Archive for June, 2008

Week 2

Saturday, June 28th, 2008
Again it is very hot today – 102 in the shade and much hotter in the sun. The work this week has been difficult, though our Greek workmen have arrived to help out. I have been laying out test trenches on the field, most of them about a foot and a half in width. Some are about 10 meters long (around 30 feet), but the longest so far has been 43 (about 130 feet). Most of them have been dug to test the results of the magnetometer and ground penetrating radar, though all we have found so far are used shotgun shells, wire, bolts, and Byzantine (“BIZ-ant-eene”) pottery. The pottery from this time period in Greece is very easy to spot, since it is usually covered with a shiny yellow, brown, or green glaze. We are disappointed that we have not found tombs yet, even though it is really normal to have a slow start to the season. Last year we were remarkably lucky to find tombs within the first week of test trenching – our first year here, we dug test trenches for several weeks before finding a tomb.

If the technology works, below you will see a map of the field where we are working. You can see where the tombs that we dug before are located (in black) and the grid (in red) that divides up the upper field. Make a guess about which grid square you think will contain a tomb!

Some more students should be arriving in the next few days, just in time for the annual celebration of Canada Day (usually a fancy pancake and egg breakfast, the singing of the Canadian anthem, and some other Canada-themed events). The next few evening will be spent enjoying the finals of the European Cup (a soccer competition). People in Nemea are very excited about the soccer games – they watch them outdoors on big TVs at the local restaurants and cafes.


Week 1

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008
I am here in Nemea, the sun is shining and the weather is warm. Every day it has been about 100 degrees.

We’ve been out at the site for the last week, working on laying in a grid in the field for the geologist. That means that we divide the area where we work into square that measure 10 meters by 10 meters. In total, we measure out 20 squares, so that means that we have gridded over 2000 square meters! I really enjoy working in our new field because it is covered in wild thyme, wildflowers, and pine trees.

Don, the geologist, has begun working with the magnetometer (“mag-neh-TOM-eter”) and ground penetrating radar. These are both instruments that geologists and archaeologists use to “map” underneath the earth. The magnetometer measures the differences in magnetic pull of anything under the ground, while the ground penetrating radar sends radio waves through the earth. Both of these can be used with computers to see if there is anything interesting or different happening underneath the ground.

Both weekends have been very busy. Last weekend, there was a religious holiday, and we got to see a procession through the streets of Nemea with priests in gold robes, a band from the local high school, children dressed in traditional costumes, and a religious painting. This Monday was a day off for everyone but us.

Yesterday and today the village of Ancient Nemea is celebrating the New Nemean Games. 2,500 years ago, Greeks from all over the country would come to Nemea and participate in athletic games (running, boxing, throwing, and wrestling) in honor of the god, Zeus. This was an athletic contest that was as important as the Olympics (another athletic game that took place in Olympia, Greece). The people of New Nemea have started to hold races in the stadium at Nemea again. Every four years, people from all over the world come and compete in the same stadium that the ancient Greeks also used. Yesterday, we all got to go and watch the races. There were races for men, women, girls, and boys. They were very exciting! All the runners and referees were dressed like ancient Greeks. There were even some people dressed like Greek warriors! The ancient Greeks also had poetry and playwriting contests as parts of their games. So, tonight we will go and hear some Greek poetry at the Sanctuary of Zeus. To learn more about the Sanctuary of Zeus, the stadium, and the Nemean games, you can look at and

Our team now consists of about 8 people. The directors (Angus, Mary, and Jim) are here, as well as the geologist (Don) and several students (Ann-Sophie, Jessica, Chris and me). More people will be arriving in the next few days. The full team does not come until July.



Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

We arrived here in Nemea on Saturday, and are just getting started with the excavation.  The team now only has 8 people,  but more are going to be coming soon.  We have been organizing things in the museum, buying tools and supplies, and working on preparing the field for the geologist. 

I will write more soon about our work with the geologist!