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):