UAlberta Classics

Home » Kallithea » Field Trips

Category Archives: Field Trips

Kastro Kallithea Fieldschool 2016 Excursion to the archaeological museum in Volos

DSCN4563

Advertisements

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.

Torri 1

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.

Torri 2

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.

Torri 3

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!

Torri 5

The Kastro Kallithea Study Season 2015. An Impression by Matt Gabert and Karey Rodgirs

Testing the waters, by Lorraine Stratkotter

I have come back to university with the intention of finally finishing a PhD in (Classical) Geoarchaeology.  Not only do I love geology, which I have degree in, but all things ancient. I have a special affinity with the Mediterranean area as it certainly is a huge contribution to the cradle of civilization to which we owe the advances seen in our modern-day societies. I am currently full-time in an after-degree Bachelor of Arts with a major in Greek and Roman Studies and minor in Archaeology at the University of Calgary.  The opportunity presented itself to join this University of Alberta field school.  It was a wonderful experience to actually work with the actual artefacts from the site of an ancient settlement and to be able to visit other sites and museums in what would be considered remote areas in modern times.  It is fascinating to be part of putting together the history of the local area, as well as how it fits into the “bigger picture” of humankind’s evolution.  It also has been a great opportunity to work and share ideas directly with researchers, including the other students, in my area of study.

DSCN1392

Lorraine, testing the water of spring nr. 1.

Also while I was here I was able to do water sampling as an independent study in conjunction with both the University of Alberta and University of Calgary. The geology of the area is thought to act as a natural filtration. The basic idea is that if the springs are reportedly presently a clean source of water, then this was probably the case in the past. The samples have been sent for analysis. Of course seeing  the geology of the area firsthand has been amazing.

Spring nr. 3 with its hollow Plane trees.

The people of Greece have been amazing everywhere I have gone.  I cannot say enough how welcoming and helpful  everyone was, especially the residents of Narthaki where we were staying and working. It was really cute how the children say “Hi. What’s your name?” and the patience as I struggled with my Greek conversation book.  Everyone too that I have had the pleasure to meet and work with have been great.

It has taken me 20 years to get here, including to finally see the Acropolis in Athens, and it has been so worth it.  What an experience it has been on so many levels!

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

 

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