Friday, August 4, 2006

August 4, 2006: Me and Herakles at Monastiraki, W. Crete

I've just returned at the end of July 06 from 7 weeks in Greece and the last 3 weeks were in the village of Monastiraki and my winter semester started 2 weeks ago. I spent the first month in Athens creating a pottery catalog of pottery collected by the British Lakonia survey in the 1950's. Pretty boring stuff, but I am trying to start a project at the settlement associated with the Vaphio Tholos and I see this as part of the process of building up knowledge about the site. I was working with a friend and colleague, Anne Chapin, of Brevard College.
The project at Monastiraki was something I fell into by accident. The excavations are finished there and the Greek Director, Athanasia Kanta is working with an Italian team who are putting all the finds and diaries into a database. I had no idea what to expect. It was originally supposed to be a full month of cleaning, then it turned into a week, then it turned back into 3 weeks with some limited excavation. It was very interesting. It's the most complicated building I've ever seen. Some of it is clearly planned, but in some cases the architecture is very poor. We did some excavation to try and understand the doorways, so we clarified some parts of the plan. We had a seal stone as find from cleaning the surface and I found a bronze ax where I was cleaning. It seems like the project will expand in the future, so this will be potentially interesting, particularly if Vaphio doesn't work out.
My time in Greece went unusually well. We finished our database and in visiting the site of Palaiopyrgi, we found a Mycenaean quarry, and have applied for permission to publish it. The time in Monastiraki also went surprisingly well. I frankly did not encourage students to come as I received very little info as to what would happen and the dates kept changing. I did not know if it would be a success or a bust. It was originally supposed to be a month, then it was decided to be for a week (after I had already bought my tickets), then it ended up being for 3 weeks. It was planned as a cleaning and study season, but we ended up doing quite a bit of excavation and found some interesting things including a seal stone and a bronze ax. It looks like a project that will expand in the future and the team is quite glad to see Australian students participate.

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