Penultimate Day in Athens

By Mariah Abshire & Christina Mashishi

After a free day full of relaxation and shopping, our group is back together and taking Athens by storm… Hollins style. We began our morning at the foot of a living relic dating to antiquity. This olive tree is 1500 years old!

Today was round two at the National Archeological Museum. Instead of focusing on artistic skills and practices of Ancient Greece, we discussed ancient art’s ability to express narratives.

The first stop was at the female kore statue. What is so important about her is that she is one of only four kore that are funerary markers and not votive. Many male scholars love to claim that this kore is simply a product of overly grieved parents. However, Professor Salowey expanded this argument to the class, suggesting the kore might have instead stood as symbol of the bravery and sacrifice of young women who protected and fought for Attica.

Another striking statue was the bronze horse and young jockey. This statue was retrieved in pieces from a ship wreck in Euboea. Here was a great example of strong emotional expression and dynamic movement of the Hellenistic period.

Before breaking off to wonder on our own, we moved through the extensive vase collection. What’s interesting about Attica vases is that, the clay is more iron-based and so the pottery comes out more red than pottery from other Greek regions. The museum even displayed a mock burial, so that viewers could imagine how vases were kept with the dead.

Vases were not only used for funerary purposes, though. They depicted various events from antiquity, some even show dancing and marital ceremonies.

Our next stop was the ancient site of Kerameikos. Kerameikos was apart of the ancient city of Athens and contains a fountain house, the city gates, the Eridanos river and the famous cemetery.

Near the fountain house of Kerameikos, we listened to Julianna’s ongoing research of sacred spaces. She shared with us her observations on how spirituality plays a big factor in visiting these sites and looking at artifacts. We look forward to Julianna’s research furthering into a senior thesis.

Athenians were not the only people buried at this cemetery, foreign diplomats and traders are found here. We also visited the museum on site that contains the original grave markers that would’ve been found in the cemetery.

We ended our day immersing ourselves in our cultural crossroads theme. We had a lovely lunch inspired by Mediterranean Jewish cuisine.

Tomorrow marks our final full day in Greece. Stay tuned to see what final adventure awaits!


A Visit to the Oracle

By Elizabeth Lauderdale and Christina Mashishi

We started our day in Delphi by making our way to the Kastalian Spring where Emma gave us some background on how one would prepare for a visit to the oracle.

People hoping to ask the oracle for guidance would ritually cleanse themselves at the Kastalian spring before proceeding through the sacred way in the sanctuary of Apollo.

Along the sacred way are many monuments that were set up in antiquity to commemorate victories in battle, athletic and musical competitions, and tithes to the oracle. Professor Salowey mentioned how the walls in several parts of the site were a perfect example of polygonal masonry. One piece of irregular stone was cut and a piece of lead was fitted to it and used to cut the next piece so that the many pieces all fit together.

Example of polygonal masonry

Emma continued her presentation on the oracle Pythia at Apollo’s sanctuary. She explained its mythical origins as well as the probable scientific reasonings behind the Pythia’s visions. We also had a reenactment of what a visit to the oracle might have been like.

Besides being a religious site Delphi was also a highly political site. Rulers would often consult the oracle on new laws or about going to war. Since they relied on it so much it is likely that the priests that interpreted the oracle’s words may have engaged in corrupt behavior or been bribed by certain powerful people to interpret them a certain way.

Next, we identified some of the monuments along the sacred way using our guidebooks and the spolia, the remains that are still on the site. These identifications rely heavily of the writings of the Roman traveler Pausanias, who visited Delphi in the second century CE and left detailed descriptions of the things he saw on his travels.

Finally, we made our way up to the temple of Apollo and the theatre above it, where we could look out over the entire sanctuary.

We also met some furry friends along the way! : )

After lunch we visited the archeological museum of Delphi. The works below are some of the pieces we saw that were particularly interesting.

The Sphinx at Naxos would have been at the top of a huge column in the Sanctuary, looking down on those who neared the temple.
The Charioteer is remarkable as an example of a full, nearly untouched, bronze statue. Up close you can still see his implanted glass eyes and his eyelashes.
This Kylix of Apollo depicts him with a lyre and pouring libations from a kylix while a crow, possibly a representation of one of his lovers, looks on.
This is a statue of Antinous, the lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who was greatly honored by the emperor after his death.

After visiting the museum we met up again in the evening for a lovely dinner at a restaurant in Arachova. Tomorrow our road trip continues and we will be going to Olympia!