Athens: the Agora of Caesar and Augustus

Agora of Caesar and Augustus, Athens © David Gill

The city of Athens deserves to be explored on foot. The agora of Caesar and Augustus lies to the east of the main agora area. The monumental Doric propylon for this space still stands at the west end of the agora. The inscription shows that the gate was dedicated to Athena Archegetis; it is dated to the archonship of Nikias, i.e. 11/10 or 10/9 BC. The architectural style evokes the 5th century Athens of Perikles.

There is an open colonnade inside the propylon, some 111 m long.

Agora of Caesar and Augustus, Athens © David Gill
Agora of Caesar and Augustus, Athens © David Gill

Heritage Tourism and Greece

Knossos © David Gill

Greece will be re-opening to tourists and dropping quarantine regulations (“Greece reopens cafes, island ferries“, ekatherimini.com 25 May 2020). There is concern that Spain and Portugal will try to attract tourists from Germany (Ilias Bellos, “Greece battling Spain, Portugal for German tourists“, ekatherimini.com 26 May 2020).

These are particular challenges for Greece. Tourists from Germany, the UK, France and Italy were the main national groups bringing over 8 million visitors (in 2015). Tourists from the UK have yet to be given clearance to travel to Greece and that group is worth in the region of $750 million to the economy of Greece. Heritage tourism to a region like the Argolid is worth over $230 million to the local economy. Knossos on Crete is at the heart of one of the nation’s most popular destinations. Heritage in Greece is a major asset for the tourist economy and needs to be protected until tourist numbers can increase and generate the much needed income for the sector.

Eleusis: The Telesterion

At the heart of the sanctuary of Demeter and Kore was the Telesterion, the hall of the mysteries. This enclosed hall, supported by interior columns, appears to have been designed by Koroibos probably in the 430s BC.

A 2.20 m high relief showing Triptolemos receiving corn from Demeter was almost certainly placed within the Telesterion. This is now displayed in the National Museum, Athens.

Winifred Lamb: from the Argolid to Anatolia

A lecture on Winifred Lamb to mark 100 years since the first women were elected as Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries. Lamb excavated at Mycenae, Sparta, in Macedonia, on Lesbos (Thermi and Antissa) and Chios (Kato Phana), and then at Kusura in Turkey.

100 Years of Female Antiquaries

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On 3 June 1920 the first two women, Rose Graham (1875–1963) and Eugénie Strong (1860–1943),  were elected as Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries of London. The Society of Antiquaries will be marking the centenary of this event with a series of papers on International Women’s Day on Monday 9 March 2020.

I have been invited to speak about Winifred Lamb who excavated in Greece and Turkey in the 1920s and 1930s, and later contributed to the establishment of the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara.

Winifred Lamb (1894–1963) was a pioneering archaeologist conducting fieldwork in Greece and Turkey. She read classics at Newnham College, Cambridge, where Dorothy Garrod (1892–1968) was her contemporary, before joining Room 40 at the Admiralty in the later stages of the First World War. She was admitted as a student of the British School at Athens in the autumn of 1920 and excavated at Mycenae with Alan J.B. Wace and Carl Blegen. She subsequently worked on the British excavations at Sparta (1924) and in Macedonia (1925, 1929), before directing her own excavation at Thermi on Lesbos (1929–33). Her work on Lesbos was recognised by her election as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries on 25 February 1932, and later by the award of a ScD from the University of Cambridge (1940). After work on Chios (1934), she directed the excavation of the Bronze Age site of Kusura in western Turkey (1935–37).

Signage on Aegina

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Colonna, Aegina © David Gill

We have been noting the heritage of signs at various sites in State Guardianship in England, Wales, and Scotland. The complexity of architectural features at archaeological sites in Greece is resolved by the placing of signs to explain the elements to visitors.

In this view of part of the temenos of Apollo on Aegina (the Kolonna site), the different phases of the sanctuary wall (one from the archaic period, and the other from the Late Roman phase) are indicated in Greek and German (reflecting the language of the excavators of the site).

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Colonna, Aegina © David Gill

Tyntesfield and the Areopagos

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Tyntesfield, chapel © David Gill

The chapel at Tyntesfield (managed by the National Trust) contains this stained glass window designed by Harry Ellis Wooldridge in the 1870s. (The chapel was completed in 1875.) The scene shows the Athenians, seated on the rocky Areopagos, listening to Paul. The backdrop is the Athenian akropolis with the Propylaia and the Parthenon. Note that the view of the akropolis is not the one seen from the Areopagos.

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Athens, Akropolis © David Gill

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Athens, akropolis from the Areopagos © David Gill

An olive tree was inserted into the panel.

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Athens, olive tree adjacent to the Erechtheion © David Gill

Heritage Book Cover Challenge

Day1_HoskinsA former colleague challenged me to Tweet seven book covers. The challenge did not allow me to comment or explain my choices, and here are my short explanations.

I was introduced to Hoskins’ classic study of the English landscape in my teens. It explained the layering and development of the countryside around me. I suspect the appeal was that it expanded on my love of maps. (I was very tempted to include The Making of the Cretan Landscape.) The book connects me with archaeological landscapes from field-surveys in Greece to walking in the Cheviots.

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Northumberland is a county rich in heritage. One of the key features is Hadrian’s Wall and my companion on numerous occasions has been Collingwood Bruce’s Handbook (I have chosen the cover of the edition I had as a student). For a more recent waterproof edition see here.

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My copy of Dilys Powell’s The Traveller’s Journey is Done which explores the life of Humfry Payne, Director of the British School at Athens, was purchased in a secondhand bookshop in York. This book captures Greece in the inter-war period. I was later invited to revise Payne’s memoir in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. (See Payne’s grave at Mycenae.) This is probably one of the books that stands in the background of my own research into the history of archaeology in Greece.

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Manning’s The Balkan Trilogy set in Bucharest and Athens is the only work of fiction in my list. I love the characterisation of the novels: Guy, Harriet, and Prince Yakimov. The fall of Greece connects with my study of Alan Wace who (like the Pringles) was evacuated to Egypt (The Levant Trilogy).

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There are two guidebooks in my selection. The handbook by Sumner-Boyd and Freely prompted me to explore the more remote corners of this complex city.

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To my surprise there is no Greek archaeological book on my list. But Zanker’s approach to material culture challenged my approach to the visual world of antiquity.

Day5_Harts_RulesMy last book is a much loved companion that continues to sit on my office desk (though I do have a more modern edition). It was a recommended purchase as a graduate student and has been a welcome addition to my working library.

Winifred Lamb: museum curator and archaeologist

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I will be exploring the relationship between Winifred Lamb’s work as an archaeologist in the Aegean, and her role as Honorary Keeper of Greek Antiquities at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. In the museum there are recognisable strands to her curatorial work: the display (and publication) of the Greek figure-decorated pottery, supplemented by the Ricketts and Shannon loan (and later Shannon bequest); the formation of a prehistoric gallery; the development of a collection of Greek, Etruscan and Roman bronzes; and finally material from Anatolia. The Greek pottery interest was influenced by her work with (Sir) John Beazley in Room 40 during the final stages of World War 1.

In a second paper I will consider the process of writing Lamb’s biography: the archive sources including her correspondence, diaries, and photographs; her acquisitions for and gifts to the Fitzwilliam; and her publications. I will then turn to the writing of a life from an essay in Breaking Ground to the memoir in ODNB. What should be included or excluded? Where do the emphases lie?

Corinth: guidebook

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Corinth © David Gill

The American School of Classical Studies at Athens has published a new guidebook on Corinth. I have reviewed this for Bryn Mawr Classical Review [here].

The authors as well as the ASCSA design team have produced a highly functional guidebook to help lay and professional visitors to engage with the extensive excavated and visible remains. … This will be an invaluable aid to interpret what can be seen on the ground, and will serve as a model for guides to other archaeological sites.

The review gave me an opportunity to reflect on how to write a guidebook for such an extensive site. Roman urban sites in Britain such as Silchester and Caerwent have guides published by (respectively) English Heritage and Cadw.

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