A new city, A new blog

Well, it’s official: I no longer live in Greece. I’ve been back for over three weeks already, but I just changed my ‘Current City’ on Facebook back to Vancouver. That’s how you know it’s official! Now that I’m back, I’m faced with the challenge of what to do with this blog…after all, it was called ‘An attempt at a travel blog from Greece’. Admittedly, I haven’t been the best blogger in recent months BUT I have a sort-of excuse for that – see, one of the archaeological sites I work at doesn’t have internet. Let me rephrase that. One of the sites I work at is located in such a remote (read: backwater) region that there were never any cables laid down for the internet. The internet does not exist in Mani. 

Without internet, things get weird - real weird.

Without internet, things get weird – real weird.

But, let’s leave the awesome internet-less weirdness of Mani for another post, another day (spoiler alert: that post will involve bee poop and burning effigies). For now, we move on the the topic of today’s post: what it means to be gone for a year, and what it’s like coming home. 

No, no, I’m not going to talk about how wonderful an experience I had (I DID!) or how awesome it is being home (IT IS!) Instead, I’m going to try to transition this blog from a travel blog to a more everyday, this-is-what-an-archaeology-PhD-student’s-life-is-like: I’m going to take this blog from one which features jealousy-inducing photos of far-off places and add to it the academic side of things, including awesome new projects (like From Stone to Screen, for one!) that my fellow students and colleagues are working on. I hope to still have a travel aspect, because what would a blog called ‘Wild Beneath the Skies’ be if it wasn’t talking about all the amazing places there are to visit in this world? 

Like this place...where I live now. Not too shabby!

Like this place…where I live now. Not too shabby!

There will be lots more to come. For now, I commemorate my awesome, wonderful, outstanding, once-in-a-lifetime unforgettable year spent in Greece with a list of the Top 5 things I will most definitely NOT miss about that weird, beautiful country called Hellas. Let’s do this.

My ‘Be Better, Greece!’ List

1) Not flushing your toilet paper. Yes, you heard that right. In Greece, you are not supposed dont flush toilet paperto flush your toilet paper. Take a second and really let that sink in. And, yes, it is actually as gross and annoying as you think. BUT the bonus is that you’ll learn at least learn a little bit of Greek after seeing this sign everywhere.

2) Showers. Greek showers are too small to accommodate any normal-sized human. Couple that with the fact that the nozzles are all hand-held and there is always a not-so-nice plastic shower curtain on this too-small shower stall. Add these components together and you have the recipe for a very intimate date with that shower curtain! Oh, and legs that look like they’ve been through the meat grinder if you’re ever daring enough to try and shave. The solution? Don’t shave! And most definitely just don’t shower. That’s what the Mediterranean is there for!


The only shower you’ll ever need.

3) Athens’ Sidewalks.       Marble = slippery as all hell. Add some serious cracks and some dog poop, and you’ve got yourself a challenge!concrete-sinking-sidewalk-lg If you master that level, try it in winter when it’s raining all the time. Or at nighttime after a few adult beverages. Guaranteed fun! 10617233_10101080021725327_1868620780_n

In summer 2011, I lived in Athens and worked at the Ancient Agora. My roommates and I fell down so much that we started drawing our experiences. You are welcome, world.




4) SPIDERS. EVERYWHERE. Yes, I know there are spiders in Canada. But my particular line of work means that I encounter spiders all the time. In my face. Because, when you do archaeological survey, you’re looking down at the ground, not in front of you – where the spider webs are strung, Chelsea-face-height between two trees, and the spiders know you’re coming. They are waiting. Laughing.

5) Food and Drink… that have flavour. Admittedly, there are some great restaurants in Athens that can provide a quick spice fix – Red Elephant in Ambelokipi and Indian Masala on Ermou are two fan favourites, while Noodle Bar is the hands-down winner for ordering in. Nothing, NOTHING beats Avocado, an amazing vegetarian restaurant with dishes inspired from international cuisines, and if you happen to be in Thessaloniki, go to El Burrito, pretty much the only place in Greece to get Mexican food – and everything is good, including the pitchers of margaritas!


Or you can just survive off of the deliciousness that are Bake Rolls…


And that’s about it. Sure, a sushi place or two has opened up in Kolonaki, but why order sushi in landlocked Athens when you live in Vancouver? Don’t get me wrong, I love Greek food (see possible future list on why I love Greece?) and I will never ever get tired of χωριάτικη (Greek salad) or χόρτα (steamed greens), but there is a serious lack of available food with spice OTHER THAN OREGANO even in the two biggest cities! So I relied on care packages stuffed with tabasco (and Halloween candy and Disney princess kleenex) – Thanks Mom!

Tabasco: regular AND chipotle.

Now the beer. Again, IF you happen to be in Athens or Thessaloniki and not really anywhere else in Greece, go to Barley Cargo or Beer Time for decent beer on draught and craft beer from all over Greece. If you’re in a small town, say, on an archaeological project, or travelling around to more remote regions, here is what you get: 

So confident…so wrong.

And they all taste the same. Seriously. Okay fine, not Heineken, which has the lovely aroma of a skunk at a Jimmy Buffet concert, but the rest of them really do. Don’t believe me? No one does. Everyone says they have a favourite. Even I did (Fix, duh)! And then they do the taste test…try it. You will fail and you will inevitably utter a shortsighted statement like “Oh I HATE Mythos, I could never drink it, I’ll know that one right away”, and then you’ll rank it first. Because (full circle) they. all. taste. the. same.

 So with that I leave you and I take comfort in the fact that I am not in the beautiful, sun-drenched Mediterranean right now with some Mexican food and craft beer. 


Who am I kidding? Greece has it all.

Who am I kidding? Greece has it all.


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Why YOU should time-travel to Ancient Greece!

One of my best friends is a teacher and she recently gave her kids an assignment on ancient Greece. Basically, the assignment was to create a poster for a travel company that was going to take tourists back to Ancient Greece. Wonderful things ensued.

Here are the exact instructions:

A new time-travelling company is selling trips to Ancient Greece!

 Your job is make an advertisement for the company to attract customers.

When designing your advertisement, you should be focusing on at least two(2) important things that the traveller will experience in Ancient Greece that is different from modern-dayCanada. Think: why would someone want to go to Ancient Greece? What would they see or do there?

Think about important events and inventions, as well as the environment and what life was like in Ancient Greece.

Your advertisement must include:

-The name of the travel company (make one up!)

-A logo and slogan (be creative!)

-Visuals (printed pictures or drawings) AND written text

-The date and location (Greece, or you can be more specific and choose a city-state)

So here we go! Enjoy!

Some of these amazing kids chose to focus on the sporting events:


Bringing back the good old days indeed!


Just in case you missed the warning:



Other kids chose to focus on the more martial aspects of the ancient Greek world:

She really must have made the Trojan War seem cool. To be fair, so did Hollywood and I would not mind front seats to a Brad Pitt/Eric Bana show.


So…do I get 30 percent off? Or 90 percent? This is confusing, Traveling to the Past Inc.


And don’t blame them if your family finds Ancient Greek warfare irresistible!

Its just good sense to protect yourself legally.

It is just good sense to protect yourself legally.


One brilliant child really knows what happens in Greece:




She even drew a picture of ME!

That wine brings tears to my eyes.

A me-sized bottle of wine would make you dream green bubbles, yes…


Some children really hit on the, um, different social hierarchies that the Greeks enjoyed…

"More kids? Come on woman, you wanna kill me?"

“More kids? Come on woman, you wanna kill me?”

Don’t worry, she responds with: “Come on dude you live here and your complaining” so this travel company is still kinda reminding you that it’s awesome, right?

And, finally. This. Kid. Nails it.

Simple. Perfect.



Simple. Perfect.

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The Winter in Retrospect – Another pilfered Blog Post!

Mellon Professor Margie Miles’ update on the Winter Term, which ran from December 2013 – March 2014.  The last line is great in retrospect since, of course, the term has ended and we have all gone our separate ways. Many are digging in Ancient Corinth, others are traveling with friends and family, some are off doing their own research, and a few of us are here in Athens working away in the library (or, procrastinating by posting other people’s blogs on their own blogs…). This is a great overview of what we did this year after the trips ended. Here is the text, copied from the original post, which can be found here, and there are some great photos there, too!


Winter Term Well Underway!

Margaret M. Miles, Andrew W. Mellon Professor

 Spring seemed to come early in January and February as we enjoyed beautiful weather during our outings in Athens and Attica. When everyone returned after the Winter Break, we went to Thorikos and Lavrion, and resumed our visits within the city, with a focus on the Akropolis over multiple visits.  This year we were able to go beneath the Nike Bastion to see the Mycenaean walls, the inscribed altar and naiskos, and Tasos Tanoulas talked to us on the Propylaia and its restoration, and even showed us the Justinianic cistern beneath the northwest work area.  Leda Costaki led us on a Wall Walk around 80% of the ancient circuit, always exciting as we dash into parking garages, under malls and banks, into museums and hotels, and peer into basements to see the remains of the walls.

As a part of our three visits to the Athenian Agora, NEH Fellow Ann Steiner arranged for our group to be photographed in the Tholos as we filled the spaces where the men serving as Prytaneis could have dined while seated as they consulted over Athenian policy.  We realized, with some 23 of us inside, that the building really is remarkably spacious for the purpose as long as there is not lots of furniture.  Director John Camp showed the students the current excavations and some of the finds from last summer, including a new inscription honoring an ancestor of Herodes Atticus.

Out in Attica, we went to the Piraeus and saw the Eetonian Gate, the foundations of Philo’s Arsenal, shipsheds and theOlympias trireme, now in dock under restoration. We had a particularly beautiful day for Sounion, Cape Zoster and the Vari Farmhouse, and yet again for Rhamnous, Oropos and Aulis. Extensive conservation work is being undertaken at Oropos, but we were still able to see most of the site and its stunning series of Roman inscriptions, a veritable Who’s Who of the late Republic.

Whitehead Professors Jeremy McInerney and Richard Janko held a joint meeting of their seminars on the Attic Stelai. Everyone met in the Agora, and we braved the exceedingly chilly basement and upper floor of the Stoa to look at a large selection of fragments of the stelai, and hear about them from Regular Members Hilary Bouxsein and Morgan Condell.  We had intense and fruitful discussions that probably could have gone on all day, but for the chill drafts and inevitable call of lunch.

In February, Regular Members had a very stimulating trip to Crete, led by Assistant Director Nick Blackwell, Director Jim Wright, and Dr. Thomas Brogan of the INSTAP center.  Once everyone was back in Athens, we resumed our study of Athens with the promontories:  first we gathered on the Philopappos Hill, where Regular Member Chelsea Gardner reported on its monument, and then we walked over to the Pnyx, where Robert Pitt, of the BSA, talked to us about its history.  This concluded with a climb up the Areopagos and a report on it from Regular Member Aaron Beck-Schachter.

Our recent day trip to Megara and Salamis included a visit to the Tomb of Kar outside Megara, as well as the famous fountainhouse, elucidated by Regular Member Dylan Rogers. We heard about the Battle of Salamis from Regular Member Jennifer LaFleur while we sat on the commemorative mound, looking out over the strait toward the presumed site of Xerxes’ throne.  We ended the day by hiking up to the Cave of Euripides, where Aulus Gellius had preceded us long ago during his student days in Athens.

Other highlights of the past weeks include a talk on Hellenistic sculpture from Prof. Olga Palagia, and the beginning of a series of excellent reports by Regular Members on Roman Athens, including the Roman Agora and Tower of the Winds as well as Hadrian’s Library and Forum. The Olympieion and the Panathenaic Stadium will follow next week.  Earlier this month we also packed in a special tour of the modern quarry at Dionysos on Mt. Pentele, as well as the ancient quarry (an extension of the Wiener Lab seminar on “Stones”).  One remarkable evening, we had a special performance of Plato’s Apology, given by Emmy Award winner Yannis Simonides as Socrates.  And we still have full weeks ahead!


And here is our last group picture, taken on our last trip of the semester (Aegina):

IMG_2509 copy



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The Stray Dogs of Greece

This is a difficult post to write, but one that I’ve been wanting/meaning to write for a long time. Tackling a topic like this in a blog that is normally upbeat and full of fun stories and exciting pictures is a challenge, particularly when trying to keep the reader’s interest. So, I will do my best: for those who can’t bring themselves to read, please at least jump to the bottom of the page, where you can learn how to help. Because, at the end of the day, we can all help.

Strays in Athens

Stray dogs are a huge problem in Greece. If you’re a stray dog here, you better hope that you’re lucky enough to live in the centre of Athens, where chances are you will have plenty to eat and drink (provided by the many good samaritans of this city). You’ll probably be part of a pack, and maybe even get to call the Acropolis your home. These two dogs were a regular part of our Acropolis trips: they would meet us at the entrance at 8 am, and usually tag along all morning, taking advantage of the access into the Parthenon and other buildings so they could brag later to their other Acropolis pals.

Cute, right? And I have seen some of the Acropolis employees bring bags of food each morning to feed these guys. Sounds like it’s not too bad for them. But then there was one day, our last day on the Acropolis in fact, when the dogs didn’t let us go. They followed us through Plaka, across the heavily-trafficked Vasilissis Sofias road, and all the way up to Kolonaki. They stood, confused, outside of Loring Hall as one by one, we stepped into our gated compound and patted them on the heads ‘goodbye’. They were brought water, and later that day one of the Blegen library guards fed them some bread. By the end of the day they were gone, and yes, they made it back to the Acropolis, crossing busy Athenian streets and weaving their way through rival dog packs to their home. Why tell this story at all? I think the point is to try to refute the common argument that these dogs can be just as happy living on the streets as being someone’s ‘pet’. In my (humble and admittedly very biased) opinion, dogs want to be around people, with people; dogs and people belong together.


Here’s another Athenian stray. This is Rex (no, I don’t just name all dogs Rex, he does have a tag that says ‘ΡΕΞ’, I swear); I don’t know who gave him that name or when, but he knows it and comes when he is called. Rex lives at the Library of Hadrian, and in the summertime he is a faithful ASCSA Agora Excavations volunteer. He follows the diggers down in the morning, climbs down into the trenches, and is the first to lead the pack whenever John Camp gives a tour of the (appropriately-themed) Royal Stoa. Rex is one of my very favourite Athenian strays. He’s sweet and patient and again, just loves to be around people.

What I worry about when it comes to Rex and the other ‘pets’ of the Agora (Fatty Meatball, Snow/Ghost Dog, to name the favourites) is what will happen to them when they get too old to climb down into the trenches or wander around Syntagma Square? What is the fate of an aged stray? Another unpleasant reminder that even though they look fat and happy (and they ARE that!), what inevitably becomes of them?

Why all the strays?

So how did all these strays get here? I’ve heard various theories…some say that there was a dog catcher/dog pound program in Athens that would round up strays, keep them for 90 days, and then euthanize them, but that this system was halted after some undercover investigations revealed the inhumane conditions these animals suffered. Several were put on trial, jailed, and fined, which resulted in the dissolution of the system entirely rather than the improvement of conditions. Yes, you read that right: the dog-pounds were SHUT DOWN because the employees/administrations did not want to be jailed and fined, instead of actually improving the conditions in which the animals were kept! Another theory I’ve heard is that the ‘pet fad’ spread through Greece and people were buying animals without really comprehending the decade+ long commitment  (not to mention the training and financial commitments as well) that is a cat/dog as a pet. Basically, people buy a cute puppy, cute puppy grows up, has some attitude problems, maybe still pees in the house, barks sometimes, and costs a lot of money. The dog formerly known as cute puppy is turned loose on the streets. “People will take care of them, and this way he/she will have more room to roam”, they say. Oh, and did I mention that the dog formerly known as cute puppy was definitely not spayed or neutered? Because he/she wasn’t. No way. Why shoulder the extra cost and take away your dog’s manhood? Nah, best to let him/her loose on the city and really contribute to the increasingly overwhelming number of strays. The city will take care of that, won’t they? Well, they’ll try. There are spay/neuter and release programs out there, but these are largely unfunded, unsupported programs that are constantly trying to stay above the enormous number of animals and costs of such a program. And this is just Athens centre, proper. Once you are out of Athens centre, it is every municipality for itself. Enter our case study, Zografou, a municipality in the heart of Athens.

Screen shot 2014-04-13 at 1.36.16 PM

The Zografou Dog Shelter

The Zografou dog shelter is an entirely volunteer-based organization that permanently houses around 30 dogs. The shelter was built  prior to the 2004 Olympics in order to protect the dogs from mass extermination. A few have been adopted, but the majority have lived their entire lives in the shelter: the older a dog gets, the less likely it will be adopted. Unfortunately, people typically do not like to commit to a senior pet, since they will have less time with it and may incur more veterinary bills – I don’t need to go into all of the reasons here why adopting a senior dog is often more rewarding than adopting a puppy…maybe I’ll save that for another post. Oh yes, and most of the dogs are large, black dogs. Haven’t heard about Black Dog Syndrome/Black Dog Bias? Well, it basically means that darker-coloured animals are often the last to be adopted from shelters. So, the Zografou shelter essentially has 30 permanent residents with little to no hope of adoption. These dogs are sweet, happy, and loving and are extremely well-cared for by the volunteers of the shelter, who house, feed, and vaccinate these dogs at their own expense. The shelter has recently started a virtual adoption program, in hopes of creating a way for people to help these strays if they are not in a position to adopt. Here are a few of the shelter’s residents (all photos taken from the ‘Adopt a Former Stray’ Facebook group):

To illustrate the magnitude of the problems that the shelter faces, last week a beautiful Springer spaniel was left at the shelter. Actually, she was thrown over the fence into a cage with two other dogs; somehow, this lucky girl survived both the fall and the attack she suffered from the two dogs who were very territorial (remember, they’ve lived in this space their entire lives) and confused at the sudden addition. This girl clearly had a home once but her owners gave her up, and although she is now in foster care, she loves being with people and in desperate need of a home. (Photos courtesy of Christina Makri and Maria Mirla, Facebook)

Okay, this is all very sad and touching, but how can anyone help, really?

I understand this question and all the heavy implications behind it. The stray animal problem is overwhelming and scary and I’m not going to tell you to adopt a Greek stray (but…if you’re interested…) or tell you to donate all your hard-earned money to a random shelter (but…if you’re interested…) – what I’m going to do is make a simple list of things that can and do actually help, and which are within the abilities of (probably) anyone reading this blog post.

1) Read this blog post. See? You’ve already done one! Are you thinking to yourself ‘How can this girl possibly think that reading this post is helping or making any sort of difference?’ If you are thinking that, don’t worry, I have an answer for you! See, awareness is key. Many issues that we are faced with in this world, in our own countries, in the countries we call our second homes (Greece, etc.) are, unfortunately, unpleasant. That is reality. It’s a cruel world and the worst thing anyone can do is turn their head and pretend these issues don’t exist. So, maybe you knew about these problems before, but if you didn’t now you do. So, retain this knowledge. Hey, feel free to pass it along, tell people, share this, whatever! Be it this issue or any issue you feel passionately about, talk about it; never worry whether you’re ‘bothering’ people. Bother away! Just. Don’t. Stay. Silent.

2) Donate old, ready-to-be discarded clothes. You know those old clothes, towels, dishrags, etc. that are in your closet/cupboards? You know the ones….those rags that aren’t ‘good enough’ to go to the second-hand-store? Give them to your local shelter. Anything cloth. Seriously. Most shelters in the US and Canada have small animals too, so even dishrags and socks (clean, please oh please wash ya damn socks) are much appreciated. This literally costs you nothing and is something that can be done with minimal effort!

3) Buy some dog food, or a flea collar, or a cat toy, or anything! Chances are, if you’re reading this, you are a middle to upper-middle class citizen of the western world. Which means you probably regularly shop at a grocery store or a dollar store or convenience store. Why not throw a cheap toy or food into your cart whenever you remember? This is also a wonderful idea for regular (you know, human!) food as well, and most grocery stores have eagerly receptacles awaiting.

4) Walk a dog. Love dogs (or cats!) but can’t foster or adopt a dog and don’t have the extra cash to donate? Go find a shelter near you and volunteer your time. Walk a dog. Pet a dog. Cuddle a cat. They usually don’t get enough of this. The shelter I currently volunteer with doesn’t have enough volunteers and the dogs don’t get walked on a daily basis. The best part about this is that if you’re an expat reading this, volunteering is usually easier abroad than in North America, where you need to go through piles and piles of paperwork and a long process – seriously, it’s tough to GIVE your TIME away! That’s insane. I have literally walked into places in India, Tanzania, and Greece and been able to volunteer on the spot. Try it out!

5) Virtually adopt a dog. Albeit a more expensive option, it is very rewarding and somehow makes your donation to a shelter seem more ‘real’ – you have a face to your money, if you will. You know the dog that you are helping and can see his/her picture and get updates. An incredibly attractive (in opinion) alternative for those who can’t or don’t want their own pet (or have too many!) but still want to help.  Here is that link to the shelter at which I currently volunteer if you are interested in this option.

That’s all, folks!

I want to sincerely thank everyone for taking the time to read this post. This issue is obviously very close to my heart and was a difficult post to write. I very much would like feedback or suggestions or any comments whatsoever regarding the issue of stray animals in Greece.

Thank you all, again and always.

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Here at the ASCSA we walk a lot. A. LOT. EVERYWHERE. It’s equally awesome, exhausting, adventurous and insane. We love to hate on our uphill, rocky, slippery (sometimes dark) hikes up and down and around the countryside, ducking under trees, clambering up slopes, scraping ourselves on macquis, twisting ankles, sometimes sweating, sometimes shivering, but all the time exploring, discovering new hidden places and objects, eyes always on the ground, surveying, scanning, searching, laughing, singing, and walking further and further. Always pushing on, always walking.

The landscape of Greece is stunning and diverse and surprising, and while we’ve seen a lot of this country, it’s often sobering to take a look at the paths we forge from another angle: a birds-eye view gives an often drastically different impression of the hikes we’ve been on, and in this post I want to share maps of some of the hikes/walks we’ve been on over the past 5 months. I have a little handheld GPS (a Garmin etrex 20), and by transferring plotted points or paths onto Google Earth, you can see some of the trex (see what I did there?) we’ve done. I’m including some photos taken on the ground as well for comparison. Enjoy!

Bassae Hike

After a presentation and look-around the temple to Apollo Epikourios at Bassae, some of us hiked up to a plateau overlooking much of surrounding Arcadia and south to Lakonia. Here are some pictures of our hike, and then a map showing some of the downfalls of Google Earth imagery (shaky fist at the clouds!) – but keep an eye out for the white tent covering the temple!




I really like this image, which shows the path from the parking lot up to the site at Olynthos – the archaeological site, situated on a plateau known as the ‘North Hill’ is clearly discernible on the right.

Olynthos Path




Untrodden except by us! Sometimes unwillingly, sometimes confusingly. Here are some maps of the strange places our beloved Whitehead professor afforded us the opportunity to experience.

The third picture is pretty funny because it is our trek, yes, but also the drive to the hike because I forgot to turn off the GPS. I included it because the haphazard lines are a nice reflection of our often-chaotic brains as a result of these surprise after-dark hikes! Here are some photos of just how ‘untrodden’ some of these treks were:



This is a hike we went on last week, and definitely one of the steepest/most daunting. Turns out it wasn’t as bad as it looks, but see for yourself:


Recently we walked (parts of) the ancient wall circuits in both Athens and her harbour, the Piraeus. These are some of my favourite images, mostly because it’s often so difficult to orient yourself to an ancient circuit while within the modern city streets, so literally zooming out and seeing the path from a different perspective is really quite rewarding. Here are the pictures of some of the wall remains in Athens, followed by the map, then pictures of the walls in Piraeus, followed by its map.

Piraeus Wall Walk


And there you have it! Maps are fun! ….and so is hiking. Kind of.




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The Holidays at Loring Hall

As the semester wears down (ha! not likely…) people around here are getting ready for the Christmas break: most will fly home to North America, others are adventuring elsewhere in Europe, and some are staying put and eagerly awaiting family members to arrive here in Athens. Since our final trip we have been stationed here at Loring Hall and on top of our already-packed schedule we have definitely crammed in quite the line-up of celebrations. While we are here, our schedule looks a little something like this:

Mondays: Seminar on the Derveni Papyrus with Richard Janko 2-5pm; Greek lessons 5-7pm

Tuesdays: Athens/Attica seminar in the morning (this usually involves a museum or a site – for example, we have done three sessions at the National Museum, one at the Acropolis museum, and three on the Acropolis so far); and then we usually have something additional in the afternoon – last week we had a Wiener Laboratory workshop on pottery. After this there is almost always a lecture or some other event to attend – there is ALWAYS something to attend!

Wednesdays: These are our ‘day trip’ days. We’ve been on two of these so far, the first to Marathon and Ikaria, the second to Eleusis, Acharnes, and Dekeleia.

Thursdays: Athens/Attica seminar in the morning (see above) and then Jeremy McInerney’s seminar on Greek Epigraphy in the afternoon (2-5), followed by Greek lessons (5-7) and then almost always a lecture at 7 or 7:30!

Fridays: Athens/Attica seminar in the morning and then (relative) freedom until Monday!

Among this hectic schedule, we have managed to squeeze in some pretty incredible non-academic festivities. First there was American Thanksgiving, where something like 116 people squeezed around tables set up in the Saloni and the Dining room. I’ve never seen so much food in one place in my entire life.

Sorry for the bad phone camera pictures – on the left is Colin cutting the turkey, and on the right is a mini-reunion. Neither of these really showcase how many people were there, or how much food was actually consumed, so you’ll have to take my word for it!

The sunday after Thanksgiving we celebrated Hanukah (my first ever!) – Morgan and Marya cooked a latke feast for everyone, lit a makeshift menorah and sang a beautiful song. Here is the menorah with the pilgrims (Thankshanukah, once in 7000 years, naturally):


The weekend after this we threw a bachelor/bachelorette party for a wonderful couple here who are getting married over the Christmas break (talk about busy…) – these pictures are definitely SFW, don’t worry…

On December 10th we had a Christmas tree-trimming, which I’ve recently learned is a term Americans use. I’m used to calling it Christmas tree-decorating…you know, what it actually is…but to each their own, and we definitely all spoke the same mulled wine language that night!


Finally, this past Saturday we held a Sinterklass Secret Santa – so, we all drew names and had to buy someone a present AND compose a poem. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that a group of extremely smart, well-educated overachievers would blow my mind when it came to poetry composition. There were songs, beat poetry, Latin metrical verses, haikus, and limericks. It really reinforced how funny, sweet, and thoughtful everyone here is, and how much we are like a weird, dysfunctional little family.

And with that, I’m off to sing classics- and archaeology-inspired Christmas carols before packing up and leaving for the airport at 3am. I can’t wait to get home and see my friends and family (and to hug Rex and Rocky for about 6 hours straight) but the holidays here warm and homey and wonderful and, true to ASCSA spirit, nonstop!

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Catching Up

We arrived in Athens on Friday evening, exhausted but in high spirits after Trip 4. Two months of almost straight travelling interspersed with marathon library sessions ended on a high note, with a sunny, 20-degree November day at Perachora. I couldn’t have asked for a happier, more uplifting way to bring this Fall semester to an end.

This weekend was spent doing NOTHING and it was glorious! Yesterday a few of us did some shopping, made dinner, drank wine, and played board games. I didn’t even change out of my pyjamas today, let alone go outside. The rainy weather in Athens actually makes Loring Hall incredibly cozy and I finally started catching up on updating photos, notes, emails, work, etc.

So, after a long wait, I present both the map from Trip 3 (Central Greece) here.  The absolute best part is that I illustrated our insanely long hike down from the Corycean Cave with a little guy icon who walks a route (not the exact trail we hiked, but that’s because such a trail doesn’t ACTUALLY exist and we were just off-roading in the hopes that we would one day find Delphi again…)

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Also, it wouldn’t be the American School Petting Zoo without my favourite pictures of Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather from Trip 2.

And finally, to end with a video – we spent a couple nights in the beach town of Methoni, on the western coast of the Peloponnesos. This spot was intended to be a ‘swimming opportunity’ but the skies opened up on us in Pylos that day, the temperature dropped, and the thunder exploded above us. By evening, the storm had moved further out into the ocean, leaving us with a view of the most spectacular lightning show I have ever seen. I added music to the video so no one would be subjected to hearing me yell “WOW!” constantly. Enjoy!

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Trip #2 Map is Up!

We rolled back in to Athens last night from Trip 3, tumbled out of the bus exhausted and stir-crazy. I have one day in Athens before heading to Naxos for some island fun with some pals from the Agora excavations. In keeping with the tradition, I’m posting maps a trip behind, so here is our crazy jumbled Trip #2 (Deep Peloponnese) map.

Check it out here

Fun things to look out for:1) The proximity between #9 and #14, but how long it took to get from one to the other; and 2) how hard our little car had to work between Kalamata (20) and Mystras (21).


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The Wilds of Northern Greece

As promised, the Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather of Trip 1.

The contestants:


The runner up: The little goat who appeared as (no question) an epiphany of Pan just as we were all gathering around a cave to pan with carved reliefs. On the top of a mountain. In the woods. By herself. Out of nowhere! She followed us all around her mountain, then disappeared as we re-entered the city.


And a video of the little lady (FFWD to 0:30 for the real action):



BUT… the winner is the Octopus. The winner is ALWAYS the Octopus.

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And the final video which brings the most happiness to my world:

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Re-posted-blog-post-pilfering: Trip 1 in retrospect

Last night we returned from Trip #2 (the Deep Peloponnese) but before I post about that trip – and I am working on my little interactive map right now – here is a link to Mellon Professor Margie Miles’ post about our first trip (pictures too):


And one more picture, some of us exploring Stageira (Aristotle’s birthplace):


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