Monday, April 25, 2011

Victoria Vlasic, CIG intern 2009, returns to Athens

From January 9 – April 8, 2009, I spent three unforgettable months living in Athens as the Canadian Institute in Greece’s most recent intern from the University of Waterloo. At the time, I was months away from completing my BA in Classical Studies. Now, two years later, I have completed an MA in “Ancient Mediterranean Cultures” at the University of Waterloo and am currently working on an MSc at the University of Edinburgh entitled “The Hellenistic World”. How exciting that my travels have brought me back to this city, and that I am studying its art and sculpture with a fascination just as keen, though perhaps more practiced.

If I had to select a word that best describes my initial experience of Athens, it is this: overwhelming. I do mean this in a good way – there is never a shortage of things to do or see in this city, which makes it both exhilarating and exhausting. On any given night, a world-renowned expert is speaking of his or her own passions, and you may wind up rubbing elbows with individuals whose work you’ve only previously admired in books. Further still, there are countless resources and hours to be spent wandering through museums, libraries, and various sites.

Most inspiring of all is the very personal feeling associated with encountering the art firsthand. It can be said that glimpsing the Parthenon for the first time is an exhilarating experience, but it was the hidden treasures that really left their mark on me as a young scholar. One trip to the National Museum at Athens in particular left me standing awestruck before an akroterion from the Temple of Asklepios at Epidauros. Two years later, my thesis on this very piece of sculpture is what brings me back to Athens for a three-week research visit.

I’m so grateful for the warm reception at CIG upon my return this month. The opportunity to live here two years ago played a critical role in my decision to continue with graduate studies, and helped me to forge relationships that make this trip not only personally rewarding, but also academically fulfilling. As I continue to build friendships with members of the CIG as well as the British and American schools at Athens, I am encouraged in my own academic endeavors and hope to someday contribute my own work to a community whose love of antiquity is, just as the city who produced it, overwhelming.

Victoria Vlasic

Monday, April 18, 2011

CIG Easter closure

This is just a reminder that the Institute's offices and library will remain closed this week and next for CIG's customary Easter break. We reopen on Monday 2 May.

Details of all holidays observed by the Canadian Institute in Greece can be found here.

Happy Easter - Kalo Pascha to all!
Jonathan Tomlinson
Assistant Director

Friday, April 15, 2011

Revised Permits Guide and Remote Sensing in Archaeology

Argilos, Southeast Sector
The Hellenic Republic formally recognizes the Institute as one of the 17 foreign archaeological institutes and schools. One of the privileges that this official status confers each institute/school is the ability for its members under the aegis of the institute/school to conduct a specified number of archaeological fieldwork projects each year either alone or in cooperation (synergasia) with Greek colleagues in the Archaeological Service.

Several years ago my predecessor as Director, Dr Stefanie Kennell, prepared a guide for Canadian permit applicants and holders that was posted on our website. This winter Jonathan and I, in consultation with the Institute’s Permits Committee and other interested members of the Board of Directors, have revised, expanded and reorganized the CIG Guide for Permit Applicants and Permit Holders. It is now available for consultation through our website. The terms, conditions and requirements will apply to all projects in the field or in study season from this summer onwards. It should be noted that for those projects that have finished their fieldwork many of the new provisions will apply to them as well. I would be happy to answer any questions that may arise from these changes.

Book of the Blog
In the half century since the term “remote sensing” was first used in 1960 to designate the collection of various types of data and imagery at a distance from the earth’s surface the use has expanded rapidly in type and in terms of the number of practitioners. Most of this development was driven by the needs of the Cold War and later by interest in the earth’s fragile environment. Archaeologists gradually migrated from the use of low- and high-level aerial photography to satellite imagery with its multispectral capabilities when these collection sources were declassified and commercial ventures launched their own satellites with high resolution imagery. The Institute’s Leukos Survey Project on Karpathos uses Quickbird imagery from DigitalGlobe. Remote sensing and the advent of GIS produced complementary synergies and opportunities to integrate and to interpret large and diverse datasets. In the same period various ground-based geophysical prospecting techniques were developed to detect surface and subsurface archaeological information and features.

In August 2009, the Third International Conference on Remote Sensing in Archaeology was held in India. Fifty-eight papers were given on a wide variety of themes, collection and analytical techniques and interpretational approaches. These have been published in Space, Time, and Place (BAR International Series 2118, Oxford, 2010) under the editorship of S. Campana, M. Forte and C. Liuzza. All areas of the world are included, focusing on a wide sweep of ancient cultures in addition to technical case studies. The volume has ample illustrative materials, many of them in color, and numerous links to websites. Of particular interest to Aegean basin researchers of all stripes are the following: Lewis Lancaster’s (University of California, Berkeley) “Remote Sensing and the Humanities”, and the sessions on “3D Remote Sensing”, “Cultural and Natural Sites Resource Management”, “Digital Cultural Atlases and Cultural Atlas Components” and “Cultural Atlas of Remote Sense Sites: A Portal for Data”. The contributions in this thick volume offer numerous ideas and approaches for one to follow up on with a high potential for advancing our knowledge and understanding of the past cultures in the Aegean basin. The Institute’s Library has other volumes and collections of papers that relate to this broad topic and to GIS.

In an earlier blog I made the promise to Canadian authors that if they donated their publications to the Institute’s Library it would be featured in a Book of the Blog. Now I am extending this offer to other scholars who generously donate their publications relating to Greek archaeology or to classical studies to the Institute. So, be the first on your block to have your book or edited volume reviewed in this exclusive collection!

Kalo Pascha,
David Rupp

Monday, April 11, 2011

April Ross' internship experiences

For those who have not met me during my three month internship at CIG, let me tell you a little about myself and my experiences here in Greece. The winter internship at CIG is organized through the University of Waterloo, from which I have just recently graduated with a joint honours degree in Classical Studies and Geography. As a geographer, I have a predilection for studying in the field, and the internship has offered me the perfect opportunity to investigate Classical sites first-hand.

I am often asked what I do as the CIG intern. For the most part I work in the library, accessioning and cataloguing new acquisitions and working with the catalogues themselves. For example, during the past two months I have been recataloguing and organizing the library collection to bring it up to date with current Library of Congress classifications.

Over the past three months I’ve gained a greater appreciation of archaeological work. Since my studies have mainly focused on language and literature, I have only the basic understanding of how archaeology works and the techniques used therein. However, after attending several lectures hosted by the various foreign schools and institutes in Athens, my understanding of the field has broadened significantly.

Of course, I didn’t just come here to work, and I’ve spent my weekends traveling to various sites in Greece. Some are old favourites that warrant a second visit, such as Mycenae, Epidauros, and a particularly memorable birthday visit to Delphi. Others are brand new to me, including Nafplion, Eretria, Marathon, Mystras, Monemvasia, and Santorini. Each one has offered new insights into the Classical world as well as a greater appreciation of the landscapes of Greece. A big shout out to all my travel buddies, but especially to Valérie, who braved the public transportation system and hiked mile for mile with me across rugged Greek terrain.

Now that I’m heading back to Canada, I am a little saddened at leaving after such a memorable experience, but I know that this will not be the last time I visit Greece. Keep an eye out, and you may find me dropping in to the Institute again and again in years to come. A big thank you to everyone who made my stay here so fantastic, and I hope we will see each other again soon!

Keep your stick on the ice,
April Ross

Friday, April 8, 2011

Annual Open Meeting and Landscape Archaeology

Antiochus VIII Gryphos silver Tetradrachm of Syria, 121-113 BC
Save the Date!!! On Thursday, May 12th at 7:00 pm at the auditorium of the Danish Institute in Athens in the Plaka we will hold the Annual Open Meeting of the Institute . I will present an overview of the fieldwork and the activities of the Institute in 2010/11. In addition, we are honored to have Professor Robert Weir (Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, University of Windsor) give the Invited Lecture. His topic is, “Antiochos VIII and the Star of Destiny”. Our members, friends and the public are cordially invited to attend. There will be a reception afterwards.

Book of the Blog
Archaeologists have been looking by various means at the earth’s surface since their earliest research and fieldwork. Primarily these approaches depicted the earth as a flat, undifferentiated surface where a variety of datasets were found and their specific distribution indicated by one type of symbol or the other. In the past 40 years, however, the growth of pedestrian archaeological survey as a data collection method, aided by aerial and satellite imagery and analyzed using GIS have supplanted to a greater extent such simplistic 2D concepts of space and of time. In tandem a more holistic research model developed to extract more a detailed and nuanced understanding of human activities in and impacts on the natural environment. This study, called landscape archaeology, looks at the ways which societies in the past constructed and used the physical environment. As a multidisciplinary approach it places heavy emphasis on the interactions of material culture, human intervention and modification of the landscape and the natural environment as a whole. One advantage is that the scale of investigation is very flexible, from micro to macro.

Between 2003 and 2005, 28 presentations were given at the Landscape Archaeology Seminar hosted at Oxford University’s Institute of Archaeology. Eight of these seminars, along with two by the editors Helen Lewis and Sarah Semple, are published together as Perspectives in Landscape Archaeology. Papers Presented at Oxford 2003-2005 (BAR International Series 2103, Oxford 2010). Although the focus of most of these contributions is on southwest England, Wales and Sweden from the Iron Age through the Medieval period, Ethiopia, Yemen, New Mexico (USA) and South Wales (Australia) are also represented. The papers deal with the meaning of landscape change from an individual site level to a regional perspective, how major changes in religious beliefs affected the landscape, or the interrelationships between cultural environmental changes. One can see how field work can be combined with historical and/or ethnographical sources for a broader understanding of causation and effect. “Memory work” and landscape archaeology have many positive interconnections.

Landscape archaeology has many proponents in the Aegean basin and in Cyprus. The Antikythera Survey Project and the Eastern Boeotia Archaeological Project, both conducted under the Institute’s aegis, are but two examples.

David Rupp

Friday, April 1, 2011

Publication in Honour of Mac Wallace and Memory Work

Malcolm B. "Mac" Wallace
In late June, 2009 the Institute organized a two day colloquium in memory of Malcolm B. “Mac” Wallace, a long-time, staunch supporter of the Institute and a well-known scholar in Greece. The focus of the colloquium was on his interests in Athenian history and in Euboea. Mac was one of the founders of the Southern Euboea Exploration Project conducted under the auspices of the Institute. Eighteen scholars gave papers, sixteen of which will appear in May in, Euboea and Athens: Proceedings of a Colloquium in Memory of Malcolm B. Wallace. Athens, 26-27 June 2009, edited by D. W. Rupp and J. E. Tomlinson. (Publications of the Canadian Institute in Greece, No. 6). Jonathan has just finished the page proofs for the authors’ scrutiny. This wide-ranging volume is a most fitting tribute to this intelligent and generous man, given in great respect by his peers, colleagues and students.

Book of the Blog
Often artefacts recovered from various archaeological contexts are viewed simply as isolated objects or as mundane examples of a particular class/category of tools, vessels, etc. While comprehending them as components of a particular assemblage, such as a burial, ritual deposit, workshop or dwelling is better, more and broader associations are possible and desirable. Specifically, when they are seen as part of the material culture of a specific group of people at a given point in space and time. The investigation of material culture as a whole “…focus[es] on the interaction of humans and materials, within different social contexts or interrelationships” or “the materiality of social life” (p. 3).

A growing number of archaeologists, anthropologists, sociologists and historians have turned their attention to the ways that material culture engages in the transmission of memory and how we can use such knowledge to interpret actions and processes of past societies. Barbara J. Mills and William H. Walker have assembled in Memory Work. Archaeologies of Material Practices (School for Advanced Research Advanced Seminar Series, Santa Fe, 2008) nine contributions (ranging from Britain to Africa, and the North, Central and South Americas) along with their insightful Introduction and Lynn Meskell’s perceptive closing overview on “memory work”. These case studies building on earlier research “…seek to understand how memory work is related to objects, features, and deposits that are the basis for archaeological interpretations” (p. 4). The diachronic nature of “…archaeological studies of materiality contribute to understanding how memory becomes historicized through linked activities that engage materials” (p. 22).

This interdisciplinary approach can be employed with benefit in classical studies too. For example, Julia L. Shear (American School of Classical Studies at Athens) is investigating the long history of the famous Tyrannicides sculptural group in the Agora of Athens from the perspective of social memory. Other researchers would gain important insights from a careful scrutiny of this important volume.

David Rupp