Kastro Kallithea 2015 Field School Blog nr. 7: Waste not, want not: reuse at Building 10 by Chelsee Newman and Kristen Millions
During our short time at Narthaki working on the Kastro Kallithea archaeological project, it has come to our attention that the Greek people have a particular penchant for two of the “three Rs”: reuse and recycle. In our study of building 10 we have seen the reflection of a culture that places value on materials and gives them new life after their primary use has expired.
The uguentaria, for example, are pieces that the authors, Chelsee and Kristen, worked with on numerous occasions. Uguentaria were used in Thessalian antiquity as vessels for storing perfume, and had very thin necks, large bodies, and thin bases. In Building 10, third-five were found in Unit D alone. Though these vessels are identified in the archaeological record as perfume bottles, analyses from Building 10 suggested that they may have been used as spice holders as well. Thus, we see evidence that something that may have lost its primary use could be reimagined into something with equal use-ability.
Building 10 itself was even reused and given new life after its first building phase had run its course. A second building phase is evidenced in the wall structure that was built over top of an existing basin in the courtyard area. Perhaps the inhabitants realized that the amount of pre-existing space wasn’t necessary and they closed off the southern quadrant of the home. A Hopper-Rubber mill grinding stone was found, and it’s thought to have been converted into a saddle quern. This is not only suggestive of a smaller household (with not as much grain needing to be produced) but also another example of item rejuvenation in Greek antiquity.
From a North American perspective, we’re entrenched in a life of materialism with an attitude of “why have old when you can have brand new?” Our attitude is so different from that of the Greek people, both in antiquity and modernity, and it’s fascinating to be privy to such a different cultural perspective.
Kastro Kallithea 2015 Field School Blog nr. 6: Footsteps into the Past by Torri Hanson, Jessica Patras and Lindsay Chisholm
Learning at the University of Alberta is an amazing experience! The classes are interesting and the professors are knowledgeable but neither can truly compare to the understanding and experience a student can acquire while at field school. It is one thing to have a professor lecture about ancient civilizations and artefacts. However, it is an unfathomable difference to be able to see those settlements in person and touch pieces of history with your hands.
On our tour of the excavated site, Kastro Kallithea, we learned that the name of the site in Greek translated to “beautiful view” and that statement could not be truer. The site rests on the top of a mountain from which we could see Mount Olympus and the Pagasitic Gulf on the horizon. Although a local prickly bush (called punari) has completely taken over it was almost overwhelming to be able to walk through the actual streets and avenues of the once inhabited settlement.
Kastro Kallithea was not the only site we have the privilege of seeing while here. As students of the field school we were taken on weekly excursions to other locations around Thessaly. This allowed us to compare and contrast Kastro Kallithea with other regional sites and to experience the abundant culture around us.
Our first excursion was spent in the current city of Farsala, which was built over the ancient city of Pharsalos. The idea of newer settlements being reoccupied is a familiar cultural phenomenon in the area. It is seen on a small scale within a house to the rebuilding of an entire structure such as the wall fortification at the Acropolis of Pharsalos.
The second excursion day was spent at the archaeological site of Dimini! Here we toured a Neolithic settlement as well as an amazing Tholos Tomb that was constructed during the Mycenaean time. Being able to see something previously learned about in textbooks was eye opening. It was stunning and awe inspiring to stand in something so ancient and sacred.
But the excursions aren’t just learning about ancient civilizations, they’re also about enjoying the local flavours and having fun!