Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Height of the Cretan Summer

The INSTAP crane photography equipment in action at Petras
It is hard to believe that the Petras excavation ended two weeks ago and the Halasmenos site study work finished just a week ago. Why it was only early June just a little while ago! As is often claimed the best finds come at the very end of the field season as one is trying diligently to close up. This was true for my house tomb room too. An EM II Vasiliki ware beaked juglet appeared in the last hour of the last day as I was cleaning along a wall for final photographs. As the lower stratum in this room had already given up many vessels in the previous two weeks I shouldn’t have been surprised. Eleni and Despina, the physical anthropologists from the University of Thessaloniki removing the skeletal material, had only finished their painstaking work just before I did. Just in time does it, eh!

The happy campers at the end of the last day of the dig
A wealth of finds in a trench means much paper work for the associated bags, tags, photographs, drawings, elevations and notebook entries. Doing this under a constant strong wind adds to the challenge when you have only two hands. I am still inserting details into my locus entries, finishing drawings and polishing my final report. My colleagues who excavated other parts of the cemetery have their own stories to tell too. Each of us seemed to find different types of burial contexts, votive deposits and offerings, so that no one felt that their area was less interesting than the others. All in all we had a productive and good-humored season and it was difficult to say good bye.

View of the 2013 work at Halasmenos
The week at Halasmenos was a much different experience. Instead of the fourteen archaeologists and seven workmen at Petras there were only three archaeologists and two workmen. Our work involved a careful study of architectural features discovered previously. One was a circular kiln that is totally preserved except for the superstructure which was dismantled after the last firing. The other was an enigmatic feature of rings of stones stacked on top of each other at the entrance to the settlement. While the kiln’s components could be delineated with reasonable accuracy, the latter construction defies easy and immediate characterization. It was also difficult to draw as its highest point is in the center. Was it just a pile of stones randomly thrown there? Or was it a purpose-built structure? If the latter possibility, might it be a symbolic miniature tholos tomb as there was no evidence of a burial and/or grave offerings? Was it a type of cenotaph for a mythical ancestor of the settlement perhaps? In archaeology there are normally more unanswered questions than there are answered ones. This one definitely is unanswered!!!

David's pile of stones at Halasmenos
Despite the crisis, each city in eastern Crete mounts a cultural program that utilizes the proclivity of Greek singers and stage groups to tour the provinces during the summer. In Ierapetra we were treated to a very professional and lively concert by the talented singer Alkistis Protopsalti. She was joined by the Greek-Canadian singer from Montreal George Perris. In Siteia we enjoyed a program of Cretan-flavored international music crafted by Ross Daly. While born in the UK, he’s of Irish decent and has become a well-known Cretan lyra player. On the stage with him besides his group of Cretan musicians were a Spaniard, an Italian and an Iranian. Each performed on the traditional instruments from their countries along with the Cretan standard ones. This was unbelievable music under the stars by the sea. In our own village of Kavousi the Cretan cult lyra player Psaroantonis and his group gave a concert of sorts in a tree-covered plateia next to an old church. While the setting was magical his performance was most disappointing. Ti na sas po;;;;

Life is not all relaxation here, by no means! Jonathan and I are readying the contributions for the Frederick Winter memorial volume for the copy editor to start working on. Our publication date goal is May. The new CIG portal also has received our attention in preparation for its launch in late October. Conference papers that I gave earlier need to be converted into proper contributions. Articles that I submitted previously require adjustments and fine tuning. A book review is due by the beginning of September. My never ending revision of my guidebook to Athens as an e-book nags at me in the background. There is no rest for an archaeologist for sure!

David Rupp

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Fred Winter Collection

Messene, view to Asklepieion from Mavromati village. (Professor Fred Winter 1966)

Friday, July 19, 2013

‘Open House’ at the Eleon Excavations

Sunset at ancient Eleon
Since 2007 our Greek-Canadian research project has been coming to the village of Arma in eastern Boeotia, first as part of our regional survey and then as the location of our excavation of ancient Eleon. Last year we established an apotheke in Arma which allows us to store equipment and some finds near our site, and provides very useful work space for our ceramic specialists. Our excavations have now concluded for 2013 and we are very grateful for all the help we have received from the town of Arma, from the 9th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities in Thebes, and from the Canadian Institute in Greece.

The 2013 team
As many people know, meals are a very important aspect of any excavation, and this year, for the first time, we began taking our lunch in the village of Arma, prepared for us by Stavroula Dimitriou. This was one of the best decisions we have made: Stavroula is an EXCELLENT cook, and it was convenient and economical for all of our team. We will greatly miss lunches on her balcony and garden. I will especially miss the lentil soup!

Visitors at the 'open house'
We have come to know the great hospitality and kindness of the town of Arma, from everyone we work with each day. Toward the end of our work this year, the people from the village kindly invited us to make a presentation on our research. Many people seemed not to know what we were doing every day, starting at 6:30 am. We often encourage people to come up and see for themselves during our work days, but we learned that many people worried they would be disturbing us. We very much welcomed the invitation to inform people of our research project and to show some of our results thus far. However, rather than give a standard illustrated talk in a lecture hall or classroom, we decided to invite the village up to the site itself, for an ‘open house’. Working with Stavroula and the local historical and cultural council, the Μορφωτικός Σύλλογος Άρματος, our plan was to serve some light refreshments, display some of our archaeological illustrations, and to show interested people around the excavation area. We set Thursday July 11, 2013 at 7:30 pm as the meeting time. We expected about 50 people.

Bryan Burns guides the guests
On the evening of the event, at 7 pm we were incredibly surprised when dozens of tractors, cars, and people on foot started up the gentle ascent to the site. By 7:45 the count was over 200 people from Arma, Eleonas, Tanagra, Schimatari and even Thebes! Young, old, and in-between! We happily welcomed our colleagues from the ASCSA excavation at Mitrou. And, most especially, we were very happy that our collaborators from the 9th Ephorate, Alexandra Charami and Olga Kyriatzi, were able to attend and addressed the visitors. My colleague, Dr. Bryan Burns (Wellesley College), gave a great tour of the three main excavation areas of the site in Greek (with no prepared text) and then had to do it all over again, a second time, because there were so many people who couldn’t hear the first time. You can see a video of the event and hear Bryan at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=q5MhGWF8rOk

Our students and volunteers enthusiastically mingled with the crowd and discussed our project. Several children in the village seemed to learn quickly that archaeological remains are important and deserved to be cared for properly. One little girl even brought a small sherd from the ground to the attention of our ceramics experts.

Dancing the night away!
After the ‘open house’ the Μορφωτικός Σύλλογος Άρματος hosted us for dinner in the town hall, and then put on a very fun display of Greek dancing. Many of our students were able to learn from trained experts in a wide variety of traditional Greek dancing! The evening ended at a local café with a few more celebratory drinks and more dancing, Greek and Canadian style!

Brendan Burke
University of Victoria

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Fred Winter Collection

Messene, W walls ascending hill to NW corner of circuit. (Professor Fred Winter 1966)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Visualizing an Ancient City: A Permanent Exhibition on the Greek-Canadian project at Kastro Kallithea in the Cultural Centre in Pharsala

The Cultural Centre at Pharsala

Over the past year, Vasso Noula, the municipal archaeologist of Pharsala, and Sophia Karapanou, the epimelitria of Pharsalos and archaeologist at the 15th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities at Larissa, worked together with the University of Alberta team to bring the exhibit ‘Visualizing an Ancient City’ to Greece. This exhibit, originally curated by Myles Chykerda, Jason Marceniuk and myself, featured the results of fieldwork at Kastro Kallithea carried out by the Greek-Canadian team comprised of members from both the Greek archaeological service and the University of Alberta. It was on display in 2010 at the Universities of Alberta and Saskatchewan where it attracted significant attention from both students and members of the community interested in Mediterranean archaeological fieldwork 

Sophia Karapanou, Aris Karachalios and Margriet Haagsma cutting the ribbon
Last summer I discussed with the mayor of Pharsala, Aris Karachalios, the possibility of displaying to the general public the heritage of the Pharsalians and their neighbouring communities. I mentioned the existing exhibit and expressed the University of Alberta’s willingness to donate the exhibition to the municipality, a commitment which included supplying 3D printed models of the landscape setting of Kastro Kallithea as well as reconstructions of the many architectural structures we identified during our studies. The proposal was met with great enthusiasm and after much work from both sides the exhibit was inaugurated on June 26th 2013.

Overview of the exhibition space

The reconstructed buildings of the agora at Kastro Kallithea
Vasso Noula is to be credited for her excellent work; she took care of preparing the exhibition space, translating of the text (together with Sophia Karapanou), arranging the inauguration as well as all associated publications, which included flyers and banners for the exhibition.

Vasso Noula at the opening of the exhibition
Credit should also go to Myles Chykerda, former BA (2004) and MA (2010) student of the University of Alberta, now PhD student at UCLA and CIG’s next Leipen fellow, for aiding in the layout and preparation of the panels for printing. Ryan Lee, former BA student at the University of Alberta and current MA student at Texas A&M University, should be thanked for preparing the 3D models. The University of Alberta’s AICT department is also thanked for their generous aid in 3D printing.

Guiding the audience at the opening of the exhibition
The inauguration included a performance by children from the municipal music school at Pharsala who represented the cities of Ancient Achaia Phthiotis. They enacted a sacrifice to Enodia, the goddess whose cult was important to the Thessalians from the Archaic to the Hellenistic period. At least 200 Pharsalians were present at the opening. The exhibition will be an integral part of the historical education program of the municipality for elementary, junior high, and high schools in the region.

Enactment of a sacrifice to Ennodia

More information on the exhibition can be found on the website of the municipality of Pharsala as well as the website of Archaiologia (both in Greek).

Margriet Haagsma
University of Alberta

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Monday, July 8, 2013

Cretan Summer Starts!

The Wedding
The Cretan wedding of the summer (in CIG terms, at least) took place last Saturday evening at the village of Mochlos on the northern coast of eastern Crete. Tristan (Stringy) Carter and Deanna Aubert were married on the island opposite the village. Here is the famous Bronze Age settlement that Prof. Jeff Soles has been excavating for over twenty years under an ASCSA permit from the Ministry of Culture. Stringy has been studying their obsidian collections for the publication. The bridal party and the guests braved the high winds and spray to get to the island (and back) for the civil ceremony.

Over 125 people were in attendance. They were treated to raki, a delicious dinner with Cretan food, a fireworks display over the sea and island, many speeches and toasts, and live Cretan music. The archaeological community was out in force, coming from long distances, reflecting Stringy’s many research connections. As Stringy teaches at McMaster University and Deanna’s family comes from the Hamilton and Toronto regions, Ontario was well represented too. A great evening!

Petras house tomb cemetery excavation continues
The end of the third week of the excavation is upon us. After what seemed like a slow, unproductive start, every trench and house tomb now is producing interesting finds. While most of the burial offerings fit into the known pattern of Prepalatial (Early Minoan III/Middle Minoan IA) and Protopalatial (Middle Minoan IIA in Petras terms) funerary assemblages here and elsewhere in Crete, some of them are totally unexpected. Some may well cause us to re-write what we know about these periods. The persistent high winds from the northwest make excavating, doing drawings, and taking elevations very challenging indeed. Our eyes sting from the wind and the dust. Most would agree this is preferable to the windless, very hot days of the second week.

I am trying to finish uncovering the burial assemblages in the room I am excavating. However, more vessels and bone clusters keeping showing up just as I think the layer is finished. I am keeping our two physical anthropologists very busy! Once I close the work for the season here I hope to have time to look at the two Late Minoan IIIC “megara” and associated walls that were constructed in the 12th century BC on top of the much earlier remains.

David Rupp

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Fred Winter Collection

Messene, tower above Arkadian Gate to E, general view, and loopholes and window. (Professor Fred Winter 1966)