03 – Week Three (5-11 April)


 

Week 3

Week 3

Saturday, April 11

Sites Visited: Argos Museum, Argive Heraion (Archaic/Classical polis sanctuary), Epidauros (Classical/Hellenistic healing sanctuary)

Where did we stay tonight?: Nafplio

Leaders: Jerry Guo and Dallis Fox

A whisper….and the crowd fell silent

After a night spent browbeating rambunctious and screaming Greek teenagers, we woke up bright and early for a long day of exploring sites around the Argolid. The hotel breakfast had some of the worst coffee the group had ever experienced. It was literally grey and murky, two things which a cup of coffee should never be.

In the morning, we visited the archaeological museum at Argos, which houses impressive Bronze Age finds. Unfortunately, the modern town of Argos sits atop the ancient site, so much of the site is inaccessible. The museum contains the oldest full set of armor in Greece, the first depiction of mythology on pottery (blinding of Polyphemus), and a great deal of ceramic finds from Lerna. The group uncovered yet another addition to the catalogue of cute things for the honors thesis of one FSP’er, “Some Cute Things.”

After a brief look at the collection of Roman sculpture and mosaic from the Argos baths, we hit the road to meet David Scahill at the Argive Heraion, which has a commanding view of the agricultural plain. Mr. Scahill wore a festive hat (perhaps a fedora) and guided us through the architectural remains, beginning with the top, and oldest, terrace. We paid special attention to the methods of reconstructing ancient buildings based on the scanty remains on-site. We were also baffled by the many, many debates that scholars enter into with regard to these reconstructions.

Perhaps more interesting was the staggering wildlife that lived in the weeds. We saw many insects (grasshoppers, bees, strange beetles) and heard stories of a rabbit with two foot long ears that occasionally hops around the site. There are also rumors of giant prehistoric flies that capture other insects and “suck the life out of them.” The dangers of classical archaeology.

We had a leisurely lunch of sardines, frappes, and chocolate covered biscuits at Epidaurus and visited the museum there. There were some interesting inscriptions of “medical care” that took place at the Sanctuary of Asclepius, where people came to be treated by the ritual circuit of cleansing, offering, and healing. One lucky patient’s head was cut off, a worm was removed, and the head was sewn back on. Only the intervention of Asclepius himself saved the patient. Dogs and snakes were also popular healers; a lick on a wound from one of these creatures would surely cure any ailment.

But then, things became spooky. Nick Thompson, a lithics expert with the Ephoreia, took us on a tour of the site. He pointed out the great number of secret passageways underneath many of the buildings at the site. Archaeologists have yet to uncover where these passages lead, but Dallis and KT will surely the lead excavators after they finish uncovering the Minoan palace at Palaikastro. We heard of more bizarre fauna here as well; Nick told a story of massive, slow-moving, acid-spitting frogs that roamed around the site in antiquity.

We then visited the much-anticipated theater of Epidaurus, which is said to have perfect acoustics. Even a whisper in the orchestra can be heard in the farthest row of seats (no small feat in a theater that seats 17,000!). All the visitors took turns standing in the center of the orchestra performing songs, monologues, and harmonica. But the best performance came from the FSP group, when we stood in the center and regaled the spectators with a rousing version of the Alma Mater. Although there was no applause, two members of our group followed up our already crowd-pleasing performance with recitations of Homer and Aeschylus in ancient Greek. Needless to say, we were the nerds of the Theatre of Epidaurus.

As it started to rain, we headed back to the bus and spent a wonderful night in Nafplion, the Greek capital of komboloi (worry beads). Several FSP members visited the museum there and bought sets for themselves. Dallis is in fact flipping hers at this very moment.

At the Epidauros theater:

Alma Mater at Epidauros:

Day 21 Photo Gallery:

 

A suit of hoplite armor at the Argos Museum.

A suit of hoplite armor at the Argos Museum.

Prof. Faro talks about the pottery from Lerna.

Prof. Faro talks about the pottery from Lerna.

Odysseus and pals with Polyphemos, a very early depiction of Greek myth.

Odysseus and pals with Polyphemos, a very early depiction of Greek myth.

Charlie peers at a mysterious Early Helladic artifact.

Charlie peers at a mysterious Early Helladic artifact.

Alex A. and Joe wander amongst some Roman sculpture in the Argos Museum.

Alex A. and Joe wander amongst some Roman sculpture in the Argos Museum.

Kathryn, Joe, and Chris at the Argive Heraion

Kathryn, Joe, and Chris at the Argive Heraion

The temple to Hera in bloom.

The temple to Hera in bloom.

Dr. Scahill shows the group the fineries of architectural restoration.

David Scahill shows the group the fineries of architectural restoration.

Dr. Scahill and Prof. Faro demonstrate canonical pilaster posture.

David Scahill and Prof. Faro demonstrate canonical pilaster posture.

Still life with Jason and Argive flora.

Still life with Jason and Argive flora.

Kathryn takes notes at the Heraion.

Kathryn takes notes at the Heraion.

A dedicatory plaque from someone with an ear malady in the Epidauros museum

A dedicatory plaque from someone with an ear malady in the Epidauros museum

Dallis and KT cleanse themselves before entering the sanctuary of Epidauros.

Dallis and KT cleanse themselves before entering the sanctuary of Epidauros.

The group learns about the Epidaurian ritual cycle from guest speaker Nick Thompson.

The group learns about the Epidaurian ritual cycle from guest speaker Nick Thompson.

Kait poses in front of the stadium at Epidauros.

Kait poses in front of the stadium at Epidauros.

Ben and Charlie are impressed by the famous theater at Epidauros.

Ben and Charlie are impressed by the famous theater at Epidauros.

Ally presents the findings of her research on the Oresteia in the theater.

Ally presents the findings of her research on the Oresteia in the theater.

The ancient theater.

The ancient theater.

 

Week 3

Week 3

Friday April 10

Sites Visited: Nemea (Panhellenic Sanctuary), Mycenae (Bronze Age citadel)

Where did we stay tonight?: Nafplio

Leaders: Kait Barber and Joe Indvik

Breaking news from the Entertaining Sports of the Peloponnese Network:

Earlier today, in a photo finish of Phelpsian magnitude, Jason Spellmire overcame the competition to become Dartmouth’s first Nemean Games gold medalist!  Despite some flailing footwork at the culmination of the race, he managed to sail to victory on Zeus’ winds before face-planting in the hallowed soil of Nemea (see video).  The joy was evident upon Spellmire’s face as a wreath of celery was awarded to him shortly thereafter.  As there is no second place in Greek athletics, the losers (some of them clad in sandals, jeans, or both) were left to hang their heads in shame.  Our viewers will be happy to hear that the competition was not completely authentic, however:  The Greeks would have run completely naked.  As this may have upset the nearby group of elderly German tourists, clothing was retained.  Our reporters spoke with Spellmire just seconds after his historic victory:

Spellmire:  *Heavy breathing*
ESPN:  You just upset some of the world’s greatest competitors in a come-from-behind, underdog victory.  How do you feel?
Spellmire:  You know, Joe, I feel great.  I feel great.  Everyone ran a great race today.  In the end, it just came down to who wanted it more.
ESPN:  How did it feel to compete on such a hallowed field, where centuries of Greece’s greatest athletes have striven for glory?
Spellmire:  Hollow?!  This track is hollow?  What are you trying to pull?
ESPN:  Nevermind.  What’s that you’re holding?
Spellmire:  What, you mean this 24-karat solid gold donkey trophy?  That’s right, that’s what I’m holdin’.
ESPN:  *blank stare* That’s…uh…that’s plastic, Jason.
Spellmire: Hey, this is my moment and I won’t let you take this away from me!
ESPN:  What was with the face-plant at the end there?
Spellmire:  Face-plant?!  Whachu talkin’ ‘bout?  That was the patented Spellmire Finish Line Dive!
ESPN:  Of course.  So what’s next for you?  Would you be willing to go completely…*ahem*…authentic in your next race?
Spellmire:  I’m not ashamed of anything.  Whatever, I don’t care!  I’m going to Disney World!
ESPN:  Anything you would like to say to your fans?
Spellmire:  This train hasn’t stopped yet!
ESPN:  Thanks for your time.

A full synopsis of the day:
Following an early wake-up this morning, we headed to Nemea in the Peloponnese.  We received an introductory lecture by Stephen Miller, who is widely known as “The Man” when it comes to Nemean studies.  During several decades of work on this site, he has supervised the construction of a museum, begun the restoration of the temple of Zeus, and planted trees to better reflect ancient landscaping.  He even reconstructed an ancient starting block mechanism called the hysplix, a device designed to allow runners beginning on time to pass freely while tripping those who started too soon.  After a tour of the temple currently under restoration, we headed to the ancient running track to stage our own race (more on that later).  In the afternoon we headed over to Mycenae, the legendary palace of Agamemnon. It is a highly fortified hilltop, and all visitors must pass through the Lion’s Gate to enter. The Lion’s Gate is a massive doorway which has been standing and visible for thousands of years. We walked through the remains of the palace down into an ancient cistern, for which some of us had to break out the headlamps.  Not very fashionable, but effective.  After this, we stopped at the museum for a quick look at some artifacts before checking out the nearby tholos tombs. The Treasury of Atreus, the biggest of the tombs, was incredibly large and impressive. It was used by Mycenaean elites. Finally, we completely confused all the other tour groups by climbing atop the tomb and making triangles for a group picture.

Nemea Stadium:

The starting line:

To the victor go the spoils!

Tholos tomb geek-out:

 

Chris ponders the temple to Zeus at Nemea.

Chris ponders the temple to Zeus at Nemea.

Jerry enjoys the sun and sights at the temple of Nemean Zeus.

Jerry enjoys the sun and sights at the temple of Nemean Zeus.

Dr. Miller lectures to the group in the temple.

Dr. Miller lectures to the group in the temple.

Checking out a column in the midst of reconstruction at Nemea.

Checking out a column in the midst of reconstruction at Nemea.

Dr. Miller demonstrates a device used to reconstruct columns of the temple at Nemea.

Dr. Miller demonstrates a device used to reconstruct columns of the temple at Nemea.

Prof. Faro wows Alex with her explanation of the Aidonia treasure in the Nemea museum.

Prof. Faro wows Alex with her explanation of the Aidonia treasure in the Nemea museum.

A Germanic horde thwarts our Nemean games re-enactment.

A Germanic horde thwarts our Nemean games re-enactment.

At long last!  Liberated from the Germanokratia.

At long last! Liberated from the Germanokratia.

The race begins!

The race begins!

The leaders round the turning post.  All for Kleos!

The leaders round the turning post. All for Kleos!

The girls round the turning post.  Kleos!!

The girls round the turning post. Kleos!!

Photo finish!  And Jason takes the Kleos!

Photo finish! And Jason takes the Kleos!

Prof. Faro introduces the group to their new friend, Mycenae.

Prof. Faro introduces the group to their new friend, Mycenae.

Group in front of the Lion Gate at Mycenae.

Group in front of the Lion Gate at Mycenae.

At the bottom of a secret Mycenaean cistern.

At the bottom of a secret Mycenaean cistern.

Assaf says something profound about a model of Mycenae.

Assaf says something profound about a model of Mycenae.

Chris beseiges the postern gate at Mycenae.

Chris beseiges the postern gate at Mycenae.

Entering a tholos tomb.

Entering a tholos tomb.

Emerging from the underworld.

Emerging from the underworld.

2009 Greece FSP, Relieving triangle style.

2009 Greece FSP, Relieving triangle style.

Week 3

Week 3

Thursday April 9

Sites Visited: National Museum in Athens (Prehistoric collections and Bronzes)

Where did we stay tonight?: Athens

Leaders: Jason Spellmire and Kate Ginsberg

Our day began with us sitting on the steps of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens while some small children laughed at us. This seems to be a recurring theme; a few days ago some Greek teens began yelling “Oohwhat’s Ahp” and making gestures that may have been obscene as we walked by.

The morning was spent looking at Neolithic and Bronze Age material. Highlights included the Death Mask of Agamemnon (his was clearly not the Face that Launched a Thousand Ships), a lot of gold Mycenaean stuff, some octopus pottery, and a lot of swords. There was also a hedgehog riding a horse, sure to feature prominently in one FSPer’s forthcoming thesis on cuteness in ancient art.

In the afternoon we looked at bronze things that were not from the Bronze Age. Foremost among these was the Artemisian Zeus, a famous bronze piece recovered from a shipwreck. Maybe there will be a picture of this piece somewhere below.

Finally, we each chose a bronze figurine (a bird, a bull, a frog, a human, etc.) and discussed it briefly in a short paper. We also sketched our figurines, in most cases rendering them unrecognizable. Tonight we are preparing for our trip to the Peloponnese, which begins bright and early tomorrow morning. At least there is the breakfast buffet.

Day 19 Video:

Photo Gallery:

A gold Mycenaean death mask from the National Museum.

A gold Mycenaean death mask from the National Museum.

Dallis and Ally "geek out" over a great Minoan octopus.

Dallis and Ally "geek out" over a great Minoan octopus.

Alex A. and Charlie practice using their Greek komboloi (worry beads) outside during their lunch break.

Alex A. and Charlie practice using their Greek komboloi (worry beads) outside during their lunch break.

An evocative griffon from the extensive bronze collections of the National Museum.

An evocative griffon from the extensive bronze collections of the National Museum.

FSPers test out various poses while discussing the Zeus of Artemision.

FSPers test out various poses while discussing the Zeus of Artemision.

Kate and Kait work diligently on their bronze gallery assignment.

Kate and Kait work diligently on their bronze gallery assignment.

Alex M. puts her studio art minor to good use.

Alex M. puts her studio art minor to good use.

Kathryn and Dallis apply themselves with gusto to their bronze dedication assignment.

Kathryn and Dallis apply themselves with gusto to their bronze dedication assignment.

The famous bronze jockey in the National Museum.

The famous bronze jockey in the National Museum.

A detail of horse and rider.

A detail of horse and rider.

Week 3

Week 3

Tuesday April 7

Sites Visited: Athenian Acropolis – Parthenon, Propylaia, Erechtheion

Where did we stay tonight?: Athens

Leaders: Alex Assaf and Alex Maceda

Athens: Part Deux

After setting sail from Crete, the North winds pushed us back to Attica. The time had come for each of us to create our own Panathenaic journey.

We landed on the shore, shunned by a cold, rainy day; but all of us were too tired to care. Not even the Fox was ready to spread a cheerful moment. Before any festivities broke, our first goal had to be achieved: reuniting with the Hotel Astor. The gods had pity and took our sides as we trekked through the city in search for our own Sacred Gate. Finally, we made it there and set up our temporary camp within our own quarters.

Without a moment to lose, the Fourteen dropped their dorsal covering tortoise shields so that they may travel quickly and salvage their own Panathenaic journey. They walked out of the Sacred Gate of the Hotel Astor; and with their faithful companion, Greco Dog, they were able to charge a full mile to the top of the Acropolis. Their journey was just beginning.

The group banded together under their fearless leaders, known as the Alex. Only one name was necessary for both, since they shared a common dream: to be the first atop the Propylaia. The thirst of the restless group was not yet quenched, for they needed their fearless leaders to guide them to the top of the world. The Alex brought forth a way to achieve their wishes. They charged all the way to the top of the world.

At the top stood a large building, with 8 columns in the front and back and 17 columns on either side. Access was granted only to those whom the gods deemed worthy. However, a satyr at the gate to the building impeded the groups’ path. The group stood there ready to fight the satyr so that they could enter this magnificent building. They drew their arms as the satyr began calling for Dionysios to his aid. It looked as if a seismic bloodbath was about to occur until Helios suddenly broke open the clouds and drenched the fearless Fourteen with rays of golden light. (It was said that Pegasus could be seen flying all across the sky that day.) Just then, the satyr realized that this group must be pius and was favored by the gods. He acquiesced their request for entrance.

Stunned by the beauty and magnitude of the building, the Fourteen began to understand why this building stood at the pinnacle of the world. Their enlightened state placated their thirst and hunger for knowledge. They realized that this was the Parthenon. For the first time, they could see what their ancestors had seen and they, too, would soon become part of history, for their journey did not end here. The group left this building in search of new heights. Their Panathenaic journey had started and must be concluded.

With their kleos (glory) on the line, the Alex had no choice but to find a way to take the Fourteen to new heights—heights unheard of, even by the gods. They were fated to do so. An eagle flew in the deep blue sky over the Propylaia and the Alex knew that that was where they had to reach. After much surveying, the Fourteen stumbled upon a staircase that came down from the heavens. The gods must have placed it there so that the Pius Fourteen could achieve their Panathenaic destiny. The Alex decided that they should climb first to insure that the stairs were not a trick from Hermes, himself, for no one could ever tell with that wildly one, except for one individual—the Fox, who could sniff out trickery from a mile away.

After climbing the long staircase, the three arrived safely to the top. They achieved their destiny by being the first to sit atop the Propylaia (have you ever done that, Prof. Rutter?). Their Panathenaic journeys had been completed. The Alex called to the rest of the group to join them on top of the world. When the Fourteen arrived, they too had completed their journeys and found their praetia. As such, timé and kleos were bestowed upon the fearless leaders for their deeds.

Parthenon tour:

Reconstruction of the Parthenon:

On top of the Propylaia (!!!!)

Day 17 Photo Gallery:

A gloomy day atop the Acropolis

A gloomy day atop the Acropolis

A faunal face-off provides a diversion as we await our permit approval.

A faunal face-off provides a diversion as we await our permit approval.

Alex M., Kathryn, and Charlie excited to be entering the Parthenon.

Alex M., Kathryn, and Charlie excited to be entering the Parthenon.

Dallis gets excited at the beginning of our Parthenon tour.

Dallis gets excited at the beginning of our Parthenon tour.

Kait and KT learn about the reconstruction process.

Kait and KT learn about the reconstruction process.

A huge crane hoists up reconstructed pieces of the famous structure.

A huge crane hoists up reconstructed pieces of the famous structure.

A rare 5th century (?) marble Frappe holder.

A rare 5th century (?) marble Frappe holder.

A workman demonstrates how new marble is bonded with ancient fragments with titanium rods.

A workman demonstrates how new marble is bonded with ancient fragments with titanium rods.

KT, Dallis, Kait, and Kate approve of the Parthenon tour.

KT, Dallis, Kait, and Kate approve of the Parthenon tour.

Chilly on top of the Acropolis? It's no problem with Charlie's handy zip-on adventure pants.

Chilly on top of the Acropolis? It's no problem with Charlie's handy zip-on adventure pants.

A rare view of the curving Parthenon stylobate.

A rare view of the curving Parthenon stylobate.

A happy group inside the Parthenon.

A happy group inside the Parthenon.

Jason makes a memory.

Jason makes a memory.

Guest speaker David Scahill shows us around the Propylaia.

Guest speaker David Scahill shows us around the Propylaia.

Gazing upward in bewonderment.

Gazing upward in bewonderment.

Antsy FSPers wait their turn for the fateful journey up the scaffolding to the top of the world.

Antsy FSPers wait their turn for the fateful journey up the scaffolding to the top of the world.

View from the top of the Propylaia to the Parthenon.

View from the top of the Propylaia to the Parthenon.

Dallis, Alex, and Alex sit atop the Propylaia.  Literally.  Sitting on top.

Dallis, Alex, and Alex sit atop the Propylaia. Literally. Sitting on top.

Even more experienced hands grinned with delight at the privilege afforded our group today.

Even more experienced hands grinned with delight at the privilege afforded our group today.

Week 3

Week 3

Wedneday, April 8

Sites Visited: Athenian Kerameikos site and museum

Where did we stay tonight?: Athens

Leaders: Kathryn Mammel and Chris Johnson

After enjoying a free morning and a chance to sleep in, we visited the Kerameikos, Athens’ best excavated cemetery. This site was in use from the Late Bronze Age through the Roman period and now seems to double as both an archeological site and a playground for groups of Greek school children. We were led through the cemetery, the gates to the city, and the major fortification structures by Dr. Jutta Stroszeck, a (very) German archaeologist who oversaw the excavation of part of the site and who appeared at the site far better dressed than all of us (see pictures below).

Dr. Stroszeck’s tour of the site was incredibly engaging. The boys particularly enjoyed discussing the fortification walls and the insight they give us into fourth century siege warfare, and they managed to repeatedly return conversation to the topic of warfare even as we made our way through the cemetery. Dr. Stroszeck’s presentation of the functions of the Pompeiian in the city gates and the public burial of the Spartans in the northwest portion of the cemetery was particularly insightful, and we found that walking in front of the Archaic tumuli and the Classical grave plots and markers along the Sacred Way allowed us to understand how the cemetery would have been experienced in ancient times in a way we never had in the classroom.

After a brief lunch break, in which we dispersed to sip frappes at the restaurants lining the north edge of the Classical Agora, wander shop-lined streets of Monastiraki, and get ripped off by a street swindler in a couple games of Three Card Monty, we returned to the Kerameikos to visit the museum on the site. The group divided into two smaller groups and we produced 30 minute oral presentations on the evolution of Greek sculpture and pottery from the objects in the museum. The presentation groups were led by the two group leaders of the day, Chris and Kathryn, so you can only imagine which group triumphed.

We left the museum at 5:00 and parted ways to work on our Minoan papers, eat dinner, and prepare for a long but exciting day tomorrow at the National Museum.

Intro to the day:

A Minute with Dr. Jutta Stroszeck,

Inside the Kerameikos museum:

KT on Submycenaean pottery:


Photo Gallery:

Dr. Stroszeck lectures in the shadow of the Sacred Gate.

Dr. Stroszeck lectures in the shadow of the Sacred Gate.

Jerry, Charlie, and Ben lead the charge into the Pompeion.

Jerry, Charlie, and Ben lead the charge into the Pompeion.

Dr. Stroszeck explains the phases of the Athenian fortification wall.

Dr. Stroszeck explains the phases of the Athenian fortification wall.

A local frog listens in on our Kerameikos lecture.

A local frog listens in on our Kerameikos lecture.

A sunny sky and the view up to the Acropolis from the Kerameikos

A sunny sky and the view up to the Acropolis from the Kerameikos

Kate, KT, and Alex M. get excited about the Kerameikos cemetery.

Kate, KT, and Alex M. get excited about the Kerameikos cemetery.

Enjoying some sun along the sacred way.

Enjoying some sun along the sacred way.

A Kerameikos turtle enjoys a snack.

A Kerameikos turtle enjoys a snack.

The group mills about after Dr. Stroszeck's lecture.

The group mills about after Dr. Stroszeck's lecture.

Scenic view of the train tracks outside of the Kerameikos archaeological zone

Scenic view of the train tracks outside of the Kerameikos archaeological zone

Alex A., Alex M., and Jason take a break outside of the Kerameikos museum.

Alex A., Alex M., and Jason take a break outside of the Kerameikos museum.

Ally presents a grave stele in the Kerameikos museum.

Ally presents a grave stele in the Kerameikos museum.

Professor Faro, Dallis, and Jerry listen attentively to a presentation.

Professor Faro, Dallis, and Jerry listen attentively to a presentation.

Chris discusses the playfulness of Hellenistic sculpture.

Chris discusses the playfulness of Hellenistic sculpture.

Head of a Classical fellow from ancient times.

Head of a Classical fellow from ancient times.

Archaic kouros in the Kerameikos museum.

Archaic kouros in the Kerameikos museum.

A Geometric cup in the Kerameikos museum.

A Geometric cup in the Kerameikos museum.

Chicken figurines in the Kerameikos museum.

Chicken figurines in the Kerameikos museum.

 

Week 3

Week 3

Monday, April 6

Sites Visited: Eleutherna, Venetian Fortress at Rethymno, Chania

Where did we stay tonight?: Boat from Chania to Piraeus

Leaders: Ben Kahn and Charles Clark

😦

That face sums up much of the group sentiment as we embarked on our last day on Crete, an island that turned out to be much more beautiful than its name would suggest. The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, as did our entire itinerary for this last Cretan day. We were supposed to go to two museums, one in Rethymno where we stayed the night, and then another in the town of Chania. Monday appears to be yet another addition to the Greek weekend (they love their time off), and both museums were discovered to be closed. In an unlikely yet stirring turn of events, the concierge of our Hotel Ideion learned of our plight, and informed Professor Faro that his nephew was the director of an ongoing excavation nearby. Scratch the museums, we were headed for another day outdoors with some more ancient rubble to ponder. We had a nice late wake up (9 am) and set off for an unexpected detour to the ancient site of Eleftheron. Our Greek archaeologist/tour guide for the day met us at the acropolis, and he took us into the side of the mountain. That’s right—into the side of the mountain. The ancient inhabitants of the area dug out two gigantic caves to make use of the limestone, and those quarries became cisterns for later residents. For us, they provided the first opportunity to use our flashlights as we descended into the darkness of the mines in silence (because of the bats). After the mines, we had a nice leisurely walk down to the necropolis, which is where the excavators are currently working (we weren’t even allowed to take pictures because they still haven’t published their finds). The necropolis was full of cremation pits, burial pithoi, and even one human skeleton that looked almost fully intact. With the beginning of our day having been a pleasant surprise, we drove back to Rethymno to walk through the Venetian fortress from the Middle Ages (Venetians were in Crete from 1300-1700). Walking along the inside of the defensive walls and peeking out through the holes that archers would have used to shoot down oncoming foes was very cool, but it wasn’t too long before we all decided that lunch was long overdue. We headed back to the town for some grub, and then headed off to the coastal town of Chania. We had a couple hours to walk around before needing to board our ship back to the mainland, so we took shifts guarding the luggage and got to see yet another stunning Cretan town. Our cruise ship couldn’t wait for long though, and it felt like déjà vu as only a week before we had come over to Crete on an almost identical liner. This time there were no quizzes to speak of, and most of us just relaxed for a bit until it was time for a night’s sleep out on the high seas of the Aegean. Overall, our weeklong adventure on Crete was beyond incredible—between the tiny villages, rocky mountaintops, endless hikes, windy bus rides, hidden coves, and ancient ruins—it was something to remember.

Informational signpost at Eleutherna

Informational signpost at Eleutherna

Walking out onto the narrow acropolis at Eleutherna

Walking out onto the narrow acropolis at Eleutherna

Ben and Joe ponder the use of vinegar as a seige instrument at Eleutherna.  Those wily Romans!

Ben and Joe ponder the use of vinegar as a seige instrument at Eleutherna. Those wily Romans!

The group descends into the side of the acropolis to explore the quarries/cisterns.

The group descends into the side of the acropolis to explore the quarries/cisterns.

Exploring the dank depths of Eleutherna

FSP'ers exploring the dank depths of Eleutherna

Dallis is enthusiastic about the spring house.

Dallis is enthusiastic about the spring house.

Kait braves the mud to check out the spring house.

Kait braves the mud to check out the spring house.

A workman demonstrates the preferred technique of brush clearing near the spring house.

A workman demonstrates the preferred technique of brush clearing near the spring house.

The Venetian ramparts at Rethymno

The Venetian ramparts at Rethymno

Picturesque waterfront at Chania.

Picturesque waterfront at Chania.

Week 3

Week 3

Sunday, April 5

Sites Visited: Phaistos, Ayia Triada, Kommos

Where did we stay tonight?: Rethymno

Leaders: Jerry Guo and Ally Begly

Note: This entry requires familiarity with the X-Files television series

X-File #04052009

Specials Agents Guo and Begly reporting

0730 Matala, Crete

Dawn broke over an ominous grey horizon. The approaching storm clouds heralded a day that was to be full of looming terror. The Agents awoke the rest of the group and collected the keys while everyone at bread and coffee in the dark and shadowy café downstairs. A Smoking Man sat in the corner – no one knew who he was. An omen of the mysteries to come joined us in the café – an adorable kitty cat was loved by all.

0830 Phaistos, Crete

Speeding away in our bus, we attempted to outrun the heavy grey clouds and ephemeral spirits that infested the town of Matala. Our hotel overlooked a series of caves sunk into the cliff wall that tower over the beach. The Romans buried their dead there. The hippies lived there for a while too.

But we arrived at the ancient, mystical palace of Phaistos, the origin of the legendary Phaistors Disk. We spent our morning exploring the dark and narrow corridors of the palace, attempting to decipher the function and meaning of the now empty rooms. Scattered remains of the once great Minoan civilization surrounded our investigation that morning. We interrogated Greco Cat, our ever present companion, about the mysteries of the palace, but as always, he remained silent. Agent Guo fed him some turkey, but he still would not speak, perhaps because of the Minoan essence haunting the ancient site.

1245 Ayias Triada, Crete

After a long report on the mysteries of the palace, the Agents boarded the bus and made the short, but winding and confusing, journey down to the ruins of Ayia Triada, an ancient villa that housed a brilliantly painted sarcophagus whose meaning is difficult for any Agent to determine. As the Agents disembarked from the bus, the thunder began to rumble in the distance, a warning from the site of the dangers that were to come

A sudden lightning storm forced Agent Begly to take refuge in a small Byzantine church. A lone candle flickered within, and the faded faces of a Byzantine fresco gazed heavily into the distance, their painted lips closed holding a secret we would never know.

After the storm let up, the Agents made their way back to the bus to steal a little rest and dream of the Phaistos Disk, whose origins were certainly extraterrestrial in nature. Even Agents Faro and Murray could not agree upon the origins of the disk, whether it was a forgery or a gift from another world. What is clear, however, is the disk had some powerful properties, perhaps granting supernatural powers to the viewer. Though Agent Guo disagrees, Agent Begly is a true believer.

1515 Kommos, Crete

We ran from the storm clouds like rats from a sinking ship. As we wound through the mountain passes, many Agents swore seeing black helicopters and unidentified flying objects whizzing between the peaks. We arrived at Kommos and the weather took a strange turn: the sun broke through the clouds and we were overwhelmed by a strange heat.

We trekked for miles along the beach attempting to find the elusive site of Kommos. When we arrived we were surprised by its seductive beauty. The vines crawling along the walls reminded us of a miniature Hanging Garden of Babylon.

AD Murray gave the other Agents a background on the Kommos site. We were left to determine the function of a Phoenician shrine among monumental Greek architecture.

1900 Rethymnon, Crete

We arrived in Rethymnon in the evening exhausted from our long day attempting to decipher the secrets of the Minoan past. With the rest of the Agents, we journeyed to a small café along the cobblestone streets still wet from the recent storm. Although the food was delicious and the company was excellent, Agents Guo and Begly still found their minds wandering to the possible extraterrestrial nature of the Phaistos Disk.

We want to believe.

Phaistos lecture clip:

Ayia Triada in the rain:

Kommos:

Dramatic Hesiod reading vis-a-vis shipshed use at Kommos:

Photo Gallery:

Introduction to Phaistos.

Introduction to Phaistos.

Greco Cat surveys the landscape.

Greco Cat surveys the landscape.

Joe and Chris listen attentively at Phaistos.

Joe and Chris listen attentively at Phaistos.

Greco Cat steadfastly refuses to reveal the secrets of Phaistos.

Greco Cat steadfastly refuses to reveal the secrets of Phaistos.

More local wildlife

More local wildlife

Agent Begly ponders the mysteries of the Phaistos disk.

Agent Begly ponders the mysteries of the Phaistos disk.

Agent Maceda attempts to ambush Deputy Director Faro at Ayia Triada.

Agent Maceda attempts to ambush Deputy Director Faro at Ayia Triada.

AD Murray briefs the agents on Kommos.

AD Murray briefs the agents on Kommos.

Ally, Alex A., Joe, and Kait enjoy some sun and sand along the beach at Kommos.

Ally, Alex A., Joe, and Kait enjoy some sun and sand along the beach at Kommos.

"God rays" shine down on the sea near Kommos.

"God rays" shine down on the sea near Kommos.

Joe and his eyedrops pose in front of a modern day "House of the Tiles" on the walk back from Kommos.

Chris and his eyedrops pose in front of a modern day "House of the Tiles" on the walk back from Kommos.