By Carley Grudzinski and Vanessa Taylor
We woke up in Sparta after staying the night in the fabulous Menelaion Hotel, and we were all ready to see what the city had to offer.
First we went to the city’s ancient acropolis. This archaeological site was unique in that we were actually able to interact with the ancient structures. Some members of the group even climbed onto old column drums and walls. Usually the buildings are roped off and heavily guarded, but we were the only people in sight, and it made the experience even more personal and less second-hand.
The site itself confuses archaeologists; subjects like the location of the agora and the potential movement of the parts of the theatre are constantly being debated.
An interesting fact that we learned from Professor Salowey is that when archaeologists want to excavate, they need to buy the land. This means that any trees that are present need to be purchased from the farmer who owns them. Not only does this explain why there are so many trees in the middle of various ancient structures, but also how these sites/structures play a role in everyday Greek life, and economy.
Olives continue to be a huge part of Greek economy. Our group learned about the many uses of olives at the Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil.
At the museum, students interacted with displays that showed us how the olives were ground up to produce olive oil or other goods such as soap. We also learned how the production of these goods has evolved since ancient times, and how the ancients used olive oil for many things other than cooking.
Afterwards, everyone got a chance to wander around the hub of Sparta, eat lunch, and do some shopping, before we loaded back onto the bus to go to Nafplio, where we will spend the next two nights.