Friday, June 29, 2012

Educational Holiday

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.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Photographic Evidence Part 1

It's been a busy four weeks here. So busy that we haven't blogged nearly so much as we should have. In honour of the end of the fourth week I have decided to post some photos that will give you a good idea of the kind of work we've been doing. Of course, none of the photos can capture the heat, the dust, the humidity of our site, nor can you feel the mosquitoes or the burns (which are thankfully few). I can't show you any specifics - you'll have to wait for the publication. For now, feast your eyes on the 2012 EBAP team and their labours. 

KS cleaning last year's trench

JB and MP clearing the site. Last year this was a scythe. 

LT supplementing snack.

TVD - the bandana binder.

SB oversees the clearing.


Removing topsoil near the wall.

South view

View to the NW. Our only shade.

TVD keeping records like a boss.

SB clearing. Nobody can escape weed pulling.

RBB at break. 

Trench tours.

Our weapons.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Half way through already- I can't believe it! Although its been quite a short period of time I can't even begin to explain the amount of things I've learned. First of all I would like to say that I am very proud of my extensive seven word Greek vocabulary: Geia sas (hello), farasi (flutter), skoúpa (broom), parakalo (please), efxaristo (thank you), karotsi (wheelbarrow), and kasmas (pick-axe). In reality, yes I am well aware this would not get me very far, however on site they are encorporated into casual conversation and are useful to know as most people here enjoy speaking Greek-english. Being an anthropology major, particularily interested in zooarchaeology, I applied to EBAP without having any knowledge regarding Greek and Roman studies or anything it entails. However, after being here a few weeks learning new fun facts each day and having visited a few of the amazing museums in Athens with my own personal amazing museum tour guide Mina (haha) I now somewhat understand everyone's extreme enthusiasm toward pottery. On an average day the majority of the findings consists of many different kinds of pottery as well as large amounts of bone dug up from the trenches, which usually makes for an exciting evening when we get to wash them and see what pottery stage and which animals the bone came from :) Its been a great summer, the people are amazing and EBAP has been an incredible experience! 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

"Nikos- rest. One minute."

Kalispera. I would like to begin my first blog post by quoting my fellow UVic excavator Max Macdonald: "It's nearly one week into my first archaeological dig and I still haven't needed my whip or six shooter AND Angelina Jolie is nowhere to be found."  While Max and I are naturally distraught that Angelina has yet to make an appearance at ancient Eleon, I can safely say that excavating has been an enriching experience for all involved.  So far I have worked in three trenches, gained some know-how with basic archaeological tools, and learned a bit about the methodology of excavating.  I have also had the pleasure of working with Vangelis, the senior half of our père et fils team of Greek workmen.  You will no doubt hear more about Vangelis and all of his Greek wisdom from my trench-mate, Sam Bartlett.  Though, I will tell you that the most common phrase he directs at me is, "Nikos- rest. One minute." He and his son Angelos have been a very welcome addition to the EBAP team! Through the first couple weeks of the EBAP field school we have learned so much: to take points and elevations, to properly wield trowels, pickaxes, and hoes, to hydrate and avoid the full wrath of the sun, and to identify pottery sherds (with varying degrees of accuracy).  Most importantly though, we all know that if you have been bitten by a snake, you should keep calm and promptly remove your pants.

Life as an Archaeologist

Hello everyone! My name is Rose and I'm a Greek and Roman Studies major going into my third year at the University of Victoria. As EBAP is my first archaeological dig, I had no idea what to expect once I arrived. Our daily routine starts off with our 6:00 am departure for the acropolis of ancient Eleon. Our convoy of three vehicles (one of which is a massive 9 person van) arrives on site at 6:30 am. We have two very welcome cookie breaks throughout the day, and at 1:00 pm we pack up and head home to Dilesi. In the afternoon it has gotten too hot to work, so we have free time (usually used to catch up on some sleep or go to the beach) until 5:00 pm. Then we wash all of our pottery and bones we collected that day and take a look at what other trenches found. At 8:00 pm we have dinner at a local waterfront taverna. We work from Monday to Friday on this schedule, and Saturday is a half day. We have Sundays off to explore Greece or relax on the beach in Dilesi. After the first two weeks of excavation I have learned how to use a pickaxe, scarper and trowel. We've gotten experience with surveying equipment and some of the team have even picked up carpentry to construct invaluable sunshades. We've also learnt how to differentiate different kinds of pottery, and what time periods those pieces come from. Now that we all have settled into our routine we are making a lot of progress and we are all looking forward to the next month of excavation!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

38.5 degrees!

Today was the hottest day of the year so far - car thermometer on the way home said 38.5 (that's over 100 F!).
Things are continuing to go well. Last weekend we said good-bye to Georgina and Win who contributed greatly to setting us up for this season. Today we had to say good-bye to one more team member, Matt P., who left us for work at Mt. Lykaion. We hope he can come back.
If you noticed a delay in the students' blogs... - so have I! They tell me they will start sometime very soon.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Excavation Team

Our first full day of excavating, and everyone survived!

EBAP 2012

The 2012 excavations at Eleon are up and running!  This new phase of the Eastern Boeotia Archaeological Project (EBAP) is focused on activity at Eleon during the Late Bronze Age, with material dating from Middle Helladic through Late Helladic IIIC periods.

Our student volunteers will be the principal contributors to this blog, sharing their experience living and learning in Greece.  Stay tuned for more.