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!