Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Fred Winter Collection

Pergamon, Demeter precinct, views E to W, with "covered basement" on left (Professor Fred Winter, 1968)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Mycenaean Economics 202; Welcome Esther!

Our Winter / Spring Institute Lecture Program will start on Wednesday, January 27th. We are very pleased to have Associate Professor Dimitri Nakassis (Department of Classics, University of Toronto) give the lecture at 7:30 PM in the Library of the Institute. The title of his lecture, based on the research for his doctoral dissertation, is, “From types to relations: complicating the economic history of the Greek Late Bronze Age”. Dimitri is a Co-Director of the Western Argolid Research Project [WARP], a pedestrian survey under the aegis of the Institute, and a member of the Institute’s Board of Directors.

Research into the early Greek economy has largely relied on static types built from the top down on the basis of analogical and textual evidence, despite the rapid growth in the archaeological evidence over the past fifty years. Nakassis will argue, through analysis of the internal organization of the palatial economy and its external exchange relations, that the conventional models do not adequately explain the economy of the Greek Late Bronze Age. It is usually thought, on analogy with the Near East, that the primary economic roles of the Mycenaean palaces were redistributive as to staples and reciprocal as to wealth, yet the evidence is much less clear than has been previously thought. Internally, the palaces made use of a variety of means to acquire goods, including market-type exchanges, and it is probable that interregional trade was mainly coordinated by elite intermediaries. And you thought that Mycenaean economics was straightforward! Time to take the next course, 202!!

Welcome Esther!

This past Saturday Esther Knegt arrived from Canada to undertake her three month internship at the Institute. Hailing from Hamilton, Ontario, Esther is an undergraduate finishing her fourth year of studies at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario. Some of her interests lie in archaeology, material culture sources, Greek history and language. She will complete a Language Specialization in Latin and Greek in addition to her major and enjoys reading and studying the ancient languages. One of her growing passions is for material culture which was enhanced when she had the opportunity to take a course travelling to various places in Greece to study the Aegean Bronze Age in the spring of 2015. She was able to visit and explore palace complexes and archaeological sites on Crete, Attica and on some of the Greek Islands. She loves visiting and experiencing architecture and artefacts first-hand as it provides an additional learning experience.

While assisting in the Library and scanning documents in the Archive of the Institute she will have opportunities to re-visit archaeological sites and museums at her leisure and without the crowds in Athens and elsewhere in Greece as well as to attend the many lectures on the calendar each week. Her immediate goal is to be accepted into an MA program focusing on material culture studies at an Ontario university.

When you come to the Institute lecture on Wednesday evening you will have a chance to meet Esther and to give her a very warm welcome to the Athenian archaeological community.

I almost forgot to mention that we will cut the Institute’s Vasilopita for 2016 on Wednesday as well after the lecture. You may find the flouri in your piece and win the 2016 gouri. Such fortune surely will give you happiness, good health and great productivity for the entire year!!! You can’t miss such an opportunity can you, eh!

David Rupp

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Fred Winter Collection

Pella, house with Ionic courtyard (House of Dionysos) (Professor Fred Winter, 1968)

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Institute's Winter/Spring Lecture Program; Challenges for a New State: Protecting its Diverse Cultural Heritage

Our diverse and interesting 2016 Winter / Spring Institute Lecture Program has been posted: http://www.cig-icg.gr/events. We will send out posters for each lecture as they approach.

The Byzantine and Post-Byzantine monuments of Greece

The Hellenic monarchy constituted in 1834 faced many challenges, internal and external, during the course of the 19th century. While the Classical antiquities had inspired the philhellenes who had given assistance during the revolution and afterwards, the post-Imperial Roman cultural heritage had many fewer champions. The conscious use of the Classical past and the origins of democracy by successive Greek governments to entice the West into supporting Greek interests made the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine heritage an inconvenient truth. Thus, many of these monuments, especially in Athens, were destroyed, some to reveal “more significant” earlier monuments and some to build a modern city without unwanted relics.

Nevertheless, there were individuals in the Hellenic Archaeological Service who worked to document and to preserve this important component of the country’s rich cultural heritage. On Monday, January 18th at 18:30 at the Historical Archive of Antiquities and Restoration of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sport at Psaromylingou 22 (on the cusp between the Kerameikos and Psyrri Districts) Ms. Archontoula Papoulakou (Αρχαιολόγος, Διεύθυνση Εθνικού Αρχείου Μνημείων) will give a lecture entitled, «Η Προστασία των μεσαιωνικών μνημείων στο νεοσύστατο ελληνικό κράτος τον 19ο αιώναμέσα από τα τεκμήρια του Ιστορικού Αρχείου των Αρχαιοτήτων και Αναστηλώσεων».

Using the documents in the Historical Archive Ms. Papoulakou will focus on two main themes: the “cleansing” of the Akropolis of the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine monuments and the steps taken to document, to preserve and to restore important Byzantine churches and monasteries, such as the churches in the older sections of Athens, the Daphni Monastery in Attika, and Hosias Loukas Monastery in Fokida. What constitutes a country’s “past” and what cultural monuments are considered “significant” are recurring and often contentious themes for debate among archaeologists, art historians, historians, city planners and government bureaucrats. The public is welcome to learn more about the cultural heritages of the city and country they live in!

The lecture is sponsored by the Syllogos Filon tou Istorikou Archeiou tis Archaiologikis Yperesias. The Syllogos Filon will cut their pita after the lecture. Maybe you will find the flouri in your piece and have good fortune for all of 2016???

Kali Xronia
David Rupp

Friday, January 8, 2016

Kali Xronia apo mas! A play and two exhibitions

Good News! Besides welcoming in the New Year of 2016, we can welcome as well the re-opening on the 4th of the Institute after its Holiday Recess. Our normal open hours (Monday – Friday, 09:00 – 13:00) are in effect. Jonathan is catching up on Institute business, Sarah is resuming the updating of the Portal to the Past and I am working on the final version of the Program for our 40th Anniversary Colloquium here in Athens on June 10th and 11th. We await the arrival of Esther Knegt this coming weekend. She is the winter/spring undergraduate intern from the University of Waterloo.

“This is War”

It is not often that a play by a Canadian playwright is performed in Athens. Just before Christmas the play “This is War” by Canada’s well-known and frequently-awarded Hannah Moskovitz’s opened at the Theatro Porta at Mesogeion 59. The play focuses on an “incident” and its aftermath that occurred during the Canadian “Training Forces” presence in Afghanistan in the early 2000s. This work was inspired by Moskovitz’s research for the radio drama series she wrote, “Afghanada” (www.cbc.ca/afghanada) which ran on the CBC from 2006 – 2011.

This is a riveting work with four Canadian soldiers (one of whom is a woman) and an extremely minimalist staging. The translation by Tomas Moschopoulos, the staging by the original Canadian director Alan Dilworth and the acting by the Greek actors makes one feel that this is truly Canadian, despite monologues and dialogues in Greek. While the playwright claims that this is not an anti-war play it nevertheless raises many core issues for the audience to ponder relating to combat: what is the difference between training foreign soldiers to fight and advising as well as supporting them while they fight? Who is the enemy in the civilian population and how can you tell that they going to harm you? How does a female soldier fit into an essentially all-male military in combat? How can soldiers express their personal feelings and needs in a war zone? What is the cost to those who survive the warzone experiences?

If you are living in Athens or are visiting, you still have a chance this month to see this thought provoking work (http://www.porta-theatre.gr/index.php/el/theatro-plays/130-this-is-war) supported by the Canadian Embassy . It is worth the effort to venture out of the central core of the city and the comfort zone of the Anglophone environment.

The Other Religious Communities of Contemporary Athens

I recommend another journey beyond the confines of “Classical Athens” – to the Benaki Museum Annex on Piraeus Street 138 on the southern edge of the Gazi District. Among the current four temporary exhibitions is photographer Tassos Vrettos’ “Wor(th)ship” (in Greek: T(r)opoi Latreias).  

“The photographic ‘fieldwork’ of Vrettos among the makeshift places of worship of migrants and refugees in and around Athens records an invisible network within the city: basements and rented flats, apartment blocks and garages, playing fields and outdoor public spaces, squares and courtyards, structures made ad hoc in temporary or permanent addresses for groups of Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Spiritualists and Christians of various denominations and multiple ethnic origins (Ethiopian, Afghan, Egyptian, Pakistani, Nigerian, Senegalese, etc.). It is a ‘work in progress’ that began in 2012 with the collaboration of these communities’ members themselves and with the utmost respect for their identities."

The amazing number (44) and the diversity of these religious communities in Athens, its suburbs and Attika reflects the growing impact of immigration (whatever form it takes) in the past two decades on the city’s contemporary culture. Unlike the fast food and restaurants which serve the cuisine of these ethnic communities, their places of worship are mostly invisible to those to who don’t look. So before the end of the month take a walk on the wild side and visit the exhibition to learn more about our city and its “Other”.

“Fotis Kontoglou from Kydones: By his hand and imagination” - a Retrospective Exhibition

Much closer to home on Vas. Sofias Avenue is a recently-opened retrospective exhibition at the Byzantine and Christian Museum featuring the life and work of the multi-talented Fotis Kontoglou. A refugee from Kydonies in Asia Minor he was an influential member of the seminal interwar “Generation of the Thirties” of artists, writers, architects, critics and scholars who laid the foundations of contemporary Greek culture.

“In 2015, the Byzantine and Christian Museum is honouring Fotis Kontoglou (1895-1965) on the 50th anniversary of his death. The Museum dedicates to the artist a major retrospective exhibition that presents Kontoglou’s multifaceted contributions to 20th-century Greek culture as an artist, a painter of religious and secular works, a writer, a critic, a colour researcher, a conservator.

The retrospective was decided upon because of the artist's personal and artistic ties to the Museum: he collaborated and worked here as a painter, copyist and conservator during the twenties and thirties; many works by him, and now also his personal archive are kept in the Museum; most importantly, Kontoglou researched deeply and served Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Art. Besides, his peculiar artistic idiom of his is clearly inspired by his view that the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Art are part of an uninterrupted painterly tradition of Hellenism. Kontoglou is the artist who dared and succeeded in reviving a defunct artistic idiom, imposing it as a living and vivid painterly language.

The exhibition proceeds mainly chronologically, divided into five sections: four of them cover his lifetime (1893-1965) while the fifth presents his longtime relationship with the Byzantine and Christian Museum from the twenties onwards.”

The exhibition will expand your horizons on the nature of Byzantine art, especially frescoes, as well as on the documentation and the preservation of Athens’ Byzantine and Post-Byzantine monuments. You have until May 8th to see this large display of his work and its historical context. The llissa Café at the Museum is an excellent place to contemplate what you have seen! (http://www.byzantinemuseum.gr/en/temporary_exhibitions/?nid=2038).

There is so much to do in Athens on the winter weekends!

David Rupp

Friday, January 1, 2016

I am an Athenian...sort of

My name is Victoria Newson and I was lucky enough to have been selected as the fall 2015 Intern Student at the Canadian Institute in Greece (CIG) from early September to late December. I am currently a fourth year Near Eastern and Classical Archaeology undergraduate at Wilfrid Laurier University and received the Gerald Schaus Grant to work at the CIG. Throughout my time here, I worked on a variety of tasks including clerical work around the library (e.g. cataloging), helping with all elements of a book sale, as well as lots archival work with the Projects Archive at the Institute.

My most exciting project was archiving all of the Canadian Institute fieldwork material. I learned about the various projects that the Institute has undertaken for the past 35 years and grew to understand how projects really work from an administrative and director perspective. It was a bit like a guide on how to and how not to conduct fieldwork in Greece when it comes to bureaucracy. One moment that stood out for me was actually going to the Eleon project with one of the directors on the CIG trip to Boeotia.  I got to see exactly what the project I read so much about looked like. I learned more of its history and the hypotheses around it.

My horizons in the field of archaeological study have been broadened and I think that I understand a lot more of the administrative, procedural and academic side of the archaeological community. I also learned a lot through the various projects assigned to me. I learned to use Excel spreadsheets more efficiently; I learned how to archive project materials and the proper procedures for applying for a permit (e.g. application to CIG, approval by the committee, application to the Ephoreia and permission from the Ministry).  I even picked up a variety of Greek archaeological words while doing the archiving! The cataloging was very interesting as I had to learn how to look for an Library of Congress (LC) number (e.g. World Cat), to search North American libraries for the LC number and finally how to create and catalogue your own LC number. Since I had no previous cataloguing experience, this was a useful learning opportunity. I also learned to enter in and transliterate Russian.

I am extremely proud to say that I monopolized my free time in Greece by exploring not only Greece but other parts of Europe (e.g. Copenhagen, Vienna and Prague). I also visited numerous museums, cafes, restaurants and sites in Greece, as well as different regions of the country (e.g. Santorini, Peloponnese, Thessaloniki, Attica and Boeotia). I got to explore every weekend and during the afternoons after work.

Throughout this experience, I had the chance to meet local Greeks and develop relationships with them through going for food, texting with them, joining their nightlife and travelling with them. I also had a chance to meet and interact with a variety of people from different countries and backgrounds who are all part of the academic community by attending lectures across Athens and going to the Red Lion on Tuesday night. I also had the opportunity to make really good friends that I will stay in contact with for a very long time.

As a tourist who has visited Athens a few times I never really liked the city. I always considered it to be dirty, hot and sketchy albeit with some great ruins and museums. However, living here for the past 3.5 months has changed my mind about the city. Yes it might not be the cleanest and aesthetically beautiful city but its characters, history and people make it come alive and feel like a home away from home. There always seems to be electricity in the air, a buzz on the street, and a motto to live for the possibilities of tomorrow and work to live. I am happy to have found a home away from home and am proud to call myself a honourary “Athenian”.

I want to thank the Institute’s Director, David Rupp, and Assistant Director, Jonathan Tomlinson, for giving me this fantastic opportunity to work with the CIG this fall, as well as Gerald Schaus. This opportunity was truly a once in a lifetime experience.

Victoria Newson
Wilfrid Laurier University intern