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 Students in Greece

​A group of 15 students has been travelling to Greece in the past weeks for their course on Greek Art & Archaeology. Together with dr. Helle Hochscheid they have been experiencing all Greece has to offer. Read more about this amazing trip from the viewpoint of the students.

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While the entire trip to Athens so far has been amazing, an odd city with surprises all over (and delicious food), what stood out to me the most in the few days we have spent here so far has been the ancient Greek Agora. Dwarfed only by perhaps the view of it from the edge of the Acropolis, the Agora is an enormous area with many different smaller sites within. Not only are there religious sites in very different levels of ruin, such as the temple of Ares and the Hephaisteion, but also meeting places, shops, a potential prison or poison shop, dye separation tubs, and much more. Each with their own stories and histories which are up for heavy interpretation and speculation based on the evidence we have, it was easy to see the current peaceful and stoic grassy area as it once was: full of monumental architecture, and bustling with people.

-By Lukas Gianocostas

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One part of this trip so far that caught my interest was a small exhibition in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. This may seem like an odd thing to bring up considering all the other fascinating things we have seen and experienced such as the theatre at Epidaurus. This exhibition was on beauty in the ancient world and part of it was dedicated to perfumes. The displays described how, just like today, perfumes in everyday life were connected to beauty and cleanliness. We often study the speeches people gave, the buildings they created, and the politics that unfolded, but when have we ever thought about how people smelled! It was described how expensive perfumes were made from scents of irises, lilies, and rose petals. What was most exciting was the experimental fragrance on display that the museum had created based ancient accounts and recipes that instructed how perfume should be made.

-By Toby Grant

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Pictured: perfume bottles and perfume reconstructed after a recipe from the Bronze Age (1200 BC)

My Museum
In the fall semester of 2018, fifteen UCR students were stressing out more than usually over the paper for their trip to Athens in the coming winter break. This was no ordinary paper, they would have to present their research in the Netherlands Institute. The topics were of a wide variety, but would have one thing in common; somehow, they needed to be connected to Ancient medicine and health. All did primary research, some on literature, others on pottery, or on sculpture. For my research, I examined the gravestones and monuments that depicted a wet-nurse, whether the stone was dedicated to her or not. I had to go through hundreds of pages in catalogues and research, to eventually be able to investigate the relationship between a nurse and the family she worked for.

I ended up with a database of roughly fifty gravestones. But I had examined hundreds of stones to find these. Yet none of them I was able to see in person, until the actual trip to Athens. In the National Archaeological Museum, many of the gravestones I researched were on display. Not only those involving wet-nurses, but also all other sorts of gravestones that I am now researching for my Senior Project. Over the last semester, I had become extremely familiar with the works, despite not having seen them. Seeing the stones with my own eyes, made the museum feel familiar, as if I had been there before. The fact that I had investigated these exact works connected me in a way to the museum, and so I referred to it as my museum. In reality, the gravestones I am still looking into only fill two or three rooms in the enormous museum. But the research I did made the visit to the museum a thousand times more special.

-by Emma Weerd

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Pictured: NAM 3790, Phylone looks sorrowfully at the baby she leaves behind
 

This is a trip that we have all been looking forward to for a long time. There were a variety of activities planned, but my favourites were the ones where we got to visit actual archaeological sites. The experience you get from going to actual archaeological sites is overwhelming in a good way. Seeing the things we have been studying in real life is a truly special thing. Today we visited four different ancient sites: Eleusis, Corinth, Mycenae, and Epidaurus. After seeing the maps from these cities it is really strange to actually walk there. While there is usually not that much left, it still gives you an impression of just how big everything was. This temple, the temple of Apollo at Corinth, is one that still has a few columns standing up. It is already quite large, but this was a small temple! I can only imagine what the really big temples must have looked like. The view from all of the cities was amazing! It is truly awe-inspiring and made me appreciate even more what we have learned during the last (few) semester(s).

- Eline Suverkropp

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Pictured: Apollo temple in Corinth (above) and the Abaton (room for healing sleep) in the shrine of Asklepios in Epidauros.

On Sunday, we visited the Asklepieion in Epidaurus among other places. We had already seen a similar shrine complex on the slope of the Akropolis, but this site challenged my imagination significantly more in understanding how the site might once have functioned as a healing complex. Before coming to Athens, I had already looked into some characteristics of the healing sites for my paper topic; therefore, I had been aware of the fact that at least some of the sites were supposed to look very ‘healthy’, which could be translated as peaceful. I had not quite understood how this aspect was recognisable in the site after visiting the Athenian Asklepieion; however, I did get a glimpse of it in Epidaurus. Granted, the nice weather might have contributed to this but I was nevertheless still amazed by the peaceful surroundings and immediately understood how the location could have added to the healing element of this Asklepieion.

- Danise van Hal

 

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Snow isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Greece, but it is one of the many wonderful things we have seen during this trip! While the weather was a bit cold, the sun was often shining which created a really pleasant atmosphere. This picture was taken near the Pnyx, the place where the Athenian assembly would gather to discuss politics with this awesome view in the background. The speaker addressing the assembly would stand on a platform facing and overlooking the city, while the assembly would face the other way towards the sea. And this was only the first day of our trip; we've had a fully packed week of sightseeing. From statues and pottery to temples and agoras, and of course the Acropolis towering over all of us like it is in this picture, we've finally seen (many of) the ancient remains we have been studying for the past few years and it has been truly amazing.

- Vera Bruntink

 
There are many things we saw the past few days, from 5th century pottery to 4th century sculpture and the much earlier Mycenaean citadel of Mycenae. We also saw stray dogs and hungry cats and at least heard of the Merkel riots. Antiquity in Athens is everywhere, but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The stuff from long ago is also the stuff from today. Something we didn’t see here for example, are the Elgin marbles, the sculptures that once belonged on the Parthenon on the Acropolis. Today they are in the British National Museum.

In my mind, their absence stands symbolically for an even bigger absence (although those marbles stand about 7.5m tall). The stories of 1€ hourly wages and Athens natives moving to the countryside and thereby closer to affordable rent and food are a testimony to that absence.

- Sara

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Pictured: three goddesses from the pediment of the Parthenon, British Museum