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Pretty little things, by Elina Salminen

This is my fifth year joining the Kastro Kallithea project, and the second summer I am working on the terracottas from Building 10. It has been a rewarding experience to go from climbing the hill every morning and excavating dirt-covered lumps to lovingly curating them in the workroom (under the watchful eye of Tracene and Amber, the wonderful directors of the apothiki) and now finally attempting to put it all in context.

Elina showing off her 'pick axe hands' during one of the previous seasons at Kallithea

Elina showing off her ‘pick axe hands’ during one of the previous seasons at Kallithea

Much remains to be done, but there are already tantalizing clues as to the use of terracottas in Building 10. Because finds were recorded carefully using GIS, we have been able to spot two clusters of terracotta figurines within the house. These clusters are situated in contexts dated quite differently, and the terracottas can hopefully shed some additional light on which parts of the house were used and abandoned at any given time. Whether the figurines would have been parts of domestic altars or decorative elements remains to be decided after closer study of their context, but it is already obvious there would have been a range of statuettes in the house. Again, all the painstaking cleaning and recording of finds has paid off: while some of the objects were immediately identifiable as “special finds” – such as the head of a goddess shown below – from others only small, worn fragments remain. By studying the fabrics (the make-up of the clay) of these fragments, I have been able to infer there were many more terracottas in Building 10, even though we cannot say what they would have looked like.

Head of a terracotta statuette found in Building 10

Head of a terracotta statuette found in Building 10

 

This kind of preliminary analysis is, of course, only the beginning. I will next spend time in Athens, reading up on terracottas and especially finds from other domestic sites in the area to see if the figurines we have are similar to them. Next summer, a conservator will come and put together two of our best-preserved figurines, which will hopefully give us an even clearer idea of what they originally looked like and how they were produced, as well as make them easier to appreciate by the visitor should the artefacts get placed on display in one of the regional museums. Over the next few years, we will hopefully be able to integrate these pretty little things into the larger narrative of Building 10 and the site of Kastro Kallithea as a whole.

Hard at work in the stoa at Kallithea during the 2013 season

Hard at work in the stoa at Kallithea during the 2013 season

Elina Salminen, University of Michigan

 

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Digging in, fork first! Food and drink in Narthaki, by Stephanie Stepanyk

Food and drink in Narthaki take up an important part of the time I spent here. Every meal consisted of good food and good drinks as our entire family here squished close together at the same table. In the morning, as the group arrives at the apothiki -our work place – we all help set up chairs around the breakfast table. Colette and Laura descend from the stairs above, coffee thermos cans in hand. After everyone has sat down with their coffee or tea, Margriet pulls up as she returned from the bakery with freshly bakes pastries. Breakfast in Greece has been a wonderful onslaught of pastries, stuffed with equally wonderful surprises; feta and tomato, custards, chocolate.

At the dinner table

At the dinner table

As we wind down the day after siesta, the students converge at the Ouzeri for frappé’s. The cool iced coffee is welcomed heartily after a hard day in the hot Greek sun after washing pottery. It is a popular drink throughout Greece and it pairs nicely with the readings we have yet to do.

Frappé (metrio me gala)

Frappé (metrio me gala)

The sun shrinks further into the landscape and we sit down in the taverna for supper. The atmosphere welcomes you to mixture of laughter and food. I sit down, and my neighbor pours me a local drink. Across from me John gets some snacks that sometimes come before the meal and complement our drinks. Narthaki is a small town, that produces much of its own food and wine. Karey joked lightheartedly one night how the chicken we were eating came from the yard, and how you showed it respect by eating them with your bare hands! Fresh feta and tomato, pepper and cucumber salad start off the meal and we are all in a frenzy. I couldn’t tell you how many times people have told me “Greece ruins fresh food for you once you go back home”. I can see why, the taste is fresh and crisp and is complemented perfectly with the oil and spices.

Kotopoulo me patates (the salads already finished)

Kotopoulo me patates (the salads are already finished)

Our group gets a bit rowdier as it gets later, and that’s usually when the food comes… Once again we cannot wait, we charge in fork first! The meals here have been a delight, and sometimes a surprise. The spaghetti in cinnamon sauce sounded a bit off at first, but in reality was a beautifully balanced dish. The buttered artichoke hearts melted in your mouth, and to my surprise I was informed that they took all day to make the dish. The locals put their all into the food here, and it’s an amazing experience to have this food paired lovely with these new friends. I’d like to thank the wonderful people in Narthaki for making my stay amazing and keeping my belly full.

Seriously guys, wear pants! by Anna Borynec

Every morning I walk from the school (where the girls are staying) to the apothiki (where all the archaeological magic happens). It takes about 10 minutes if you walk at a slow, meandering, I’m-not-awake-yet pace, like me. It helps to know that the sky is more likely to be blue than a dreary grey, and that there are always wildflowers growing on either side of the road. They lend a nice flash of colour to the landscape. They can be seen when walking anywhere in the village: on the way to work, on the way to the Ouzeri or the Taverna, and back again. I’m particular to the poppies which were in full bloom the first day I arrived. They’ve wilted a bit since then, as have the daisies, but new dashes of vibrant flora catch my eye everyday.

Narthaki is wonderful for people who like to stop and smell the roses, but in many ways Kastro Kallithea is even better. The dig site is ruled by a variety of striking purple flowers standing stark amongst stone or tucked into the greenery blanketing the hill. There are all kinds of interesting species dispersed around the area, and it’s easy to get a great look at them when I’m staring at my feet making sure I’m not about to trip over anything! Hiking from place to place in Kallithea can be a bit challenging when you’re on a narrow path or climbing a particularly steep incline, but it’s well worth it in the end. Each stop on our tour of Kallithea revealed a couple cool new plants to look at (and, of course, a neat excavation site) including this weird spiky one that was absolutely covered by scarab beetles! The greens and yellows in the plant complimented the beetles’ hue nicely.

Making collages out of bad iPod photos, no photoshop, and a dinky laptop is harder than it seems

Making collages out of bad iPod photos, no photoshop, and a dinky laptop is harder than it seems

Every morning I walk from the school (where the girls are staying) to the apothiki (where all the archaeological magic happens). It takes about 10 minutes if you walk at a slow, meandering, I’m-not-awake-yet pace, like me. It helps to know that the sky is more likely to be blue than a dreary grey, and that there are always wildflowers growing on either side of the road. They lend a nice flash of colour to the landscape. They can be seen when walking anywhere in the village: on the way to work, on the way to the Ouzeri or the Taverna, and back again. I’m particular to the poppies which were in full bloom the first day I arrived. They’ve wilted a bit since then, as have the daisies, but new dashes of vibrant flora catch my eye everyday.

Narthaki is wonderful for people who like to stop and smell the roses, but in many ways Kastro Kallithea is even better. The dig site is ruled by a variety of striking purple flowers standing stark amongst stone or tucked into the greenery blanketing the hill. There are all kinds of interesting species dispersed around the area, and it’s easy to get a great look at them when I’m staring at my feet making sure I’m not about to trip over anything! Hiking from place to place in Kallithea can be a bit challenging when you’re on a narrow path or climbing a particularly steep incline, but it’s well worth it in the end. Each stop on our tour of Kallithea revealed a couple cool new plants to look at (and, of course, a neat excavation site) including this weird spiky one that was absolutely covered by scarab beetles! The greens and yellows in the plant complimented the beetles’ hue nicely.

Not all plant-life at Kastro Kallithea is as welcoming as the flowers, photo courtesy of Google Images

Not all plant-life at Kastro Kallithea is as welcoming as the flowers, photo courtesy of Google Images

When we visited the site for the first time we were told quite emphatically that no matter how hot it was we needed to wear long pants. There was one simple reason for this: the pournari bushes. They covered the site in a menacing green sea of thorns and evil. Wearing pants kept me from losing any blood to the bushes and let me enjoy the view without worrying too much about where I was stepping. My sturdy hiking boots did the rest. As I am on the shorter side, my bare arms were in more danger of getting scratched than my legs! There’s a few dorky pictures of me floating around in which I’m wobbling through the narrower parts of the paths with my arms in the air, but they’re well worth it for the experience of getting to (painlessly) visit the excavation site where all the artefacts I’m working with at the apothiki were dug up. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity.

But seriously, guys, wear pants

But seriously, guys, wear pants

 

 

I Prefer The Scenic Route, by Shanice Hannigan

In Thessaly the blue sky extends as far as one can see. The colours are not comparable to anything I’ve seen at home. It was overwhelming at first glance but as I adjust to the scenery I discover more and more of its beauty. In Narthaki, the walk from the school where the girls in our group stay to the potshed is a wonderful way to start each day. On the right, beyond the field where there are often shepards walking with their grazing sheep, the extensive green and tanned patchwork of fields roll with the foothills.

On our way to work

On our way to work

On the fourth day of our course we went up to the site for a tour. The name of our site, Kallithea translates to “beautiful view” in Greek. They couldn’t have picked a better title for the ancient city on top of this hill. Apart from being filled with history, artifacts, and beautiful architecture, this site is incredible because of its breathtaking, majestic view of the Thessalian landscape. The capital of the region, Larissa, is found amongst the vast plains to the North. Mount Olympus is in the distance where the great Olympians battled and defeated the Titans from Mount Othrys in the South. Mount Othrys is also a location where, according to myth, the nymphs dwell. To the East lies Halos, another Hellenistic polis that we visit during one of our field trips. Beyond Halos, is the Pagasitic Gulf extending from Mount Pelion, home to the centaurs, to the Aegean Sea. Finally, to the West we find the region of Thessaliotis and the Pindus mountain range that divides mainland Greece.

View to the north from Kallithea

View to the north from Kallithea

When I first chose to go into archaeology, the main reason was because I wanted to travel and see beautiful places. Greece was the first on my bucketlist and it has far exceeded my expectations. Staying in this area has peaked my interest in the rural lands of the classical regions. I would greatly recommend this course to anyone who loves good food, great people and especially amazing scenery.

Shanice Hannigan

View east from Kallithea

View east from Kallithea

 

Out of the classroom and into the (ancient) world, by Imaan Jeraj

When I applied to field school at Kallithea for the 2014 research season I was unsure of what to expect as I have never been to a field school before! After two weeks here I can definitely say I am very happy with my decision and feel very enriched in my studies of classical archaeology. More specifically, my favourite activity in the last two weeks has been our trip on June 8th that consisted of visiting three exciting locations in one day.

At Dimini, in the ‘dromos’ of a Mycenaean tholos tombs of the 13th century BCE

We began with a drive down to Nea Anchialos where we had breakfast of pastries (the spanakopita can’t compare to what we eat at home!) before heading to our first stop, the archaeological site at Dimini. It was an unbelievable experience to see in person the things I have been studying for the past three years! It was surreal stepping into the Tholos tomb built in Thessaly by Myceneans in the late Helladic iii A period around 1300 BC when the Mycenean civilization flourished. What I have seen in textbooks and slide shows did not capture what I saw when inside the incredibly well preserved tomb. The experience was enriched by Dr. Haagsma and our teaching assistants being there to explain what we were seeing and explain to us details that would have been missed or unknown to a regular tourist. It was any student of classics dream lesson, actually being inside the tomb you were learning about!

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The ‘tomb room’ at the archaeological museum in Volos.

Our second stop was at the Volos Museum. As someone who really enjoys visiting museums, this was one of my favourite archeological museums I have visited! It was not overwhelmingly large and the artefacts were all laid out in a clear and elegant manner that made the walk through the museum very exciting! There were amazing reconstructions of graves of various types. What captured my attention the most in the museum was the room full of grave stelae. They were wonderfully preserved and an amazing example of ancient paintings unlike anything I have seen before in person! Accompanied with this display were the translations of the inscriptions on the stelae. The poetry of the statements made my imagination run wild with thoughts of these people and their lives in the ancient world!

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Hellenistic painted grave stelae from Demetrias

We finished this perfect day with some time at the beach! We enjoyed the gorgeous view of the ocean and hills around it while eating the mini ice cream bars found everywhere in Greece and which I shamefully struggle to resist daily! My time at Kallithea has taken my love for classics outside of the classroom and into sites and museums which gave me first hand access to the artefacts I have been studying. I can’t wait for what I will learn in my remaining time at field school!

Imaan Jeraj

Visiting the Myrmidons in Pharsala

The Kallithea 2014 group in front of the statue of Achilles

The Kallithea 2014 group in front of the statue of Achilles

Archaeological Family, by Adam Wiznura

When I first decided to go to an archaeological dig in Greece my first thought was that I knew no one there and was worried it would be a difficult few weeks. However it was clear after one day, having met the people on the dig and the people in the village, that it was clear the trip would be great. All the students as well as the teachers have all been very friendly making each and every day utterly enjoyable. Whether it’s joking around during meals, talking while working or enjoying day trips together, every moment of this trip has been more than I could have asked for. The best part about the day trips to places like the site of Soros, is that all the students are interested and want to explore the site. Every student, volunteer and teacher is approachable with any question I may have. There is never a time when I feel like I am doing this course alone as there many others I can now call friends who help me through it. Joking around with others while many of us experience archaeological field work for the first time is a reason this is the first time in my life I can say I truly enjoy working while going to school.

Adam's visit of Kastro Kallithea

Adam’s visit of Kastro Kallithea

Our group has people with a wide range of interests, from history to archaeology, and with a wide range of experience – beginners like myself to those who have been at Kallithea for years. It has been exciting to hear from each of them. I am gaining a range of views and a wealth of experience. My most memorable learning experience was doing the quantification and placing together of pottery.

Daily work on the archaeological journals

Daily work on the archaeological journals

It made me feel so rewarded to be able to make thousands of pieces of little sherds turn into an actual vessel before my eyes. Yes it took patience at first but learning what to look for and being able to do it myself was amazing. There is so much more to experience and so much more to learn. This study has just wet my appetite for more. I can’t think of a better school experience than the one I am currently going through and there is no doubt in my mind that I want to be right back in Narthaki next year.

Adam Wiznura