Friday, June 24, 2011

Reception Honoring Professor Susan I. Rotroff

Last week there was a two day conference sponsored by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens honoring Professor Susan I. Rotroff (Washington University), this year’s recipient of the Archaeological Institute of America’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement. This very well-attended conference entitled, “The Matter of Antiquity: An Archaeological Conference in Honor of Susan I. Rotroff”, focused on topics related to her interests in Hellenistic and Early Roman pottery, the Hellenistic period and the Athenian Agora as well as her positive influence on her colleagues and as a role model to her students.

Professor Mark Lawall (a member of CIG’s Board of Directors from the University of Manitoba) and Professor Kathleen Lynch (University of Cincinnati) organized the event for the Athenian Agora Excavations. They suggested that it should conclude with a reception on Saturday evening at the Institute. This was more than appropriate as Susan has solid Canadian connections, having taught at Mount Allison University (Sackville, New Brunswick) as well as studied and published material from the Institute’s Southern Euboea Exploration Project. The reception filled the Institute’s premises to the rafters. The attendees reminisced, renewed old friendships and made new acquaintances. We wish to thank Mark and Kathleen for their imagination and diligence in organizing such an excellent and interesting event. It was a fitting tribute to Susan’s long and influential career.

David Rupp

Friday, June 17, 2011

Digging in Crete

After a hiatus of six years I returned to active fieldwork for a short period to assist in the ongoing excavations at Petras, outside of Siteia, in eastern Crete ( Dr. Metaxa Tsipopoulou (Director, National Archive of Monuments, Ministry of Culture and Tourism) has been excavating here for over 25 years. The present focus of her investigations is the late Prepalatial house tomb cemetery on the Tskalakis plot on the Petras-Kefalla hill. At least 8 house tombs have been identified so far at this extensive cemetery. A portion of the LM IIIC settlement on the summit of the hill was built upon the southern part of the cemetery.

With the assistance of our son, Romanos, I continued the work in Trench Gamma 3 on the northern edge of the cemetery. We encountered a midden-like deposit from the LM IIIC period with hundreds of limpet shells, ample sherds and many broken stone tool and vessel fragments. As the excavation ended we had arrived at a deposit of MM IB sherds, most likely discarded from ceremonies connected with the house tombs that lie to the south. While we did not have a house tomb in our trench with the large quantity of skeletal remains and the numerous grave offerings, the challenges of defining one thin stratum from another was rewarding. As always the lovely view of the Gulf of Siteia makes up for the dirt and the heat!

Book of the Blog
This feature will take a summer recess and return in September. In the meantime, we await the donations of your books, monographs and edited volumes. They will be featured here!

David Rupp

Monday, June 13, 2011

Archaeological Site and Museum Opening Hours, summer 2011

The National Archaeological Museum, Athens
There has been much discussion lately about Greek museums and archaeological sites remaining closed or operating only limited hours. Notable was a report in the English edition of Greek newspaper Kathimerini, on the many closed galleries of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. You can read the report here.

Nevertheless, on June 3 the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism released a list of sites and museums operating double shifts (and thus remaining open from 08.00-17.00 or later; some until 20.00). This list was updated in a press release of  June 6 and now includes some 57 sites and museums around Greece. The list (in Greek only) can be found here. (The National Archaeological Museum is not on the current list.)

Ancient Messene
It is also noted in the press release that the list will be expanded as more summer guards are hired. The degree to which sites and museums are added will presumably be dependent on the government's programme of austerity measures. Visitors to Greece should also keep in mind that some of the strikes organised to protest these measures will affect site and museum openings.

Best wishes,
Jonathan Tomlinson
Assistant Director

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Fred Winter Photo Project Continues

For several months now I've been sorting through the photographs of Professor Fred Winter. The thing is, for the longest time I had no idea who Fred Winter was, except through these photographs. Until the Institute's annual Open Meeting a few weeks back, I didn't even know what he looked like. It was a bit strange to see a photo of him because through his photos I've built up a certain image in my mind.
Although the photos of the many archeological sites are impressive, I found myself drawn to the more personal photos. The negative above was noted as "the men who arrested me".
This photo is of the "man who gave us figs". Both of these pictures where taken in 1957 and they tell a story of not only the archaeology but of adventure that went into exploring the sites at that time. As I continue to sort through Professor Winter's collection of photographs I'll be keeping an eye out for these personal gems that examine not only ancient history, but the recent history of Greece.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Visit to Athens and Household Archaeology

This past weekend Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a whirlwind two-day visit to Greece. As part of the visit he brought along with him a group of prominent Greek-Canadians. One of their activities was a luncheon on Saturday with a group of Greeks with close ties to and associations with Canada. I had the honor to attend this gathering organized by the Canadian Embassy. This gave me the opportunity to inform them of the work of the Institute in Greece and of our supporters in Canada. Among the attendees I met the Honorary Consul of Canada in Thessaloniki, Mr. Pantelis Petmezas. We discussed the possibility of having the annual Open Meeting of the Institute be repeated there next May. If you think this is a good initiative please let me know, as well as what you think would be a suitable venue for it. A sponsor for the event would also be most welcome!

Book of the Blog
A central emphasis of the study of Greek architecture has been on public and religious buildings. Their contexts and placement within the urban environment, the overall design and layout of the city and the ubiquitous encircling defensive walls are other themes examined in the last decades. The Greek urban structure par excellence, the domestic house or oikos, has received much less attention, mainly because so few of them have been excavated until recently. This paucity of examples has led researchers to attempt to classify them superficially and to conceptualize them generally within the framework of the extant literary and documentary sources relating to the domestic economy and social relations.

Over twenty years ago, Michael Jameson (University of Pennsylvania/Stanford University) called for the systematic and careful excavation of more houses throughout the ancient Greek world in order to amass comparable rich data sets to facilitate the reconstruction of the material culture of the Greek oikos and to determine its roles in the domestic economy of the polis. A number of younger researchers (Nicholas Cahill, Lisa Nevett, Bradley Ault and Manuel Fiedler) took up his challenge and the Greek version of “household archaeology” evolved. The growing interest in gender relations also spurred on this development as the oikos was the nexus of male/female interactions, roles and relationships in the ancient polis.

Margriet J. Haagsma (University of Alberta) has just published her contribution to broadening our knowledge of household archaeology in early Hellenistic Thessay. Her doctoral dissertation, Domestic Economy and Social Organization in New Halos (Riksuniversiteit Groningen, 2011) examines the sealed contents of six houses in New Halos, an orthogonally planned city that was founded ca 302 BC, probably by Demetrius Poliorcetes, and destroyed by an earthquake in 265 BC. The excavation was carried out under the aegis of the Netherlands Institute at Athens in the late 1970s through early 1990s.

Although her prime interest is the analysis (Chapter 5) and the interpretation of the contents of the houses and their spatial patterning (Chapters 6-7) she carefully sets the stage in the first chapter by reviewing the intellectual background, ancient and modern, as well as the scholarly foundation for such a study. The excavation of the houses is discussed (Chapter 2) along with the architectural remains (Chapter 3). The various depositional and post-depositional processes that affected the site are treated in Chapter 4. A CD-ROM contains the four Appendices.

The limited, if not impoverished, material culture remains found suggest to Haasgma that the location of the city, which apparently was chosen for strategic reasons, provided its inhabitants with an inadequate hinterland to support a stable, self-sufficient “consumer city” based on mixed farming. The ample faunal evidence for pastoralism and the numerous loomweights for weaving could not maintain an urbanized society. This probably was the principal reason that the city was not reoccupied after 265 BC. The lack of investment in the facilities of the houses and in the city’s public buildings is in striking contrast to that seen in contemporary cities.

This generous gift by one of our Board Members is another addition to the Library’s growing holdings in Household Archaeology. Professor Haagsma is continuing her meticulous study of Hellenistic houses and their contents in Thessaly in her excavation of Building 10 at Kastro Kallithea.

David Rupp