Friday, April 27, 2018

The roots of the "Science of Man"; Aegean Prehistoric Memories in Venice

The 19th century was the nursery of the modern professional academic world with its gradual compartmentation of research into specific and assumed to be separate “disciplines”. For topics relating to the human condition, in general, and to physical and cultural “evolution”, in particular, the issue of the evidence from ancient “historical” cultures versus that observed in contemporary “living” cultures created both common interests and opposing views between the “classicists” and the “anthropologists/ethnographers”. For the most part these two approaches diverged in the 20th century.

On Wednesday. May 2nd at 7:30 PM in the Library of the Institute, Professor Emily K. Varto (Department of Classics, Dalhousie University), will give a lecture entitled "Greeks, Romans, and the 'Science of Man': Towards a History of Classics and Early Anthropology".

Ancient Greece and Rome played varying roles in early anthropological thinking, from the observations of colonial officials and missionaries to the evolutionary ethnology and ethnography of the late 19th century, and beyond into the professionalized social sciences of the 20th century. Grounded in themes that emerged in the course of editing a volume on the classics and early anthropology (published April 2018 with Brill), Prof. Varto will augment and re-evaluate the formative, early relationship between the two disciplines and explores its continuing impact.

This will be the final Institute lecture for 2017/2018.

The 17th Aegaeum Conference in Venice and Udine

 For five stimulating days last week Aegean prehistorians of every regional stripe gathered in Venice and Udine for the 17th International Aegean Conference. The theme of this iteration was ΜΝΗΜΗ / MNEME. PAST AND MEMORY IN THE AEGEAN BRONZE AGE. In Venice the papers were given in the former later 17th–century church of Santa Margharita of Antioch on the Campo Santa Margharita, that has been converted into an auditorium of the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. The ceiling frescos and sculpture made it a special place.

The Institute was represented directly in the form of two papers relating to the research conducted under its aegis. Prof. Angus Smith (Brock University) and Prof. Sevasti Triantaphyllou (University of Thessaloniki) discussed how the dead were remembered in the chamber tombs of the Late Helladic III cemetery at Ayia Sotira near Nemea in the Peloponnesos. Profs. Bryan Burns (Wellesley College) and Brendan Burke (University of Victoria) presented the Late Helladic II Blue Stone Structure at Eleon in Boiotia as a monument to memorialize the area of cist burials of a specific elite group at the settlement.

In addition, Prof. Rodney Fitzsimons (Trent University) made an insightful proposal concerning the rationale behind the construction at Mycenae in the Argolid of the last two, most elaborate tholos tombs and the monumentalization of the “sacred” route to the palace on the citadel in Late Helladic IIIB2. I joined Dr. Metaxia Tsipopoulou (Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sport) in arguing for the use over 750 years of the area around House Tomb 2 in the Petras cemetery (Siteia, Crete) to connect the recent dead of a specific elite group with the founders of the first settlement at Petras.

The conference was indeed memorable from all points of view!

David Rupp

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Fred Winter Collection

Kos city: baptistery of the "Baths Basilica" (Professor Fred Winter, 1982)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Fred Winter Collection

Acrocorinth, W and NW defences, including West Gate and NW Bastion, from outside and below (Professor Fred Winter, 1982)

Friday, April 13, 2018

Onward to Grad Study: A Canadian Undergrad's Internship in Athens

As a fourth-year undergraduate in the Classical Studies Department at the University of Waterloo, I have put due thought into what my next steps will be, when to take them, and where they will lead me. I set my courses, semester by semester, checking off graduation requirements and making quite certain that those necessary courses jibe well with my ever-changing and evolving interests in the world of classical antiquity. Each paper I submit, each exam I take, and all the readings and translations I grind out are a stepping stone on the cursus honorum that I have planned out for myself—and as such are means to an end—or at least to the next, next step. I have been certain that I would like to move on to a Master’s degree and eventually a PhD in Classical studies for the entirety of my university career to this point, and so each of those steps are taken with that in mind. And with my internship at the Canadian Institute in Greece soon coming to an end, it seems, now more than ever, to be a most appropriate time to reflect on where I am going and how this trip has affected that decision.

As those who have been to Greece will know, everything is slower here: the pace of passerby on the sidewalk, the speed with which the sun travels from one horizon to the other, even dinner is a decidedly lengthy affair. As such, I have found plenty of time for contemplation to this end—whether it was looking out over the city from high on Lykavittos, walking along the babbling harbour at Piraeus, or sitting in the sun on the patio of the Institute’s hostel. Most of my work at the Institute was in the expansion of its current Social Media presence and in the inventory of the 6,000+ volume library, and so in this way, I was introduced to sides of the academic world which, through regular course work, would normally be invisible or inaccessible to an undergraduate student (i.e., academic marketing and information systems organization). Katy Lamb, who also served as an intern during my stay at the Institute headed up the inventory project, while I got the team lead on Social Media. Working with Katy, the Fellow, Chris Cornthwaite, the Assistant Director, Jonathan Tomlinson, and the Director, David Rupp, has been a pleasure all term long, and their help, advice, and opinions have certainly made me a better worker and organizer on both projects I worked.
This internship has also given me the unique opportunity to appreciate how the fields of Classics and Archaeology are approached all over the world, as the Canadian Institute is but one of nineteen foreign archaeological schools in Athens. Through exchanges, internships, fellowships, regular membership, and post-doctoral work,  new faces were always cycling in and out of Athens, and it was my pleasure to live, learn, and travel with students from all over the world, most especially those students at the Norwegian, Swedish, American, Finnish, and British schools. One excursion to Eleusis I remember as particularly memorable as I, an art historian and philologist, was accompanied by an archaeologist, an osteologist, and a modern European historian, which made for a rather rewarding interdisciplinary visit. Of course, I came nowhere close to visiting all of the sites I set out to, with so much to do in Athens and Attica alone but I am feeling both accomplished and satisfied in what I have seen and the places I have yet to go.

As it happens, during my stay at the CIG I have both applied for and been accepted to the MA program in Classical Studies at the University of Waterloo in which I will be pursuing a thesis tentatively focused on the reception of Hellenistic Art in the collections of Renaissance Italy. Naturally, this thesis will have much to do with the archaeological record and display contexts of Greece and the broader Mediterranean world, and so my research and preparation for this study in Greece, has been incredibly rewarding. I have visited the Piraeus, New Acropolis, National Archaeological, and countless other museums whose collections of Hellenistic Art are integral pieces of the wider Hellenistic perspective on art. After this internship I will also spend a short amount of time in Rome, before travelling the Cyclades with my family and ending my stay in the Mediterranean there.

The chance to live in Greece spelt a return to my roots, as my father’s family is of Hellenic descent – hailing from Santorini and Syros – and so Hellenic culture has always been a part of my life, and for this internship I am incredibly grateful. In academia I have always felt a particular interest in the Greece of antiquity, but the Greece of today holds a special place in my heart as well and for all its culture, its people, its art, music, food, language, and its hospitality, I found it a beautiful lens through which I could reflect on my goals and found all of my academic aspirations completely justified.   

Matt Coleman
University of Waterloo Intern, Spring 2018

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Fred Winter Collection

Acrocorinth, panorama of the W slopes from below, from the SW heights of the fortress to the West Gate (Professor Fred Winter, 1982)

Friday, April 6, 2018

My Life Among Ruins

Three years ago, when I first came to Greece, I immediately fell in love with the culture, food, and the language... as well as their ancient history (that is a given). Since then, I’ve tried to find any reason I could to go back. I have done field schools, but that did not seem enough. I emailed some of my professors from when I was at Wilfrid Laurier, and found out that the institute had an opening for an internship. I grasped that chance and you could say I jumped on the next plane out of Canada, I was so excited. The moment I arrived (a day late because of snowy weather cancelling flights) it felt like I was back home. My internship in Athens has been as fulfilling as I imagined. It is not all work and no play, actually, it’s very much the opposite.  During the week day I was leading the inventory of the library while Matt, the other intern from Waterloo University, was the social media guru, otherwise we’d be out exploring what Athens had to offer.

The inventory of the books in the library was needed to be done for many reasons. It’s been a few years since one has been completed, so this gave us a chance to clear out any duplicates, check the condition of the older books, and locate any that were MIA. The inventory had two separate processes, one for monographs and the other for periodicals. The inventory was also done for the big move! The Canadian Institute’s new building is in the process of improvements to house the library and the archives. As an intern I also did a number of tasks, such as delivering books, became master builder of Ikea furniture, and prepared delicious treats for lectures held. I was able to attend many lectures and open meetings throughout my stay. It is always fun to dress up, make connections in the archaeology world, visit other foreign schools, and of course enjoy glasses of free wine.
A goal of mine while staying in Athens was to work on my Greek (speaking and reading). I took my time to practice learning and working on basic phrases and numbers to get by at the grocery stores, restaurants, museums and sites. I seemed to have mastered my numbers at the Farmers market which I went to every Friday. The Laiki Agora (Λαϊκή αγορά) was overwhelming to the senses. I became almost awestruck taking in the bright colours of the fresh fruit and veg, the smell of flowers in the air, tasting the sweetest honey, and hearing shouts of the  of the farmers yell their prices. Tuesdays were saved for the Red Lion. These nights we walk over to the pub and socialize, enjoy a beer and play many rounds of darts with people from other foreign institutes.

I’d have to say my favourite part of my experience in Athens was the weekend get-away. Travelling to wondrous ancient sites and museums was the topping on the cake. In this I was not alone. Other interns from the Swedish, Norwegian, British and American institutes became my travel buddies. I’d say my most memorable weekend outing was the trip to Cape Sounio. The sunsets at the ancient Temple of Poseidon (Ακρωτήριο Σουνιο) are as gorgeous as they are famous. Standing here on this hill top you feel the power of the ocean that surrounds the cape and hill top temple dedicated to the God of the Sea.
In other spare time, you’d find us out wining and dining. We loved to check out local taverns with delicious Greek cuisine and abundance of delicious red wine (you can probably tell by now that Dionysus would be my patron god). I am now skilled at navigating and travelling the metro, and can proudly say I’m starting to memorize the streets of this growing city like the back of my hand. There are always many more stories to share about my time working at the Canadian Institute and my traveling adventures around the country with amazing sites to see, but you’ll have to ask me. I am very grateful at this privilege and time here to expand the knowledge and interest of ancient/modern Greek culture and its archaeological history.

Katy Lamb
Wilfrid Laurier University Intern, Spring 2018

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Fred Winter Collection

Delos, House of the Masks, telephoto view from Kynthos (Professor Fred Winter, 1982)