After three weeks of excavating at Eleon a break was sorely needed… I mean that in the best way possible. We were all given a three-day long weekend in order for us to recover our strength and maybe see more of Greece while Brendan and Bryan went to Athens to speak about the well preserved lesbian polygonal wall, which is a type of wall design in which all of the large stone blocks are cut into polygonal shapes and fit tightly together. Nearly half of us decided to use these three days to travel to Nauplion, the former capital of Greece, in order to rest and explore the Argolid. The Argolid is located on the eastern edge of the Peloponnese contains many ancient Mycenaean sites including Mycenae, Tiryns and Argos. Nauplion is an awesome town, right on the water and below a Venetian castle situated on top a rocky mountain.
The first morning we awoke after a long, much needed sleep and drove to Mycenae. We explored the citadel and were able to appreciate some aspects of the site that we might not have understood had we not experienced them digging at Eleon. We spent a long time admiring the restoration of the site as well as some of the smaller buildings and walls that looked very familiar. The museum at Mycenae was really exciting; we immediately picked out vessels on display that looked similar to pieces we had found in the field. For the most part we stared at the displays and made wish lists in our heads for the next three weeks. It was interesting to be able to put what we’ve been excavating into context, suddenly an “LHIIIb rim” made so much more sense.
The citadel of Tiryns was next on our itinerary; with its high Cyclopean walls, it was definitely an impressive site. While there is not much left in terms of architecture we were still able to easily spot the outline of the Mycenaean palace and the post Mycenaean Building T that was built inside the palace using two of its walls. What we admired most about Tiryns however was its archaeological team’s excellently constructed, high quality, expensive looking sunshade. Eleon has its own sunshades to protect us from the heat (my God the heat!), which were built by our good friend Win with a limited amount of supplies, and well they do an excellent job shading us, we just couldn’t help feeling jealous.
We had a similar experience with the Nauplion museum, which houses many of the finds from Tiryns, as at Mycenae. We spent the entire time making wish lists in our heads or comparing our pottery and the museum’s. The really interesting part about both museums was the old photos on the wall taken from the first half of the 20th century or earlier. Comparing the difference in methods from then and now was fascinating. One photo that really stood out was at Mycenae, it was taken in the Lion Tholos Tomb and pictured archaeologist bringing in meat on a spit to cook over a fire they had built. It made me try to think of a scenario in which we could convince Bryan and Brendan to let us have a cook out inside the Frankish tower at Eleon.
Our last stop before heading home was at one of Gen’s first dig sites, Stymfalia. Gen was able to show us around the site a bit and explained that she had worked in an area known as the fountain room, which was fed by an underground spring that still existed. We stuck our feet into the ice-cold water with a sigh of relief from the intense afternoon heat. Gen hadn’t been to Stymfalia for nearly ten years, which makes me excited to see Eleon in the future, with its highwalls, imposing palace and gigantic museum.