Friday, March 30, 2018

Pascha on our minds; SNAP to it!

Once again the Pascha recess is upon the Institute. We close today, Friday at 1:00 PM, for two weeks and reopen for business on Monday, April 16th at 9:00 AM.

In the meantime, Metaxia, Romanos and I will, for a change, see what Athens has to offer for Pascha. Jonathan and Amelie will continue their exploration of eastern Crete. Chris and his family are still pondering their options, though Nafplio and Monemvasia are on their list. Katy will spend a few days in Thessaloniki, and Matt has planned a short trip to Rome.

SNAP is almost everywhere in April and May

Prof. Tristan Carter (McMaster University) is coming to Greece immediately after Pascha to share with us the latest from SNAP (Stélida Naxos Archaeological Project). First, he travels to Naxos for the opening on Saturday evening, April 14th, of a related photographic exhibition entitled, ‘Neanderthals on Naxos! The Prehistoric Archaeology of Stélida’ . This will be held in Chora at the Cultural Centre of Naxos (the former Ursuline School). This Centre is located at the highest point in the Kastro. The exhibition will run until the end of May.

Then on Monday evening, May 21st he will present ‘Neanderthals on Naxos! New Work on Early Prehistoric Stélida’  for the Cycladic Seminar. This will be held at the Archaeological Society of Athens (Panepistimiou 22) at 7:00 PM.

So from all of us to all of you, we wish you an early Kalo Mina kai Kalo Pascha!

David Rupp

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Friday, March 23, 2018

A "Field Guide" to Migrants in the Late Bronze Age in the Aegean

The old adage that in antiquity the movements of pots did not equal the movements of people has clouded the discussion of what in the archaeological record constitutes evidence for medium- and long-distance commercial exchange between regions and what represents the cultural baggage of groups of people which moved permanently from one region to another, for whatever reason. Migrants as opposed to traders is a very thorny issue in the twilight of the Late Bronze Age in the eastern Mediterranean. On Wednesday, March 28th Dr. Bartłomiej (Bartek) Lis, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Fitch Laboratory of the British School at Athens, will address aspects of this topic in his Institute Lecture entitled “Migrants in the 12th-century BC Aegean: A guide to identification”.

One of the hallmarks of the decades following the collapse of Mycenaean palaces is an increased human mobility. This phenomenon is directly implied by changes in particular settlements and broader settlement patterns at that time. Many sites were abandoned or significantly diminish in size, while others became (or continued to be) highly prosperous, like Tiryns or Lefkandi. Messenia provides an example of an entire region that appears to be heavily depopulated.

But how are we to identify this mobility – and migrants – in the archaeological record on a more individual level? Identification of foreigners, i.e. people coming from distant regions beyond the extent of the Mycenaean culture, appears to be least problematic, and several examples already discussed in the literature will be presented including Cypriots (or people very familiar with Cypriot practices) at Tiryns or population groups from Southern Italy spread all over the Mainland. Much less straightforward, to say the least, is the attempt to identify people arriving from an adjacent region within the same cultural milieu, and this issue will constitute the main focus of this lecture.

The way to approach this problem is – in Dr. Lis’ opinion – through technology involved in craft production, which might be considered as a special case of social practice. The advantage of technology for approaching mobility is that it is much less ambiguous than other aspects of material culture usually taken into consideration. Dr. Lis will focus on technology involved in pottery production – with an emphasis on Aeginetan pottery produced beyond the island along the Euboean Gulf – but the discussion will also involve other crafts as well as more mundane daily practices. Furthermore, he would also like to question an uncritical use of two terms - import and imitation – which quite often diverts us from the proper understanding of particular objects in their contexts and, in the cases presented in this lecture, from detecting possible presence of migrants. The analysis will lead not only to identification of migrants’ presence, but also – at least in one case – to isolation of their possible dwelling at the site of Lefkandi.

We look forward to seeing you on the 28th at 7:30 PM in the Library of the Institute. The lecture will be live-streamed (

David Rupp

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Fred Winter Collection

Lakonia: Thalamai, views of village fountain, nearby inscribed altar of emperor and Doric capital (Professor Fred Winter, 1982)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Fred Winter Collection

Lakonia: Kisternes, N of village, disused peasant's house and enclosure with ancient blocks (Professor Fred Winter, 1982)

Friday, March 9, 2018

Ancient Religious Observance in a New Context; 18th-century graffiti on the Akropolis

There isn’t a day that goes by without some mention in the Greek media of the political refugees and the economic migrants that have kept coming to Greece over the past five years from the Middle East and Africa. There is a tendency to focus on their immediate plight in the camps and not on the total disruption of their way of life. While many of these individuals wish to go elsewhere in “Europe” a certain portion will stay and establish new lives here. In doing so, most will attempt to re-construct their cultural environment as best they can. Observance of their religious beliefs is frequently at the center of their efforts to re-create some sense of “normalcy” for their family and for their ethnic group.

For varying reasons this pattern of voluntary and involuntary geographical dispersal of members of an ethnic community from their homeland to other areas has occurred in the eastern Mediterranean and the Levant for millennia. Each new diaspora faces similar challenges and goals in dealing with such a disruption. In his lecture on Wednesday, March 14th entitled, “In the Shadow of Home: Jews, Syrians, and Religion in Delos and Corinth 200 BCE - 100 CE,” Christopher J. Cornthwaite (Ph.D. candidate, Department of Religious Studies, University of Toronto and 2017/2018 Neda and Franz Leipen Fellow at the Canadian Institute in Greece) will explore aspects of this phenomenon from a religious perspective.

The story of a roaming evangelist who made Corinth a main port of call on his Mediterranean tour is woven into our cultural mythology. But Paul’s success in Corinth came from more than his apparent passion as an itinerant preacher. The community in which Christianity spread there was formed before Paul’s arrival, already gathering as an immigrant religion at the nexus of a trans-Mediterranean trade route. Furthermore, Christianity was only one of many immigrant religions from the Levant that came west and attracted a large following beyond the boundaries of its ethnos. The sanctuary of the Syrian goddess (Atargatis) on Delos a hundred years earlier has a remarkably similar story. Brought to Delos by a Syrian priest, her worship outgrew the Syrian diaspora there, attracting outsiders as it moved on toward Rome. In his lecture Chris will compare how and why these two groups grew and attracted outsiders and how they negotiated the problems of identity that new members created. It then puts them in the broader contexts of religion and migration in the Graeco-Roman Mediterranean.

This Institute lecture on Wednesday evening will be held in the Library starting at 7:30 PM.

18th-century graffiti defacing the Propylaia!

Many of the buildings and some of the ancient monuments of Athens have been defaced in the past decade by graffiti. Most of these graffiti are tags or names of the defacers. This “Greek tradition” is an old one starting at least in the Archaic period. It has continued off and on in Greece since then. Probably Lord Byron’s carved initials on one of the columns of the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion is the best known.

On Monday, March 12th Professor Tasos Tanoulas (National Metsovian Polytechneion) will give a lecture at 7:00 PM in the Library of the Canadian Institute entitled, «Νεώτερα χαράγματα στα Προπύλαια και η δεύτερη αποστολή της εταιρείας των Dilettanti στην Αθήνα». The lecture relates to Professor Tanoulas’ ongoing architectural research on this well-known monument on the Akropolis.

In 2013 at the southwestern corner of the Propylaia scaffolding was erected to study the structural problems of the superstructure. This made possible the identification and study of various graffiti at the west surface of the three superior courses, all written during the second half of the 18th century. One of them is dated 1789 and is written by a W. Young. A second is dated 1765 and his signed by the initials R.C., W.P. and N.R. These belong to Richard Chandler, William Pars and Nicholas Revett, representatives of the Society of the Dilettanti, who arrived in Athens from London in that year.

The lecture is sponsored by the Συλλογος Φιλων Του Ιστορικου Αρχειου Της Αρχαιολογικης Υπηρεσιας. The public is welcome to attend!

David Rupp

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Fred Winter Collection

Lakonia: Kisternes Bay, Ay. Asomati Chapel, partly on ancient foundations and with ancient blocks (Professor Fred Winter, 1982)