Sites Visited: Tegea Archaeological Museum, Temple of Athena Alea at Tegea, and Agios Vasilios
Today was a really great day to be leaving Athens, because the weather was absolutely awful. Despite the rain and general greyness of the day, however, we still managed to have an amazing time at the two stops along our bus route to the Peloponnese: the Temple to Athena Alea at Tegea and Agios Vasilios.
The temple at Tegea is interesting archaeologically because it has unusual proportions and is generally a ~funky~ temple. It was interesting to us because the ruins are very climbable and we had been cooped up on a bus for several hours. The museum also had the best interactive digital displays of any museum we have been to and we got to watch conservators make 3D models of some of the objects. Both the museum and the temple are next to an incredibly delicious and inexpensive bakery which we had to check out before we got back on the road. All
in all a great stop!
When we got to Agios Vasilios, we very quickly realized the problem with preserving a site by backfilling it: this site – the first new Mycenaean palace uncovered since 1939 – was completely and utterly buried and thus no more remarkable from the surface than any other hilltop orchard. Underneath “all this crap” (to quote one of the group’s favourite tourists ever) though lay the massive cemetery and palatial complex that very likely was the center of Bronze Age power in Laconia (the palace of Menelaus, perhaps)? The grave goods here were sparse, but it was so cool to know we were literally on top of a newly excavated site, and maybe even some more early Linear B tablets. A pretty darn cool feeling for a visually underwhelming site.
Finally settling down in the very large major city in Laconia, one of us asked our professor where we were, to which she replied “THIS IS SPARTA”. So that about sums up the day.
Ben and Nat