Friday, July 31, 2015

My Personal Odyssey

In the art of storytelling, many scholars can agree that the tale of a hero’s journey has been one of the most common themes in the Ancient World; the protagonist embarks on a new journey and undergoes a number of tasks to reach his\her goal.  From Odysseus’ “homecoming”, to Akhilleus’ strive for “eternal glory”, oral tradition has provided the modern world with some of the best examples of heroes who achieved their goals through perseverance, despite their long journey.  From my experience as an undergraduate student, I believe that students share a similarity with these heroes in their academic journey from they day they begin their program in post secondary studies, to the day they graduate. As Odysseus’ journey to Ithaca changed a number of times for the hero, the academic path of a student is no less different.

My name is Christina Ioannides and I was selected as the Summer 2015 Intern Student here at the Canadian Institute in Greece from the beginning of May to the end of July. I am a fourth year Hellenic Studies undergraduate student at York University, and I learned about the Canadian Institute in Greece’s internship opportunity through York International, a department at the university which is in charge of the study abroad opportunities for its students.  During my stay here at the CIG, I was assigned a number of different tasks that included clerical work around the library, as well as some archive work with the Institute’s “Portal to the Past” project.

Looking back at the work I have done so far as the intern, the project that was the most educational and enjoyable to work on was the “Portal to the Past” archive project. As a Hellenic Studies major, the archive work was not only an educational project, but also an interesting one as the content of the files were from previous, or ongoing fieldwork studies.  In these files were images, documents, reports, and newspaper clippings that related to the project, and my job was to make sure that the files from the physical archive were also present in the digital one.  In addition, I was able to have a closer look at the original images taken at these sites as well as read through many of the survey reports, which were quite informative and interesting.   I also came across a number of documents from the Ministry addressed to the Institute, which were mostly written in Modern Greek, and was able to get a better understanding as to what is required for the Institute and survey team to proceed with a study in Greece.  Yet another exciting task assigned to me while working with the CIG was assisting with the Institute’s open meeting in May.  Not only had I the opportunity of listening to an intriguing lecture on Hominids in Naxos by Professor Carter, but I was also able to interact with other professionals who specialized in my studies.

Further to my work with the CIG, I was encouraged to explore Greece as much as I could to add to the experience of interning abroad. I am proud to say that I did in fact monopolize my free time to do so, and visited a number of museums, as well as different regions of the country.

Overall, my experience in Greece with the Canadian Institute is one that I will never forget, and I am very grateful that I was given the opportunity to be a representative of York University. I would like to take a moment to thank the Director and Assistant Director of the Institute for giving me this fantastic opportunity to work with the CIG for the past three months. The internship not only gave me a great opportunity to experience work in an archive first hand, but also help me decide which direction I should take for further academic studies. I have certainly learned a lot while being here, and will apply what I’ve learned to my studies.

Thank you once again for giving this Greek-Canadian from the Diaspora the opportunity to learn on a whole different level.

Christina Ioannides

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Fred Winter Collection

Philippi, capital from Forum Basilica (B) (Professor Fred Winter, 1962)

Friday, July 24, 2015

East Crete 2015 Realities

If it is July, then I am in eastern Crete digging at Petras in Siteia. This is the fourth year of Metaxia Tsipopoulou’s permit from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture to excavate the pre- and proto-palatial Minoan house tomb cemetery on the Petras – Kefalla hill overlooking Siteia Bay.

On many levels this year’s project is similar to the previous ones. There is an international team of 14 archaeologists (undergraduate and graduate students mostly from Greece, Canada, the US and Spain), two osteoarchaeologists (from the University of Thessaloniki) and one architect/GIS specialist (from the US) along with eight local workmen who assist with the heavy work. After two weeks of digging there are five concentrations of bones from secondary burials dating from Early Minoan III through Middle Minoan IIA. Portions of previously discovered and new house tombs are coming to light. I have finished off after almost three years of excavation an Early Minoan IIB ritual deposit in a large room. In the 12th century BC a complex was built over a portion of the ruins of the house tombs. This year more evidence was revealed on the architectural details of the so-called Late Minoan IIIC “megaron” and of feasting activities in this complex. In the remaining weeks we have high hopes for important discoveries and information to assist in answering the many questions that are outstanding about the cemetery.

Canadian Content

Most years at Petras, our son Romanos (as excavator) and I are the only Canadians on the project. This summer, however, we have the pleasure of three more Canucks. At the moment they are all working in adjacent trenches in the southwest corner of the site in the “Canadian Sector”. Metaxia’s lectures in Canada in January on Petras enticed them to come to Crete this summer for this adventure.

An Alberta native, Sydney Patterson is a graduate student in the Department of Classics at the University of Alberta in Edmonton with Professor Margriet Haagsma as her supervisor. With a B.A. and M.A. from the U of A she has dug at the Institute's excavations Kastro Kallithea in Thessaly and Cortona in Italy. Her interest in mortuary archaeology is her principal reason for joining us.

Dr. Alexandra (Alex) Lesk and Dr. Paul Blomerus have travelled with their two sons and “aunty” all the way from Vancouver for another one of their “digging vacations”. Alex dug with Metaxia and me at the Late Minoan IIIC settlement at Halasmenos (near Ierapetra) in 2001. Since 1994 she has dug at the Athenian Agora, ancient Corinth, ancient Halai, Troy and in Rome. With an undergraduate degree in Classics from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati she “loves being a dilettante” on her holidays from teaching Latin and ancient civilization at West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver. Her husband Paul is “an archaeologist by marriage”. They met when they were graduate students at Oxford. He has joined her at the Athenian Agora, ancient Halai and Troy. With his Ph.D, in mechanical engineering he has created a 3D digital reconstruction of the Erechtheion on the Akropolis in Athens. He works for a very understanding Vancouver company, West Port Innovations, which specializes in converting vehicles to run on natural gas. If working long, hot hours five days a week on an excavation is not enough Paul gets on a rented bike with his riding togs and does the “Tour de la Crète Orientale” with Alex driving the team vehicle behind him.

East Crete Realities

The above is the usual “archaeological normal”. The summer of 2015 in Greece, however, is by no means normal or what its citizens surely want for themselves and their children. The unending melodrama over the past six months with the present government’s attempts to come to an agreement with the “institutions”, the distinct possibility of a “Grexit” from the Euro and the introduction of a new national monetary unit and now “capital controls” along with banks closed for almost a month has created a heavy atmosphere of uncertainty, gloom and fear. Public infrastructure works have stopped and the stores have few customers. Who would have thought that in the 21st century a European country would suffer this unsettling economic experience? The inability of excavation projects to pay for their weekly expenses via cash because of the extreme withdrawal limits in place has made already stressed project directors even more so. Web banking at the moment offers the only hope to transfer funds between accounts.

Last week the award winning documentary “Agora: From Democracy to the Market” ( by the well-known director and journalist Yorgos Avgeropoulos was shown in Siteia at its simple outdoor theatrical area by the port. This showing was very timely as it unravels the origins of the present economic and political crisis in the 1990s and how the country ended up where it did in late December, 2014. All of the well-known Greek and European “actors” and some lesser known had their say. Which of them, if any, told the “truth” in front of the camera?

If all of this was not enough on Wednesday morning as we started to dig at 7 am we saw a small animal transport ship pulling what looked like an old “water taxi” from the Bosphoros straits being escorted into the Siteia port by a Hellenic Coast Guard vessel. These two vessels were packed with 189 refugees fleeing from Syria via Turkey. As they had thought that they would be delivered to Italy for the exorbitant amount of money that they had paid to the human traffickers, most refused to disembark. Many on the project joined local citizens in donating basic supplies and food to them. Their final destination is unknown at this point.

Ironically, that evening there was a “body theater” production by the Cretan “Killing the Fly” company ( entitled “Angeliki” with three “physical actors” and some props. It dramatized with few words, some music and mostly stylized body movements the memoire of a young Greek girl, Angeliki Matthaiou, and her family from Smyrna who were caught up in the chaos after the catastrophe in Asia Minor in the early fall of 1922 when Kemal Ataturk’s army pushed the Greek occupation forces into the sea. Their tragic experiences and gross mistreatment as refugees before the formal exchange of populations must have been very similar to those huddled on the decrepit boat just 100 m away. What does the past inform us about the present, let alone the future?

What will the fall bring to this country?

Kalo Kalokairi
David Rupp

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Fred Winter Collection

Isaura, burials beside the road up to the Main Gate (Professor Fred Winter, 1957)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Fred Winter Collection

Isaura, Acropolis Gate, arched outer opening and one jamb of arched inner opening of court (Professor Fred Winter, 1957)

Friday, July 10, 2015

My Fellowship at the CIG

It has been an honour to be the Homer and Dorothy Thompson fellow at the Canadian Institute in Greece (CIG) for the 2014-15 academic year. My fellowship at CIG allowed me to engage in full-time dissertation research in some of the best Classical libraries in the world: the Blegen Library of the American School of Classical Studies and the British School Library. In my dissertation, “Mechanisms of Power and Control: the Role of Harbor-City Interaction in the Socio-Political Dynamics of Hellenistic Asia Minor,” I conceptualize harbors as similar socio-economic, political, and religious spaces as agoras. By examining the spatial relationship between agoras and harbors, I elucidate the function of harbors within urban planning and assert that they were used as a mechanism for negotiating socio-political relationships between the Macedonian kings and the residents of Hellenistic cities. I use Miletos, Priene, and Pergamon as case studies to answer such questions as: how did the maritime environment reinforce and reflect cultural, political, and religious ideologies? In what way did the harbor function as a liminal space mediating communication networks between the asty, chora, and eschatia, other key sectors of urban life (industrial, religious, and residential), and the larger Mediterranean world? How did the links between maritime and terrestrial space facilitate and/or prevent interaction between Hellenistic kings, and local Anatolian, Greek, and Macedonian residents, and their claims to power and control?

While in Athens for the last year, I not only moved forward my research, but also had the opportunity to present my research at international conferences, such as the EAA in Istanbul, TAG in Manchester, and the Tombros Conference at Pennsylvania State, as well as my lecture at the Canadian Institute in Athens. At all of these occasions, I received invaluable feedback that was driven by current research trends and often offered by experts in my field of research. Through these conferences, as well as discussions and lectures within the Athenian academic community, I am confident that I have grown as an academic and broadened my approach to my research, which would not have been possible without this fellowship opportunity.

As part of the CIG team, along with Jonathan, David, and the interns – Sarah, Tessa, and Christina, I have been able to take an active role in Canadian archaeological endeavours in Greece. My first involvement with CIG and Canadian archaeology was as an undergraduate in 2005 through participation on the Institute’s Kastro Kallithea project in Thessaly, a joint collaboration between the University of Alberta and the 15th Ephorate in Larissa. I have continued to be part of the Kallithea team and am proud to participate and support Canadian archaeological projects. As a M.A. student, I expanded my involvement in Canadian archaeology in Greece as a Brock University intern at CIG in 2010. My internship only heightened my interest in the field and my desire to maintain participation in Greek-Canadian archaeology as I began a Ph.D. at the University at Buffalo, SUNY in 2011. Consequently, when the opportunity arose to apply for a fellowship at CIG, I applied in anticipation of being part of the team once again and promoting Canadian students and scholars in Greece. Four years later, Jonathan and David still exhibit the same enthusiasm and desire to maintain and to advance the Institute’s interests within Greece and back in Canada.

Unlike my three-month internship, however, a nine-month fellowship offered many more opportunities to become acquainted with the scholars who pass through the Institute; although I am familiar with much of their scholarship, I have not had the chance to meet them all. Tristan Carter’s keynote address about the Stelida Naxos Archaeological Project at the Open Meeting really stood out for me, because of his passion, research questions, and methodology. I believe that it is scholars such as Prof. Carter who are crucial to ensuring the future of Classical Studies and Archaeology, by inspiring a new generation of young scholars to enter the field and pursue dynamic new venues of research.

In addition to networking with Canadian and International scholars, as the fellow at the Canadian Institute I have broadened my understanding of past and present Canadian involvement in Greece. During the fall, I catalogued the Fred Winter archives and developed the Portal to the Past, while, in the spring, I focussed my efforts on consolidating and recording the Institute’s fieldwork archives. By sifting through these documents, I learned about the Institute’s work and gained an in depth understanding of the bureaucratic process of permit applications and archaeological research. Since its inception, the Canadian Institute has been granted permits for many fantastic and diverse archaeological projects throughout Greece, amongst which are the Persian Wars Shipwreck Survey, the Mytilene Project, the Tanagra Survey Project, and the Kamares Cave Project on Crete. Although the fieldwork archives were not always easy to wade through, I truly enjoyed reading the documents and certainly learned a great deal about Canadian archaeological research in Greece and the importance of CIG in fulfilling these endeavours.

Although I am sad to say goodbye to the Institute, I will only be moving across the street to the American School of Classical Studies as the 2015-16 Jacob Hirsch Fellow, so I will be able to stay in touch. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of CIG and will always think fondly of my time here. Thanks to all of you who made this such a memorable year for me!

Lana Radloff

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Friday, July 3, 2015

CIG on Naxos, and the Paleolithic Aegean

On Monday June 8 my wife and I visited the Institute’s excavations at Stelida on Naxos. This is a synergasia with the Ephorate of Antiquities of the Cyclades (EAC), and is directed by Dr Dimitris Athanasoulis (Head of the EAC) and Professor Tristan Carter (Department of Anthropology, McMaster University).

The site on the hill of Stelida, on the northwestern coast of Naxos, just to the southwest of Chora, comprises a major outcrop of chert plus large quantities of manufacturing debris from the tools that were made from the raw material. In 2013 and 2014 the Stelida Naxos Archaeological Project carried out two seasons of survey, which aimed not only to map and characterize the archaeology, but also to provide a more secure date for the site.

While the survey material has been dated from Early Bronze Age to Lower Palaeolithic, with Middle Paleolithic material the most abundant, it is only through the scientific dating of artefacts excavated from secure contexts that claims of Middle Pleistocene activity in the Aegean basin can win broad acceptance. Hence the key aim of the current excavation is to recover diagnostic stone tools from sealed, directly datable stratigraphic contexts.

Professor Carter kindly took us up to the top of the hill and gave us a crash-course in early prehistory as well as explaining how current work at the site can contribute to discussions on the Paleolithic Aegean. This includes topics such as seagoing as well as the suggestion that the Aegean basin acted as a causeway for – rather than a barrier to – hominin dispersals from the Levant into Europe, and for Neanderthal expansion into Anatolia and beyond. We were then able to visit the excavations before adjourning for souvlaki and beer back in Chora.

You will be able to learn something of the first excavation season’s results next month when Professor Carter will be one of our guest bloggers. Stay tuned!

Jonathan Tomlinson
Assistant Director