Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A look at the campus. :D

I had an amazing time on this trip and I'm still wishing I could live on Greek time permanently. I took over a thousand photos during our two-week stay, and even so long after getting home I'm still going through and editing them!

I'd like to post some pictures of the ACG campus, though--it was a beautiful place to stay, and I'm delighted to have been able to experience it.

 The trees and views on campus were beautiful.

LOTS and lots of stairs! Difficult on a hot day, but it felt good to be active.

The amphitheater was amazing. An option for classes, though the heatwave kept us from holding class sessions there. 

And the view? Wow.

 The lobby of the apartments we stayed in.

 AJ and Peter hanging out with other people we met from all around the US.

 Derek, Heather, and Kate on the apartment balcony.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

SAG 2012 Wrap-Up

Most of the SAG 2012 students have returned to Massachusetts and are now enjoying all the comforts of the United States. Greece (old and new) is a very different place and "culture shock" set in almost immediately.

I have asked several students to use this page to comment on their experiences as a wrap-up.

This was a very rewarding trip with many learning new things not just about ancient Greece, but the world and themselves.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 11: Athens, ACG Campus and the surrounding area

Once the lectures and the touring were finished on Thursday afternoon, students spent most of that night and the morning of the following day prepping for the Final, each in their own way.

We all agreed to meet at the Starbucks on ACG campus at 2PM, but the noise of the other students preparing for their finals prompted us to migrate to the Cafiene Coffeeshop at the front of campus. Here students took refreshments and we discussed both the entire course, and the readings. We also spent some time reflecting back on the entire SAG 2012 experience and openly chatted about what worked and what did not. Overall, it would be very accurate to say that everyone had a very positive experience and all gave useful feedback to help shape the Study Abroad Greece Progeram for the years to come.

As not all of our numbers attended the Final, I decided to have students write their papers once back in the US and gave them each a handout on the criteria for the Final Essay. We leave in a few days (just after the National Elections on the 17th) and will miss the unique nature that is Greece!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 10: Athens, the Agora (and Roman Agora too)

The second theme of the class deals with the influence of Greek cultural forms on Roman life, even in a city like Athens, rejuvenated under the Nervan-Antonine emperors like Hadrian. The SAG 2012 crew boarded a bus in the late morning and then a subway train to the Monastiraki stop,where the Athens Agora is located. First we refreshed ourselves on a lite meal at a place with the best coffee (and chocolate cake) in town.
Here "Italian Holly" shows off her monstrous slice of chocolate cake to Kate.

We then began to walk towards the Athenian Agora, the central marketplace and heart of civic life of ancient Athens. As we approached the entrance an active excavation was visible. This is the Athenian Agora excavation run by the American School of Classical Studies in Athens.  They have an active field school and have been excavating here since the 1931. This is their website on the dig:

We were told to ask for Prof. John Camp, the Director of the excavation at the school field headquarters located in the basement of the Stoa of Attalos. I introduced myself to the Director and he very graciously allowed us on site to view the excavation process up close. It became obvious immediately that Prof. Camp is an excellent teacher and quickly fell into teaching mode, telling the history of the site and superbly answering questions posed  to him by UMass Lowell students. He had heard of Lowell and of its large Greek-American community. (George Behrakis is a benefactor of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens.)

 Prof. John Camp, Director of the Athenian Agora Excavations talking to SAG 2012 students about the special stratigraphy of the Agora excavation.

Jackie, Lucas, AJ and Kate asking questions of Prof. Camp and listening to the unique public nature of this specific site. It was here that Zeno the Stoic gathered an audience.

Various students from over two dozen institutions participation in the Filed School at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens

It was very generous of Prof. Camp to take time out his busy schedule to teach our students. 
We are eternally grateful for this special opportunity.

We then ventured into the more public space of the Agora itself and first viewed the Stoa of Attalos II and the museum within its walls.
 SAG 2012 students in the shade of the Attalos Stoa in an attempt to beat the high temperatures.

 Ostrika (pot sherds used to expel Athenian citizens) in the museum. Themistokles' name was frequently seen.
 Hemlock pots found under the wall of the Keramichus prison, like the ones used to kill Socrates. (in the background is a small marble effigy of Socrates made as a votive offering along with an ostrikon with Socrates' name on it.)
The whole 2012 crew in the Stoa of Attalos. Here we followed the footsteps of Socrates

Then we hiked up to see the rest of the site and ended up at the most complete temple we've seen to date, the Temple of Hephaestus.

 Peter next to the Temple of Hephaestus.

AJ and "British Holly" at the Temple. --Holly is getting more accustomed to the heat.

As the temperatures reached into the upper 90s, many of our numbers, being native New Englanders, began to wilt. We were forced to stop for cool water and  a snack at a cafe that had misting fans.

After the cafe of the "misting fan" our numbers divided. Those struggling with heat exhaustion went home while five hardy souls (including myself) forged onward in the oppressive heat. (My shirt has not had such salt stains in years!)

First we went to the Library of Hadrian, the Roman emperor of the 2nd century CE,who beautified Athens almost as much as Pericles himself. We sat in the ancient center of learning and discussed the readings. Of special note was reading a poem by Horace that summed up this unit of the course:

Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit
et artis intulit agresti Latio.

Captive Greece captured, in turn, her uncivilized
conquerors, and brought the arts to rustic Latium.

 "Italian Holly", Peter, Kate and Derek reading ancient poetry in situ. This was a beautiful exercise.

Standing at a wall of a Byzantine Church

Then we walked to the Roman Agora, a space created because the original Agora had become too crowded for Romans to conduct business. We were almost denied access at it was close to 3 PM, but my improved Greek skills and DEREE ID card got us into the gates.

 Here the hardy stand around a column fragment.

 An inscription mentioned in our readings for the day outlines the Sebastos of Antoninus.

We then refreshed ourselves once again (intake of fluids very important in such heat) and then headed towards the Arch of Hadrian.

Then we walked towards the Syntagma Metro stop.

On our way, we saw evidence of a Roman bath

  and then we viewed very briefly the Parliament building. (no protests today)

Then inside Syntagma station is the "Underground Museum" where artifacts found while digging the new subway (created for the 2004 Olympics) are on display.

Here Derek views a Christian burial with the bones still intact. This is literally inside the walls of Syntagma station.

We then returned to our dorms in Aghia Paraskevi and collapsed from exhaustion.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day 9: Athens (ACG campus)

After such a busy schedule of touring and excursions, the students earned a late start this morning with classes starting at 2PM. Today's schedule was a combination of 2 lectures and a Discussion. Campus is still beautiful. The quiet of the pine trees seems very remote from the commotion of urban Athens and its chaotic streets.

Today was rather hot and humid with temps reaching into the upper 90s. Coming from New England, where the temperatures are milder, many students were not responding well to the unseasonably warm Summer. Even in the Faculty Lounge where I take my lunch alongside other ACG professors, they commented on the heat. Thus after lecture, we reconvened for discussion at the pool. It was a nice and spontaneious change of pace that everyone enjoyed!

 The Discussion Group: today we discussed Rome's military conquest of Greece, but also the impact of Greek culture on ancient Romans. The breeze of the pool was a welcome relief.

 The pool
Derek prepares himself for a dip after discussion.

When was all was said and done at 5PM we all went the local student coffeehouse for a light refreshment. I am still amazed at how fast locals can make backgammon moves here in Greece.

Tomorrow morning we all travel to the Roman Forum and then hold lecture/discussion somewhere in the Plaka before the Finals.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Day 8: Delphi

Today we all ventured the 3.5 hour ride to the site of Delphi, with the Oracle and Temple of Apollo and the adjacent tourist/ski resort town of Arachova.

The ride to Delphi was rather early and many on the SAG 2012 crew had yet to wake up. Once there, however, everyone was very keen to see with their own eyes the Temple and its numerous religious shrines that built up in the Greco-Roman world for over 5,000 years. (There is evidence of cult worship at the Bronze Age levels, but mostly in the Archaic and Classical/Roman periods.)

First we viewed the museum where numerous famous works of art and monumental sculptures are housed.

 Here our guide Elena gives us an introductory tour with a recreation of the entire site.

 The top of the Sphinx monument. This stood on top of a column 12.5 meters high (~40 feet) and dedicated by people from the island of Naxos

An early5th century white ground kylix by an unknown Athenian painter showing a woman playing the lyre (Apollo's instrument) with Apollo represented by the crow.

A painted pediment decoration

The famed Charioteer of Delphi, also known as Heniokhos (the rein-holder),

The entire SAG 2012 class learning about the intricacies of lost wax bronze casting

We then got to view the site itself.Here we walked up the "Sacred Way" to the highest point, viewing such notable remains as the Roman Forum, the Treasury of the Athenians, which houses the spoils of the Battle of Marathon, and the Temple of Delphi with its adjacent theater.

 Derek and Kate in the Roman Forum

 The SAG 2012 crew at Delphi

 Derek asks a question of our guide Elena in front of the "Treasury of the Athenians," a monument to Marathon.

Director Spanier surveys the approach to the Temple of Apollo

 (from left to right) Heather, and the Hollai at the Temple of Apollo

 Heather next to a triglyph from the Temple of Apollo  (for scale)

Then we all boarded the bus and our driver Petros (great guy) drove us to Arachova, where we supped on a delicious lunch. This beautiful Medieval town is full of cute shops and very popular for skiing in the winter. The entire town is cut into terraces of the mountain of Parnassos
 (courtesy of Kate Shanteler)
  (courtesy of Kate Shanteler)
  (courtesy of Kate Shanteler)
 (courtesy of Kate Shanteler)

Here we are with the town in the background.

Tomorrow is a 1/2 Free Day and then 3 hours of lecture/discussion