My apologies for the delay in posting. The weather the last two weeks has not been all that conducive to getting around and about.
American School of Classical Studies in Athens & the Wiener Laboratory
The American School of Classical Studies in Athens is just about as close to a mecca as Classicists get. It has two substantial libraries: one dedicated to the ancient world (Blegen) and one dedicated to the early modern and modern (Gennadius). They are amazing facilities. But in the last two weeks I was lucky enough to get a tour of the Wiener Laboratory of Archaeology. It was an amazing experience. I was able to hold the bones of a young child from an excavation in Boeotia dating to the Byzantine era. The tour included an introduction to all the newest methods and technologies available in the field. It also included discussions with some of the Fellows there including one who does archaeo-volcanology, specifically the super-volcano that lies in the eastern mediterranean beneath the island of Thera (Santorini). As the fellow was explaining his research he talked a bit about why it was relevant to a contemporary audience: climate change. His research deals with volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago and tracing the impact of those eruptions. His research does prove that climate change is not just a modern phenomenon; it has been happening for a very, very long time.
National Archaeological Museum
I also visited the National Archaeological museum. Under ordinary circumstances, this museum is phenomenal but because it is off season and because of the economic situation, a good half of the museum was closed. This unfortunate circumstance meant that I did not get to see some of my favorite statues, notable the Leonine Alexander. The museum was, however, having two special exhibits, one on the Odyssey and one on the hidden holdings of the museum, which included a piece dating to 7000 BCE (image on the right).
Here are just a few of the more famous holdings:
On a more mundane note, I opted to take the bus down to the museum rather than the metro so I could see more of the city and its northern suburbs. Athens’ buses are actually kind of awesome. They are clean and have video screens of the route so you can kind of follow along. On a sunny 60 degree day, traffic was…interesting. Cars, trucks, bikes, motorcycles do not seem to follow any particular set of rules. The only rule seems to be “do what you have to do but don’t hit anyone else.” It can make being a pedestrian a rather challenging feat. I am not familiar with Athens’ traffic laws, but I do not get the impression that pedestrians have the right of way. So if you are ever in Athens and you are walking about, yield to traffic and look both ways (even on a one way street) more than once.