Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Internship in Athens

I started my internship at the Canadian Institute in Greece in mid-January. When I arrived I was welcomed with rather chilly weather, easing my transition from Canada. It soon warmed up, and I got used to the routine and living in Athens. I was introduced to Jonathan Tomlinson and David Rupp and the current fellow, Sarah Nash. I was welcomed warmly and started my work feeling at ease and hopeful for my three months in Athens.

During my internship at the Institute I had three main tasks, the first of which I spent my first two weeks accomplishing. I was in charge of cataloguing books and helping out in the library. Although this is a common task an intern will have, I had never done it before and learned a lot of new skills. My second task was helping out with preparations for the Institute’s upcoming sale of duplicate books by organizing and cataloguing books and periodicals, and my third was to organize the Institute’s archive room. Working with the archives was interesting to me because I became familiar with permit and application procedures. I learned more about the administrative work behind excavations through organizing documents and going over a variety of corespondence letters. I enjoyed my work at the Institute because not only was I able to learn and explore new skills, I also benefited greatly from the lecture series hosted by the Institute. The lecture series was bi-weekly and ranged from topics about Roman sculpture to Haida weaving techniques. In addition to the Canadian lecture series I attended lectures at a variety of other international schools in Athens. This allowed me to learn about other scholars’ research and projects, but also interact with other archaeologists and make new friends (Darts night helped solidify some of these relationships)

My internship was an amazing experience for me due to the fact that I was able to travel almost every weekend to places all over Greece. I went on these trips with some amazing people I met from the other international schools. Some of the most notable places that I visited were Rhodes, Meteora and Thessaloniki. At each of these places I visitied the key museums and archaeological sites, and I also tried their local foods. I had been to Greece in the past, but was not able to go to these places, and it was truly an awesome expereince to be able to this year. I hope to come back and visit some places that I didn’t get the chance to see during this stay. Greece has so many nice places to visit and explore!

I also was able to explore Athens in a different way than I was ever able to in the past. I explored different districts of Athens and went to local restaurants and cafes. I also visited a variety of smaller museums and sites that are not as touristy as places in the center. Living in a city for a few months provides a different experience than simply visiting as a tourist for a short time. A longer stay allows one to learn the language better and get to know what life is like for Greeks in the city. Athens has felt like home these past few months, and there’s more to see next time I visit.

Even though I am very sad my stay at the Canadian Institute is over and I am leaving Athens, I am very thankful for the experience I had. I especially want to thank Jonathan and David for helping make my stay enjoyable and helping me with the work at the Institute. I also want to thank all the people I have met here for helping me have some of the best three months and giving me memories I won’t forget.

“So far has Athens left the rest of mankind behind in thought and expression that her pupils have become the teachers of the world, and she has made the name of Hellas distinctive no longer of race but of intellect, and the title of Hellene a badge of education rather than of common descent.” (Isocrates, Panegyricus, 50)

Esther Knegt
University of Waterloo

Friday, December 25, 2015

A Romanist in Athens...

I first found out that I was the recipient of the Neda and Franz Leipen Fellowship during an excursion to the British Museum with the Institut für Klassische Archäologie München. I had come to see Munich as the perfect fit for me, both personally and professionally, and I was honestly worried about finding the same sense of purpose or belonging elsewhere. Turns out that I was wrong to worry, because moving to Athens has undoubtedly been one of the best decisions of my life. By taking up residence at the Canadian Institute in Greece (CIG) – one of seventeen foreign archaeological institutes in Athens – I have had the privilege to become part of an active and inspiring community of international scholars, and in this respect alone, there is never a shortage of things to see or do. Whether attending a lecture by a renowned scholar, visiting a museum or archaeological site with fellow enthusiasts, or even just heading to the Red Lion for ‘darts night’, I feel that my time in this academic community has so far been both rewarding and fun. The atmosphere in Athens is incredible and the Greeks I have met warm-hearted and generous, and I look forward to integrating myself more into the local culture.

I would like to share here a little bit about my academic work and experiences since September. Having just barely acquainted myself with Athens, I already needed to return to Germany for the Darmstädter Diskussionen: 7. Interdisziplinäres Doktorandenkolloquium zu antiken Kulturen, where I presented on executions of condemned criminals staged as mythological dramas in the Roman arena. Such executions are of interest to me as a parallel, but contrasting phenomenon to the mythological portraiture I am researching for my dissertation. In the talk, I wanted to focus on a certain paradox in mythological executions: that the condemned were cast not merely as monstrous or reviled figures, but even as some of the most revered heroes in the Roman world. Overall, I argued that whenever the condemned is cast as a ‘hero’, the mythological narrative is supplied with a striking an unorthodox plot twist which has the effect of ‘distancing’ the malefactors from this virtuous mythic identity. Figures such as Orpheus, Daedalus and Hercules, for instance, all have certain divinely-sanctioned rights which allow them to exceed the normal bounds for human behaviour, to even stare death in the face and yet survive unscathed, but which are of course denied to the average mortal. The condemned “actors’” inevitable failure to exercise these same rights, and to fulfill their dramatic roles, can only result in their death. Overall, the manner in which the condemned are executed symbolizes that they are by no means exempt from human and divine laws, and so must suffer for their transgressions accordingly. I found the conference in Darmstadt a unique and laid-back venue for doctoral students to discuss their research and receive feedback, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Of course, I could not resist stopping at the Oktoberfest to drink a Maß (or three) on my way back to Athens…

I have been focused on several academic and personal goals since returning to Greece. As a PhD student specializing in visual culture from Rome and its environs – something which I often get flack for in Athens, even if jokingly – I want to use this opportunity to broaden my horizons. Despite my seemingly incurable case of wanderlust, I am actually exploring numerous of Greece’s major archaeological sites and museums for the first time. Whether heading to Sounion to check out the temple of Poseidon and then sleeping under the stars, or to Epidaurus to visit the sanctuary of Asklepios and then testing the acoustics of the theatre, I feel that I am finally acquiring a firsthand understanding of the monuments and topography of Greece. I have also travelled to Eleusis, Brauron, Thebes, Eleon, Napflio, Mycenae, Delphi, Meteora, Aegina, and Santorini… but the most memorable moment for me was in Thessaloniki, when I saw the Derveni Krater. This exquisite volute krater is adorned with scenes of Dionysos and Ariadne, along with satyrs and maenads in ecstatic frenzy.

Another personal goal I have set for myself this year is to learn some (Modern) Greek. I have therefore been taking lessons at the Athens Centre, with the wonderful Eleni as my instructor. Although I have a long way to go, so far learning Greek has been an interesting and rewarding experience for me. My time at the CIG has also allowed me to familiarize myself with the day-to-day operations of this research institute, and with the Canadian projects in Greece which the CIG endeavours to support. In addition to assisting in the library, I have been working on the ‘Portal to the Past’, which is a digital archive of our archaeological projects and research.

Most notably, the Neda and Franz Leipen Fellowship allows me to conduct research at world-renowned institutes for classical studies, such as the British School Library and the Blegen Library of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Since coming to Athens, I feel that I have able to focus and refine the research questions and methodologies for my dissertation “Portraits of Romans as Hercules and Omphale”, which has opened up some new avenues of inquiry for me. I suppose that the crux of my overall argument, so far at least, is this. Since the ancient textual sources invariably offer Hercules and Omphale as a negative exemplum for male and female behaviour, scholars tend to interpret images of Hercules and Omphale in a negative light, or even as Augustan counter-propaganda against Marcus Antonius and Kleopatra. I prefer, rather, to situate images of Hercules and Omphale within the Hellenistic iconographic tradition of “disarming love”, as yet another expression of the power of Eros. In terms of the mythological portraiture, Hercules and Omphale – as a symbol for 'the power of eros’ – were suitable models for spouses in an era which witnessed first of all a positive re-evaluation of eros in marriage, and secondly of andreia (i.e. ‘manliness’) in women, both of which contributed to harmonia between husband and wife. There were, however, clear limits to this identification; there is a deliberate avoidance of connotations seen to undermine Roman patriarchal values, and – in the end– a socially acceptable iconography for the portraiture was never adequately formulated. Portraits of men and women as Hercules and Omphale therefore remained exceptional in Roman visual culture as a whole.

I feel extremely fortunate to receive this fellowship and to experience so much in these short few months in Athens. I cannot neglect to mention the people at the CIG who have made me feel so welcome here. I would like to thank David for all his support, and for generally “putting up with me” (haha); Jonathan for making the office an enjoyable place to work, and for introducing us to the Red Lion and Excalibur (because a medieval castle with a dragon is always cool); and Tony for his endless encouragement (and fresh oranges of course). I would especially like to thank Vicki and Lauren for their friendship and for all our crazy adventures together – Athens will not be the same without them in the New Year, but I look forward to the times to come at the CIG!

Sarah Nash
Leipen Fellow, CIG

Friday, December 18, 2015

Holiday Recess

The eventful year 2015 is fast drawing to a conclusion and the unknowns of 2016 await us. At 13:00 today we are closing for our annual Holidays Recess. The Institute’s Office and Library will reopen on Monday, January 4th at 09:00. It should be noted that on Wednesday, January 6th we will be closed for Epiphany.

Only Metaxia, Romanos and I will be guarding the home fires here in Athens, as Jonathan and Amelie are spending the holidays in the UK, Sarah will be in Munich, and Vicki heads back to Ontario for her final semester at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Early in January we will send out the Institute’s Winter/Spring Lecture Program and the Program of Events of the Athens Association of Friends of the Institute. Both programs are full and varied.

We wish our members, friends and supporters a wonderful holiday season and we hope that the New Year will bring positive feelings, desired productivity, and good health to all!

Xaroumenes yiortes kai Kali Xronia!!!
David Rupp

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Saxon Architect Ernst Ziller as Greek Archaeologist

The German architect Ernst Ziller (1837-1923) is noted for designing over 500 buildings in Athens, Piraeus and elsewhere in Greece. He first came to Greece in 1859 to assist the Danish architect Theophilos Hansen on the Academy of Athens building project financed by Baron Sinas. As with others from northern Europe he quickly fell under the aura of “Classical Greece”. In the course of his long career in Greece from 1869 onward his buildings were the catalyst for the formation of the “Neoclassical Style” in later 19th- and earlier 20th-century Greek architecture.

Ziller was an excellent draftsman and artist. He visited ancient sites (the Akropolis, the Classical Agora, the choragic monument of Lysikrates, the temple at Aphaia on Aigina) to make detailed architectural drawings in order to understand ancient Greek architecture. To learn even more he also conducted excavations. In order to reconstruct the Panathenaic Stadium on the Ilissos river bank he excavated the hollow there between 1862 and 1864. In the theater of Dionysios Eleutherios he also worked in order to determine its architectural form.

The Archive of the National Art Gallery has the architectural drawings of Ziller. Dr. Marilena Kassimati a well-known researcher at the National Art Gallery will give a lecture on Monday, December 14th entitled, «Ο Σάξων αρχιτέκτων Ερνέστος Τσίλλερ ως "αρχαιολόγος" της πρώτης ώρας στην Αθήνα». Ziller’s interest in antiquity was not sterile and pedantic, or indifferent to his era’s requirements, but, on the contrary, exceeded his conventional role as an architect and approached antiquity to gain tangible results. Dr. Kassimati’s lecture based on the Ziller Archives will explore most of his research projects in archaeology. The Botosakis Foundation is sponsoring the videotaping of this fascinating lecture.

For this lecture sponsored by the Syllogos Filon tou Istorikou Archeiou tis Archaiologikis Yperesias the venue will be the National Archive of Monuments’ Amphitheater at the corner of Ay. Asomaton 21 and Psaromylingou 21 on the cusp of the Kerameikos and the Psyrri Districts. The Theseio train station is the closest stop on the Metro system. The public is most welcome!

David Rupp

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Fred Winter Collection

Belevi mausoleum, partly finished Corinthian capital (Professor Fred Winter, 1966)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Canadian Movie Night and Kick Off to the Holiday Season

The now famous “Canadian Movie Night” of the Athens Friends’ Association of CIG will take place on Wednesday, December 9th at 19:30 in the Library of the Institute. As in the past the Canadian Embassy has assisted us in obtaining the 2013 Canadian film “The Grand Seduction” directed by Don McKellar. This film was shown last September at the Athens International Film Festival.

The film is about a dying Newfoundland fishing outpost community of Tickle Head mounting a wild scheme to draw a petroleum byproducts factory to save the unemployed inhabitants from dispersal. For this to happen it needs 250 residents and a full time doctor. It's a remake of "Seducing Doctor Lewis", a French Canadian movie. The Grand Seduction stars Brendan Gleeson as Murray, Taylor Kitsch as Dr. Paul Lewis, Liane Balaban as Kathleen and Gordon Pinsent as Simon. The Grand Seduction is in the same genre as “Billy Elliott”, “The Full Monty”, “Waking Ned Devine” and “Brassed Off”. As Roger Ebert observes, “for a supposedly feather-light comedy, "The Grand Seduction" is unusually interested in the fate of traditional labor in a cruel global economy. The town's deception of Paul has a metaphorical dimension—all over the world, communities are rejecting their proud pasts and adopting new identities to survive—but it's one that's never emphasized at the expense of laughs and sentiment.” I saw the film last year and it brought many smiles and some sniffles as the convoluted plot unfolds with some brilliant acting. This will be an excellent portion of “Canadian Content” to slake your hunger temporarily for things so far away in True North!

Our December Friends’ Association event is also the time of our annual holiday season reception afterwards. Jonathan will prepare his special mulled wine, Sarah and Vicki will fix even tastier nibbles and Xristougenniatika glyka will complete the celebration. We will also say fond farewells to Vicki Newson as her three-month internship comes to an end the following week, alas.

David Rupp

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Fred Winter Collection

Didyma, three sofa capitals from wall-piers of great walled court, or adyton (Professor Fred Winter, 1966)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Fred Winter Collection

Miletos, Harbour Ave., reassembled Ionic top drum, capital and entablature (scroll-frieze) (Professor Fred Winter, 1966)

Friday, November 13, 2015

When West met East and Archaeology at the University of Athens

In the 7th and 6th centuries BC ancient Laconia was a vital part of the Greek world in terms of cultural activities and of artisan production. The region had trade connections with the islands of the eastern Aegean, the Asia Minor coast and as far east as Lydian Sardis.

This coming Wednesday, November 18th, Professor Gerald P. Schaus (Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University) will give an illustrated lecture entitled “Laconia and East Greece: Cultural Exchange in the Archaic Period”. He will explore some of the cultural connections between the not so far west and the not so far east. Focusing on similarities in pottery decoration in the context of other archaeological materials and contemporary literary sources Schaus will highlight the Laconian influences on East Greece, especially Samos, in the Archaic period. This was not a one way path as there is evidence for itinerant East Greek craftsmen visiting and working in Laconia.

This Institute lecture will be held in the Library at 19:30. On this occasion we will thank Gerry warmly for his years of devoted service and exemplar generosity to the Institute as Treasurer and most recently as the President of the Board of Directors, a position that he retires from at the end of the month.

The first 100 years of archaeology at the University of Athens

The study of archaeology was a core subject in the School of Philosophy from the founding of the University of Athens in 1837. Combined with classical philology, ancient history and philosophy these disciplines formed the foundation on which the concept of the national past of modern Greece was constructed.

On Monday, November 16th at 18:30 Professor Vangelis Karamanolakis (University of Athens) will give a lecture entitled «Αρχαιολογία και εθνικό παρελθόν στο Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών (1837-1937)». In his lecture Karamanolakis will examine the strategies, the methods and the equipment used by the professors in the first 100 years at the University to teach why and how archaeological research should be done. These were utilized to construct an artificial ideology for the Greek nation to describe its past and to project this vision into the present and into the future.

This provocative and enlightening lecture will be held at the Historical Archive of the Hellenic Archaeological Service at Psaromylingou 22 on the cusp between the Kerameikos and the Psyrri Districts. The Theseio Station is the closest station.

The Syllogos Filon tou Istorikou Archaeiou tis Archaiologikis Yperesias is sponsoring this lecture as part of their 2015/2016 Lecture Program. The public is welcome.

David Rupp

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Fred Winter Collection

Priene, temple of Athena, flank cornice-and-sima block with palmette and scroll pattern (Professor Fred Winter, 1966)

Friday, November 6, 2015

Farewell Ambassador Robert W. Peck

On Friday, October 16th Robert W. Peck concluded his four year posting in Athens as the Canadian Ambassador to the Hellenic Republic. While serving as our ambassador he was also appointed as the non-resident High Commissioner of Canada to the Republic of Cyprus. How fast the four years seem to have gone! Bob was an active, enthusiastic and strong supporter of our mission in Greece and our activities. He attended our lectures and events as well as visiting our archaeological fieldwork projects. Bob made sure that visiting dignitaries from Ottawa would visit the Institute as part of their familiarization program about Greece. Often when I meet someone here in Athens who is not connected with the Institute he or she has said that Ambassador Peck has already told them all about the excellent work that we are doing!

Much of what we have accomplished in public outreach over the past four years – both here in Greece and in Canada – has been facilitated by his active lobbying, skillful diplomacy and financial support. The CIG Portal to the Past (www.portal.cig-icg.gr) came about as an initiative from him to raise our profile in Canada and beyond. My two lecture tours to Canada were again with his encouragement and financial assistance. Certainly in the past four years under his leadership here we have had a strong and warm synergasia with the Embassy staff.

Shortly after his departure from Athens last month he wrote an OP ED piece for the online English edition of the Kathimerini newspaper. It is worth reading as he highlights his four years here promoting Hellenic/Canadian relations and Canadian interests in Greece: (http://www.ekathimerini.com/202678/opinion/ekathimerini/comment/an-ode-to-hellas).

Bob and his wife Maria have returned to the “home office” in Ottawa for the next year at least. We look forward to their frequent visits to Athens and to the Institute in the future. Sas efharistoume therma yia ola!!!

David Rupp

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Fred Winter Collection

Sardis, temple of Artemis, view through original cella area E to opisthodomos & E columns (Professor Fred Winter, 1966)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Fred Winter Collection

Sardis, temple of Artemis, tops and capitals of standing E columns (Professor Fred Winter, 1966)

Friday, October 23, 2015

CIG Excursion to Boiotia and Site & Museum Ticket Prices to Rise

The Institute has had a special interest in the archaeological heritage of Boiotia since its beginnings in 1976. Our first archaeological fieldwork project in 1980 was at Khostia in western Boiotia under the direction of Professor John Fossey (then McGill University). Later Professor Duane Roller (then Wilfrid Laurier University) conducted research at ancient Tangara on the border with Attika. This relationship continues today with the Greek Canadian excavations at ancient Eleon above modern Arma.

It has been some time since we have organized an excursion for our members and friends. To end this drought Jonathan and I have organized a trip into darkest Boiotia for Saturday, November 7th. The itinerary starts with a visit to the new Archaeological Museum in Thebes. We will be shown the new exhibits in this museum, which has yet to be opened to the public, by Dr. Alexandra Harami, the Director of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Boiota and the Director of our synergasia at Eleon. Her colleague in the Ephoreia, Dr. Yiannis Fappas, will assist. Afterwards we will have a chance to see some of the excavations of the Mycenaean palace and settlement on the Cadmeia within the modern city of Thebes. A taverna lunch will follow.

The final stop on the excursion will be the Greek Canadian excavations at Eleon. Professor Brendan Burke (University of Victoria), the Co-Director of the project, will guide the group. After five years of excavation there are two areas with substantial domestic structures dating from Late Helladic IIIB to the end of IIIC. The “Blue Stone” structure is a large rectangular burial monument dating from Late Helladic I. Sondages have revealed Middle Helladic remains below. The most visible feature of the acropolis is a curving wall of polygonal masonry that dates to the late Archaic period. Associated with it are a series of gates that utilize the remains of the Mycenaean wall and gate of the acropolis. There is ample evidence in the form of terracotta figurines and miniature vessels for a shrine or sanctuary somewhere in this area of the site.

The bus for the excursion will leave from the foot of Gennadiou and Vas. Sophias in Kolonaki at 9:00 am sharp. The expected return is around 17:30. It should be noted that for the Eleon visit there is a walk of ca. 100 m upslope over slightly uneven ground. Further, if it has rained recently the ground on the path and at the site may be muddy. Be prepared!

The cost of the excursion (excluding the lunch in Thebes) is 20 € for members of CIG and the Athens Friends’ Association of CIG. For others the cost is 30 €. As the seating on the bus is limited don’t delay in making your reservation by sending an email by Friday, October 30 to ad@cig-icg.gr. For further information: (09.00-13.00 weekdays). We look forward to you joining us!

Price of the Tickets to Greek Archaeological Sites and Museums to Rise

All I seem to write about are references to the economic crisis that has engulfed this country since 2010 and the various efforts and measures that have been implemented to surmount this very difficult situation for Greece. For those of us who live in Greece permanently this is central to most discussions we have and the TV news programs that we watch. The Hellenic Ministry of Culture has been affected in various ways from cuts in its operating budget to fewer archaeologists and guards in the ephoreias and museums. As a result some sites and museums are now operating with reduced opening hours or even remain closed.

The constant search for revenue by the new government in the past month has reached the country’s archaeological sites and museums. This month the Central Archaeological Council recommended to the Minister of Culture to raise the prices of tickets during the tourist high season from April 1st until October 31st for the 30+ most popular sites and museums (whose hours during this period run from 08:00 to 20:00). Thus, the ticket for the Akropolis (and the South Slope Archaeological Park) will go from 12 € to 20 €. The site of Mycenae will rise from 8 € to 12 €. The Minoan palace at Knossos will go from 6 € to 15 €. The National Archaeological Museum and the Herakleion Museum, now 7 €, will go to 10 €. It is reported that for the winter season the prices will be reduced by 50% and there will be free admission on the first Sunday of every month. There has been a proposal as well that those individuals with free entrance passes to sites and museums from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture pay at least 1 € for each entrance.

The increasing numbers of tourists visiting Greece are seen as a deep well for a part of the revenue needed by the state to fulfil its substantial financial requirements under the Memorandum negotiated with the “quartet” this summer.

David Rupp


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Fred Winter Collection

Pergamon, general view toward Bergama and Kizil Avlu and telephoto of Kizil Avlu from Lower Agora area (Professor Fred Winter, 1966)

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Creation of the Archaeological site at Delphi and the "other" Santorini

When we visit most archaeological sites in Greece the tendency is to imagine that they always looked like the way they are now. In many cases, however, these ancient settlements and sanctuaries were buried under later buildings and traditional settlements. The Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi is one such example. Until the excavations began in 1891 a village called Kastri sat on top of the buried ruins. Over the years the Hellenic Archaeological Service and the French School have laid bare the remains of the temple, buildings and monuments of this famous panhellenic oracular sanctuary.

On Monday, October 19th at 18:30 Athanasia Psalti (Director, Ephoreia of Antiquities of Phokidos) will give a lecture in Greek on the history of the excavations from the point of view of the Greek archaeologists who worked there, the Ephoreia’s conservation efforts at the site and of the finds as well as the modern uses of the ruins through World War II. Psalti will weave the local, everyday “histories” related into the bigger archaeological picture. Her study of this “Great Excavation” is drawn from the early archives now in the National Archaeological Museum and those of the Ephoreia which are preserved since 1900. This research is made possible by the digitization of these archival sources.

The lecture is the first of 2015/2016 Lecture Program of the Syllogos Filon tou Istorikou Archeiou tis Archailogikis Yperesias. The lecture will be held at the Historical Archive Building at Psaromylingou 22 on the cusp between the Kerameikos and the Psyri Districts. The Theseio train station is the closest stop in the Metro system. The public is welcome!

The “other” Santorini

Almost anyone living in Greece, and especially Athens, for the past five years could not have failed to see the devastating effects of the economic crisis brought on to a large part by the high level of public debt, ineffective tax collection, and mediocre political leadership. The economic medicine forced on the country by the then “troika” and now the “institutions” often seems to exacerbate the situation rather than lead the country to renewed growth and prosperity. Greater tourism is often heralded here as the economic driving force that will create the much needed jobs, encourage sought after development and generate the increased tax revenue for the country. The rich and diverse cultural heritages of the country along with the inherent beauty of Greece’s varied natural landscapes and seascapes are frequently argued as what draws tourists to the country. But is “industrial scale tourism” really a long term answer to creating a vibrant, sustainable national economy that safeguards the cultural heritage and the environmental capital of Greece? Are there better alternatives?

Recently my wife and I joined a specialized tour to the island of Santorini where we saw the effects of year-round “industrial-scale tourism” (as the permanent residents call it) on the island’s fragile, unique environment. Even in mid-October Fira and Oia with their repetitious commercialism are overwhelmed with both individuals and large groups while the other regions of the island and their attractions have a different experience. What could be a more sustainable, more culturally focused and more widely distributed forms of tourism? The four interrelated themes of the tour were Greek cuisine utilizing exclusively local and regional agricultural products, Santorini wines and wineries, the production and the processing of traditional local agricultural products, and the rich cultural heritage of the island – archaeological and traditional.

What we saw were a series of widely-distributed local nodes – focusing on the cultivation and processing of local agricultural products (fava, Santorini tomatoes, white melitzanes,  pistachios, indigenous Assyrtiko, Athiri and Aidani grapes, wild capers, candied fruits, Chloro cheese), wineries and wine tasting (Boutari, Santos, Sigalas, Canava Roussos), the industrial heritage of the island (D. Nomikos cannery), creative cuisine  and cooking lessons (Selene, 1800, Vassilios, Krinai, Psaraki), archaeological sites, museums and churches (Akrotiri, ancient Thera, Archaeological Museum, Museum of Prehistoric Thera), folk heritage (Santorini of the Past) and traditional settlements (Pyrgos, Finikia, Megalochori) – that formed a flexible network that lies mostly beyond the sprawl of the two tourist towns on the edge of the caldera.

These nodes have been created by individuals, cooperatives and companies with visions for both celebrating the island’s traditional strengths and in preserving them in a sustainable fashion. Other companies have developed to provide tours and transport to these disbursed locations. You can also connect the nodes on your own by following the extensive network of marked trekking trails or by renting a bicycle. In the process they have created jobs (especially for the younger and the older components of the work force and for those who want to remain on the island), they are preserving the fast-disappearing agricultural land, they have made worthy, often unique value-added products for local consumption and for export, and they have provided a holistic context for understanding and appreciating Greek culture – past and contemporary – for the visitors to this country. If this imaginative trend of creating local nodes of interest (beyond the limit of the well-known “sun and sea” mentality) were duplicated on the other islands of the Cyclades then a broader network of small networks would be created. These in turn could be linked to similar local and regional networks in the other diverse geographical regions of Greece. In this way the tourists to the country could be enticed away from just visiting the often overcrowded usual “top 10” attractions. Such a small country, but it has such diversity. The potential for a sustainable economy with these small networks is palpable.

With these many interesting possibilities in mind one can now imagine picturesque Santorini as more than a view of the caldera amongst the tourist shops or watching the sunset at Oia with thousands of day trippers from the cruise ships. The rest of Greece can be like this too with imagination, cooperation, effort and support from the state!

David Rupp

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Fred Winter Collection

Pergamon, road up from altar going past Ruler-cult sanctuary (Professor Fred Winter, 1966)

Friday, October 9, 2015

A "Must See" Temporary Exhibition at the National Archaeological Museum

The ongoing (and never ending?) economic crisis that has befallen Greece has had many ripple effects here. One of them is the significant reduction in the operational budget of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture. One visible manifestation of this is the near absence of special exhibitions mounted at the museums here in Athens. It seems that only foreign museums will have “blockbuster’ Greek art exhibitions. A notable exception to this unfortunate pattern is a recently-opened gem of a temporary exhibition at the National Archaeological Museum (8 September 2015 – 8 October 2016). It is entitled “a dream among splendid ruins…”: Strolling through the Athens of travelers, 17th – 19th Century. This fascinating and eclectic display of 22 original illustrated books, drawings, paintings and other illustrative materials from the 17th through 19th centuries from the library of the Hellenic Parliament is melded effectively with 35 seldom-seen marble sculpture fragments from the National Museum’s ample storerooms which were found in the course of the 18th and 19th centuries around and on the Akropolis mostly.

The items in the exhibition serve to highlight the ancient monuments of the “Golden Age” of Athens and the exotic sights that the wealthy European travelers, products of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, came to see here on their “Grand Tour”. The exhibition is organized as five broad “imaginary strolls” that the travelers could have taken on the Akropolis and then around the area of the ancient city of Athens. To enhance the sense of atmosphere created by the displays there is a musical soundtrack playing in the background with European compositions from this broad era and transcriptions of traditional Greek folksongs. It ends with a glimpse into how the Hellenic Archaeological Service approached the tasks of organizing the antiquities found by chance and by excavation in the 19th century and then their display in a specially-built National Archaeological Museum. The recreation of one of the late-19th-century display cases of the National Museum with some of the gold and bronze objects from Mycenae indicates how far museology in Greece has come since the creation of the modern Greek state in 1832.

The substantial bilingual (Greek/English) exhibition catalogue is a must purchase at only 12 € (and there is a 30% discount for archaeologists with a free-entrance Museum and Site Pass from the Ministry). The contents cover the rationale for such an exhibition, the image of Athens in modern European visual culture, the background of the five strolls, the museological and museographic designs behind the exhibition, the conservation of antiquities in the exhibition, the sources of the musical accompaniment in the exhibition space and the historical imagery in the Photographic Archive of the National Archaeological Museum. Then there is the Catalogue of all of the items in the exhibition. Each essay is well-researched with full references and a rich bibliography.

This exhibition and its catalogue represents a succinct and stimulating introduction to the topography and monuments of Athens as well as the reasons why increasing numbers of travelers from western European, starting in the 17th century, came to seek the roots of western civilization here. The how and the why exhibitions are mounted is introduced too. In short, one should definitely see the exhibition even if you have no other pressing reason to visit the National Archaeological Museum with its old chestnuts.

If you missed the equally excellent exhibition on the Antikythera mechanism, the remnants of it that are not in the current travelling exhibition are still on view in a room off the entrance foyer of this new exhibition.

So head to the National Archaeological Museum to see this compact and compelling exhibition and then visit one of your favorite galleries to reacquaint yourself with some old friends. Finally, we eagerly await other imaginative exhibitions which rescue artifacts and art from their imprisonment in the storerooms of the museums of Athens.

David Rupp

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Fred Winter Collection

Olympia, Echo Stoa, Ptolemaic columnar monument at N end (Professor Fred Winter, 1966)

Friday, October 2, 2015

Bravo Dimitri Nakassis!!! Book Presentation for our Friends

This week the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced its so-called “Class of 2015” MacArthur Fellows (https://www.macfound.org/fellows/class/2015/). These highly sought “Genius Awards” are given each year to 24 individuals in North America (and occasionally in other countries) to pursue their innovative research and creative muses for five years, supported by a grant of US$625,000. This year Professor Dimitri Nakassis (Department of Classics, University of Toronto) is one of the deserving recipients (https://www.macfound.org/fellows/940/). He is the only awardee from a Canadian university this year.

Dimitri is well known at the Institute serving as the Co-Director with Professors Scott Gallimore (Wilfrid Laurier University) and Sarah James (University of Colorado at Boulder) of the Western Argolid Regional Project or WARP, one our independent survey permits from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture. In 2014 he gave the Invited Lecture at our Annual Open Meeting on his ground-breaking research into the Linear B tablets found at the Palace of Nestor at Pylos in Messenia. The MacArthur Fellowship will allow him to expand the scope of this investigation to other archives. Further, it will support the project in which he is a lead researcher that is undertaking the high resolution digitalization of all of the known Linear B tablets.

On behalf of the Institute and its members I extend enthusiastic congratulations to Dimitri on this prestigious award! His achievement makes us proud. We look forward to his lecture in the Institute’s Winter/Spring Lecture Program when he will be in Greece as part of his current sabbatical leave.

Book Presentation and Reading

Our first event of the fall for the Athens Association of Friends of the Institute is coming this Wednesday, October 7th at 7:30 PM in our Library. It will take the form of a book presentation and selected readings from the book.

Taking fifteen years to write, Shadow of the Lion: Blood on the Moon is Volume One of an epic story set in the aftermath of the death of Alexander the Great in Babylon in 323 BC and the bloody Wars of Succession. This is W. Ruth Kozak’s debut literary novel which chronicles the journey westward of the newly appointed joint-kings, Alexander’s half-brother Philip Arridaios and his infant son, Iskander (Alexander IV).

W. Ruth Kozak is a Canadian travel journalist with a strong interest in history and archaeology. A frequent traveler, Ruth lived for several years in Greece and instructs classes in travel journalism and creative writing for the Vancouver School Board in British Columbia.

The novel was extensively researched in Greece, with the support of Classical scholars, the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, the Society of Macedonian Studies (Thessaloniki), and the Finnish and Norwegian Institutes in Athens. Further research was undertaken in the Gennadius Library and at the British Library in London.

We look forward to seeing you all again on Wednesday after the long summer hiatus. You’ll have a chance to meet and welcome Sarah and Vicki our new Fellow and new undergraduate intern!

David Rupp

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Fred Winter Collection

Olympia, Leonidaion, panoramic view of remains (Professor Fred Winter, 1966)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Canada honoured 14 individuals for their contributions to Canada-Greece relations; the Canadian Embassy in Athens has moved; A New Government

At the beginning of the summer, now almost three months ago, Canadian Ambassador Robert Peck invited 14 individuals along with their family members and friends to a special ceremony at the new Chancery of the Canadian Embassy in Greece in Halandri, north of Athens. On the occasion of Canada Day, July 1st, the Embassy of Canada honoured on June 29th individuals who had made important contributions to Canada-Greece relations. Ambassador Robert Peck awarded “Maple Leaf Citations” and a special West Coast aboriginal (Haida) silver-plated ladle in a handcrafted red cedar box to each honoree drawn from the world of business, academia, education, the arts and the Canadian expatriate community (https://business.facebook.com/CanadainGreece/posts/391718757705143).

Five of those recognized have had close relationships with the Institute through our Athens Friends Association. They are Constantine Katsigiannis, Don Matthews, Ian Miller, Efthalia Constantinides and the late Ion Vorres. They were part of the group which kept the Institute going in the dark months in the mid-1990s and provided funds for the purchase of our first apartment on the third floor at Dionysiou Aiginitou 7.  We have worked with Professor Mary Koutsoudaki (University of Athens) and with Kathryn Lukey-Coutsocostas (Friends of Canada) to create events for our Friends Association. Further, Chris McClinton is a regular attendee at our lectures and events. Vassilis Sakellaris (TourGreece and the Official Representative for Air Transat) donated my transatlantic airline tickets for my first lecture tour in Ontario and Quebec two years ago. And finally, I too was recognized for the Institute’s programs and archaeological research in Greece over almost four decades.

The ceremony concluded with Ambassador Peck announcing officially that his posting to Athens will end this fall. While expected after four years as ambassador Jonathan and I as well as the Institute are saddened at his imminent departure. Robert Peck has been an active, enthusiastic and strong supporter of our mission in Greece and our activities. Much of what we have accomplished in public outreach over the past four years – both here in Greece and in Canada – has been facilitated by his active lobbying, skillful diplomacy and financial support. Sas efharistoume therma!!!

At the reception afterwards, the honorees and their friends told stories and remembered those not present who had made significant contributions to bringing Canada and Greece closer and to fostering close relationships with individuals from both countries. It was an appropriate way to celebrate Canada Day in advance!

New Canadian Embassy in Halandri

In late June the Chancery of the Canadian Embassy in Athens moved from its familiar location at Gennadiou 4 in Kolonaki to Ethnikis Antistaseos 48 in «lower» Halandri, an inner suburb of Athens. It is next to the Embassy of Japan. The new Embassy is accessible by various bus and trolley routes from central Athens. What I saw of the new premises was impressive! By going to the Embassy’s website, www.greece.gc.ca, you can learn how to get there and how to contact the various departments.

A New Government

Life in Greece for the past three months has been dominated by the prolonged and tense negotiations of the previous leftist Sy.Riz.A. government with the so-called “institutions” over what became the third Memorandum of Understanding, the imposition of the asphyxiating “Capital Controls” in early July, the Referendum that followed on to “Grexit” or not, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ last minute signing of the new Memorandum, the mutiny of the “Left Platform” of his party over this abandonment of their “Thessaloniki Program” from last September which ensured their election on January 25th, and, finally, the calling of the snap national election which was held on September 20th with Sy.Riz.A. coming out on top over Nea Demokratia and seven other smaller parties but not with a majority in the Parliament. The previous coalition of Sy.Riz.A. with the right wing Anexartitoi Ellines party was immediately renewed to create a slim ruling majority of 155 seats out of 300. Given that they coalition is the same, as well as most of the ministers and deputy ministers (some in different ministries), many in the social media have called this new government just a government shuffle by election. All of this has been the “Amphipolis of 2015”, at least from a TV programming point of view!  The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sport has been separated once again from Education and Religious Affairs as it was in the previous government. The new Minister of Culture is Aristeidis Baltas. He was the Minister of Education before this shuffle. We look forward to working with him and his team in the Ministry.

While all of these political and economic developments were happening the Greek islands in the eastern Aegean were increasingly overwhelmed by refugees and economic immigrants coming from Turkey by any means possible (too frequently with tragic results) to escape the fighting and terror in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Later the various squares and parks in central Athens have become a temporary, crowded open-air way station on their intended journey to northern Europe and a hoped-for new life.

After a difficult winter, spring and summer, the consensus here is that what Greece needs now is mature leadership, stability, the implementation of the mandated reforms, development and optimism.

David Rupp