Ahh the first attempt at a blog post. Always awkward. Always trying too hard.
We leave tomorrow for our first trip (to Northern and Western Greece) so I thought I should post something about my first week in Athens. It’s mostly going to be a highlights tour, since no one wants to read about the many (MANY) hours I spent on my computer looking at destination wedding places (a big shout out to Aisling and Kaz for helping me so so so so very much so far…even though we still really have nothing set in stone).
So I arrived at 3:10 am, which was extremely thrilling and full of happiness! I got to the American School around 4:00 am and the lovely guard helped me lug my 3 bags up the same number of stairs and find my room by flashlight.
Here it is before and after:
As you can see (kind of), the bulletin board is empty, so if you’re reading this you should write down my address and send me a postcard:
American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 54 Souidias Street, GR-106 76, Athens, Greece.
The regular members (which is what I am) and some of the associate members live in Loring Hall, which is across the street from the main building of the American School (where the library and the seminar room are located). Everything is located in the suburb of Kolonaki, on the slopes of Mt. Lykavettos. I lived in this neighbourhood for two years while digging at the Athenian Agora (2011-2012) – it’s an affluent neighbourhood and one of my professors referred to it as being “not Athens and barely Greece”. There will be lots more time to explore Athens in the winter term, but the last week has been packed full of various orientations, greek lessons, and TWO visits to the hospital for routine TB tests/chest xrays.
As promised, a ‘greatest hits’ of the last week:
Sunday (Κυριακή = KeeriakEE)
Besides being incredibly jet lagged and exhausted from my journey, apparently I lost the ability to remember events from this say as well. I know there was a pizza party, and I know I ate pizza and met a LOT of people. Then I definitely found some old Agora buddies and had some much-needed beer with them and my fellow regular members.
Monday (Δευτέρα = DehFTEhra)
The majority of the day was orientation – first a general orientation, then a tour of the Blegen library, followed by a tour of the computer room, then of Loring Hall. After lunch we had two jobs: bring our passport over to the administrators for visa purposes and interview with the director of the ASCSA. I opted to take a 4 hour nap instead. I woke up just in time for our group walk up Lykavittos at 6pm for the sunset. It was stormy and beautiful and of course I didn’t bring my camera.
Tuesday (Τρίτη = TREEtee)
A bunch of stuff happened on Tuesday, like our first Greek lessons (with the most wonderful woman on earth, Ourania) and a garden party in the garden of the ASCSA. But none of that matters because I got to go INSIDE the Hephaisteion for the first time. I’ve worked in Athens for 3 years and have never gone inside this temple (and missed the tour of the Heph with John Camp this year because I was in the Mani) and it was as magical and wonderful as I could have hoped for and then some, because one of my favourite stray dogs, Rex – yes, that is actually his name – decided to come along for the tour. Just check out these pictures:
SE corner of the Hephaisteion
Metope of front porch
The group & Rex on the marble pavement in the front porch
View of the statue base looking out the back door
Graffito from 1655!
Rex. Just hanging out.
Learning is tough.
My favourite column, on the SW side of the back porch
My Athens Rex
The archaeological highlight of the week (of the year?) to be sure! Okay, moving on…
Wednesday (Τετάρτη = TeTArtee)
Had to be AT the hospital at 8am for TB tests and chest xrays. You know what’s more fun than waking up at 6:30? Waking up at 6:30 to get jabbed with a needle and then have to naked hug an xray machine! Yay Greece!
Afterward we were supposed to go to the Epigraphy museum but there were some strikes, so that was postponed. We had a meeting about the first trip, then Greek lessons, then Ouzo hour (yes, I actually went…).
Thursday (Πέμπτη = PEmptee)
After a quick lecture on Greek architecture, we had a tour of the Gennadius library. Just a library, you say? Oh no. WE SAW THE FIRST PRINTED EDITION OF HOMER. 1425. We saw it. In front of us. Not behind glass. No big deal.
I don’t even really have anything else to say about that day that will even come close to that, except I went to the boy scout store and bought a compass, a thermos, and rechargeable batteries. I am officially unstoppable.
Friday (Παρασκευή = ParaskeVEE)
Woke up early again, back to the hospital again, don’t have TB and got a kickass xray for a souvenir. Nailed it.
After a tour of the Wiener Lab (the BONE lab, ha), we had our tour of the archives. Get ready for this. We saw:
1) A Cycladic “frying-pan” (that we passed around IN OUR HANDS…seemed dangerous, yes.) among other awesome artifacts from their collection.
2) Michael Ventris’ original letter to Carl Blegen saying that he *thought* he had a breakthrough in the decipherment of Linear B. One of the girls in the program read it out and I legitimately got goosebumps.
3) Heinrich Schliemann’s notebooks. We read the page where he describes his finds from Grave Circle A at Mycenae. WHAT. AMAZING. At this point I was at amazement overload and just kept looking around with my jaw on the floor.
Saturday (Σάββατο = SAvatoh)
We had a tour of the Epigraphic museum this morning with Molly Richardson. Speaking of incredible sights, we saw some pretty famous inscriptions, and I will write a longer, more detailed post on the blog for our UBC digitization project. But here are some pictures of some pretty amazing words-on-stone (and amazing people, too!):
The Athenian Tribute lists!
Crowded around, for scale
This block was found in a kitchen being used as a cutting board (oh, and it happens to have Themistokles’ decree on it…)
The beautiful letting from the Hekatompedon inscription
Spent the rest of the day in the library/in my room preparing my presentation for the trip. I’m working on Thasos: the Agora and Theagenes, which isn’t until near the end of the trip. Look forward to more about the terrifying experience that is an on-site presentation in future editions of this blog.
And that’s pretty much it! Sunday and today (Monday) were spent working on the report, catching up with friends (some with beer, some with coffee, and even some with celebratory champagne!), and oh yeah, working on the report.
We leave tomorrow (φεύγουμε αύριο) at 7am for trip 1. Beyond excited to explore more of this stunning country.