Friday, June 28, 2013

East Cretan Musings

View of the excavation on June 17th, 2013
The second week of Metaxia Tsipopoulou’s ongoing excavation of the prepalatial house tomb cemetery at Petras – Kefalla [see] overlooking Siteia in eastern Crete is almost over. With just over two weeks to go we’re hitting the right stride to achieve the objectives for this year’s field season. The talented crew comes from Greece, Canada, the United States, Ireland and Sweden. This week’s heat without a cooling breeze has made our task more challenging.

I am in charge of excavating a room in one of the house tombs. This ca. 2 x 3 m space was used for the secondary burial of disarticulated skeletons. The complete vessels we’ve taken out so far indicate a date in MM I for the deposition. We carefully uncover the clusters of bones and crania then draw and photograph them before removing them. Below this is another layer and so it goes until we reach bedrock.

View of the excavation on June 27th, 2013
In June, 2011 I dug here briefly [see]. To see if one can notice the difference between the cemetery before we started digging and after four weeks of work I take a picture each afternoon before we stop work. The two images in this blog may not show a dramatic difference. However, if you check out the image from two years ago that I posted with my blog you can see that the appearance of the cemetery has changed with more structures uncovered.

Institute members in eastern Crete this summer
Last Saturday evening the INSTAP Study Center for East Crete in Pacchia Ammos held its first lecture of the summer. Prof. Pietro Militello (University of Catania) gave a well-researched and well-illustrated lecture on craft production in the palatial period in and around the palace at Phaistos and the structures at Ayia Triada based on the material culture records and the Linear A texts recovered at both sites.

CIG was well represented among the numerous people in attendance. These included Rod Fitzsimons (Trent University) who is drawing the architecture at the nearby excavation at Azoria (ASCSA); Tristan (Stringy) Carter (McMaster University) who is studying the chipped stone material from the excavations at Mochlos (ASCSA); Angus Smith (Brock University) who is studying the pottery from the excavations at Gournia (ASCSA); Maria Liston (University of Waterloo) who was there to attend the meeting of the Managing Committee of the Center; and Scott Gallimore (Wilfrid Laurier University) who is leading a field school at Gournia again this summer. There are some Brock students as well at Gournia with Angus Smith. Rachel Dewan who was the Wilfrid Laurier University undergraduate intern at CIG this past fall is back at Gournia too. As there were so many people I may have missed someone, alas.

Now I must write up my trench notebook for today. More soon!

David Rupp

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Mischief Managed: Gino’s Fellowship, Part II

Gino with guests at the reception following his lecture at the CIG
Since my last blog, I have had a ridiculous number of adventures in Greece. I am now writing this blog in the field, trowel-sprained in the wrists and covered with cuts from thorns, since I am now back to excavating in the Greek-Canadian archaeological project at Kastro Kallithea, looking back at an extraordinary year.

In the month after my last blog, I gave a lecture on the research on Thessalian religion that I had been doing at the CIG, and it turned out to be a well-attended lecture. I was also pleased with the grand total of nine people who tuned in to watch the lecture online. It was a great experience; the feedback from the audience gave me questions to look into for my future research.

Gino inside the Tomb of Clytemnestra at Mycenae
I visited more of Greece this year than in all of my previous trips combined. I started 2013 year off with a trip up to the Pagasitic Gulf for some personal research, followed by a visit to Corinth to see some friends. Not long after, I visited a couple of sites in the Argolid. I tagged along with the Australian summer students on their trip to Delphi. I also tagged along with the American School students during their trip to Euboea, during which I ended up crawling through the narrow tunnel underneath the theatre at Eretria. During the Easter holidays, I went on a long road trip with three friends around mainland Greece, going from Athens to Thebes, the Itean Gulf, the Ambracian Gulf, Ioannina, Vikos Gorge, several mountain villages in Epirus, Kalambaka, Karditsa, Lamia and then back to Athens.

Gino's road trip around mainland Greece during the Easter break
I also had a great experience working with the digitization of the CIG archive. After I finished doing all the background research on the different CIG projects, I began to upload images and information onto the website. I have to give an enormous amount of credit to the previous interns, Rachel Dewan and Alisha Adams, who did a lot of the hard labour for the scanning and entering of information onto the website. Without their work, my job would have been a lot harder. Every image I uploaded required the creation of several entries, several numbers, and the manual entry of repetitive data. It was long and tedious…but necessary. The whole process of doing background research and getting first-hand experience at helping create the archive has been a great experience which has given me many practical research skills.

Gino bartending for the CIG Open Meeting
My fellowship ended memorably with the Canadian Institute’s Annual Open Meeting for which I prepared the food and bartended for the reception. I can honestly say I had never made so much food in my entire life.

This year, there were numerous things that I did that I did not think I would do during the tenure of my fellowship. Among them, was wearing a dress for the Frocktober party at the American School, performing a small role as a Roman dinosaur-emperor in a student-directed musical, and eating frog legs in Ioannina. I have made an enormous number of new friends in Athens this year and my fellowship would have been a lot less colourful without them.

Gino Canlas
Alföldi-Rosenbaum Fellow, CIG

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Fred Winter Collection

Eleusis, bases and entablature elements from the Lesser Propylaia. (Professor Fred Winter 1966)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Out and About, Archaeologically Speaking

Last weekend was the international conference entitled “Communities in Transition. The Circum-Aegean Later Neolithic Stages” held at the New Akropolis Museum’s overly air-conditioned auditorium. This well-organized and well-attended gathering was ambitious in its scope and inclusive in the papers given. Zarko Tankosic (Norwegian Institute) discussed the peculiar exploitation pattern of the Karystian Kampos in the Neolithic period as revealed by the Southern Euboea Exploration Project survey there. The Institute was represented by Tristan Carter (Department of Anthropology, McMaster University) who explored the potential off-island sources for various prominent cultural features of the later Neolithic in Crete. In the same session was a paper on the Neolithic pottery from the site of Kiapha Thiti (also known as Kontra Gliate) in southern Attika that a team led by Dietmar Hagel (Queen's University) excavated in the 1980s. A Ph.D. candidate at University College London, Margarita Nazou, gave this interesting paper.

On a final note, not only were there the usual show and tell presentations, which have value in enlightening one on material little or unknown to the audience, but also a number of synthetic, thought-provoking papers. Krzysztof Nowicki (Warsaw) proposed that the settlement system seen in eastern Crete during the Bronze Age was established with the arrival of immigrants during the Final Neolithic II period. Miljana Radivojevic (University College London) gave one of the best powerpoint presentations and deliveries that I have heard in a very long time. She made a strong case for one of the core regions for the origins and development of copper, bronze, gold and silver metallurgy being western Bulgaria in the 5th millennium BC.

Visiting the Institute's excavations at Eleon
Yesterday, braving the unusually stormy weather for mid-June in southern Greece, I visited the Eastern Boeotia Archaeological Project excavations at the acropolis of Eleon. Gerry Schaus, Loeta Tyree and my dear wife Metaxia Tsipopoulou joined me for this muddy expedition. It has been a year since my last visit and the impression of the architectural remains has changed dramatically under the expert direction in the field by Brendan Burke (University of Victoria) and Bryan Burns (Wellesley College)! The original two 5 x 5 m trenches located on the inside of the line of the polygonal wall now are at least 10 x 10 m in extent. The LH IIIC early remains are substantial in both of them. The earlier LH IIIB remains show great promise to produce evidence for large structures. There is also more evidence for later activity including cultic material as well as refuse pits. What really catches one’s eye is the zig-zagging entrance ramp to what now appears to be a gate at the northern end of the visible wall. The elements used, large tower, polygonal masonry and the remnants of the Late Bronze Age wall, create an enclosed theatral-like area before the gate. Here too various types of terracotta female figurines, miniature vessels and lamps were found. Some type of shrine must have been in the area. The excavation holds much promise for significant discoveries this year and in the future.

View of the excavation area at the sanctuary of Apollo at Abai
Our next destination was the famous oracular sanctuary of Apollo Abaeus associated with ancient Abai near modern Kalopodi (Phthiotides). The site was first investigated from 1972-1983 by the German Archaeological Institute in Athens. Since 2004 there have been renewed excavations under the direction of Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier. Alas, the heavy rain on Wednesday and again on Thursday cancelled the work at the site so we could only view the covered remains from afar in the gentle mist. Undeterred we set off to find ancient Hyampolis to the south. The circular hill that is the akropolis has evidence of polygonal walls and a gate. Since it was raining harder we returned to the town of Atalanti to visit the excellent archaeological museum there that features the finds from a number of important Neolithic and LH IIIB and C sites. This is worth a detour from the nearby Athens/Thessaloniki National Road to see.

I will be spending the summer in Crete digging at Petras and at Halasmenos as well as working on the Winter Colloquium publication. From time to time I will blog concerning my experiences and observations. In addition, we will have a series of guest bloggers to provide more interesting fare. See you in September……………………………..….!

Kalo Kalokairi,
David Rupp

Friday, June 7, 2013

The joys of late spring and early summer in Athens

From the latter part of May through the first half of June is a transitional period for the archaeological community here. It is a time of annual meetings , such as ours, the Finnish Institute, the Belgian School and last night at the French School; for one day colloquia, such as two a week ago at the American School of Classical Studies: “Carl and Elizabeth Blegen Remembered; Ploutarchou 9 Celebrated” and “The Weiner Laboratory: A Celebration of Twenty Years of Archaeological Science Research”; and starting today is a two-day international conference entitled “Communities in Transition” about the Neolithic period on both sides of the Aegean basin held at the Akropolis Museum. This event is organized by the Danish Institute in Athens and many other institutions. There are as well as still a scattering of lectures in the evenings. These excellent opportunities have been keeping me from my blogging.

By late June, after the British School’s famous Garden Party, the local scene is in full summer mode. The regulars of the foreign schools and institutes will have decamped, replaced by the annual influx of the summer people to do research in the libraries and the members of the numerous study tours and in situ courses. For those not doing fieldwork or research outside of Athens, the pace slows. It is a time to catch up on unfinished projects and to plan for the coming academic year. It is too soon to think of an island escape.

Agamemnon and Achilles fighting
Into this leisurely routine serendipitous adventures can happen. Two nights ago my wife and I were captivated for five hours (yes, from 8:00 PM to 1:00 AM with 3 short intermissions!) in a dramatic performance of the entire Iliad (no scene/action was left out, including the Catalogue of Ships!!). This production, staged by Stathis Livathinos and based on the Modern Greek translation by Professor D. N. Maronitis, is playing for five nights this week as part of the Athens Festival. It was “staged” in a huge, empty old factory at Odos Piraios 260. The minimalistic “set” on the black floor was created mostly from car tires, old desk chairs, an assortment of tables and metal bunk beds that moved around as the scenes required. A large, shallow pool served as the “sea”. A tall metal spiral staircase and the concrete support pillars were used for the gods on “Mt. Olympos”. The ragged costumes and the facial hair on the men gave the appearance of Greek partisans fighting the Germans and each other in WW II. The goddesses were sensuous. The 15 actors (who played a variety of characters) took full possession of the huge expanse in their choreographed and graceful movements. The performance was as much dance as it was theater. For the scenes with “military action” a Chinese monk trained in martial arts, and who had advised the Chinese film industry, helped to make them dramatic and gripping. The recorded music, major speeches and chanting were accompanied live by a talented percussionist. The depictions of the principal players were believable and engaging. Wit, irony, comic delivery and body humor enlivened and lightened the relentless telling of the tale of Achilles’ spoiled behavior at Troy and its deadly consequences. As you may recall the Iliad has almost every theme one can think of at one point or another and this production emphasized them in a telling fashion. It was a tour de force in all senses of the production. The large audience gave the company at the end long and loud applause. It was a theatrical event not to have been missed. The evocative scenes will stay in my mind for a long time.

David Rupp