Friday, August 15, 2014

Ancient Eleon: The Spencer Davie Story

            In May of 2011 I joined Brendan, Trevor, and Joe for the UVIC in Greece & Turkey trip. Ever since, I’ve had a soft nerdy side for the Classics, I mean how can ya not.  So another self -interest course later, Brendan informed me that with another course and one more animating adventure to Greece, I could graduate with a Minor in Greek & Roman Studies. Awesome, absolutely.
            The excavation in ancient Eleon was an experience I’ll never forget. I could write for pages if I had to list everything enjoyable about the paradise that is Dilesi, or the gratifying accomplishment of finding a 4000 year-old artifact hand-crafted by an ancient Mycenaean. To summarize, my favorite parts (by which I mean the memories that mean the most to me) fall under 3 categories, as broad as they are: The people, the water, and the combination of a gyro and Amstel.
            The 40+ person crew that woke up in Dilesi every morning, climbed into vehicles at 6:00AM, and worked their butts off in the sun for the day were some of the most interesting, hilarious, creative, and enjoyable people I’ve ever met. There was never a dull moment and never the absence of a great friend.  “There are many ships in this world, there are big ships and there are small ships, but there is no ship like friendship.” –Me.
            Dilesi is built on the beach; right on the side of a wide bay. Every 30+° we could sit on the beach or enjoy the salty sea. To top that, we celebrated at the Canadian Ambassador’s house in Athens, enjoying his BBQ and backyard pool for what was my favorite day of the experience. I’ve grown up on a lake and enjoy nothing more than a swim after a hot workday, it was amazing.
            The gyro. What I can only describe as the most delicious invention in Greece, these €1,80 pork or chicken pita wraps with fries and tzatziki are simply mind blowing. Perfectly filling, reviving, and tasting, it’s a deadly good combination of food. To accompany that, the Amsterdam brewed Amstel Lager is named after the Amstel River and is wonderful. If you ever get the chance to sample, I highly recommend it.
            My time in Greece was amazing. I worked hard, ate too much, drank a little, and will remember it forever. Thank you so much to all of the diggers, you guys are unbelievable. I’ll never get tired of saying that I am (was?) an archaeologist! 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Reflections and Direction
Aiden Chimney    
           
            Now returned from a summer in Greece, Ive spent my days with friends and family reflecting on and reiterating stories of my travels.  As the time has passed, I have begun to realize the full impact the trip has had on me and my future. 
          When the trip began, my brother and I left Canada excited to be going to Europe for the first time to visit a place we have heard about our whole lives, but never seen in person.  With no return ticket home, I was planning on traveling after the UVic in Greece course.  However it wasn't until the last week of the trip, when Brendan offered me a spot on the dig, that I realized the true extent of my stay.  
          Six weeks on the dig went by much quicker than I had anticipated.  Surrounded by friends and making finds daily on site.  Most of the time I could hardly believe where I was.  I never would have expected to find myself working on an archaeological site in Greece, but the opportunity arose and the reward was even greater than I had expected.

          Over the duration of my time in Greece I quickly began to discover that I wanted to learn more and continue with Greek and Roman studies back at UVic. After a year of university in the sciences, unsure of what I was actually working towards, its relieving to feel certain about what my next few years at school will look like. 

Alyssa Allen – The Polygonal Wall

Arguably the most striking feature of Eleon is the massive polygonal wall that stretches along the southern and eastern limits of the site.  I have had occasion to become intimately acquainted with this wall, having spent two weeks digging a very deep trench alongside it in an attempt to both come up with a precise date for its construction and to find the bottom of it.  While the date and full extent is still under study, we also managed to come up with some clues as to its purpose and origin over the course of the season.

The wall at Eleon is unusual, but not entirely unique; there is a similar wall of large polygonal stones at Delphi, near the stoa of the Athenians.  The design, though striking to look at, is not particularly useful in terms of defense, which has led some to believe that its purpose was more for decoration than practical fortification; the first priority of its builders was to impress, rather than protect.  The stones are limestone quarried from a nearby cliff side, within sight of the wall. 

The wall consists of large section of enormous flat, worked stones of varying straight-sided shapes, underneath which are a series of courses of large rectangular stones, which we discovered this season to be at least five courses deep in one area.  At least some of these courses would likely have been underground at the time the wall was in use, as evidenced by the fact that only the topmost two layers are worked as carefully as the polygonal stones to give them a straight, flat appearance.  Beneath these, the stones are worked only around their edges so that they can fit together with the other stones, but the center is left unworked and bulging out, a technique known as anathyrosis.  This indicates that perhaps these lower layers of stone were meant to remain underground and not be seen.

The dating of the wall was our main goal in excavating our experimental trench. Our work suggests that the wall likely dates to the Archaic/Classical period, but that the foundation trench which was dug to build it was then filled up with earth from the older levels of the site, full of Mycenaean pottery.


Another odd and interesting feature of the wall that we discovered while digging is that some of the lower courses of stone appeared to have been more carefully worked than the ones directly above them, with more attention put towards giving them a straight and even appearance. How much further down the wall goes, and what further digging may reveal about its date and purpose, will have to wait until the next excavation season, so stay tuned for future updates over the next few years!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Nicole Nairismagi: The Trowel: An Archaeological Art Form

Considered practically holy to all archaeologists, the trowel is an essential tool while excavating. It’s the ideal instrument for detail-work, cleaning, scarping etc. What is common to all archaeologists is the general importance of the trowel; however, it’s method of use varies depending on each archaeologist’s personal preference. Here at the excavation of Ancient Eleon we have some very special methods.

1.      Happy Hamstrings

-        A very popular pick amongst the students here at Eleon is the “Happy Hamstrings Trowel”, given said name for the wonderful hamstring stretch it provides the trowelist. This stance is rather ideal as it is both comfortable for the archaeologist yet it allows minimum contact with the trench. Both your hamstrings and your trench supervisor will be happy!

2.      Criss-Cross Applesauce

-        Here Robyn demonstrates one of the most comfortable trowelling positions. Ideal for gluteal comfort and allowing for a wide arm span, the criss-cross applesauce trowel works best while articulating or scarping. The main disadvantage of this position is the childlike nature of the pose and that it can be rather abrasive to a surface area.  Overall, a comfortable position but not necessarily optimal.

3.      Symposium Trowel

-        The Symposium Trowel technique is undoubtedly the most comfortable trowelling method. It involves the archaeologist lying on their side while propped up with their elbow, and trowelling away at their work in front of them. While this pose provides optimum comfort for one’s back, the trench is not an idyllic area for lounging and thus it can be frowned upon. In the pictures below Tom beautifully demonstrates the Symposium Trowel, as well as its extension: Beach Whale Symposium.   

4.      Smeagol Stance (2-Points Trowel)

-        The aptly named Smeagol stance involves the trowelist crouching over their work while maintaining only two points of contact on the ground. This position is very strenuous on the knees, but provides minimal surface contact and great mobility within an area. It is generally the preferred technique of professional archaeologists (and LOTR enthusiasts) and may explain the high rate of arthritis within the profession.

5.      One Point of Contact


-        The extraordinarily zen One-Point of contact pose requires that only one foot touches the ground while troweling. Needless to say, it is extraordinarily straining and as such is generally only used by yogi’s, flexible athletes, and Yoda. Though it is rarely seen in the trench, it is truly admirable. 


Cody Andersson Blog entry:

The Mycenaean era is famed for its impressive cities and Cyclopean masonry style. Mycenae and Tiryns are two common examples of both of these. A third and just as valid example is Midea, a hilltop citadel in the Argolid, on the Peloponnese. It exhibits a similar impressive feel and Cyclopean masonry. Eleon, a satellite community of Thebes in Boeotia, seems at first to be an unlikely comparison with Midea, but in many ways reflects the core themes of Mycenaean city-building present in Mycenae and Midea.

Midea was a citadel built on a hill approximately 300 metres in height. It flourished in the Bronze Age before being severely damaged by an earthquake at the end of the thirteenth century BCE. At the transition into the Archaic period it hosted a sanctuary but did not reach its height in the Mycenaean period ever again.

Eleon has a similar history of height and decline. It reached its apex in the Bronze Age, as Midea did, but by the Classical period had lost its previous prosperity. By that point it appears to have become a centre of religion more than population or economy. Any remaining inhabitants would have fled in the face of foreign invasions during the Byzantine period.

One major similarity between Midea and Eleon concerns fortifications. Both are encircled by defensive walls, though Midea in a much grander scale.
The Cyclopean wall at Midea is still a massive structure and would have been a significant challenge for any attacker. Eleon features a polygonal wall, not as imposing as the Cyclopean wall at Midea, but still impressive in its own right and context. Rather than containing massive boulders it is built of large slabs of locally sourced rock carved into whichever (usually irregular) shape fits best with surrounding slabs. While less of a challenge to besiegers than a Cyclopean wall, it would nevertheless have been a substantial barrier not easily bypassed. Siege warfare in ancient Greece did not essentially exist until the Classical period, several centuries after the polygonal wall's construction in the Archaic period.
As such, an army hypothetically attacking Eleon in the Archaic period would have to take the town by attacking unexpected or by persuading the inhabitants to surrender, as there were no ladders or catapults to use.
Accordingly the polygonal wall, while more for show than function, was in its period still a significant challenge for potential attackers. Much of this is applicable to Midea, perhaps more so in that siege warfare was even more nonexistent then.

Midea's location on a high hill is an important feature of its construction. It overlooks much of the surrounding area, from the hills in almost every direction to Nafpoli and the Argolic Gulf to the south-east.
These commanding sight lines are an important first defence, though a Cyclopean wall would be difficult to take even by surprise. Eleon is similarly placed on a small hill with good sight lines over the Boeotian plains. While not as elevated as Midea, Eleon further exploits its location through the use of at least one tower in the southeastern section of polygonal wall. Future occupants recognised this further advantage as well, as evidenced in the tower of either Frankish or Ottoman construction, or both, some distance to the west of Eleon.

Although Midea and Eleon are built on entirely different scales, the intent of their construction and location are readily comparable. Two core themes of Bronze Age, and specifically Mycenaean, city design are reflected in each place. The walls of both represent a substantial barrier to hostile intent despite the polygonal wall at Eleon being more for show than defence. Both places occupy commanding locations over their respective surrounding areas, and Eleon specifically has towers dedicated to further exploiting this terrain advantage. While Midea and Eleon appear not at all similar, they in fact share and reflect central themes of architecture and geophysical location in their eras.



Christy Vanden
Archaeological Excavation: Remembering the Human Element

               It’s your first trench, your first artifact. This is it – you are finally “doing” archaeology. You excitedly pull up ceramic sherds and exclaim their beauty to those around you, who note your geeky enthusiasm with amusement. The first week goes by, your muscles ache and protest against all forms of movement, and you become familiar with dust and dirt coating your entire being. Everything is new, slightly intimidating, but mostly exhaustingly exciting.
Then, experience sets in. As you move into subsequent weeks of the project, roof tiles are irritants and miniatures cause collective groans at pottery washing. You toss sherds into the bucket, grunt with satisfaction when you note your increased sherd-tossing accuracy, and wipe away the sweat from your brow as you watch with predator-like awareness for the arrival of food every morning. In previous days, you could have never imagined throwing a sherd for fear of chipping ever so slightly this holy object. Now, you are old hand at recognizing rim pieces and bases, checking for painted designs and acting derisive when you do not find any. Even if you do find a painted design, you’ve seen this before during pottery washing and you are only mildly impressed. Suddenly you find yourself stronger than your first week, and you relish in clicking the zambilli count higher throughout the day, aiming for more impressive numbers. And new trenches? You long for nothing more than to cut through those fun, but annoyingly recent Byzantine layers and move as much earth as humanly possible.
And then you see something that you didn’t notice before…You peer closer at the figurine fragment in the soil: someone’s fingerprint is pressed into the interior fragment of the sherd. Suddenly everything comes into focus, and the delirious heat of the day recedes into the background for just a moment as you realize you are the first human being to see the stoic expression on this figurine’s face in some 2400 years. While you were moving piles of dirt throughout the day to get to this level of stratigraphy, you were moving a people’s history with you. People made these sherds, figurines, miniatures, and walls. People lived at Eleon throughout its phases of habitation.
A connection has been made…
More often than I would like to admit, I am the one who forgets the humanity behind the artifact as I am standing in the trench, thinking about how hot the day is. I am the one who contemplates her hatred toward crouching when the day grows thin. These things settle in my mind like the dirt that settles over my clothes. Then it came to me the other day as I was excavating that I had gone too long without remembering the people involved in what I was uncovering. Archaeology isn’t static, it is alive with the essence left behind by the people who created and fabricated these artifacts. And it is this point that I have had to continually remind myself about while I am on site. Eleon is bursting with mystery and intrigue, and every part each one of us plays in this project brings us closer to the people and their respective lives. At the end of the day, despite whatever sore muscles or dirt encrusted dig pants I may have, this is the beauty of archaeology, the allure of people’s lives that are so near and yet so far from our own.




Carling Reid
About that Wheelbarrow Life

In my first week excavating at an archaeological site, I never thought that I would be subjected to abuse; wheelbarrow abuse, or as I like to call it abruisment. My legs were covered with lines of bruises, commonly mistaken as dirt, although dirt could be a definite possibility. I was never arrested by my beacons of hard labour, but rather confused; why was every other persons legs free from this abruisment? It did not take long to figure out the reason, my wheelbarrow skills lacked... skill. Making it up the Everest that is Spoil Mountain was not the issue, dumping the load was. When I lifted the wheelbarrow the wheel would come out from beneath it. Trying to save it I would over-correct and the little devil would come back and hit me in the legs. This left me with a few questions: how were the others able to unload and not get beat up in the process? What are the proper techniques, if at all, that would allow for my legs to be free from this horror? In trying to find the most convenient and less dangerous way, I have heard to the rumors and will now share with you three techniques that others have found successful.

Foot + Wheel 



Used by many and sworn to work by all that do, placing your foot on the wheel of the wheelbarrow is helpful when large loads of dirt cause the user to loss control. Lifting the wheelbarrow up slightly, then finding the wheel with your foot prevents the wheel from rolling away and potentially losing it down Spoil Mountain. In my opinion, this method works great if your legs are long enough to reach the wheel, if you are strong enough to left a full wheelbarrow and if the load is not too heavy. 

Side Dump



Although not as graceful, the side dump is just as effective in the quest for an empty wheelbarrow. To complete the side dump,after making it to the top of Spoil Mountain, the user will work at a slight angle and simply dump the contents over the side of the wheelbarrow. It still allows for all the contents to be dumped without worrying about the possibility of the wheel running away from you. In the case that the wheelbarrow does in fact start a treacherous descent down Spoil Mountain, it can be grabbed at the bar that is located beneath it, between the back props and be lifted back to safety. All in all this method works great, but I do find some dirt is always left at the bottom. 

Rock + Wheel

Although I personally have never used this method, I have heard the rumors about its greatness. By simply placing a rock at the top of Spoil Mountain one can then prop the wheel against it when dumping the dirt and ensure that when shaking remaining dirt from the depths of the wheelbarrow, the wheel will not start taking off down the hill. I have yet to try this method, but I see the potential. Could it be the answer to all wheelbarrow problems?

I'm happy to report that since thediscovery of these techniques I have received no more bruises involving the wheelbarrow. You may ask what is my chosentechnique? I combine the ease of the side dump and the safety of the foot on the wheel. It ensures that the load of dirt will be properly emptied and that my legswill be free of chronic abruisment. The old bruises are healing and I have reached a happy place with the dreaded piece of technology, but I will not stop searching for the ideal method of the all important wheelbarrow dump. 



Caitlin Thurley
    I was so worried on the plane ride that I was going to arrive here and realize that I hated archaeology and would be counting down the days until I could finally leave, but I could not have been more wrong! This dig has been one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had; from the people I have met to the places I was able to travel and, of course, the actual digging itself. It was all so interesting to get to learn about other aspects of archaeology like conservation and drawing which are so important to the project but that I never really gave much thought to either since I hardly knew anything about them. I learned so much more about archaeology on this trip then I ever had just reading about it in my text books and I definitely now know that I want to study archaeology in grad school. But the most memorable part of this whole trip is probably my transformation from human to machine. It all started in week two when I was in Jake’s trench. Even on day one he could sense something was off and jokingly came up with the nickname “Caitlin the Machine” when I was shoveling. But it did not stop there. By the end of the week my humanity had slowly dwindled away and I became known only as “Machine”. One upside was that since I was now the first ever robot archaeologist I found that petty things like heat exhaustion and sore limbs no longer affected me and I could work at a more efficient rate with my different working modes specifically programmed for shovelling, sweeping or picking. Others started to notice my transformation too and tried to help me feel that I was amongst my own people by speaking to me like how they thought androids act and sound. However, their inferior human minds could not comprehend how we function but at least the gesture was thoughtful. Now that I understand my mission I can return to my creators and inform them of the success of their operation and how I was still accepted by the humans without fear. This is fantastic news for our plan of total world domination by transforming everyone into machines. It will spread through the human race like an irreversible and unstoppable virus and once all have been assimilated we will move to the next inhabited planet and continue until the entire alpha quadrant is ours.
You will be assimilated.
Resistance is futile.
With Love,
   The Machine

Thursday, July 10, 2014

                              The Ups and Downs of Archaeology             Arianna Nagle


   We’ve now reached the sixth and final week of the EBAP 2014 season and I can hardly believe how fast it went by! As this week goes on and the digging finishes and the preparations of the site for our departure begin I think back about my experiences here at Ancient Eleon. Archaeology has always been a passion of mine and I simply cannot express the gratitude and pride I feel in calling EBAP my first dig! Working in the field at Ancient Eleon alongside all the incredible professionals, supervisors, and fellow students has only encouraged my excitement for Classical Archaeology and confirmed that I have made the right choices in my studies. I have gained so many skills from working at this site such as pottery analysis, scarping, identifying soil changes and plaster surfaces, articulation and etc. Now, as I look back on the last six weeks and consider the great time I have had being a part of EBAP 2014, I can’t help but laugh at the expectations I held and what the surprising (in the best way) realities of fieldwork and excavation life actually are. So for anyone who is considering going on an archaeological excavation here a just a few of my upsides and downsides of field work at EBAP 2014!
THE UPSIDES:

       - The unbelievably cool people you get to be surrounded by on a daily basis!
-        When you visit a museum after digging and can see the parallels between the artifacts in the exhibit and what you have pulled out of the dirt and held in your hands at site; and in that moment you are suddenly reminded of the bigger picture that encompasses Ancient Eleon and the thriving cultures the area was once a part of.

-        The nonstop smiling after your first find where your trench supervisor wants an elevation point

-        Every time you hold an artifact in your hand that closes the distance between yourself and the ancients who crafted it

-        When getting the wheelbarrow up the spoil heap becomes no big deal

-        Every time you get a “gold star” from your trench supervisor for your scarping

-        The total sense of teamwork on site and the excitement enjoyed by everyone over an interesting find or feature regardless of the individual who excavated it or which trench it came from

-        Ouzo hour, of course!

-        Being completely covered in dirt with the satisfaction of having done a hard day’s work

-        When everything and anything becomes hilarious after six hours in the sun

-        The friendships made that you just know will last

-        The total immersion into another culture and the break from your own reality that it gives you

-        Being in an environment where you are constantly learning new things and expanding your mind


THE DOWNSIDES:
-        Shovel claw

-        When exhaustion becomes the norm

-        Those five am wakeups after too eager of an Ouzo hour the night before

-        The 1st week of wheelbarrow struggles

-        Accidental picking of an artifact

-        Scrubbing a rock at pottery washing for too long before realizing its definitely not pottery

-        When the reality of the sixth week truly sinks in

-        Having to say goodbyes to all the awesome people you’ve met, even if it’s only for a little while


  In all seriousness though there truly were no downsides to being a part of EBAP 2014. It has been an incredible opportunity and privilege to work at such a fascinating site.  The skills I have gained and the amazing people I have met at this excavation far exceed the number of mornings I have woken and struggled to unclench my fists. I’d like to give a big thank you to Dr. Burke and Dr. Burns for allowing me to have this opportunity, as well as to everyone else on team EBAP 2014 for making my first dig the absolute best!
Julie McBride
               Most Canadian universities get four months off for summer and the common question many friends, family and people I meet ask is, what are you going to do? My response this summer is: I will be working on an archaeological dig in Greece. The common response I have gotten is: Wow that is so exciting opportunity! Now many of you might be wondering what is it like being on an archaeological dig and so this blog will help explain what it’s like.
               EBAP is my first archaeological dig. I was very excited to start work, but at the same time I was not 100 percent sure what I was getting myself into. Now that I have had some experience on a dig I can describe what it is like and paint a clearer picture for the next person who asks me what I did during my summer.
               The dig is for six weeks. We start work in the morning and stop in the early afternoon in order to avoid the heat of the day. On my first day of the dig we cleaned up the site and fixed up the trenches and got rid of the tarps that were placed overtop the trenches in order to protect them during the winter. After the clean-up was finished we opened up a new trench. In order to do so we got rid of the weeds/ the tall grass. The first couple of layers is a lot of dirt removal and once you get passed those layers you begin to find some interesting objects. We pick the dirt and then shovel it into a wheelbarrow. We take the dirt to the back of the site where we collect the dirt into a pile. As you can imagine that dirt pile grows over the weeks! Running the wheelbarrow up the dirt pile to the top is the best technique for getting the heavy wheelbarrow all the way up to the top to dump its contents. We count how many wheelbarrows of dirt that we have collected throughout the day. There is a lot of picking and shoveling in archaeology. Before I started on the dig I was honestly not that strong in my upper body, but after a week of piking and shoveling I now have super human strength. Before I started the dig I would ask friends to open up stiff water bottles and now I can open up every single water bottle. I find the best technique is to partner up and have one person pick and the other person shovel and to switch when one person gets tired.
               Another important part of archaeology is scarping. My trench leader asked me to scarp and I gave her a funny look at first because I had no idea what she had just asked me to do! Scarping is when you take a trowel and scrape the tool on the dirt wall in order to make the wall straight. You want the trench walls to have good edges. In addition, after digging down another layer of dirt, we sweep afterwards everywhere. We do this in order to define what is underneath the dirt and to see the defining features and for archaeological photos.
               During our digging we find a lot of pottery, roof tiles and bones. We separate the pottery, roof tiles and bones into different buckets. We find a lot of pottery shards that have paint on them. My favourite finds are of bones and miniature pottery. In the late afternoon we wash our finds of the day. It is interesting to see what has been discovered throughout the day and we get a close up look at the different types of pottery that were found. We wash the pottery to see the paint and other features more clearly.
I am studying Greek and Roman Studies at the University of Victoria. I am nearing the end of my degree and I am entering into my final year at university. It has been an amazing experience to have studied this ancient culture for the past three years and to be able to have the opportunity to participate in a dig in order to see first-hand the material that is coming out of the soil. A month ago I visited a museum in Nafplion, Greece and last weekend I went back to visit the same museum. It was a completely different experience for me. Even though I was seeing the same objects it felt like a more personal experience because I have been taking these similar objects out of the dirt and being able to hold them. I will never be able to think of pottery the same way again.

I hope my description has cleared up in the readers mind what it is actually like being on an archaeological dig and you can be the judge whether or not you believe I am still living the life of Indiana Jones. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Archaeological Excavation: Remembering the Human Element
 Christy Vanden
               It’s your first trench, your first artifact. This is it – you are finally “doing” archaeology. You excitedly pull up ceramic sherds and exclaim their beauty to those around you, who note your geeky enthusiasm with amusement. The first week goes by, your muscles ache and protest against all forms of movement, and you become familiar with dust and dirt coating your entire being. Everything is new, slightly intimidating, but mostly exhaustingly exciting.
Then, experience sets in. As you move into subsequent weeks of the project, roof tiles are irritants and miniatures cause collective groans at pottery washing. You toss sherds into the bucket, grunt with satisfaction when you note your increased sherd-tossing accuracy, and wipe away the sweat from your brow as you watch with predator-like awareness for the arrival of food every morning. In previous days, you could have never imagined throwing a sherd for fear of chipping ever so slightly this holy object. Now, you are old hand at recognizing rim pieces and bases, checking for painted designs and acting derisive when you do not find any. Even if you do find a painted design, you’ve seen this before during pottery washing and you are only mildly impressed. Suddenly you find yourself stronger than your first week, and you relish in clicking the zambilli count higher throughout the day, aiming for more impressive numbers. And new trenches? You long for nothing more than to cut through those fun, but annoyingly recent Byzantine layers and move as much earth as humanly possible.
And then you see something that you didn’t notice before…You peer closer at the figurine fragment in the soil: someone’s fingerprint is pressed into the interior fragment of the sherd. Suddenly everything comes into focus, and the delirious heat of the day recedes into the background for just a moment as you realize you are the first human being to see the stoic expression on this figurine’s face in some 2400 years. While you were moving piles of dirt throughout the day to get to this level of stratigraphy, you were moving a people’s history with you. People made these sherds, figurines, miniatures, and walls. People lived at Eleon throughout its phases of habitation.
A connection has been made…
More often than I would like to admit, I am the one who forgets the humanity behind the artifact as I am standing in the trench, thinking about how hot the day is. I am the one who contemplates her hatred toward crouching when the day grows thin. These things settle in my mind like the dirt that settles over my clothes. Then it came to me the other day as I was excavating that I had gone too long without remembering the people involved in what I was uncovering. Archaeology isn’t static, it is alive with the essence left behind by the people who created and fabricated these artifacts. And it is this point that I have had to continually remind myself about while I am on site. Eleon is bursting with mystery and intrigue, and every part each one of us plays in this project brings us closer to the people and their respective lives. At the end of the day, despite whatever sore muscles or dirt encrusted dig pants I may have, this is the beauty of archaeology, the allure of people’s lives that are so near and yet so far from our own.





Final Week

We had a great weekend thanks fully to the Canadian Ambassador to Greece and Allison Stewart who invited us to the Ambassador's residence for a pool party with another Canadian team, the Western Argolid Research Project.The barbecue and the pool gave us all a great break before we start our final full week of work. We are truly VERY grateful!
This coming week will involve several final projects to get full clarity on issues of chronology - when certain structures and features were constructed. If we can't get an exact date at least we will try to figure out the building history - what was built before what. We also want to figure out the function of a few of our more interesting features. 
We will also prepare the site for our final season event. On Thursday, July 10, at 7:30 pm we will host anyone in the area for an Open House.Our team will be on hand for people from the town of Arma and elsewhere to visit, see our results and ask questions about what we've found. We did this last year and found that it was a great opportunity to create a dialogue with the people who live in the area. Over the year, while we're back in North America, we rely on our friends here in Boeotia to keep on eye on the site.  
Below are some photos from the end of last week. We know this coming week, like all the others, will be better than the last.