Friday, December 28, 2012

An Experience to Remember...

Even after 193 days in Greece, it is a sight that still takes my breath away: the rocky ledges of the Athenian acropolis rising up from the concrete labyrinth that is modern Athens, topped with that crowning jewel of Classical Greek culture, the Parthenon. Such a meeting of old and new can be seen not only in the monumental stones of the Acropolis, but throughout the fascinating city of Athens. From the crumbling ruins of an old wall on a random street corner, to column drums reused as chairs, to the pottery sherds that crunch beneath your feet, this city has a charm that I don’t think will ever fade, and I am so grateful for having been given the opportunity to experience it.

When I arrived in Greece six months ago, Christmas felt like a faraway deadline; a point in the distant future that marked the end of my Greek adventure, but with so much to do between June and December, I was sure that the holidays would never come! In June and July I was off to Crete where I had an amazing time digging up the remains of a Minoan town at the site of Gournia. After six weeks of digging in the dirt, the month of August flew by as I fell into the idyllic lull of summer life on the Greek island of Sikinos, explored as many ancient sites as I could cram into my five weeks of travel, and took trips to Italy and England to meet up with family.

As summer came to an end, so too did my nomadic lifestyle, and it was wonderful to be able to settle into a routine in Athens and make a home-away-from-home here at the Canadian Institute. Ever since I had learned about this internship opportunity through my university, I had dreamed of living, working, and studying abroad in Athens, so it was a bit surreal to begin living my dream in September. As I settled into life at CIG, I was introduced to the intern’s usual activities such as cataloguing library books, taking care of the hostel’s laundry, and, most importantly, preparing the sandwiches for Institute events and lectures, in addition to some new projects that the Institute had underway. The majority of these new ventures involved digitizing old archives and collections; insightful work which involved lots and lots of scanning. Needless to say, at this point I can pretty much scan a photo or document with my eyes closed!

As a student in my last year of undergraduate study at Wilfrid Laurier University, I also used this opportunity to spend some time in the incredible library resources available through the foreign archaeological schools and institutes in Athens. I spent many an afternoon in the libraries of the American and British Schools, browsing the shelves of site reports or pouring over academic journals as I conducted research for two senior courses which I completed this fall. A variety of lectures hosted by the schools and institutes added to my scholarly experience here, and I have greatly enjoyed taking part in the lively foreign archaeological community so active in the city.

When not pursuing academic endeavours, this excited archaeology student walked (or more often, skipped gleefully) in the footsteps of the ancients, exploring ruins and studying artifacts at numerous archaeological sites and museums. From Delphi to Patras, Aegina to Corinth, it has been amazing to visit the places I have read so much about, with new friends who get just as excited about Mycenaean pottery and ancient stone cuttings as I do! So thanks, friends – I’m so glad that I found people who love old rocks too.

As I pack my bags this week, I can’t believe that the Christmas holidays, which felt like a lifetime away back in June, are already here. As I say a (temporary) goodbye to Greece and all of the amazing people I have met here, I would also like to say thank you, for making these 193 days some of the best ever! You can be sure that I will be back very soon, Apple Cinnamon Blondies in hand!

A special thanks to the Canadian Institute for having me this fall, and to Dr. Gerry Schaus and Wilfrid Laurier University for making this experience possible. Αντιο και Καλά Χριστούγεννα!

Rachel Dewan
Wilfrid Laurier University

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

CIG's Holiday Closure

The Institute's Athens offices and library will remain closed this week and next, for Christmas and New Year. We reopen on Monday January 7 at 9 am.

Season's Greetings to you all!
Jonathan Tomlinson
Assistant Director

Friday, December 21, 2012

Laconian Cups, Books and (No) Pucks!

Enigmatic figure on a Laconian fragment from Miletus
There’s a Laconian (Spartan) drinking cup in the Vatican (no. 16592) which depicts the giant, Atlas, being punished by Zeus by having to hold up the heavens on his shoulders for eternity; his one hand rests on his hip as he tries to shift some of the weight off his shoulders, but his legs are buckling under the strain. Right in front of Atlas is his counterpart, Prometheus, who is also being punished by Zeus; he is tied to a stake and a large eagle stands on his thigh and pecks away at his bloodied chest. His legs also are buckling from the pain. If you want to see this magnificent cup (copyright prevents me) – go to The two images on this cup by the Arcesilas Painter remind me of what it’s like for a professor sometimes during the academic year. Pressures of lectures, marking, committee work, research deadlines, letter writing and meetings make your legs buckle at times.

There’s a second Laconian cup that comes to mind at the moment, this one in the Louvre (no. E 667), which depicts a group of symposiasts reclining with food trays and drinking cups around them, being presented with wreaths by winged daemons and sirens. This to me represents the wonderful banquet of knowledge that one has a chance to enjoy during a sabbatical leave as I’m enjoying now, occasionally crowned with the wreath of “Good Idea” by those winged spirits that work so closely around you in a quiet academic atmosphere. This cup too can easily be found online -

Skating with Giorgos and Tess. Kerameikos park. Dec. 17.
For the past seven weeks I’ve been a symposiast figuratively here in Athens, living at the Canadian Institute and enjoying its many activities, at the same time as I’ve been taking advantage of the Blegen Library at the American School of Classical Studies. My topic, Laconian vases found during excavations by Ruhr University (Bochum, Germany) at ancient Miletus (Turkey), is full of fascinating twists and turns, delightfully different iconography, and important historical associations. “Coming in to work” has never been quite so much fun. Some nights, always late, I leave the library and feel the pleasant weight of the wreaths of “Good Idea” sitting somewhere on my head. Other nights, I head off to a guest lecture at one of the other institutes in Athens, and enjoy the “Good Ideas” that other “symposiasts” have generated of late. Without wanting to belabour the metaphor too much, if I haven’t already, let me just say that the feeling of warmth and friendliness at the Canadian Institute’s hostel, offices and library, have made my stay genuinely pleasurable, even with the loss of half the hockey season, both my own, and the NHL’s. And the productive research environment of the American School, with the British School right next door, have made this sabbatical leave as enjoyable and worthwhile as any I’ve had. Now, to find a puck, a hockey stick and a couple other Canadians who know how to play the best game on ice.

Gerry Schaus
(Professor of Classical Archaeology, Wilfrid Laurier University)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Fred Winter Collection

"Messene, a wide tower loophole, with inverted-triangle top" (Professor Fred Winter 1966)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Scholarship Galore and the Three Guest Bloggers of Christmas

For those readers who have not spent a month or more in Athens between early September and late June the richness and variety of the archaeological lectures, talks, seminars and events program is not apparent. With 17 foreign archaeological schools or institutes and their annual open meetings, the Gennadius Library, the University of Athens, the many museums (most with associations of friends), the Minoan and the Mycenaean Seminars, Greek research institutes, College Year in Athens and the Athens Centre there is seldom an evening without a lecture, an event or an opening. Generally, there are two and sometimes three or more to choose from. The topics covered are diverse in time, space and content. If this wealth is insufficient for a jaded scholarly palate, then these institutions frequently organize one-, two- or three-day local and international conferences, symposia or colloquia. There is one such larger program once a month on average. Who has time here for their own research and writing?

This fall in keeping with the pattern there were four conferences. At two of them members of the Institute were represented on the programs. The British School at Athens organized at the end of November a two-day conference entitled, “Sanctuaries and Cults in ancient Thessaly”. Professor Margriet Haagsma (University of Alberta) and Dr. Sofia Karapanou (15th EPKA) gave a paper entitled “Domestic and city-wide cults in Achaia Phthiotis, Thessaly”. This focused on material found at their ongoing excavations at Kastro Kallithea in Thessaly with comparisons to material found at the Netherlands Institute excavations at New Halos to the east. Our Alfoldi Fellow, Gino Canlas was an avid attendee as his doctoral dissertation will focus on one of the lesser deities in the Thessalian pantheon.

This past week the Danish Institute at Athens with other research institutions organized a large, multi-day international conference called “Fokus Fortifikation” which brought together researchers interested in ancient fortifications. Using the fortifications at Argilos in Macedonia as his starting point Kevin Ouellet, a. M.A. candidate at the Universite de Montreal, gave a paper entitled, “The city walls of the Andrian Colonies: tradition and regionalism in military architecture.” Our synergates at Argilos, Professor Jaques Perreault (Universite de Montreal) and Zissis Bonias (Greek Archaeological Service), were supporting co-authors. Kevin was the only M.A. candidate on the program and he earned high praise for his efforts!

The Three Guest Bloggers of Christmas
We have a holiday treat for the followers of this blog! For the next three Fridays a distinguished guest blogger will regale you with accounts of their time in Athens this fall. Professor Gerry Schaus (Wilfrid Lauier University), President of the Board of Directors of CIG has spent part of his sabbatical leave here these past two months. Next Friday he will share his thoughts on what he has been doing in the libraries of the city. The following Friday, Rachel Dewan, our undergraduate intern this fall from the Wilfrid Laurier University will provide glimpses into her wide ranging experiences, including four months before the scanner. And last but not least, Gino Canlas, our previously mentioned Alfoldi Fellow, will tell his about his extensive research activities since October.

Now you have something to look forward to each week over the holidays!

David Rupp

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Fred Winter Collection

"Delos, Agora of the Italians, details of various parts of the complex" (Professor Fred Winter 1966)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Visualizing Ancient Athenian Comedy and a Christmas Bazaar

The final event in our fall program of the Athens Association of Friends of CIG will take place on Wednesday evening, December 12th at 7:30 PM. The lecturer is a longtime friend of the Institute, the artist and researcher Magda Roussi (Former Director, Fine Arts Group, University of Piraeus). Her consuming interest these days is the masks that the actors wore in dramas and comedies performed in ancient Greek theaters. This focus was generated from her reading of the ancient texts and images in Greek art for her M.A. thesis with aim of reviving the masks. She will present the findings of her extensive research and her creative artistic renderings of the masks that would have been used in the performance of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata. We will be able to see at close hand her artistic visualizations of these masks.

Her masks were part of the group exhibition at the Institute in late September entitled, “Reflections: Canada in Greece / Greece in Canada”.

Come and join us for both an interesting presentation and the start of the holiday season!!!

THE Christmas Bazaar is Now!
The long awaited second annual Christmas Bazaar of the Association of Friends of the Historical Archive of the Greek Archaeological Service starts this evening at 7 PM. The place is the Historical Archive on Psaromylingou 22 on the edge of the Kerameikos and Psyrri districts of Athens. It will also be open on Saturday the 8th from 10:00 to 17:00.

The Bazaar features a wide assortment of books, gift items, homemade baked goods and preserves, and a lottery with many, many fabulous prizes. The special exhibition of images of the ubiquitous graffiti of Athens entitled, “Archive of the Road” will be for sale and special order.

The proceeds from the Bazaar will help to support the educational programs of the Historical Archive in the public schools.

David Rupp

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Fred Winter Collection

"Delos, Stoa of Antigonos, view along length the bull-protome triglyphs" (Professor Fred Winter 1966)