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Home » Kallithea » Material Culture, Lamps, and Ancient Lighting by Edward Middleton

Material Culture, Lamps, and Ancient Lighting by Edward Middleton


When I started my undergraduate degree five years ago, I had no intentions of studying Archaeology and had no real understanding of what it was in an academic sense. I started my degree in History with the intention of studying the Medieval period. Now, after four years of field work with the University of Alberta, three of which have been with the Kastro Kallithea project, I have a degree in Classics and Anthropology and will be applying to UAlberta’s MA program in Classical Archaeology.


Ed with one of Building 10's lamps

Ed with one of Building 10’s lamps

What really made me change the direction of my studies was how the field of archaeology treats the past. The focus on material culture really gives you a better feel for what you are studying and lets you study history on what feels like a more personal scale. You feel a real connection to the past when you spend your days excavating a house on top of a mountain or working with pottery that was hand made over two thousand years ago.


The ancient acropolis of Pharsala is one fantastic site I visited this year.


This feeling of connection to the past has led to the project that I’ve started this year, which is to look at the various ceramic lamps that are present at Building 10. Lamps are a valuable find, since there is the potential for dating the various styles, even though the lamps of northern Greece don’t share much stylistic characteristics with those of better known sites like Athens or Corinth during the Hellenistic Period. The work that I’ll be doing this year involves the reconstruction of the fragmentary lamps we have and sorting the lamps according to physical attributes, like body shape and decoration.


Beyond just organizing the lamps into typologies, I hope to be able to say something about how lamps were used in antiquity. What can we say about illumination in Building 10? How much natural light was present in different rooms? Are the lamps found in the same rooms they were used in in during antiquity? What activities were associated with lamps? I hope that by working with a specific category of artifact I can help preserve the material from the site, but also say something meaningful about life in antiquity.

– Edward Middleton

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