Paul Anthony Brazinski, 2011 Fellow Dig Blog at Athenian Agora Excavations, Greece
Paul A. Brazinski received his BA in Classics with honors from Bucknell University in 2011. He was a three-year varsity letter winner in football. His thesis, entitled “The Little Metropolis: Religion, Politics, & Spolia”, explored the intricacies of the 1274 CE Second Council of Lyons and a possible church-building program in 13th-century CE Greece. He will study Medieval and Byzantine Archaeology & Architecture at the University of Cambridge in pursuit of a PhD. He has dug in Italy & Greece and held a volunteer position at the Corinth Museum.
Excavation 1: Athenian Agora Excavations, Greece
Director, John Camp
The American School of Classical Studies at Athens has excavated the Athenian Agora since 1931, bringing to light artifacts ranging from the prehistoric to the modern era. The Agora, translated as the “marketplace”, was the birthplace of Democracy. Such famous figures as Pericles, Socrates, and Demosthenes roamed this important city center. Professor John Camp is the Excavation Director.
Excavation 2: Thebes Excavations in Greece
Directors, Vassilis Aravantinos, Kevin Daly, and Stephanie Larson
The Thebes (GR) Excavation is in its first year with American Directors, Professor Kevin Daly and Professor Stephanie Larson. Thebes is the birthplace of Herakles and is known for the its famous seven gates, Kadmos, and Antigone. Thebes was a common theme in Attic Greek Tragedy. We will excavate just outside the Elektra gate looking for an altar, redefining the Temple of Apollo Ismenian, and other edifices.
Prologue (June 2nd - June 12th): "Paris - The City of Lights"
Hello! I am Paul Brazinski and I will be blogging this summer about my excavation experiences at the Athenian Agora and Thebes, Greece. I just graduated from Bucknell University and will attend the University of Cambridge next year for graduate studies in archaeology. I have a PASSION for art and archaeology and I'm excited to share my experiences with you!
Now, the first thing you should know about archaeology is that one of the biggest perks of going on digs is extra sight-seeing. Yes, digs are physically demanding, however, most undergraduate and graduate students take advantage of these opportunities abroad and “double dip”, often traveling to other countries/areas either before or after their excavation for a couple days or a week (just a like "wink-wink" to those whose major are still undeclared).
So, I spent a week in Paris before the start of the excavation season! (me at the Luxemberg Garden, right).
Paris is a city rich in history. The Inner City (the island on which Notre Dame Cathedral currently resides) was the first inhabited area. In the 1st century BCE, Julius Caesar conquered Gaul (modern-day France) and made it a province of Rome. Later, came the monarchs - crazy King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and her famous line “Let them eat cake” - ultimately leading to the French Revolution and Napoleon’s rise to power. The World Wars then followed thereafter.
Paris is MUCH more than just the Eiffel Tower and smelly cheese (ha ha); there is a wide variety of art and archaeology in its museums. For those more classically inclined, the Louvre (the third biggest museum in the world) houses the famous Venus de Milo (who, according to my sources, wears a size 14), the Code of Hammurabi, the Mona Lisa, and Winged Victory. For those who prefer the French Impressionist period, the Musée d'Orsay is for you, displaying such artists as Monet, Manet, Degas, and Renoir. Or, for those who fancy modern art, Picasso, Warhol, and Matisse are waiting for you at the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Musée National d'Art Moderne. And for those Medieval fans out there like me, the city is full of cathedrals such as Notre Dame and La Sainte-Chapelle and the Medieval Musée National du Moyen Âge (a.k.a. Musée de Cluny). Providing easy day trips from Paris are the Chartres Cathedral and the most visited palace in the world, Versailles, which Louis XIV built to escape the city. (He also built a second, smaller chateau near the main chateau at Versailles to find an escape from his escape. No wonder there was a French Revolution!)
Of course, what is archaeology without bones? The Parisian Catacombs were the highlight of my trip. An 18th century priest collected the bones and brought them into the catacombs and arranged them in a “decorative style”. It was interesting to see the plethora of skulls and bones arranged as wall decorations! It sounds weird, I know, but it looks EXACTLY like in the movies!
So after a great week of sight-seeing, I said au revoir to Paris and flew to Athens to begin the next leg of my summer adventure.
I had such a fun time in Paris but just can’t wait to start excavating again in Greece. Archaeology is what I live for! As always, feel free to email me with any questions or comments you have at firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome and encourage all inquires!
FUN FACT: The guillotine took 3 people to work it; one to manage the blade, one to hold the blood bucket, and one to showcase the head to the crowd. France only abolished the death penalty in 1981 since it was a precondition of joining the European Union. More than 2,700 people were guillotined during the French Revolution (Rick Steve’s 278).
Week 1 (June 13th - June 18th): Athens - The Athenian Agora
When I first asked a professor about how excavations work, he told me “now remember, excavations are not just books and soil. It is a lot of hard work and there is a major social component to it” and he could not be more true. I particularly love excavating because of (1) the research and the hands-on experience with the material culture, and (2) the hanging out with other students who share the same academic interests as me (some talks get really geeky fast - but, WAY cool, of course!). I think many will agree that excavations can turn into versions of “MTV’s Real World” real fast (... in a good way, of course), since most diggers are around each other 24/7 for weeks (and as a college football player, I can attest to the fact that the comradery of an excavation is equal to if not greater than a college football team). You quickly learn everyone’s life story and, just as quickly, find that everyone actually listens and cares. No wonder many of us anxiously look forward to the summer all year long!
The majority of time spent on the first week of an excavation is usually in weed-whacking and “making dirt look pretty.” It sounds weird, I know, but excavations areas need to be cleaned and prepped for opening pictures, so Monday through Thursday were prep days.
However, not all is lost to monotonous manual labor since the Athenian Agora is a unique excavation being in the middle of a massive bustling city. Athens houses the biggest American archaeological library, beaches, restaurants, and all sorts of ancient monuments. Of course, since it is the birthplace of democracy, Athens often has a variety of strikes or protests... so there is always something interesting to do after work.
On Wednesday there was a major protest. The funny thing about strikes in Athens is that they need (by law) to be announced at least two days prior, (which seems to me to defeat the purpose of a strike, but whatever). On occasions I've witnessed, angry Athenians gather in Syntagma Square (which means “Constitution Square” in Greek) in front of the Parliament Building and shout things (in Greek that I don’t understand) at the government. On this particular occasion, Syntagma Square is so packed that the majority of the square is filled with tall white tents and all sorts of banners (it is much more intense than I have seen before). These strike climaxed around 3pm when a particularly anarchic group started throwing stones and flaming beer bottles at the cops standing in front of Parliament building. Then the cops started throwing tear gas into the crowd and everyone started to run (note to the readers, if you are ever at a strike and see a mob of people running toward you and away from the action, run with them or else you might get tear gassed and the uncontrollable crying and coughing could last for as long 2 hours... not like I would know... cough, cough). Anywho, with all the recent strikes in Athens, it might be good advice to invest in tear gas stock (just saying).
On Friday and Saturday the American School of Classical Studies at Athens held a conference to honor Professor Susan Rotroff, the Agora’s ceramics specialist, who won the Archaeological Institute of America's highest award, the Gold Medal for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement (announcement here). Keynote speakers included Professor Camp (Director of the Agora excavations) who talked about a unique statue base found during the last excavation season. Professor Kevin Daly and Professor Andrew Stewart also spoke. The conference was very informative and interesting (see, although Justinian II closed the philosophy schools in Athens, academics still flourish in Athens! In your face Justinian!).
Spread throughout the week and particularly on the weekend were several get-togethers ranging from tavern meals, to pub night, to island hopping. The Athenian Agora diggers are always hanging out. This is what we look forward to all year: great times with great people. It’s really too bad that I have to part with them now, but I am so glad I was at least able to excavate one week with some of my best friends. Thank you Agora Excavation. Now I am off to Thebes, Greece!
Brief History of the Agora
Agora is Greek for “the marketplace.” In ancient times, the Athenian Agora served several economic, political, and social functions. The stoas provided rooms for merchants, potters, farmers, and the like to sell their merchandise. The stoas also provided a large covered area where people could meet to discuss politics and hang out. Such famous figures as Socrates, Pericles, and Plato were known to frequent this area. It was a most important part of the city, second only to the Acropolis, the religious center. It was here that democracy was created.
The American School of Classical Studies at Athens has run the Athenian Agora for 80 years now. Professor John Camp is the current director. Every year, he hand selects roughly 50 students to excavate at the site. The demographic is diverse, with undergraduate and graduate students from various countries. The main trenches today are in the North Agora; with a majority of the trenches currently documenting the Medieval/Byzantine strata which lies directly above the Painted Stoa.
Week 2 (June 22nd - June 24th): Thebes, Week 1
Thebes (GR): The New Frontier
Thebes was a long-time rival with Athens (being only 70 km away) and saw a number of reversals of fortune during the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. The Thebans allied with the Persian forces against the Athenians in the Persian Wars of 480-479 BCE (think Leonidas and the 300). Despite their earlier successes against the Persians, the Athenians lost to Thebes' ally Sparta in the Peloponnesian War of 431-404. Thebes finally gained its own brief supremacy over Sparta, Athens, and the rest of Greece from 471 into the 460s. Thebes was in its heyday until Alexander the Great burnt the city to the ground sparing only the House of Pindar (famous Lyric Poet). About 20 years later, the Macedonian general Kassander rebuilt Thebes, after which the city experienced a long period of relative stagnation. Thebes would later become a center of the silk industry during the Byzantine period.
Thebes is best known as the birthplace of Herakles and Dionysus. It is also famous for their prehistoric King Kadmos, who founded the city. The Kadmeia, the city center, is named in his honor. Thebes was a popular setting for Ancient Attic Greek Tragedy (Thebans always as the fools) which made famous Antigone, Tireseus, Oedipus, and Elektra (possible choices for your future child’s name?).
Previous excavations were undertaken by the Greek ephoreia (the Greek version of a Department of Archaeology), so this is a “pioneer” year for new synergasia or collaboration with American co-directors Professor Kevin Daly and Professor Stephanie Larson (both from Bucknell University). The site was last excavated in the 1910s and the last time the vegetation was cleared off the site was in the 60s, so we had a TON of weed-whacking to do first to “re-define” the main temple, the Temple of Ismenian Apollo.
We started off the excavation redefining the Temple to Apollo; this included removing all vegetation and any garbage that accumulated over the years. We were very thankful that the Ministry of Culture and local Thebans were very kind in helping us at this stage. After filling up four dumpsters with vegetation and whatnot, the temple finally returned to its former glory. It really looks great!
Throughout the week (and the two weeks prior), Bucknell University’s Professor Rob Jacob and future Arkansas Graduate Student Emily Bitley surveyed the whole temple area as well as our secondary site of the “recently old” Thebes Bus Terminal parking lot. To complete this endevour in removing all the buses and cars from the area, we cooperated with the public bus lines, the KTEL, who were very accommodating. (It really feels like one big archaeological community out here! Everyone is doing their part!) Emily named her geological apparatus Wall-e and Eva.
On Tuesday after work, I decided to go for a run from our hotel. So I started running down the road, when all of a sudden a black dog started running at me full speed out of a house and continued to chase me into the street barking (fortunately it was downhill, or else it might have gotten me). So, in short Thebes is full of personal trainers, including a farmer’s dog who dislikes tresspassers (so Tuesday is my sprint workout -- just a hair different than Athens).
We continued cleaning up the Temple until Friday and then got a special surprise on the weekend.. Our Hotel, the Philoxenia Hotel, is the newest hotel in Thebes and perhaps the only hotel with a very nice pool and outdoor bar. On Saturday, a local couple held their wedding reception at our hotel. Unfortunately, I was jumping off a bridge (bungee jumping) at Corinth, but the remaining excavators were allowed to “crash” the wedding party and won’t stop telling me how great a time I missed out. (I wonder who was Owen Wilson out of the group?)
We should be opening trenches next week, which will be a big relief from clearing vegetation and garbage. The temple is looking much better. We are all very excited to open buckets this week!
Week 3 (June 27th - July 1st): Thebes, Week 2 - Moving Dirt
On Sunday our excavation crew was at full power, as everyone was finally at Scavi. Professor Fisher, Hiluf, and our two Corinthian Greek workers Panos and Thanassis came to town. It was great to finally have the whole team ready at full go!
On Monday, we opened buckets in both of our excavation areas: the Temple of Apollo Ismenios and the parking lot area. Clare, Jeff, Hiluf and I struggled to get through the concrete layer in the bus parking lot area. The Ministry of Culture called the Theban Mayor who brought in a bulldozer to take out the top meter layer of cement, so once again, many hands make less labor. As for finds, we are currently in a backfill, so hopefully more exciting archaeological news awaits us next week. However, what is an archaeological excavation without shenanigans?
The Corinthian Greek workers, this week stole the show with regards to trench shenanigans. Panos and Thanassis are both in their 50s, married, and have children. Combined they have over 70 years of archaeological experience. They know the soil really well and dig efficiently at amazing speeds (fastest I’ve ever seen- it’s crazy). We all joke that we never see them eat, but for some reason they seem to have an infinite amount of frappe and cigarettes on hand. Also, Maggie (the directors’ 7 year old daughter) started a competition where she gets to award either “Gentleman”, “Man”, or “Boy” points to everyone each day based on what the other ladies in the trenches deem worthy. Panos and Thanassis already took first place for the “Man” competition, so we can only win the “Gentleman” or “Boy” contest. I am leading the “Boy” category right now for some reason. I feel as if it is like “Whose Line Is It Anyway” where there is no criterion for awarding points. For example, this week, there was a big cement block that needed to be removed (probably 1 ft x1ft x 1ft), so Panos said that he could remove it in five minutes if I was not up to it (only looking at me). Of course I had to remove the modern cement block (weighing about 80lbs) and carry it to where he was sitting only to be graced with him snickering back. It was really funny, and I was awarded a “Man” point for it.
Panos and Thanassis also help me to work on my Modern Greek. On Thursday, Panos came up to my trench and started talking to me in Greek. He said “Your name is Paul. It is Saint Paul’s Feast Day…” then he explained that I need to buy him a drink as he walked away. (Great talk!) I learned that in Greece on your birthday, everyone buys you things, but on your Saint Day, you need to buy other people things. Good thing Saint Paul was a very important Saint – having three consecutive feast days! Thus, Panos has swindled three easy ones off me.
As for the weekend, we are off to Loutraki and are very excited. It is a city near Corinth right on the beach historically known for its natural hot springs and temple to Hera (and recently the biggest casino in Europe, however, one needs to be 23 to gamble so we are all out of luck). Pictures to come on that next week.
We are really excited about our trenches and are finally in buckets. I can feel many inscriptions and statues awaiting us below our feet!
Week 4 (July 4th - July 8th: Thebes, Week 3
The week started off with a bang, since we worked on the 4th of July. Don’t worry, though, we had a party after work. We all ran to the pool bar and celebrated “America Day” in style. We took over the stereo system and hooked up an Ipod which only played America themed songs (“Born in the USA”, “Red, White, & Blue”, “Only in America”).
Panos and Thanasses joined us, and convinced Tynan (a Bucknell excavator) to jump in the pool with him wearing all his street clothes (including his shoes). We had a great time! This is the third consecutive 4th of July that I’ve spent abroad on excavations.
We began digging in trenches on the hill near the Temple of Apollo and in the parking lot. This is a new dig, and we have dug through a lot of modern fill, which is typical. Since the parking lot was in constant use for the past 30 years by heavy buses, the soil is very compact and hard to dig through. Once again, the Mayor’s office helped us by bringing in a bulldozer to remove the highly-compacted top asphalt layer.
Every day, local Thebans walk right up to where we are working and ask us questions about what we are doing. This week, our friend the local baker brought us ice cream as a gift after a 100-degree Fahrenheit day of work. Another day, Johanna (a very very friendly lady who lives nearby) visited the site and dropped off a cucumber from her garden for Professor Daly’s and Professor Larson’s kids. It has been great to see the compassion, curiosity, and generosity of our “neighbors”.
For you Indiana Jones fans out there, you should know your snake facts. This week, we were walking home from dinner really late, and, of course, there are no street lights on the country roads here. Someone tripped over what looked like a small rope in the road. Someone else immediately yelled “snake”, but since it didn’t move, we all remained cool and continued walking home. The next day while driving to work in the excavation van we passed the “rope” only to realize that it was in fact a snake that was the unfortunate victim of road kill. Professor Daly told us that snakes often come out of the brush and onto the pavement at night because the pavement retains its heat longer. One of our excavators started to flip out. (It was great. Someone on every dig always hates snakes.) I’ve never heard of anyone at an excavation ever being bitten by a snake. But just a heads up to you Indiana Jones fans, you might actually encounter one on a dig.
On Thursday, Maggie, Sean, and three children of the Thebes Museum workers came to the site and “helped” us excavate an area on the hill. By help, I mean swept, but they loved it and it was so much fun. You could tell Sean was a natural, being a child of the directors. He found a piece of pottery right away!
This weekend we are traveling to Athens to check out some of the museums and sites. We are very excited and I think that we will manage our hotel downgrade from a great hotel with a pool in Thebes to a cheap hostel in Athens. Comradery is high, as our hopes! We will find the gold soon!
Week 5 (July 11th - July 15th): Thebes, Week 4
The week started off with the tedious task of constructing shelves to store our pottery. We ordered the shelves and had them sent to our apotheke (the place where we store our pottery), however, the shelves were delivered in pieces and needed to be built. After a couple of long hours, we completed our task. When we originally ordered the shelves, the colors were blue and silver, however, the silver pieces were not in stock at the time, so the owner made sure we were good to use orange as a second color instead (so our selves are Bucknell colors! Truly a Bucknell dig!)
On Tuesday, Kevin and Stephanie gave us a tour of the historical sites in the city. We started at the Temple of Ismenios Apollo, where Kevin pointed out in the distance the Sphinx Mountain where Oedipus solved the Sphinx’s riddle and saved the city. We then continued towards the bus station, where he pointed out two roads that he said “clashed at this intersection”, whose street names were Polynices and Eteocles respectfully (hinting that perhaps their battle in Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes happened there).
Stephanie then led us to the Elektra Gates, the early Helladic Treasury, and the Mycenaean Palace of Kadmos. The walk terminated with a private tour of the new Thebes Archaeology Museum (the museum is closed until 2013, since they won an international award to build a new museum. It really looks amazing!). Thanks to the Thebes Ephorate (the office for archaeology in Thebes) for offering us an inside view of the collection and the new building. I was so amazed at all the historical sites Thebes has to offer! Thebes is such a great city with such a rich history! The American School Summer Session visited the site on Friday.
On Friday, our team made the front page of the local newspaper today: the Boiotiaka Nea! The headline read: "The First Greek-American Excavation in Thebes with grants from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation." The story was long and went into a second page and had three pictures of the dig! One was a picture of the team sitting on the side of the site eating lunch, and the others were action shots of daily activity. The article quoted our Bucknell professors a lot, and it was really cool to see the excitement about the project from the article's publication. We were given free copies of the paper by the nice guy who owns the convenience store across the street -- he was super excited to show us the article.
In addition to being in the paper, the really cool thing about the article was that it talked about the Greek-American-ness of the project, and we actually had a couple of guest-diggers from the Athenian Agora Excavations this week who are "Stavros Niarchos Fellows" there this summer. So, it was a real Niarchos event as we all read about ourselves in the paper.
Thebes only has one movie theatre and the projector is broken (and of course it’s an outdoor theatre!) So over the weekend, we traveled to Athens to see the new Harry Potter movie. Of course, being the geeky Bucknell archaeologists we are, we had to stop and see the National Archaeology Museum, the Acropolis, and the New Acropolis Museum (so it was a win-win!)
Week 6 (July 18th - July 22nd): Thebes, Week 5 - Finishing Touches
This week was our last full week of digging, so of course it had to finish with a bang (i.e. a heat wave). The temperature peaked at 43 degrees Celsius (roughly 110 degrees Fahrenheit). Typically, most shops and businesses in Greece close from 2:30-5:30pm everyday for siesta but the Thebes excavation waged on! Some of our local friends, such as Father Spiros and Ourania stopped by and dropped off ice cream for us while we were working in the trench (sooo nice!).
Our other method of dealing with the heat here is swimming in our hotel pool (which is very uncommon to other digs). Our hotel, Hotel Philoxenia, is the newest hotel in Thebes and is the only hotel with a pool so we spent most of our free time there this week. Our visiting Agora-Niarchos Foundation volunteers for the week also enjoyed this luxury, as Maggie and Sean demanded that we play Marco-Polo with them.
So the week went on without a hitch, until Friday came along which was Panos and Thanasis last day digging with us. We threw them a little party by the pool and reminisced in fun times in the trenches. Panos taught us the Albanian cheers, which phonetically sounds a lot like “She dead” in English, which made us all break out in laughter every time he said it.
So the final days of digging are filled with scarping, sweeping, and photographing. A scarp is a vertical “swimming pool” side that makes up a trench. Scarping is very hard and often take a lot of time. A good archaeologist will keep a good scarp throughout his/her regular passes, however, scarps are always the burden of any archaeologist right before the final touches of closing pictures. Sweeping is also very important to prep trenches for final pictures. I have always been used to small hand size brooms, however, Panos and Thanasis day one bought regular sized kitchen brooms and cut off the sticks as their regular hand held brooms. I was skeptical at first, however, the bigger brooms (although they at first seem cumbersome) are very effective and cut down final sweep time almost in half! It is really too bad that Panos and Thanasis had to leave early, as they will be missed.
Next week, we continue with finishing touches on Monday and Tuesday, backfill on Wednesday, and the wash pottery for the rest of the week and the week following. As the dig is winding down we can’t but feel sad to see our time fleeing from us. It has been so much fun so far!
Week 7 (July 25th - July 29th): Thebes, Week 6
Pottery washing is a very important process to any archaeology project. The pottery, metal, glass, bone, and other objects found in each context help us date each strata level chronologically. There are several steps to washing pottery. First, pottery has to be washed and brushed off of dirt. Second, pottery is laid out on drying racks based on type; our excavation separates coarse ware, fine ware, bone, shell, and tile. We try to lay like pieces together, just in case we find enough to re-assemble a vessel. Then, the pottery is photographed, weighed, and bagged for storage.
Throughout the whole process, it is imperative NOT to mix pottery contexts or to lose a pottery tag for a bag/bucket. Generally, bigger excavations send some of their diggers to wash pottery during the day and still have enough to continue field work. Some diggers volunteer for a pottery washing day to relieve themselves from physical field work for a day. Small digs like ours dedicate the better part of the last week and wash most of our pottery because we needed everyone in the field. (But I like it this way the best!)
Fine ware is usually more helpful in dating pottery than coarse ware. Most pottery styles/shapes/colors provide a general start production and stop production date for specific pieces of pottery. Also, coins are very useful especially Medieval/Byzantine coins since every new Basileus/King/Duke/Ruler minted his own coin with his own face on it. Also, frequent coin purity changes help provide dates for strata as well.
We keep our sanity by playing music in the background and karaoke during our lunch and water break. We also bought a ping pong table for our Apotheke, since we needed a table that folds up to sort and weigh pottery (but of course it also serves another “funky” function: Ping-Pong!) Work terminates in ping pong tournaments. Tynan and Hiluf are the best ping pong players thus far (Kevin and Stephanie aren’t too bad either). Missing the field but loving the amazing pottery and finds!
Week 8 (August 1st - August 3rd): Thebes, Week 7
The final step in cataloging and storing pottery is sorting pottery contexts into lots. When pottery is first collected, it is given a context number and has its own individual bucket. After all the pottery is washed, photographed, and weighted it is then placed into temporary bags by its context number. Supervisors (the person who runs a trench) analyze the contexts and put like contexts together in lots for storage. The storage “device” used for lots are large sized Greek tin cans whose usual purpose is for cheese storage. So Emily, Kevin, and I went to pick up the cheese tins at the store. We bought 100 tins (and with Emily’s tetris skills) were able to fit all the tins in the van, and thus only one trip!
We finished lotting on Thursday and Directors Daly and Larson awarded us with a tremendous gift of a Friday day trip. Our first stop was Chaeronea. Chaeronea is located Boeotia (about 35 minutes away from Thebes) which was famous for ancient battles; the most notable battle was in 338 BCE when Phillip II and Alexander the Great defeated the famous Sacred Band of Thebes. Later on, Alexander the Great would invade Thebes and burn it to the ground. The famous Lion of Chaeronea, which was erected in honor of the Sacred Band of Thebes, still stands right outside the Museum. Chaeronea is also the birthplace and home of Plutarch.
The second stop on our trip was Orchomenus (Boeotia). Historically, Orchomenus peaks at roughly the same times that Thebes did; Orchomenus and Thebes were both major sites during the prehistoric, classical, and byzantine periods. Orchomenus is particularly known for its topless Mycenean tholos tomb and Skripou, a Byzantine rich spolia church. Skripou’s foundation lay upon an earlier 5th century church. Skripou was built in the 9th century. It has spolia such as column drums and inscriptions immured into its exterior walls. It was really beautiful, and my favorite site of the day. Our last stop was at Livadeia, which is the capital of Boeotia. Livadeia is a beautiful city and has the remnants of a medieval castle. We ate lunch near a water mill and a lovely flowing stream. The next day, we went our separate days and traveled to Athens, awaiting our flights back to the USA. The trip was a perfect end to a perfect season (thank you so much Professor Larson and Daly). I miss everyone already!