaeologists when mobilizing knowledge for both academic and non-academic audiences. Using Stelida, Naxos - whose human engagement with the site spans from at least 200,000 years ago - as a case study, this talk will provide an overview of the themes that have represented the history of human experience at the site. Discussing how a thematic approach to a small-scale site can aid in the “accessibility” of prehistory.”

We look forward to welcoming you to the Institute for what promises to be a fascinating presentation.

Jonathan Tomlinson 
Assistant Director

Friday, February 3, 2023

A Grad Student Abroad: My First Four Months as The Homer and Dorothy Thompson Fellow

This September I arrived in Athens to begin my tenure as the Homer and Dorothy Thompson fellow at the Canadian Institute in Greece. While I have spent some time in Athens prior to September – usually on my way to participate in fieldwork for the Stelida Naxos Archaeological Project – this was my first experience being able to spend a substantial amount of time in the city. This was also my first experience spending more than a couple of months outside of Canada. While being away from home has been a bit of an adjustment, the CIG has provided me with a fantastic experience, allowing me to immerse myself in Athens, and begin research for my thesis.

Making friends in the Ancient Agora (the Temple of Hephaestus in the background)

I am currently a third-year PhD candidate in the Anthropology department at McMaster University, meaning I am about half a year into my thesis research. I am focusing on the archaeological site of Stelida on Naxos – a major chert source and Minoan peak sanctuary. There, I am examining how deep-time (in this case 200,000 years) history can be written in an accessible way for both academic and non-academic audiences. Rather than taking a chronological approach, I am looking at the themes, including resource extraction, vista and communication, and marginality – that span the 200,000 years of human interaction with the site. This is building on my master’s degree in Museum Studies (University of Toronto) and my co-curation of the 2018 exhibit “Neanderthals on Naxos” (

Photo taken hiking up Stelida this past summer

So far, my research has consisted primarily of secondary analyses, spending quite a bit of time in the Canadian Institute’s library and the American School of Classical Studies’ Blegen Library. This has proved invaluable as many of these sources are not available back home at McMaster. However, after a lengthy ethics review process, I will finally be travelling back to Naxos this February to begin the ethnographic portion of my research, which consists of conducting interviews to learn about the modern history of Stelida.

The Lion Gate at Mycenae

Archaeological site-wise, it’s been wonderful being able to visit some old favourites, but it’s been even better getting to visit the sites I didn’t necessarily have the time to visit before. A particular new favourite being the Ancient Agora of Athens. In my down time I’ve also been able to do some travelling around the mainland, renting a car to visit the Palace of Nestor, Mycenae, Ancient Corinth, and Delphi.

The Temple of Athena Nike

Shannon Crewson
Homer and Dorothy Thompson Fellow 2022-2023

Friday, January 27, 2023

Welcome, Kaia and Evangelos!

Earlier this month we welcomed our new intern from the University of Waterloo, Kaia Lee, who will be with us in Athens until April. We also welcome a volunteer from the University of Athens, Evangelos Adam.

Kaia Lee is a third year undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo, currently double majoring in Anthropology and Classical Studies. After graduating, she plans to continue her studies by pursuing Archaeology at a graduate level.

Through her education, she has developed a keen interest in how cultures evolve from ancient practices to modern ones, and the factors that influence and impact that evolution. She finds the history of Greek science particularly fascinating, and enjoys examining how religion and philosophy interacted.

As an intern at the Canadian Institute in Greece, Kaia is looking forward to learning more about the academic side of Classics, and getting hands-on experience with archiving. This opportunity will give her the chance to immerse herself in the Greek culture and language. She is looking forward to understanding more about Greece, and getting to see the sights that she has only studied in class.

Evangelos Adam holds a B.A. in Classics from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, and has recently obtained his M.A. from the same university, with a specialization in Greco-Roman historiography. His thesis investigates the ‘rhetoric of self-presentation’ throughout the historical narrative of Velleius Paterculus, a Roman historian of the Tiberian era.

As a volunteer at the Institute Evangelos is assisting us with the library and website, where his native Greek is proving invaluable. He is also fluent in English, Italian and German, as well as speaking some French and Swedish. Evangelos believes that his work at the CIG will prove the perfect springboard for pursuing doctoral studies next year.

Jonathan Tomlinson
Assistant Director

Friday, December 30, 2022

A Bioarchaeologist's Life in a Classicist's World

I did not know what to expect moving to Greece for three months to do an internship. I was both excited and terrified as this was going to be the biggest adventure of my life. Being an Archaeology student, I have learned a lot about the fieldwork side of the discipline, but this experience was going to provide me with an opportunity to learn about the behind-the-scenes work involved in Archaeology. My internship at the CIG involved working with catalogues and collections of publications, sorting through boxes of a professor’s life’s work, hosting events, and revamping the social media accounts. I came into this experience wondering if I belonged in Greece and at the Institute because I do not study classics, but rather human remains, and I do not know Greek or much about the history of Greece. I was out of my element, but that is what made this internship that much more rewarding.

I am very fortunate that I had multiple chances to not only explore Athens, but see what else the country had to offer. Weekends provided opportunities to do smaller trips, such as a short ferry ride to the island of Aegina, or a road trip down to Kalamata during olive harvesting season. My greatest expedition while here was hopping on a plane to Santorini for a few days and getting to experience the island culture, take a catamaran cruise, and swim in the volcanic hot spring. During my time in Greece, I got to visit many sites and museums, try traditional Greek food, and make some friends who worked at the local coffee shops. As well, Friday afternoons were spent going to the street market around the corner from the Institute to pick up some local grapes and figs.

Visiting the Acropolis was obviously first on the list of things to do, and it was incredible seeing the structures that I have heard about my entire life. The Ancient Athenian Agora was mesmerizing as it was tucked away within the heart of the city despite its extraordinary size. Seeing how the modern and ancient cities are so interwoven is truly remarkable as you are surrounded with rich history everywhere you step. The archaeological excavations underneath the Acropolis Museum especially highlighted this for me. With so much to see in such proximity, it is impossible to run out of things to do in Greece. It was a busy three months balancing my internship, schoolwork, and experiencing Greece, but I made the most of my time and the opportunities before me.

What I was not expecting about coming to Greece was meeting a large network of people from all over the world that I became so close with. Between darts nights on Tuesdays, events at the CIG and different foreign archaeological schools, and roommates at the CIG apartment, I have made connections in Greece that are going to last long after returning home to Canada. I am thankful to have met so many people who have opened my eyes to the different opportunities that are out there for a young archaeologist finding her way. Between graduate programs, field and lab opportunities, and career paths, I have learned a great deal by taking a chance getting out of the classroom and immersing myself in the professional world. I eventually found my footing and have grown as a person because I was forced out of my comfort zone coming to Greece. I would highly recommend an opportunity like this to anyone who is trying to find their own footing in their academic career. The experience is invaluable and unforgettable, and I will forever be grateful for the Canadian Institute in Greece having me as a part of their team these past three months.

Sarah Bidinosti
Wilfrid Laurier University intern, autumn-winter 2022

Friday, December 16, 2022

Experiences in Athens

Familiar Signs of Athens- of the Institute, the Apartment, and the Red Lion

The last three months have passed quickly, working at the Institute and touring around Greece. As my time in Athens comes to a close, I would like to reflect on the different ventures that I experienced.

Being accepted into the intern position at the CIG, I was extremely excited, yet a little apprehensive. It was my first time travelling internationally, the first time away from my family for an extended period, lots of firsts. Arriving in Athens, it took about a week to settle in. The hustle and bustle of the city and craziness of the streets was both visibly and audibly evident, with mopeds and motor cycles weaving in and out of traffic, and always someone honking their horn! After walking from the apartment to the Institute for the first few days, I became acquainted with the atmosphere.

Drafts of Hellenistic Architecture by Dr. Frederick Winter Sorted by Chapter

At the Institute there was lots of work to be done for the Frederick E. Winter (FEW) Archive. The main task I was assigned included organizing and scanning the various notes and drafts that the Institute received from the Winter family. Organizing the items did not take long- it was the scanning that consumed most of my time. Page by page, I slowly made my way through the papers, keeping myself entertained by listening to music or podcasts. Looking back on all the work that I have completed during my time at the Institute, it is great to see the development of the FEW Archive and how it has taken shape.

View of the Acropolis from the Areopagus

With the open hours of the Institute being from nine until one, and my normal work hours from nine until two, afternoons were free to explore. I often found myself going for walks to the Acropolis and back or hiking up the Lykavitos hill. Having received a free entrance card for museums and archaeological sites from the Institute, many afternoons were filled with touring the local exhibits. My favourite museums that I visited were the Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum, and the Museum of Cycladic Art.

The Lion Gate at Mycenae

During the weekend when there was more time for touring, I branched out from the city centre. I went out with the other intern and the fellow of the Institute and explored different areas. We went to Aegina for a beach day and floated in the sea. On the “ochi” day long weekend, we made a trip to Kalamata and toured the countryside visiting the Palace of Nestor. I also booked two guided tours, one went to Mycenae, Nafplio, and Epidaurus and the other to Delphi. At the Institute, working hours can be changed to accommodate plans during the week. So, I worked double hours one week, and took the next week off to visit with my parents and relatives in the Netherlands. Needless to say, my time in Greece has been full of travel and seeing new things.

Enjoying the Ambience of a Local Restaurant

One of the best things that goes hand in hand with travelling is the exposure to different food. I have grown to like the family style that most Greek restaurants serve their food in. Some of the best memories here were made in secluded Greek tavernas, enjoying the authentic music and food, just taking everything in. The foods that I thoroughly enjoyed were gyros, paidakia, dolmades, meatballs, and potatoes with tzatziki. Not only was the prepared food delicious, but also the fresh products that were for sale in the street markets. In particular, I appreciated the fresh olive oil, fruits, and vegetables that were grown by the locals.

Darts Night at the Red Lion

Working at the Institute, I became connected with the greater community of archaeologists in Athens. The main way that the different archaeological schools associate is through events. In particular, the Tuesday darts night linked a group of us mostly from the American, British, and Canadian schools. It was nice to meet students working in the field of classics and archaeology in a relaxed atmosphere and interesting to hear about research that they were conducting. Pairing this with some friendly competition in a game of darts, the evenings were enjoyable and great memories were made.

The opportunity to live in Athens and work at the Canadian Institute has been full of new experiences and lasting memories. I am thankful to have been welcomed into this community and for the work that I was able to accomplish during my three months here. Thank you for having me!

Aaron Westrik
University of Waterloo intern, autumn-winter 2022