The First Field Trip

by Valerie Sargeant and Staren Henry

The day started off a little rocky with a delayed bus and a few students feeling under the weather. Despite these setbacks, we persevered and continued on to our first location of the day — the temple of Artemis at Brauron at the eastern edge of Attica. Unfortunately because of the weather the site was flooded, but we were still able to enjoy the archaeological artifacts on display in the museum.

Our museum visit was kicked off with a presentation by Jules on Sacred Space, which started off with an exercise in silence. This gave us the opportunity to fully appreciate our surroundings and eliminate the inherent academic bias we have has college students before exploring the museum. The placement of the presentation towards the beginning of our trip in Greece will be particularly effective because it will allow us to fully appreciate the gravity of the spaces we visit in relation to our body and senses.

Following Jules’ presentation at the museum of Brauron, Professor Salowey laid out the Eteology of the temple of Artemis Brauronia in connection to Euripedes’ Iphegenia Among Talris. The temple was important in that it was the location in which rituals concerning the rite of passage for young Athenian girls into womanhood took place, as well as women’s fertility and failed childbirth.  We saw examples of young girls practicing fertility rituals in religious objects called krateriskoi — which are smaller kraters with 2 small handles on the side and a similar shape. There were also several statuettes of children, which were votive offerings celebrating successful childbirths.

We then took a 30 minute bus ride to the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St.Paul in Paleokamariza to observe the life of the sisters who serve there. As we donned our skirts and became a part of their world, we were shown great hospitality as we were allowed to enter their church. Once inside, we learned about the iconography of the Greek Orthodox church and were taught about it’s importance and origin, as well as the expertise needed to paint them. It was very interesting to discuss with one of the nuns how she became involved with the church and learn about how integral the Monastery was in the local Greek community.

Lunch was served at a lovely seaside restaurant in Sounion with a stellar view of the Temple of Poseidon, which was dramatically highlighted by the cold rainy weather.

Professor Salowey told us about how the temple serves as an important symbol for the area, as the temple was the first landmark that indicated home for the weary sailor arriving from Asia minor. The temple was well known for housing refugees and also served as a fortified garrison in antiquity, and also sports the graffiti of Lord Byron — a romantic British figure. After that concise offsite lecture, we got back on the bus and ascended to the Temple of Poseidon before existing and exposing ourselves to the harsh elements. Bracing the cold was well worth it though as the view of the Aegean sea was breathtaking!

This concluded our field trip as we all funneled back into the bus, overjoyed by the opportunity to defrost as we headed back to Athens. Now that we’re warm, we can’t wait to see what the next day holds for us!

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