My Grecian Saga – Part III

My Grecian Saga – Part III: September 26 2008 ~ Pictures 1 ~ Pictures 2

Hello again everyone!

Been a couple of weeks since the last update . . . life is kind of settling down over here.  We are all getting into a routine digging and Greek class and Humanities class, so it seems like there’s not as many pictures being taken, not as many things to tell, even though every day we find something new (or at least come up with a new hypothesis of why we dug out 2 feet of topsoil), learn some new Greek words, and read another page of Homer.

So! I think at least Mom and Dad will be happy to know that we finally started digging!! Yes, its true, after a week in Athens, and a week on the beach essentially, we were ready for our first dig day! We were all ready and raring to go at 7:30 to catch the bus, when Geoffrey showed up and informed us that because of the lightning and thunder (at that time there was no real rain) we would not be digging! So back we trudged, rather defeated to the hotel, to while away the day. The tropical storm that quickly enveloped us and lasted for 7-8 hours, with mega thunder and lightning, made us happy that we were not actually on the site that day – but still a rather disappointing start.

The next day was clear and bright and up to the site we went! We are digging up the Necropolis of the ancient city-state of Pronnoi, which is about 15-20 minutes away from modern Poros. The necropolis is located on the North Western slope of the ancient Acropolis of Pronnoi, and like all good Acropoli, it’s on a mountain!! The road up to the sight would be a total death trap if any bus driver from North America were to try and navigate it, but our bus driver Vasillis has never let us down and always manages to get us up the gravel switchbacks hanging off the side of the mountain with great skill and finesse.

The site is really two areas: a sloped cemetery and a terrace complex. We were supposed to start on the terrace complex (the nice flat area) but the main archaeologist on the island asked us to start on the slope instead, to salvage some exposed and robbed burials. These have been alright in terms of pottery and bone. We found a really interesting cup with a large foot to it, which is unusual, as well as some archaic pottery dating to the 6th century BC. The burials on the slope are all pithos burials, which mean that a large storage pot, or pithos, was broken into pieces, moved into the burial site, the body placed inside with the grave goods, and then the rest of the pithos was re-articulated and rocks were placed around and on top of it to help it maintain its shape. The first day finding pieces of pithos was fun. Now, since there are literally thousands upon thousands of pieces of pithos on our site, it’s somewhat less exciting. Nonetheless, after carting away buckets and buckets of dirt without finding a piece of pithos or pottery, finding one can still be really exciting, basically because it means there is something under the next layer (or two) of dirt!

Unfortunately the weather in the last two weeks has been really bad, and rain has forced us to either cancel dig days altogether or to leave early from the site. Excavating on a slippery mud trap of death, although fun, isn’t really the safest thing.

Last Thursday was Nicole’s birthday, so we went out for her birthday dinner, and then to Vasillis’ (our trusty bus driver’s) bar for a couple of drinks. Last Saturday we finally took the mayor up on his offer of going to his hotel to use the swimming pool and have a free meal. The weather wasn’t the best (it got a bit sunny in the afternoon), but little did we know that using the pool also meant free range in the bar – literally. Costas welcomed us to the hotel, took us over to the bar and said, no one is working, take whatever you want (!!!!). Anthony took the Barista position, and I got to play bartender.  Seeing as it was only 11 am, we started with cappuccino’s with Bailey’s, and when that bottle ran out, we moved on to Amaretto and OJ for the rest of the day. Strangely enough, he invited us back again this weekend . . . needless to say, we’re all pretty excited for Round Two.

That night we made plans to go out for Nicole’s birthday (again) and also for Geoffrey (our prof)’s birthday, which was on Sunday. Again we all trekked to Vasillis’ beach bar where we danced to some traditional and some not-so-traditional Greek music and sang to Geoffrey at midnight. The next day we surprised him with ice cream cake and the Greek version of Happy Birthday.

This week was an intense one at the dig. We got rained out on Monday but were ready to go on Tuesday with guns . . . or maybe trowels, blazing. Alyssa, Katy, Nicole, Maria, Anthony and I hauled ass all day Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, removing the 2 ½ feet of topsoil from our 5x7m trench. Geoffrey thinks that we have come down on an ancient collapsed terrace wall, which is pretty significant, as it shows that archaic Greeks actually terraced their cemeteries, which I don’t think anyone has come across before.

Hopefully on Monday we will be able to get down another couple layers of soil and reach the ancient ground level and start working more with trowels, brooms and brushes instead of pick axes, buckets and shovels!!

Today we took a really amazing field trip up the East coast of the island to Sami. Along the way we stopped at Drogati Cavern, a really old, really cool, underground cavern with huge stalactites and stalagmites, which are probably 20 000 years old. Next up was Melissani Cave, which is actually an underground lake, also with stalactites and stalagmites that are about 20 000 years old. About 5000 years ago the roof of part of the cave fell in, creating a partly open roof to the cave, allowing the light to come in and colour the water all sorts of blues and greens.

We stopped briefly in modern Sami before heading up to the old Acropolis (also on a big hill) to look at the Eastern Gate, which is one of the finest examples of 5th century BC gates in Greece, and a medieval monastery, where there is still a wee church.

Tomorrow we have our first real ‘free day’ since getting to Athens!! Nothing is arranged, we have no plans and the weather is supposed to be nice, so I’m thinking BEACH! before my tan fades away into oblivion!!

So that’s all from Poros this time around. Everything here is pretty great, the group is really wonderful and I’ve made a lot of amazing friends already. Hope everyone is doing well back home, its really great to hear what you’re up to – thanks to those who emailed back last time!

Until next time, geia sou!


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