Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Fred Winter Collection

Lionhead waterspouts from the great temple at Himera. Photo taken at the National Museum in Palermo. (Professor Fred Winter, 1988)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Fred Winter Collection

Temple of Deified Romulus on the west slope of the Velia in Rome. (Professor Fred Winter, 1988)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Kala Xristougenna kai Eutuxismenos o Kainourios Xronos

It is hard to believe that December is over halfway to its annual goal of reaching the New Year. The beginning of winter is on Sunday (and, of course, that means summer is coming!!!). All of this will be followed quickly by Christmas. Taken altogether it means that the Institute’s annual Christmas/New Year’s two-week recess begins this afternoon at 1 pm. We will reopen on Monday, January 5th at 9:00 am.

The New Year will bring six lectures on diverse topics, as well as the annual Open Meeting with its Invited Lecture by Prof. Tristan Carter (McMaster University), to the Institute. Our first lecture is on February 4th where we will cut the Institute’s Vasilopita. So save the date! See you all next year!

Kales Yiortes se olous!!!!
David Rupp

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Fred Winter Collection

Anta from the temple of Athena at Priene. The inscription reads in Greek: "ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΑΛΕΧΑΝΔΡΟΣ ΑΝΕΘΗΚΕ ΤΟΝ ΝΑΟΝ ΑΘΗΝΑΙ ΗΙ ΠΟΛΙΑΔΙ". In English: "King Alexander dedicated the temple to Athena Polias". (Professor Fred Winter, 1988)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Fred Winter Collection

Top of a column shaft and drum sculpted with bull-heads, garlands, and capitals, from the Smintheion at Chryse. (Professor Fred Winter, 1988)

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Greek Diaspora in Toronto; How did the National Archaeological Museum come to have an Egyptian Collection?

This fall we have hosted lectures that focused on aspects of the development of modern Greece. One facet of the history of the country is the emigration of Greeks starting in the latter 19th century to Europe and North America. Coming from mostly from rural areas these individuals and families sought out a better economic life.

On Wednesday evening, December 10th at 7:30 pm in the Institute’s Library Christopher Grafos, a PhD Candidate in the Department of History at York University, will give an illustrated lecture entitled Memory and Migration: A Glimpse of Greek Immigrant Life in Toronto, 1864 - Present”.

The construction of ethnic communities in North America is a process of negotiation. What remnants of a migrant’s past are palatable to the host society and what aspects of the homeland survive the transatlantic voyage? This presentation examines these questions through a historical lens and chronicles the evolution of Greek identity in Toronto, Canada.

The lecture will be preceded by a brief presentation of the Greek Canadian History Project [GCHP] / Πρόγραμμα Έρευνας Ελληνο-Καναδικής Ιστορίας (http://archives.library.yorku.ca/gchp/), which aims to illuminate the history and events that have shaped the experiences of Greek immigrants in Canada and their descendants. Professor Athanasios Gekas (Hellenic Heritage Chair in Modern Greek History & Assistant Professor, Department of History, York University) will make this presentation concerning this important initiative.

How did the Egyptian Collection Come to the National Archaeological Museum?

Few people going to the National Archaeological Museum of Athens venture off the beaten track of the large, well-known collections within their first few visits. If one goes to the left of the marble staircase at the rear of the ground floor and proceeds past the impressive collection of bronze objects to Rooms 40 and 41 in the rear corner of the Museum they come to something unexpected in Greece. That is a small, but high-quality collection of Egyptian antiquities. This display is made up of the personal collections of two Greeks of the Diaspora who lived in Egypt in the late 19th century, Ioannis Dimitriou of Alexandria, and Alexandros Rostovitz of Cairo.

On Friday, December 12th at 7:00 pm the archaeologist and Egyptologist Dr. Vasilis Chrysokopoulos will give a lecture in Greek that traces how these antiquities came into the possession of these two men and then made their way to the National Archaeological Museum. The title of his lecture is «Η ίδρυση των συλλογών αιγυπτιακών αρχαιοτήτων Ιωάννη Δημητρίου και Αλέξανδρου Ρόστοβιτς στο Εθνικό Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο». The lecture, sponsored by the Association of Friends of the Historical Archive of the Archaeological Service, will be held at the Historical Archive of the Hellenic Archaeological Service at Psaromylingou 22 on the cusp between the Kerameikos and Psyrri Districts. The Theseio train station is the nearest Metro stop. The public is welcome!

David Rupp

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Fred Winter Collection

The theatre at Ephesos, photographed from the modern Bulbul Dagi. (Professor Fred Winter, 1987)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Fred Winter Collection

Relief on the front of the theatre scaena at Perge. (Professor Fred Winter, 1988)

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Multipolar Economic World in 19th-Century Greece; More Amphipolitics

The history of Early Modern Greece as seen from the perspectives of studies and overviews in English is one of the end of the period of Ottoman control, the revolt to free parts of the Greek-speaking lands, the creation of a new territorial state under foreign imposed monarchies, the bitter internal politics that led to adventurism and national bankruptcy and the slow expansion of the territory of the nation. This is mostly a history featuring prominent men, revolts, wars and international relations with an emphasis on the government in Athens. There is much more, however, that has been written in Greek concerning this formative period and many more ways to look at Greece in the “long 19th century” between 1798 and 1912.

On Wednesday, November 26th at 7:30 pm in the Institute’s Library Professor Athanasios Gekas, the Hellenic Heritage Chair in Modern Greek History in the Department of History at York University in Ontario will give a lecture entitled, Vanished States. A Regional Approach to the History of the Greek State in the Long Nineteenth Century (1798-1912).

The recent controversy surrounding Greece has revived debates on the history of Greek state formation. In the past, historians and social scientists of Modern Greece suffered from the ‘backwardness syndrome’ - how ‘modern’ the Greek State was in comparison to European states - and placed too much emphasis on the ‘success’ of the nation-state after the revolution of 1821. The talk suggests that we think more broadly chronologically and conceptually to include various island states, now vanished, that formed and were gradually absorbed by the Greek Kingdom during the long nineteenth century: the Ionian State, the Principality of Samos and the Cretan Republic. A regional approach allows us to compare and contrast the various trajectories and regional histories of economies, institutions and identities and avoid a teleological and homogenizing approach to the formation of the Greek state. The history of these states explains the dependencies of modern Greece to colonial empires (British, French, Russian) and the Ottoman Empire during a period of escalating antagonisms in the Mediterranean and stresses continuities instead of presumed radical breaks by showing the role of empire on Greek state formation.

A more nuanced picture of how Greece came to have the characteristics it has today awaits you on Wednesday.

More Amphipolitics

Until last Friday night I had resolved not to comment further on the excavation of the Kasta tumulus at Amphipolis. When I saw, however, my colleague Prof. Maria Liston who is a physical anthropologist at the University of Waterloo interviewed via Skype on Alpha TV concerning what might be learned from the human skeletal remains that were found in/around the grave below the floor in the third, innermost chamber I knew it was a sign for a “final” review of the situation. Maria’s considered general observations were reinforced by Prof. Sevi Triantaphyllou’s comments in the Sunday edition of To Bima. Sevi is another experienced physical anthropologist who teaches at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki. She heads up the team excavating and studying the human skeletal remains from the cemetery at Petras. She also studied the skeletal remains from the Mycenaean cemetery at Ayia Sotira in the Peloponnesos excavated by a team from Brock University.

SKAI TV produced an animated 3D video of the tumulus and tomb (http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite4_1_17/11/2014_544664) to assist in understanding what has been found. An imaginative presentation of what the burial assemblage of the presumed male might have looked like was published in the Saturday edition of Ta Nea. Unfortunately there is no evidence that I know of from the excavation which would support such a “reconstruction”. It looks like the Archaic-period warrior-burial assemblages from the Archontiko cemetery to the NW of Pella. An unfortunate consequence of the publication of these images is that there are people who think that this was in fact found in the tomb.

In essence, since what has been reported in the press releases from the Ministry of Culture and Sports and the accompanying images are very incomplete in regard to where exactly the bones were found and how complete was the skeleton, no one outside of the excavation’s physical anthropologist can say anything about the biological sex, height, age or physical condition of the deceased at death. All speculation as to whom this individual may have been related by using DNA analysis is very premature to say the least. This is especially true as no archaeological evidence has been presented so far to date the internment of the deceased. The skeleton could have occurred as a reuse of the tomb later than the actual construction of the tomb. This is another example of the rush to judgment in the Greek media concerning almost all aspects of this most unusual monument with little definitive information to go on. The numerous and frequent statements of certainty that have been presented about who was buried in the tomb, by whom and why, the date of its construction, whether it was unplundered or plundered (and, if so, how many times and when), as well as the potential meaning(s) for the modern Greek nation have dulled the collective senses.

There have been increasing critiques in the social media of this excavation and the methods used, on how and why information concerning the finds have been communicated as has been done so far and on the use of the “finds” to reinforce entrenched political views. There are personality clashes to add spice to this admixture. With all of the pressing issues relating to stewardship and protection of the country’s rich and varied cultural heritage and landscapes being pushed aside to promote touristic development projects, the ongoing, often melodramatic, spectacle called the Amphipolis excavation acts to divert public attention and discussion from what is important in the long term.

David Rupp

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

Museums and Exhibitions in the North

Recently my wife and I had the opportunity to visit the Archaeological Museum in Thessaloniki as well as Philip II’s Tomb Museum at Vergina and the new Archaeological Museum at Pella. It had been some time since we saw so many archaeological museums in a short space of time. It provided us with an opportunity to assess the state of museology in northern Greece.

Although the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki is well-known and well-liked by us, it had two surprises. The first was a temporary exhibition along the walls of the entrance hall. The exhibition is called “Letter from the Underground. Writing in Methone, Pieria: late 8th / early 7th century BC”. The subject of the exhibition were the 191 incised and painted ceramic vessels that were found in a huge deposit of broken pottery in an unfinished basement at ancient Methone on the southwestern edge of the Thermaic Gulf. Methone was the earliest Greek colony in the northern Aegean, founded in 733/2 BC by a group originally from Eretria on Euboea.

The material in the exhibition is a sample of the inscriptions and potter’s marks that were incised and painted on these vessels. Some of these inscriptions are among the earliest known in the Greek world, as well as the earliest found so far in the northern Aegean and in Macedonia. What makes this presentation stand out to me, besides the unique nature of the material, is that accompanying descriptions (in Greek and in English) and captions contextualize so well both the meanings of these brief texts and their place in the development of Greek writing. Further, the purposes of these “writings” and the wide economic connections of the colony are clearly demonstrated. The presentation is erudite as well as accessible even to the non-epigrapher.

The second exhibition is in the lower level, spread over two rooms. It is entitled “Europa in Greece. Colonies and Coins from the Collection of Alpha Bank”. Using the myth of Europa as the organizing theme, the exhibit presents Greek colonizing activity beyond the Aegean basin in the Late Geometric and Archaic periods. This is visualized using mainly coins from the Alpha Bank Numismatic Collection and some other artifacts. The colonies of selected Greek city states are presented as trees with branches. It is a simple but clever means to convey the breadth of the spread of Greek societies to the coasts of the Black Sea, the central and western Mediterranean and North Africa. This is the first “globalization” of what we now call Europe.

So it is well worth visiting or re-visiting the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki in the next few months to see these exhibitions and the spectacular permanent displays there.

In September the new Archaeological Museum at ancient Pella opened on the heights to the north overlooking the archaeological site. This is a spacious, large, state-of-the-art archaeological museum that displays a large selection of the finds from the site as well as the spectacular burial assemblages from the Iron Age cemetery at nearby Archontiko. The informative displays and reconstructions that were in the old museum have been augmented by a wider range of finds, including some of the pebble mosaics, large images, more reconstructions, and more texts describing the geomorphology of the region, the development of the settlement, its role as the capital of the Macedonian kingdom and its subsequent history. The displays are logically organized, well-placed and well-lit. The texts that accompany them are mostly readable without having to stoop at close range. The wealth and quantity of the material requires time to see and to appreciate. The view of the expansive site and the basin from in front of the museum puts many things in a better context. This should be a must-see site and museum on any visit to northern Greece.

At Vergina it was familiar territory. The display of artifacts from the tombs and graves are around the preserved architectural monuments all encased in the artificial mound built over them. All of this is in very dark spaces, as the lighting level is very low. The enormous quantity and quality of the finds from these monuments as well as other graves in the area is overwhelming. The normally large crowds, the commentaries of the tour guides, the small size of the descriptive labels and other texts, as well as the lack of lighting on them, combined with the general dim light make it very difficult to learn about and to appreciate properly the items on display. One leaves feeling that you have missed a great deal. For a more leisurely and rewarding visit one should be there first thing when it opens, before the tour buses arrive. As there is a new, very large archaeological museum under construction outside the village on the road towards Veria, maybe the local Ephorate of Antiquities will reduce the amount of material on display at the tombs and reorganize and re-think the display of what remains in order to create a better museum-visiting experience. The new structure can handle the overflow as well as the new finds that keep coming to light around this first capital of the Macedonian kingdom. Unfortunately the palace was not open as it is under conservation and partial reconstruction.

So Macedonia beckons. There is much more to see - including the Greek/CIG excavations at Argilos - besides the tumulus at Amphipolis!

David Rupp

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Fred Winter Collection

Rockcut "throne of Cybele" from the acropolis at Midas City. (Professor Fred Winter, 1987)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Swedish Archaeology in Greece in the Interwar Period; Rachel Dewan's Awesome Summer Adventure

In 1922 the Greek government gave Swedish archaeologists a permit to dig at ancient Asine in the Argolid. Because of the participation of Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden who was a close friend of the Greek royal family the excavation was able to export the finds to Sweden for conservation and study until the 1930s. In 1997 the late Dr. Berit Wells, then Director of the Swedish Institute in Athens purchased a file with documents relating to the Archaeological Museum in Nafplio. When the file was examined it contained documents relating to the excavations of the Swedish archaeologists digging in the Argolid in the Interwar Years which had come from files of the Directorate of Archaeology in the then Ministry of Religious Affairs and National Education.

On Monday, November 10th at 18:30 Dr. Arto Penttinen (Director, Swedish Institute in Athens) and Dr. Aris Anagnostopoulous (Assistant Director, Irish Institute of Hellenic Studies at Athens) will give a lecture in Greek entitled, «1920-1940, δύο δεκαετίες σουηδικών ανασκαφών στην Αργολίδα: ζητήματα της μεταφοράς ευρημάτων στη Σουηδία και ένα «χαμένο» αρχείο του μεσοπολέμου».  They will explore what this archive reveals of the details of how the unusual export of the archaeological finds to Sweden was handled and how this special permission provoked both the local community and the wider Greek society. The lecture is part of the 2014/15 Lecture Program of the Syllogos Filon tou Istotikou Archeiou tis Archaiologikis Yperesias. The lecture will be held at the Historical Archive at Psaromylingou 22 on the cusp of the Kerameikos and Psyrri Districts. The Theseio train station is the closest Metro Station.

A Former CIG Intern in the News

Two years ago this fall Rachel Dewan was our undergraduate intern from Wilfrid Laurier University. She has spent the last three summers digging on archaeological projects in eastern Crete. One weekend she and some of her fellow diggers had an exciting day hiking in the arid mountains above the village of Kavousi (Ierapetra). She shared this experience with a recent op-ed contribution in the online edition of the Globe and Mail newspaper. It is entitled “Beware the hiking trails in Greece (unless you’re a goat)”. You can read about this high adventure at:: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/travel/beware-the-hiking-trails-in-greece-unless-youre-a-goat/article21424723/ . Go girl!

David Rupp

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Fred Winter Collection

Standing column with a dedicatory inscription panel from the Temple of Zeus at Euromos. (Professor Fred Winter, 1988)

Friday, October 31, 2014

It's Canadian Film Night Again!

At least once a year we have our now world-famous Canadian Film Night. With the assistance of the Canadian Embassy we bring some “Canadian Content” to our city. Whether one is from Canada or not, these films provide a different take on the world than what is normally available in the local cinemas, on Greek TV and in the dvd rental shops. This year’s Greek premiere is scheduled for Wednesday, November 5th at 7:30 PM in the Institute’s Library.

"Our Man in Tehran" is a Canadian documentary from 2013 directed by Drew Taylor and Larry Weinstein that chronicles the true story of Canada's former ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor, who was responsible for the high-risk rescue of six U.S. diplomats trapped in Iran. The film is Canada's response to the Hollywood feature "Argo" uncovering new information on the 1979 hostage crisis and adding ample valuable content.

The world watched with fear in November 1979, when Iranian students infiltrated and occupied the American embassy in Tehran. The Americans were caught entirely by surprise, and what began as a swift and seemingly short-lived takeover evolved into a crisis that would see fifty-four embassy personnel held hostage, most for 444 days. As Tehran exploded in a fury of revolution, six American diplomats secretly escaped. For three months, Ken Taylor, the Canadian ambassador to Iran—along with his wife and embassy staffers—concealed the Americans in their homes, always with the prospect that the revolutionary government of Ayatollah Khomeini would exact deadly consequences. The United States found itself handcuffed by a fractured, fundamentalist government it could not understand and had completely underestimated. With limited intelligence resources available on the ground and anti-American sentiment growing, President Carter turned to Taylor to work with the CIA in developing their exfiltration plans. Until now, the true story behind Taylor’s involvement in the escape of the six diplomats and the Eagle Claw commando raid has remained classified.

So join us and find out the “real story” of what happened 35 years ago!

David Rupp

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Friday, October 24, 2014

Archives lay bare the foundations of Greek Archaeology in the 19th century

Those of us who specialize in archaeological research which focuses on some aspect of the cultures that once existed in what constitutes today as the national borders of the modern Greek state tend to overlook how our broadly-defined sub-discipline called “Greek archaeology” came to its present state. In the last decade or so there has been an increasing interest in examining the history of Greek archaeology from its beginnings in the publications of the early European travelers. More frequently now there are studies of the “pioneers” and their research from a particular country, of a specific chronological period or a particular development. In these ways we are starting to understand more clearly how and why Greek archaeology is as we find it today.

For the past three days at a Synedrio archaeologists from the Hellenic Archaeological Service with significant input from researchers in a number of Greek universities, research centers and societies and archives have put the foundations and development of the Service, the early practitioners, the advent of formal excavations, the creation of public museums and the serious problem of the looting of Greek cultural heritage for personal gain in the “short” 19th century of modern Greece (from 1834-1899) under the microscope. It should be noted that this was a smaller Greece than we know today, as Crete, Macedonia, Thrace and the Dodecanese islands had yet to be incorporated. 

«Περι των Αρχαιοτητων ιδιως. Η Αρχαιολογια στην Ελλαδα του 19ου αιωνα απο τις πηγες του Αρχειου των Υπηρεσιων των Αρχαιοτητων», was organized by the Directorate of the National Archive of Monuments. 61 individuals gave papers based primarily on the documents, telegrams, excavations reports, plans, drawings and photographs in the Historical Archive of the Service located at Psaromylingou 22 on the edge of the Kerameikos and Psyrri Districts. Since 2007 the originals of these materials systematically have been organized, catalogued and digitized. This was done first under the direction of Dr. Metaxia Tsipopoulou and then by her successor and current Director, Dr. Eleni Kountouri.

The papers were organized into a number of sessions: Background Addresses; Archaeological Looting and the Protection of Antiquities; History of Research and Excavations; Archaeological Prosopography of the 19th century; Museums and Collections; Actions of the Foreign Schools, Foreign Archaeologists and Travelers; the Historical Archive and Recent Research. In conjunction with the Synedrio an exhibition of a selection of the archival materials used to prepare the papers was mounted at the Historical Archive. It is entitled, «Ιστοριες επι χαρτου. Μορφες και θεματα της Αρχαιολογιας στην Ελλαδα του 19ου αιωνα».

The Synedrio was overwhelming given the number and the variety of the papers. Of particular interest from a CIG point of view were the papers of Alexandra Charami (Θ’ ΕΠΚΑ) on Tanagra - our synergatis at Eleon, Maria Chidiroglou (EAM) on Karystos - a researcher of the Southern Euboea Exploration Project, and Anthi Batziou-Efstathiou on Thessaly. She is the Proistameni of ΚΕ’ ΕΠΚΑ where we have a synergasia with her colleague Sophia Karapanou at Kastro Kallithea. One hopes that all of these papers will be published promptly in the proceedings of the Synedriou as they will form the basis for further research in many directions. It will also open the minds of other archaeologists of the great potential that archives such as that of the Hellenic Archaeological Service for the “backstory” of many topics.

In my role as the President of the Board of Directors of the Syllogos Filon tou Istorikou Archeiou tis Archaiologikis Yperesias I am very pleased to see this Synedrio and the large and diverse audience it attracted. It is unfortunate, however, that so few non-Greek archaeologists resident in Athens attended such an important presentation of the background to where we find Greek archaeology today.

David Rupp

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Fred Winter Collection

Metope from Temple C at Selinus. From the National Museum at Palermo. (Professor Fred Winter, 1988)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fall Program of Events; First Lecture; Natura2000 sites integrated landscape management

Our Institute is best known for its facilitation of archaeological research by Canadian university-based scholars in Greece. While this is our primary mission it is not our only one. We are also interested in the study of Greece and its culture in the broadest sense through the present using a variety of research methodologies. Related to this goal is fostering the understanding of the nature and extent of relationships between Greece and Canada. This fall we will host three lectures that examine aspects of the recent history of Greece and of Greek immigration to Canada. Central to each of these historical studies is the use of archival sources here in Greece, in Canada and elsewhere. You can find details of our programme (and much more!) on our website: www.cig-icg.gr.

The Canadian documentary film that I promised we would show in the winter is finally available to us this fall. This is “Our Man in Tehran” which reveals the actual events in 1979 involving the Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor which were creatively dramatized in the Hollywood feature film “Argo”.  Stay tuned for further announcements with more details!

The Role of Greece in the Origins of the Cold War

To start our program off, on Wednesday evening, October 22nd at 7:30 PM, James Horncastle, a PhD Candidate at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies in the Department of History at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, will give a lecture. The title is Temperature Falling:  The Greek Civil War and the Origins of the Cold War”.

Horncastle’s research into the events in Greece in the 1940s has revealed many facets that are not part of the historical analysis of this seminal period for the shaping of both contemporary Greece and international relations. Traditional examinations of the Cold War usually encompass any political development in the immediate post-Second World War period until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, the linkages between the Greek Civil War and the Cold War have often been obscured, or portrayed in binary terms, which detracts from the analytical process. Upon critical examination of the available source material, however, it becomes clear that the Greek Civil War was not only the first proxy war during the Cold War, but also the arena where what would become the two opposing blocs defined their own identities. In so doing, the Greek Civil War helped to shape many of the major dynamics of what would become the Cold War.

International Meeting on the integrated management of the landscapes of Natura2000 sites

Last Friday and Saturday the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation organized a two-day International Meeting in Athens and in Stymphalia (Peloponnesos) entitled “Cultural Landscapes in Natura2000 Sites: towards a new policy for integrated management of cultural and natural heritage”. At the request of Gerry Schaus, the President of the Institute’s Board of Directors, I represented CIG at this impressive event. We were invited to participate most likely as the Cultural Foundation has its Museum of the Environment at Stymphalia, overlooking the archaeological site of ancient Stymphalos, which was excavated in the 1990s by a team from the University of British Columbia and Wilfrid Laurier University, and the Cistercian Monastery at Zaraka, investigated by a team from the University of Toronto.

Thirty-eight individuals gave welcoming speeches, chaired sessions and gave presentations in Athens at the Akropolis Museum and at Stymphalia at the Museum. They came from Greece, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, and Morocco. The Hellenic Ministries of the Environment, Energy and Climate Change, of Culture and Sports, and of Tourism, a number of Greek universities, the European Commission, European Environmental Agency, Council of Europe, various departments of UNESCO, UNEP, ICOMOS/IFLA, IFLA Europe, ICCROM, ICOM, AECRC, ICMCL, WWF-Greece, Europa Nostra, ECOVAST, MEDWET, EBRD, ECSP, the British Parliament, and the Republic of Cyprus.  It is a truly alphabet soup of acronyms. The Piraeus Bank and its Cultural Foundation (www.piop.gr) were well represented, of course.

The subtitle of the Meeting was in essence the conclusions of the Meeting in relation to Natura2000 sites. That is that in Europe, at least, there really is not much difference from natural landscapes/heritage and cultural landscapes/heritage especially when the Natura2000 network is taken into consideration. Since this is the case then there should be a comprehensive management plan for these sites that integrates these two intertwined landscapes. Such plans should be sustainable, implementable and enforced while addressing the concerns and aspirations of all of the stakeholders. A tall order, eh!

There was a steady stream of repetition of the central themes and concepts (such as mixed landscapes, ecosystems, biodiversity, linkages, identity, synergies, values, stakeholder engagement, public/private partnerships, communication, education, and training) as well as frequent cross-referrals in the presentations. A number clearly had political agendas behind them. The most notable intervention, both for the enthusiasm of its delivery and the novelty of its message in this context, was given by Barry Gardiner, MP from Brent-North in the UK and the Shadow Minister of the Environment for the opposition Labour Party. His most important point was that the concept of “Natural Capital”  as an asset was absence from the financial calculations in determining economic value and importance in the discussion of the environment and what should be done. He argued that Natural Capital belongs to all people and that individual interest does not have priority over its uses or its development. For the environment and the natural landscapes we are the stewards of the present and the guardians for future generations. Gardiner was the odd man out in the subtext that Natura2000 sites should be open for a wide variety of development and not allowed to be “museums”. I believe that the concept of “Natural Capital” can be matched logically by the concept of “Cultural Capital/Heritage” which is a non-renewable resource that should belong to everyone and be protected accordingly for the present and for future generations.

At Stymphalia the theory met practice. The Museum of the Environment there is most impressive and well worth a visit. The Piraeus Bank is using the restoration of the wider ecosystem of the reed-clogged Lake Stymphalos and environs under the title “LIFE Stymphalia Project” as a model project since 2013 for sustainable integrated management of the natural and the cultural landscapes. To date, however, the archaeological heritage of the valley has been mostly absent from these plans despite the prominence of the ancient city state of Stymphalos’ urban center on the edge of the lake and the Cistercian Monastery remains nearby. During the attendees’ visit to the acropolis of ancient Stymphalos to see the present situation in the lake I argued that these remains should be a core element in their integrated landscapes management plan. The Institute is willing to assist in adding this component to the plans with the cooperation of the Ministry of Culture and Sports.

In retrospect, what stood out most on Saturday were the comments of the Hellenic Minister of Tourism, Ms. Olga Kefalogianni, on “Cultural Tourism”. These were made in the context of the integrated management of the landscape, where a network of regional nodes focused on these extraordinary (Natura2000 sites) and the ordinary (the remainder of Greece) landscapes would foster cultural/archaeological tourism, eco-tourism, gastro-tourism, oino-tourism as well as such activities as birding, trekking and rock climbing throughout the country. This would be a multi-faceted network of nodes to encourage visitors to Greece to venture beyond the few well-known areas of the country.  Earlier this week I happened to see on the internet a brief article reporting a conference in Athens on the “business of luxury hospitality” in the Mediterranean.  Ms. Kefalogianni gave a keynote speech where she said that her ministry was preparing to table a “national zoning plan for tourism” to facilitate the development of high-end resorts featuring state of the art golf courses and marinas and villas along with the luxury hotels. As any golfer knows it is very boring to have just one golf course to play on when you are staying in an area. These proposed gated complexes for the super wealthy of China, Russia, the Gulf states and other regions (along with the “celebrities”, of course) would naturally be in those coastal areas of Greece which have escaped development so far. It is not clear how the stewardship of these natural and cultural landscapes and their protection for the future under the concepts of “Natural Capital” and “Cultural Capital/Heritage” would be integrated into such large scale interventions in the landscape. Henk van der Kamp, the President of the European Council of Spatial Planners, would argue that planning would square this circle.

The meeting was well-organized, there were some stimulating presentations and the attendees were very well looked after. I met many individuals working in Greek, European and international organizations operating on a broader, policy-oriented level relating to the environment per se than that of most archaeological research endeavors here. Given this, however, the interest in the cultural landscape and its formation/transformation over time by many archaeologists working in Greece is much more relevant to its preservation and appreciation today than the numerous “conventions”, “protocols”, “directives” and “treaties” created on a regular basis by technocrats and politicians in comfortable surroundings in pleasant destinations around the world.

Underneath the hype of the ongoing excavation at Amphipolis and the growing prospect of early national elections in the wake of the need to elect early next year a new President of the Hellenic Republic, there are many things happening that have and will affect the future of archaeology in Greece as well as the country’s cultural landscapes and heritage.

David Rupp

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Fred Winter Collection

View of the surviving portion of the Mercati Traianei from the Forum of Trajan in Rome. (Professor Fred Winter, 1988)

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Farewell from Chris!

Over the last 3 years the Canadian Institute in Greece has become such a big part of my life, providing me friends, opportunities, learning experiences, and inspiration.  Sadly my time in Greece is up, and I'm off on a new adventure in a new land.  While I know that the CIG will remain a part of my life after I leave, it's going to be strange not being as directly involved as I was.

I'll never forget the first few lectures that I attended at the CIG, I thought to myself, who wouldn't want to work with archaeologists in Greece?  Then after meeting with David and Jonathan, it was decided that I had some skills that might be useful.  I did some IT/Web work, but the Fred Winter's photo archive was something I felt I could really sink my teeth into.  This project proved to be something that I can really be proud of.  I've both helped get these photos out into the world, and I was even lucky enough to be asked to write a paper for the CIG's latest publication (pretty good for a "non-academic").

I've also been lucky enough to  work on so many more projects with the CIG (as well as other institutes that I met through the CIG), from art shows at both the CIG and other institutes, setting up online broadcasts of lectures, to the highlight of going out on a dig at Kastro Kallithea, these experiences have taught me so much about archeology in Greece both now and thousands of years ago. The CIG has given me many new tools that I will use forever, and it's also connected me with people that I consider to be life long friends.

So after over 3 years I say goodbye, to Greece, to the CIG, and to the many people who made my life in this culturally-rich country so wonderful.

Chris Stewart

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Fred Winter Collection

Doric architrave with garlands and bucrania, from the Bergama Museum. (Professor Fred Winter, 1988)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Ottoman Athens rediscovered; Now, it is "Amphipolitics"!

Athens is a city that most people associate with marble monuments from the Classical period.  Structures from other periods of its long habitation are mostly overlooked by residents and visitors alike. The four centuries of Ottoman rule have left few visible remnants today. The two major reasons for this were the archaeological excavations in the 19th century that took place on and around the Akropolis as well as at other substantial ruins and the policy of destruction in the old city to rid the new capital of the vestiges of the past (including small Byzantine churches) that were not part of the grand historical narrative crafted by the recently established monarchy and its western European supporters to link the present to the glories of the “Golden Age” of ancient Greece.

Professor Dimitris N. Karidis (National Metsovian Polytechneion University) will give a lecture on Monday, October 6th at 18:30 entitled «Αρχειακές πηγές για την Οθωμανική Αθήνα». In his lecture, in Greek, he will trace his thirty-year investigation of the various archival sources for the study of Athens, its town plan and its buildings during the Tourkokratia. In the process Karidis’ research has revealed the general nature of the Greek towns during this period and that of Athens, in particular. These town planning developments of the city can be read from different perspectives. Karidis’ lecture will open one’s eyes to this now hidden past of our city.

This is the first lecture of the 2014/2015 Lecture Program of the Syllogos Filon tou Istorikou Archeiou tis Archaiologikis Yperesias. The lecture will take place at the Istoriko Archeio at Psaromilyngou 22 on the edge of the Kerameikos and Psyyri districts of the city. The Theseio Train Station is the closest access.

Amphipolis, what else?

It is now next to impossible here to talk to a non-archaeological friend or to a doctor who knows that you are an archaeologist without each asking as series of pointed questions concerning the intriguing monument being excavated at Amphipolis in northern Greece. Almost every newscast and most morning gossip/fashion/cooking shows feature what passes as the latest findings from the excavation. The assertions concerning this monument are becoming more fantastic, approaching in some cases the “true stories” of the tabloids. The latest discovery of fragments of a marble door that must be associated with the doorway at the end of the third chamber reinforces the possibility that this is indeed a Macedonian-style tomb as opposed to some other type of monument.

Personalities, politics and national identity are frequently central to this reporting. Our colleagues and friends at College Year in Athens / DIKEMES are organizing a discussion on this aspect of the controversy in their annual lecture series. The “lecture”/discussion on Wednesday, October 8th at 19:00 is entitled “Amphipolitics: digging up the past to deal with the present”. The presenters are Professor Dimitris Plantzos (University of Athens) and Dr. John Karavas (CYA). Plantzos at least has been speaking recently at various venues in Athens on the circus around the Amphipolis excavations, the selected use of aspects of Greece’s past and the excavation’s potential impact on the future of Greek archaeology. This should be a most interesting presentation on a very “hot topic”. So if you want to know the backstory on this unfolding Greek drama this event is for you!

Keep visiting the “CIG Blog” and our comprehensive “Calendar of Events (kept current by Jonathan) to stay up to date on what is happening in Athens and beyond relating to archaeology, the past in Greece and Canada-focused events.

David Rupp

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014

Welcome Sarah! Amphipolimania surges ever onward

This past weekend Sarah Rolko arrived in Athens to spend three months at the Institute as the Schaus Intern from Wilfrid Laurier University. Sarah is the fourth WLU undergraduate intern to hold this position. A second year Classical Archaeology major she has excelled in her academic work. This summer Sarah participated on the Brock University Archaeological Practicum digging for six weeks at the Minoan town at Gournia in eastern Crete. Her professional goal is an advanced degree in Museum Studies so that she can become a museum curator.

While here Sarah will undertake the inventorying of the Library’s collection and the continuing digitization of the Institute’s Archives. You’ll have a chance to meet her at the CIG events this fall and lectures at other venues. So please welcome warmly Sarah to the Athenian archaeological community!

Amphipolimania is alive and kicking

In the past two weeks there has been a relative lull in the official reporting of the “finds” from the excavation of the tomb within the tumulus at the locality of Kasta at Amphipolis. This is due to the fact, the public is told, that the third chamber’s structural integrity is uncertain and so internal support must be erected and various unspecified conservation measures are undertaken. In addition, the sediment of the tumulus over the chambers is being removed by large scale mechanical means. In the meantime, the clearing of the second chamber continued, revealing the full height of the Karyatids. Images of them with emphasis of various details are omnipresent in the media.  Fragments of their missing arms supposedly were found below them. This discovery along with blocking walls with holes in them and sediment filling the chambers suggests looting at some point in antiquity.

This lack of new significant information has not stopped the “Amphipolimania”, however, in the newspapers, on TV and in the various social media. Various hashtags relating to the topic are “trending” for sure on Twitter. In fact, the manner of the excavation of the tumulus, who might have been buried there, is it really a burial monument, the date of the construction, the purpose(s) of the government’s direct intervention into the excavation and the media coverage, and the monument’s potential meaning(s) for the identity of the Greek nation are all heated discussions that have taken on lives of their own, regardless of any “hard facts” or “solid evidence” produced by the excavation itself. This is like a Greek “dramedy” TV serial that has been kept alive desperately for a few more seasons long after the original plot lines had reached their logical conclusions. The excavation itself, who might be buried there and the personalities involved have become the butt of numerous political cartoons, limericks, mandinades , satires and social media “discussions”.  There are even advertisements on TV using the tomb and who might be buried in it as grist for the sales pitch. And finally, there are conspiracy theories circulating about what has been found but “hidden” from the public for various ulterior motives.

The monument is increasingly seen in some sectors of Greek society as a metaphor for what is being argued as the end of the economic crisis that has afflicted the country since 2009. In this context the monument at Amphipolis is presented as the symbol of hope for a regeneration of Greece. Related to this is the persistent belief among many Greeks that Alexander the Great has some direct relationship to this monument.

Many archaeological colleagues continue to make comments in TV and newspaper interviews as well as in the social media on both the possible date of the tumulus and who might have been buried there. Given how little we really know about what has been found so far (except for limited number of images of the architectural details and the sculpture) it can only be pure speculation on the question of the date of construction.  As no sherds, metal vessels, coins or other artifacts have been referred to, let alone any reference to floor deposits in the chambers, one can only resort at the moment to stylistic arguments from known architectural monuments and preserved works of sculpture. Plausible archaeological arguments are best constructed from multiple lines of evidence which corroborate each other in a “best fit” manner.  So these expert comments are often like doctors, psychologists or psychiatrists diagnosing from afar on TV or in the newspapers the illness or mental state of someone in the news from pictures and/or anecdotal accounts about the individual and what s/he has done or suffered. The professionalism and motives of such a practice are open for debate.

In my previous blog I lamented on the lack of direct public discussion on the purposes of archaeological research in the modern Greek nation as well as on crafting a coherent national long-term strategy for the preservation and the stewardship of Greece’s rich and diverse cultural heritage. The intense focus on the excavation of one exceptional monument is not conducive to a thoughtful examination of the cultural heritage management policies for a non-renewable cultural resource. I spoke too soon about the silence relating to the larger questions. In one Saturday newspaper four archaeologists were asked about their views on the stewardship of the country’s cultural heritage. A Greek archaeologist teaching in England was interviewed in another newspaper on his opinions concerning the possible meanings of the project. On this past Saturday night two archaeologists from the Union of Greek Archaeologists and a professor in the University of Athens archaeology section addressed the implications of this excavation as a model of archaeological research as well as its impact on the future of Greek archaeology and how the public perceives what archaeologists do. From all of this, however, there is no broad consensus. Given the severe cuts to the budget of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sport, the calls for the privatization of cultural heritage management continue to mount: http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite4_1_24/09/2014_543162.

This fascination with the tumulus is certainly indicative of a deep interest in the history of their country by many Greeks. The problem is that the general public does not understand what are the purposes of archaeological investigations as well as the methodologies employed to recover data toward these goals beyond the fixation on the uncovering of spectacular “museum quality” finds in “National Geographic moments” and the “star” agents of the past. The textbooks used in Greek schools to teach students about the past and its study certainly do not present the roles that archaeological research plays in constructing historical narratives of the country.  This may be one of the reasons the excavation of the tumulus has rekindled a romantic pre-20th-century view of antiquities and how they might be used in public discourse.

It seems obvious that archaeologists working in Greece – Greek and foreign – need to make a greater effort to educate the public on all levels and at every opportunity on what are the goals and methods of archaeological research and how the findings of this research can be used to elucidate aspects of the past, as well as the inherent limitations of this knowledge.  Unfortunately, too many people just want “the unchanging truth” about the past strung out in Twitterable sound-bytes, not in the ambiguities and the fluidities of archaeological evidence. This popular tendency to seek out the ephemeral and the fantastic about the past must be responded to in a proactive and positive manner by archaeologists and historians alike in the public discourse concerning cultural heritage issues.

David Rupp

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Fred Winter Collection

Standing columns from the Temple of Zeus at Euromos. (Professor Fred Winter, 1988)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Canadian Content Galore in Athens and beyond! More Change at CIG


Canadian Content I:  Greek Premiere of the Canadian Film “The Grand Seduction

This evening, the 19th, at 20:00 at the Danaos I Cinema (Λ. Κηφισίας 109 - ΜΕΤΡΟ Πανόρμου) is the Greek Premiere of the 2013 Canadian film “The Grand Seduction”. This is the latest work of director Don McKellar whose earlier efforts (Last Night, Red Violin, The Adjuster, Existenz, and Blindness) have received much acclaim over the years. This delightful, widely-praised “dramedy” (http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-grand-seduction-2014) written by Ken Scott and Michael Dowse is set in fictional “Tickle Head” Newfoundland and stars Brendan Gleeson and Taylor Kitsch. It had its world premiere last September at the Toronto International Film Festival. McKellar will be at the screening to discuss the film and to answer questions afterwards.

This premiere is part of the 20thNychtes Premieras” Athens International Film Festival (www.aiff.gr) that runs from September 17th through the 28th. The cost of a ticket is just 6 Euro! The Canadian Embassy in Athens has helped to bring the film and its director to Athens.  Metaxia and I hope to see you there tonight!

Canadian Content II:  Historical Novel Presentation by the Canadian Author W. Ruth Kozak

On Wednesday, September 24th the Vancouver based author and travel writer, and frequent visitor to Greece, W. Ruth Kozak (www.ruthkozak.com) will present her newly-published historical novel at 18:30 at the Athens Centre (48 Archimidous Street) in Mets. The work is entitled Shadow of the Lion: Blood on the Moon (volume 1 of 2) and it is published by MEDIAARIA CDM of Bristol, UK. The book is available through Amazon.com.  The e-volume version will be out in 2015 and the second part (The Fields of Hades) will be published in 2016.

As the first part is set in the after-shocks following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC this novel presentation is perfectly timed to enhance the “Amphipolimania” that has engulfed Greece. Go and meet the engaging author and learn who she thinks is buried in the Tymbos at Kasta near Amphilpolis! She will be in Athens and Greece until October 8th.

Canadian Content III:  Margaret Atwood at the Megaro Mousikis

How can it be that two Canadian authors are featured on the same evening in Athens? Well, when it rains it pours, so to speak, eh! Also on Wednesday evening, the 24th at 19:00 in the Dimitris Mitropoulos Hall of the Megaro Mousikis will be a conversation between the Booker Prize winning Canadian novelist, poet, literary critic and environmental activist Margaret Atwood (http://margaretatwood.ca/) and the well-respected Greek journalist Thanasis Lalas. They will examine the theme “Dystopias and the Greek influence on them.”  The discussion will be in English with simultaneous Greek translation.  This is part of the Megaron Plus series (http://www.megaron.gr/default.asp?pid=5&la=1&evID=2146) .  The Canada Council for the Arts and the Canadian Embassy are co-supporters of the event. While entrance is free, you will have to go to the Megaron Mouskis beforehand, starting at 17:30, to pick up an entrance pass. It should be noted that the seating is limited.

Canadian Content IV:  New exploration of the Antikythera shipwreck site using Canadian technology

In 1900 sponge divers from Kalymnos discovered in the deep water off the coast of Antikythera the now famous 1st-century BC shipwreck which had the “Antikythera Mechanism” on it along with many marble and bronze statues probably intended for Rome. The wreck has been revisited since then several times. A new project by marine archaeologists from the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities is about to begin with the assistance of a marine archaeologist from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the United States (http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite4_1_16/09/2014_542935).

The key component of the planned exploration will be the use of what is called the “Exosuit”. This is a cast-aluminum rotary joint atmospheric diving system (ADS) designed and built by Nuytco Research Ltd. in North Vancouver, BC for diving and working longer up to 350 m below sea level (http://www.sea-technology.com/features/2013/1213/1.php).

The Institute knows Antikythera well as it was surveyed by Canadian team from Trent University in cooperation with the 26th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities. Further, a team from McMaster University worked as well with our Greek colleagues in the Underwater Ephorate on the Underwater Survey of Kalamianos Harbor on the Saronic Gulf.

The CIG Blog has moved!

As of this iteration, the famous CIG Blog will only be posted on our revamped and enlarged CIG website (where you are now).  The old residence, www.cig-icg.blogspot.gr, will be retained as the Archive of the all of the invaluable blogs posted between January, 2011 and early September, 2014. Moving forward to serve our members and supporters!

David Rupp