Day 47: Saturday, May 20

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Sites Visited: Ancient Messene, Archaeological Museum at Messene, Arcadian Gate

Leaders: Dan and Grace

Today, we took a trip out to the Hellenistic/Roman site of Ancient Messene. We spent a couple of hours on a scavenger hunt through the site, looking for the remains of different buildings. Some of these buildings, like the gymnasium, were used for almost 400 years in antiquity, while others are apparently still used today! One other, that is. The stadium at Messene hosted the All-Greek Youth Olympic Games today (just kidding, we have no idea what the event was or why it was held here, but as we walked into the site we were followed by hundreds of children who all went down to the stadium for something or other). Each of us also chose a building of interest to photograph in depth in an attempt to understand and explain its importance to the ancient Greeks.

After the site itself, we took a quick trip to the Messene museum and saw some of the finds from the site. These included lots of clay lamps and some marble statuary from sanctuaries to Artemis and Asklepios at Messene. Last, we jaunted over to the Arcadian gate, a huge gate in the city’s wall which protected the trade road out to Arcadia. The circular gate was about 20 meters (roughly 65 feet!) in diameter, and the road through it is still in use. Then it was back to Kalamata for more olives!

Yeah sauce,

Dan, Grace, and the crew

Ancient Messene

We made a new friend at Ancient Messene

Arcadian Gate

Day 46: Friday, May 19

Sites Visited: Kalamata museum

Leaders: Max Barg and Shania Kee

Hey Friends,

This morning we got to sleep in, and we left Sparta for Kalamata at 11 AM, arriving just after noon. We then spent the next two and half hours at the Archaeological Museum of Messenia here in Kalamata.

The museum was relatively small, but had tons of cool stuff inside. It essentially held all of the best archeological finds from the surrounding area. My favorite stuff (Max) was the drinking vessels from the Palace of Nestor, a Mycenaean palace located about 50 km from Kalamata. It looks like the Mycenaeans knew how to throw a party. I (Shania) thought the coolest thing was a seahorse votive figurine from a sanctuary of Poseidon in Akovitika.

After the museum, we hopped back on the bus to drive to our hotel in Kalamata. Close to three, most of us were hungry. We spent the afternoon grabbing some grub and exploring the coastal city.

That’s all folks,

MB and SK

Day 45: Thursday, May 18 (This was Sparta)

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Sites Visited: Sparta, Sparta Archaeological Museum, and Mistras

Leaders:

THIS IS SPARTA!

We woke up this cloudy morning and first went to a monument dedicated to all the Spartiate Olympic victors. Every Olympic victor from Sparta had their name inscribed on the monument, and by every, I mean every. All the victors from 700 BCE to 2004 CE were listed. We also took some silly pictures in front of the statue of King Leonidas, the famous guy who bit Persians and kicked the guy in the well in the movie 300. Dope!

We then walked off to the ancient Acropolis, and took a seat in the ancient theater with a really nice backdrop of the Lakonian mountains on a rainy day. We learned all about Sparta and the theater, which is one of the biggest ones in the Peloponnese, and then went to a small museum nearby with a lot of exciting Spartan things going on. For lunch we went to a donut shop recommended by none other than our favorite Sparta expert, PCC! PCC, if you’re reading this, we miss you, and Mr. Donut was suuuuuper good.

Having been bloated by the donuts, we took a short bus ride to Mystras, a medieval castle on top of a really tall and really pretty mountain with lots of Byzantine churches. The views were insane, and the clouds made it even better and #moodier. We climbed all the way up and then walked all the way down, and we can all agree it was one of the most fun things we’ve done on the trip. There were even some wild mulberries that were ripe to perfection, and they were really yummy. The climb down was great, and then we went back to our hotel to take naps of varying lengths. We’re all missing Dartmouth and Green Key weekend right about now, but who cares? We’re in Greece!

All you naysayers should go back to Persia,

Vic, Michael, and Team A

Learning about Sparta in the ancient theater

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Mistras

Day 44: Wednesday, May 17

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.

ΜΟΛΟΝ ΛΑΒΕ,
Ben and Nat

Day 43: Tuesday, May 16

Sites Visited: Marathon, Thorikos, Sounion

Leaders: Saphfire and Max Frankel

Although back in Athens, the group didn’t see any sites in the City, instead going to other sites on the Attic Peninsula. Our first stop was the plain of marathon, where the Athenians defeated the first Persian invasion. We saw the museum, the victory column, and the battlefield. Then we took a bus to thorikos, a deme (village) near the southern tip of Attica. They had silver mines, a cool theater, and some interesting silver washing facilities. Ultimately, we stopped at Sounion, the fortress on the tip of the peninsula. It enjoyed excellent views of the surrounding sea and was therefore a religious and military center. We saw a rather run-down temple of Poseidon, some walls, some shipsheds, and a town. It was pretty cool, and also pretty windy.

Kefalotyri!!!

Max and Saph