Friday, February 27, 2015

We know what you ate a few millennia ago! Lecture rescheduled

This coming Wednesday evening, March 4th will be the second lecture In the Athenian Friends’ Association of CIG winter program. Dr. Calla McNamee will give a lecture entitled Grounded in Practice: Changing Bronze Age Subsistence at the Site of Mitrou, East Lokris”. Calla is in Athens this year as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Wiener Laboratory for Archaeological Science, at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. She is a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Calgary.

Until recently, the reconstruction of subsistence practices in the Aegean has relied heavily on the recovery and identification of charred macrobotanical remains from site contexts, typically from storerooms. This type of reconstruction provides us with an understanding of the foods present at an archaeological site, but it is heavily dependent on specific circumstances of preservation and does not inform us directly about food processing or consumption. Her lecture is focused on the use of another type of evidence: starch grains and phytoliths. Commonly preserved on grinding implements, these microbotanical remains provide a means to identify not only which staple resources were processed at a site, but also to reconstruct practices employed in the preparation of these resources.

Calla’s talk provides a background on microbotanical residue analysis and presents the results of a pilot study of starch grains and phytoliths extracted from ground stone artifacts recovered from the prehistoric site of Mitrou, East Lokris. The occupation of Mitrou spans from the Final Neolithic to the Late Protogeometric period and provides an uninterrupted archaeological sequence that encompasses the rise and decline of Mycenaean palatial society and the subsequent transition from urban centre to rural community. The pilot study of Mitrou ground stone tools demonstrates the ability of starch grain and phytolith research to enhance our understanding of not only Bronze Age resource processing, but the relationship between subsistence practices and socio-political organization.

The moral: don’t clean your ground stone tools after use!

The lecture will begin at 7:30 pm in the Library of the Institute.

Lecture Rescheduled

In case you have not received a message or seen the announcement (physically or electronically), Lana Radloff’s lecture that had to be canceled on February 18th is now rescheduled. The new date of her lecture, entitled Ideology, Identity and Power: Harbor-Agora Connectivity at Hellenistic Miletos”, is on Wednesday, March 11th at 7:30 pm in the Library of the Institute.

We look forward to seeing you at both lectures. If you can’t attend in person you can always watch the livestreaming of them at

David Rupp

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Fred Winter Collection

Temple of Mars Ultor in the Forum of Augustus at Rome. (Professor Fred Winter, 1988)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Ancient Eleon Awaits You Tonight

I am very pleased to announce that the ongoing excavations at ancient Eleon (modern Arma) in eastern Boeotia conducted under the aegis of the Institute will be the subject of a lecture this evening.  Professor Brendan Burke (University of Victoria) along with his co-director Professor Bryan Burns (Wellesley College) will discuss the results of four years of excavation on the acropolis at Eleon. Their Greek synergatis is Dr. Alexandra Harami of the Ephorate of Antiquities in Thebes. The lecture, entitled “The Mycenaean Age and its endurance at ancient Eleon in Boeotia”, is part of the 2014/15 Aegean Lecture Series organized by the Aegeus – Society for Aegean Prehistory and the Swedish Institute at Athens.

Brendan will provide an overview of the excavations at Eleon and discuss the substantial architectural remains and associated material culture probably from elite dwellings that date from the LH IIIB2 through IIIC middle periods. Beneath these layers there is evidence of LH I/II and Middle Helladic activities.  The discovery of a tower, ramp and gate associated with the late 6th century BC Lesbian-style polygonal wall very visible on the eastern side of the hill has added another interesting dimension to the project. As these later remains are built partially on top of the 13th-century BC Mycenaean fortifications it appears that this “Heroic Past” was consciously memorialized architecturally in the late Archaic period. The rich votive offerings around the ramp and within the walls suggest the presence of a sanctuary most likely to a female deity.

The lecture tonight the 20th is at 19:00 at the Swedish Institute at Athens at Mitseon 9 in the Makriyianni District. The Akropolis Metro Station is just a five-minute walk away. Please join me in learning more about the latest discoveries of this Institute project.

David Rupp

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Fred Winter Collection

The great stoa from the Letoon at Xanthos. (Professor Fred Winter, 1987)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Two Lectures and a Symposium

For the next five days there are many tasty intellectual treats to tantalize the discerning archaeologists and fellow travellers residing in Athens. The themes of these events range from Minoan Crete, to Hellenistic Miletos, to the conservation of old photographs in the Historical Archive of the Hellenic Archaeological Service

The Harbor and Agora of Hellenistic Miletos

Let’s start with the Institute’s Lecture on Wednesday, the 18th at 7:30 pm in the Library of the Institute. Lana Radloff, this year’s Homer and Dorothy Thompson Fellow at CIG, is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Classics at the State University of New York at Buffalo. During her fellowship in Athens she is undertaking research for her doctoral dissertation. Her lecture entitled Ideology, Identity and Power: Harbor-Agora Connectivity at Hellenistic Miletos” will examine one aspect of this study.

Sacked by the Persians in 494 BC, Miletos was rebuilt on a regular orthogonal grid, prospering once again in the 4th century BCE and Hellenistic period, when extensive building took place around the Lion Harbor and North and South Markets. Coinciding with the rise of the Macedonian kingdoms after the death of Alexander the Great, the fact that building focused on harbors and marketplaces demonstrates their fundamental role as physical spaces. In order to establish Asiatic cities as military and economic power bases, Alexander’s successors exchanged royal patronage for civic goodwill at cities such as Miletos. Consequently, urban environments became a mechanism for negotiating socio-political relationships between the Hellenistic kings and the local inhabitants. In terms of connectivity, Radloff views the agora and the harbor as liminal spaces that function as nodes within the ‘maritime cultural landscape,’ connected with each other, the broader settlement, sea, and outside world. Drawing on scholarship from urbanism, the maritime environment, and social space theory, she will examine the harbor-city matrix of Hellenistic Miletos in order to explore the physical relationship between the agoras at Miletos and the role its harbors played as nodes of connectivity and separation in the negotiation of socio-political relationships within the city and between the city and the outside world.

And you thought that you knew everything about Miletos!

Prepalatial and Protopalatial Petras Revealed

This weekend at the Danish Institute in Athens will be the Second International Symposium on the excavations and study at the archaeological site of Petras outside of Siteia in eastern Crete. Those of you who follow this blog religiously will know that this is where I spend a part of summer digging. The excavations and this Symposium are organized by Dr. Metaxia Tsipopoulou, Director Emerita of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture. The Symposium’s subject is “Petras – Siteia. The Pre- and Proto-palatial Cemetery in Context.” There will be 24 papers given by international experts in Minoan studies. These papers will discuss both the different classes of evidence recovered during the excavations of the Petras cemetery as well as similar evidence from contemporary cemeteries in eastern Greek. In this way important comparisons will be made as well as to highlight the contrasting differences among the Minoan settlements.

Besides papers by Dr. Tsipopoulou one can hear Professors Philip Betancourt, Carl Knappett, Yiannis Papadatos, Efteris Planton, Ilse Schoep. Sevi Triantaphillou, James Muhly, Heidi Dierckx and Giorgos Vavouranakis; not to mention Gerald Cadogan, Anna Simanddiraki-Grimshaw, Thomas Brogan, Eleni Nodarou, Efi Nikita, Olga Krzyszkowska, Alesandra Giumlia-Mair, Evi Margaritis and David Rupp.

The lectures will begin on Saturday the 14th and Sunday the 15th at 09:30 and end around 19:30 each day. The Danish Institute is located in the Plaka District on Plateia Ayias Aikaterinis at Herefondas 14.

Conserving Old Photographs

The 2014/15 Lecture Program of the Syllogos Filon tou Istorikou Archeiou tis Archaiologikis Yperesias continues this coming Monday, the 16th. There will be a lecture by Manto Soteropoulou, an archaeological conservator in the Directorate of Conservation in the Ministry of Culture. In her lecture in Greek entitled «Η συντήρηση των φωτογραφιών στο Ιστορικό Αρχείο της Αρχαιολογικής Υπηρεσίας στη Διεύθυνση Εθνικού Αρχείου Μνημείων κατα το ετος 2009» she will explore the process of the conservation of old black and white photographs that have been damage in various ways. She under took this work at the Historical Archive in 2009. A collection of photographs taken in the 1970s of the neoclassical style houses of Athens had been damaged while in storage before the Historical Archive was set in its present specialized building at Psaromylingou 22. The lecture is at 18:30 at the Historical Archive on the cusp between the Kerameikos and Psyrri Districts. The Thesion Train Station is the closest Metro. Come and learn more about what happens at an archive!

So, if the harsh Athenian winter is getting you down and you have done your Carnaval thing, then warm up your mind by attending these lectures and the symposium.

David Rupp

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Fred Winter Collection

The Karyatid porch of "St. Pancras-in-the-Erechtheion" in London. (Professor Fred Winter, 1988)

Friday, February 6, 2015

The CIG 2015 Road Show

Last Friday at this time my wife Metaxia and I were flying back to Montreal from Victoria, BC. The previous Friday we were in Calgary and three Fridays ago we were in frigid, snow-covered Montreal. What a 19-day adventure in spreading the word about the many significant achievements of the Institute via a series of lectures in western Canada!

This is the second year in a row that I have gone to Canada to give lectures about the work of the Institute. Once again the hard work and generosity of the Canadian ambassador to the Hellenic Republic, Robert Peck, made our trip possible. The universities where I gave the lectures gave significant support as well. Mr. Steve Mirkopoulos of CineSpace Film Studios in Toronto was very kind to support Metaxia’s intra-Canadian travel expenses.

We started in Montreal where my wife gave an excellent introduction to Minoan civilization sta gallika to a large audience. This was the first lecture of a series of six for the general public relating to the art and artifacts of the travelling exhibition entitled “The Greeks: From Agamemnon to Alexander the Great” that opened in December at the Pointe-à-Callière museum. In the later spring it will move to the Museum of History in Ottawa. It has an impressive assortment of objects, many of which have never been seen outside of Greece before. While there I had a chance to meet again Claude-Sylvie Lemery, the Director of Communications and Marketing at the museum, who had visited the Institute in November.

Besides our jovial host Jacques Perreault (Université de Montréal) serving as our guide we had a chance to see the amazing Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal with its curator of ancient art John Fossey. John, while at McGill University, was the first director of the Institute and held the Institute’s first archaeological field work permit from the Ministry of Culture in the early 1980s.

My first lecture was in Winnipeg at the University of Manitoba to the local A.I.A. Society. My lecture has two parts. The first describes the nature of the Institute, the facilities and activities in Greece and our relationship to the Hellenic Ministry of Culture. The second, larger part describes the results of our five current archaeological fieldwork projects. In honor of our visit to this famously cold city, the temperature was +1 C instead of -45 C! Nevertheless, from our hotel room we could see people skating on the frozen path along the Red River. Mark Lawall, Lea Sterling, Matt Maher (former Fellow), and George McKinnon made our stay most memorable. The inevitable Greek diaspora gave the reception afterwards a touch of home.

In Edmonton Margriet Haagsma made us work very hard. I gave two lectures (one on the mid-12th-century BC settlement at Halasmenos in eastern Crete) and Metaxia one (on her 30 years of excavation and study of the Minoan palace, settlement and cemetery at Petras outside of Siteia in eastern Crete) at the University of Alberta. I was interviewed about CIG for a podcast and we met grad students at a pizza lunch organized by Gino Canlas, a former Fellow. Sandra Garvie-Lok and her Ph.D. student Hillary Sparkes joined us to talk about some old bones we all knew. The members of the department and their students were most congenial.

In Calgary the mild weather we encountered in Edmonton continued. As a result almost all of the snow had melted before we left. Since all of the colleagues I had known in the department had retired, we met the talented next generation of scholars who had recently been amalgamated with religious studies.

Our hosts in Vancouver Kevin Fisher and Sheri Pak (my former students at Brock University) showed us the sights and views of the city. We immediately fell in love with the city and its setting. Hector Williams gave us an insider’s tour of UBC’s Museum of Anthropology - the setting, the architecture and the extensive collections impressed us greatly. We had never seen so much Northwest coast aboriginal art and artifacts. Again we did our three lectures. To PHAROS, the Hellenic Canadian Cultural Association, I gave my Institute lecture. To Professor Fisher’s graduate course in Cypriot archaeology I presented my Halasmenos lecture. And to the Vancouver A.I.A. Society Metaxia gave her Petras lecture. All lectures were very well attended.

We then climbed the mountain to Burnaby, BC, where Simon Fraser University is located. Our host John Pierce showed us the breathtaking campus and Dave Burley showed us the Department of Archaeology’s amazing archaeological labs. As SFU is a new institutional member, my lecture on the Institute introduced them to who we are and what we do in Greece. Their Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography added to our knowledge of the rich and diverse aboriginal cultural heritages of this province.

The last stop was a 24-hour sojourn in Victoria, BC. Before the lecture in the evening we were able to visit the extensive exhibitions of the Royal BC Museum and have lunch with my old colleagues from Brock University Noel and Laura Robertson. Our host at the University of Victoria was Brendan Burke. A large audience attended the lecture co-sponsored by the Classical Association of Vancouver Island. In the daylight UVic must have a very attractive campus.

To cover all this ground we were constantly on airplanes. We sampled the tasty beef steaks of Alberta and Manitoba as well as the incomparable salmon of British Columbia. Our conversations with our dining companions were wide ranging and most stimulating. Many of our conversations revolved around the Institute’s work and how it could serve a larger constituency. We gained insights into the current state of tertiary education in Canada, the high quality of the undergraduate and graduate students and the interesting personal lives of our colleagues. May our hosts and audiences have gained as much from us and our lectures as we have from each of them. I hope that the Institute will make these lecture tours by the Director a regular tradition.

Now it is time to immerse myself in the “normal” program of the Institute for the winter and spring in Athens. I hope that I’ve convinced CIG supporters in western Canada to watch our lectures via livestreaming as well as to follow this blog!

David Rupp

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Fred Winter Collection

"Megara" from Heinrich Schliemann's great trench at Troy II. (Professor Fred Winter, 1988)