Day 42: Sunday, May 7

Sites Visited: Benaki Museum and National Archaeological Museum

Leaders: Tim and Grace

Today was our first day back in Athens after an idyllic week on Crete, but things kicked off with a bang at the Benaki Museum, an extraordinary private collection of material spanning from Neolithic to modern art. This museum had some incredibly impressive highlights, from beautiful Neolithic pottery to a stunning stone cameo from the Roman period to some incredibly ostentatious swords and pistols adorned with gold and coral from the Greek war for independence in the 19th century. This museum was easily one of the best we’ve visited on the FSP so far.

In the afternoon we returned to the National Archaeological Museum, this time with Professor Hruby as our guide. She gave us an extensive and enthusiastic tour of the museum’s Neolithic and Bronze Age material and pointed out several of her favorite items in its collection, including some hedgehog–shaped pottery and a huge assortment of tablets covered in Linear B, a type of syllabary script used on Crete and found in a few deposits on the mainland during the Bronze Age. We also stopped by the famous gold mask of Agamemnon, which of course has nothing to do with Agamemnon but was beautiful all the same.

Tomorrow is our first day of vacation! We’re sad to split up for a week, but everyone seems ready to take a short break from archaeology.

Grace and Tim

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Day 41: Saturday, May 6

Sites Visited: Chania city tour

Leaders: Shania and Dan

Hey,

Today we started the day out in Chania and ended up back at our home base, Athens. In Chania, we took a city tour and saw various archaeological sites like the Byzantine fortress walls. After the tour, we met up with paleoarcheobotantist, Anaya Sarpaki. She gave us a interesting presentation titled, The Olive, the Vine, and Minoan Agriculture. After the presentation, we were given free reign of the city and visited Chania’s maritime museums and ate lunch. After a few hours, we drove to the airport and took a flight back to Athens.

Byeeeee,
Shania and Dan, plus 11 more people.

Day 39: May the 4th be with you

The mystery of the kouloures has been solved...
The Mystery of the Kouloures has been solved…

Sites Visited: Malia, Eleftherna Museum, Armeni Cemetery

Group Leaders: Nathalie and Michael Bodek

Friends, Romans  Greeks, Countrymen,

Lend me your ears. This morning we went to Malia, a Minoan palace that happens to be near a resort town that was featured on the British reality TV show, Sun, Sex, and Suspicious Parents. Don’t worry Mom and Dad! Today was purely educational.

Malia was a Minoan palatial site that had many phases of occupation. Though it may not have been occupied during the Neolithic, it was destroyed, rebuilt, and destroyed throughout the Protopalatial and Neopalatial periods. We saw layered rubble masonry, when the remains of the early palace were incorporated into the new one. We also got to see an industrial quarter, as well as storage rooms and bad twentieth century archaeological practices. We heard theories for what kouloures were, and saw cool stone objects of unknown function. Were they ritual? Probably. Do we say that about everything we don’t understand? Yes. Malia was also really interesting because according to Buzzfeed it is the Minoan palace I (Michael) am. Refer to yesterday’s blog for the Buzzfeed quiz.

Next stop was the archaeological museum at Eleuthera. This museum was brand new and it was everyone’s first time visiting. It was filled with beautiful grave goods like bronze weapons and gold jewelry. It also had a section on how Homer refers to Crete in his poems which got all the Classical language nerds (all of us) pretty excited. There were also two complete funeral pyres which were unlike anything we had ever seen!

After the museum was Armenoi, a Minoan necropolis. Armenoi today is a beautiful oak grove filled with 230+ cut stone tombs. We got to get our Indiana Jones on and climb down into the tombs and really explore. It was just the right amount of creepy. Tim Connor got a pretty good jump scare on Saphfire and everyone got good photo ops. Pretty solid day!

Tonight we are in Chania in a really nice hotel AND we have a late wake up tomorrow so life is good.

Don’t touch the antiquities, they have feelings too.

Hruby’s Eleven.

And Tim

That's no moon...
That’s no moon…

Malia

Armeni Cemetery

Day 38: Wednesday, May 3

Sites Visited: INSTAP Study Center

Group Leaders: Ben Bonner and Saphfire Brown

Today, as Rosy-fingered Dawn peeked over the horizon to wake the sleepers, we came upon ourselves already walking toward the bus for our day volunteering at the East Crete Study Center. (Odyssey reference for those of you less-cultured blog readers.)

Giving us a tour of all the tools at his disposal was Dr. Tom Brogan, a man who clearly knew his stuff. He brought us to all of the stations we’d be in and prepped us for the hands on experience, before introducing us to Doug Faulmann, who proudly displayed his high tech gear and gauges used for creating 3D models of sites and antiquities. Then we began sifting, floating, piecing together vessels, and scrubbing bones. In the blink of an eye, it was hours later
and time for lunch.

Exhausted from hours of meticulous work, we tromped down the hill to the main area of the coastal village to scavenge for food. The group split up and went to various restaurants on the beach, and once we had been watered and fed, we returned to the study center like a flock of newborn Phoenixes, rising from the ashes and revitalized by our recent caloric intake.

We decided to mix things up and everyone chose a new station to work at, except for Shania, who apparently has an affinity for scrubbing dirt off the bones of long-dead mountain dwelling animals. Again, we were lost in time…lost in our work…captivated by the raw materials of the past that were being placed into our hands like malnourished children being given scraps. We hungered for more.

Most of us will never experience this sort of thing again, as archaeological jobs are incredibly hard to come by and most of us will probably end up living in our parents’ basement – once again starving for scraps. Apparently some professors “really encourage [students] to not go into this field of work.” Sorry, mom, looks like my overpriced degree will leave me with nothing but the ability to find humor in Buzzfeed quizzes titled “Which Ancient Minoan Palace
Are You.” ( https://www.buzzfeed.com/mlleerika/which-minoan-palace-are-you-26wtd)

Don’t worry, we’re only half kidding. Also, if it’s not evident from this blog we are all getting pretty angsty and ready for the break to start on Monday. In all seriousness, it was an amazing day volunteering at the East Crete Study Center! Wishing you all a goodnight from Agios Nikolaos!

“iD rAtHeR bE hAtEd FoR wHo I aM tHaN lOvEd FoR wHo Im NoT” (source: Probably Plato)
~Angsty Saph and Angstier Ben

Day 37: Tuesday, May 2

**May 1 was a day off**

Sites Visited: Azoria, Gournia, Lato

Group Leaders: Max Frankel and Grace

Today was a day in which we did a lot of things before 3. We went to 3 sites. We received two tours. Azoria from Dr. Melissa Eaby and Gournia from Dr. Tom Brogan. Both were awesome and extremely informative. We started work on an assignment comparing Lato, the other site, Azoria and Gournia. It was a really sunny day on Crete. We stopped by a traditional Cretan sweet shop. It was pretty good. Mmmmmmm. Tasty. Sweet. Tastefully Sweet? I don’t know. In any case then we came back to Agios Nikolaos and worked/napped at the Hotel. Then we ate dinner. Thus ended the day.

Sincerely,
Max and Grace

Azoria

Gournia

Lato

Day 35: Sunday, April 30

Sites Visited: Phaistos, Agia Triada, Kamalari Tholos Tomb

Leaders: Tim Connor and Shania

Today was jam–packed with Minoan architecture! Our first stop was at Phaistos, a Middle Minoan 1B palatial complex contemporaneous with the palace at Knossos we visited yesterday but without Sir Arthur Evans’ heavy, imaginative reconstruction everywhere. This site was positively bristling with polythyra, also known as pier–and–door partitions, a distinctly Minoan style of double doors on pylons that seems very effective – more ancient civilizations should have adopted this approach! The palace was destroyed around 1750 BCE by earthquakes and later rebuilt on a smaller scale, and what survives is very similar to the palace we saw yesterday. We made a quick pit stop at the snack bar on the site for lunch before hopping back on the bus.

We visited two sites after lunch, the first of which was Ayia Triada, a settlement that was used in various capacities from the Neolithic period through the 13th century CE. This site is noteworthy for the Late Minoan 1 villa that stands here, where the famous Harvester Vase was found alongside over 130 seals and several tablets with Linear A script. A set of storefronts stand in a row on the north side of the site as well. Our second stop of the afternoon was at Kamilari, where we checked out one of the tholos tombs built there during the Middle Minoan 1B period and used through the Late Minoan IIIA2 period. This is extremely late for a tomb like this to be constructed and even later for it to still be in active use, so it’s possible that these tombs were constructed as an expression of local traditions and a sign of resistance against palatial authority. After we wrapped up at Kamilari, we returned to the bus and arrived in Agios Nikolaos for the night.

Bye!

Mortise and Tenon (Tim and Shania)