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During our first week of field school, we took a field trip up to Kastro Kallithea to see the site for ourselves. For most of us, the biggest challenges were the scorching sun and the vicious pounari thorns that cover the hilltop, but for some of us, the difficulties were a little longer lasting. On the way down from site, Alisha tripped, fell, and sprained her ankle. We made sure the damage wasn’t too serious (and the doctors let her keep the X-rays!), but the past few weeks have involved copious amounts of ibuprofen and icepacks. Walking up the hill to the Kastro Kallithea site certainly proved to be a challenge for many of us, so it’s hard to imagine doing it every day like the original occupants would have had to do.
Being anthropology students, we began thinking about how the walk up the hill might have impacted the lives of people and animals living on site. Although the people of Kastro Kallithea were probably used to going up and down the hill, it would still put a lot of strain on the body, especially if they had their animals grazing at the base of the hill – they would have had to climb up and down to move them. If there was any trade done in the area, which is highly plausible, they would be going up and down the hill frequently and most likely with fairly heavy loads. Studying bones can tell us a lot about the lifestyle that the inhabitants of Kastro Kallithea would have led; we can see what they ate, where they spent most of their lives, and even what sorts of activities they did on a daily basis. Climbing up the hill once gave us an insider view of what the inhabitants of Kastro Kallithea probably did every day.
Leaving the confines of our homes seemed at first to be a somewhat intimidating experience since some of us had never been away from home for more than a day or two on our own. Our trip consisted of visiting and residing in Athens for a couple of days to get acclimatized to the European life and eventually we would set out for a duration of three weeks to live and work at the Kastro Kallithea Archaeological Project in the village of Narthaki in Thessaly as part of the archaeological field school. This small rural village seemed at first very unusual for us to live in since many of us had no previous experience with the local language and we obviously stood out from the rest of the surrounding population. The looks that were given to us by the locals in the village were at first somewhat concerning since it was a small game of “spot the tourist” but after a short consultation with the many teacher’s assistants and Dr. Margriet Haagsma herself, we were given some knowledge on the language as well as the proper cultural etiquette.
The villagers asserted a lot of importance on the level of politeness one should give the children the adults and the elderly. Unlike our North American ways of living, individuals within the village kept it very polite, said hello to each other and began small talk conversations, something we were clearly not used to. Some of us caught on very quickly while others took some more time to get used to but in the end, we were able to represent Canada as a country of quick adaptation and as respectful of other countries as much as possible since we were in effect the guests residing there.
Another important thing that was noteworthy was the level of traditional customs that the villagers asserted. By North American standards of freedom to do what one wishes to do with their body, it took some adjustment to successfully abide by those rules. Men were not necessarily allowed to show their boxer linings while women needed to cover up a little more. The elderly generation of the village constantly put their best shirts and suits on to impress the younger generation as well as give an example. While we were split into gender groups where the women would live in the gymnasium and the men in the soccer shed, it was not considered appropriate to enter either or if you were of the opposite sex. You could only remain in the vicinity and stay around for a couple of minutes without causing too much disturbance.
In fact, the experience proved gratifying to the most of us since it gave us an understanding that Narthaki relied on a sense of tradition in order to properly function and help each individual out rather than rely on individualistic North American customs. Each villager knew they could count on each other at any time for help if need be. Hopefully this experience gave each and every participant in the field school the ability to interact with their surroundings rather than keep the interaction to the minimum because it sure helped us three to understand the importance of a community!
The Kastro Kallithea Field School Blog no. 4. The Necessity of Documentation Through Photography in an Archaeological Setting. By: Alexandria Garcia and Rashmani Chakrabarty.
Photography is a key aspect in the documentation process of classical archeological sites and personally, it was one of our favourite modules to learn at the Kastro Kallithea Field School. Archeology is about preserving the past, but unfortunately, it is a destructive practice. Despite our best attempts the handling of excavated artifacts increasingly damages them. Photography allows us to preserve these artifacts digitally, so that we can have an image to refer to when studying them. Furthermore, often artifacts are excavated in certain countries where they cannot be legally removed; this is the case for the Kastro Kallithea site. In these situations, photography becomes essential in the study of artifacts abroad.
It is not enough to only photograph artifacts, as there are thousands of finds per site. Imagine trying to find one lamp nozzle image in the numerous images taken of each item. In short, a rather difficult and time consuming task. For this reason, we further document every image into two logs. There is a written log, where we summarize the total number of images taken for each profile of an artifact. Additionally, there is a digital log where every image is documented. As a student, we filled out the summarized log, while our instructor was responsible for the upkeep of the digital log. It is crucial to not only document images of artifacts on the camera in question but also ones that have been deleted. This is done to avoid confusion over a jump in the numbers on the camera’s memory card. Therefore, images whether deleted or kept are still accounted for within both the written and digital photo logs.
In addition to the many other methods of preservation, photography is essential in the preservation and studying of artifacts as well as an interesting and informative module. We had a great teacher, Gino Canlas, who taught us to think outside the box when photographing, as you can in the second picture.
Why do we study roof tiles?
We study roof tiles because they show one element of how ancient houses were constructed and roofed, and they are a highly transportable artefact that can be easily carried back to the Apothiki for further study of their fabric and shape. Additionally, after the initial analysis of the roof tiles, we select those that have been stamped by the workshops in Antiquity and begin comparative studies of the stamps to ones found in nearby sites, like New Halos and Phthiotic Thebes. From this, we can learn how and where the roof tiles were manufactured, and the economic connections that potentially formed between the Hellenistic cities of Thessaly.
What happens to the roof tiles in the Apothiki (project space for Kastro Kallithea)?
At Kastro Kallithea 65,000 roof tiles were found, weighing 7300 Kg. Due to this staggering number, it is not humanly possible to transport all of the roof tiles from the site to the Apothiki, and only roof tiles that have been stamped or are initially interpreted as pottery sherds are brought down for study. Below is a picture of the unfortunate roof tile fragments that after a brief jaunt as sherds, are discovered for what they truly are, and are to be taken back to site.
The roof tiles that are stamped are given a special find number upon arrival at the Apothiki. The roof tiles are not cleaned thoroughly, as they are very delicate and may crumble under strenuous washing. Once cleaned, the roof tiles are labelled, and then handed off to be drawn. Drawing roof tiles is a time-consuming process, involving patience and precision for the asymmetrical planes of the artefacts. In the picture above and to the right a student is hard at work drafting a roof tile with an abstract circular shape.
How were roof tiles used in the antiquity, and how are they used today?
Roof tiles were used in a similar manner to how they are utilized today. Below you can see an image of modern roof tiles working in the flesh, keeping the houses of Narthaki dry and insulated from the natural elements of Thessalian planes. This image gives us a taste of how roof tiles might have looked in use at Kastro Kallithea.
Interview with Dr. David Rupp, Director of the Canadian Institute in Greece at the University of Alberta
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.
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.
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!