Thursday, November 03, 2016

Remote Ethnography

Working on vernacular architecture, I've engaged in various loose forms of ethnography. Truth be told, I have become an architectural historian and archaeologist because I prefer working with the stillness and remoteness of mute rocks than the complexities of inner subjectivities that come with people. For years now, I have conducted interviews that fit the category of "salvage ethnography," whose objective is to collect information that is threatened to disappear. I capture audio from informers who are typically the last ones to possess factual and semi-factual knowledge about historical events, experiences, occurrences, and craft practices. Having worked with social worker and historian Bret Weber in the man camps of North Dakota, I know that my ethnography is sloppy. Yet, I continue recording conversations and place my energy in transcribing (rather than theorizing about them). Another laborious part of this process is translating, since many of the interviews are in Greek or at least bilingual. 

I have started to take my ethnography a little more serious as I read more and more anthropological fieldwork on migrant camps, and am study the classic Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes (2nd ed., 2011). With methodological issues in the back of my mind, I also embark on an exciting new blog-ethnography.

I use my blog to publish short and preliminary thoughts on fieldwork. The instant and public availability of those posts generate new online conversations with people that encounter me first as a blogger. Consider my post on the Lidoriki Pillbox two weeks ago. This and other posts on the archaeology of Lidoriki have made me a frequent click on folks Googling Lidoriki history. Along with Facebook's social network, the word gets out to people that have information they want to share with me. After contacting each other by email, I interview those informers by phone or Skype.

Just this last week, I have come into contact with two wonderful individuals of the Lidoriki diaspora. One lives in Chicago, the other lives in Denmark. Over two short preliminary conversations, I have collected raw material that would not be available to me in the site of Lidoriki. For instance, I learned that the pillbox was not built during World War II but during the Civil War. "There were dozens of these bunkers in the village that were torn down. This one was in private property. It was in someone's field and continued to be used for chickens and goats after the war for 30-40 years. The others were in public space and were torn down. People took the material and reused it." Now this information about a village in Greece, was collected by me on a telephone in Philadelphia, from someone on a cellphone while riding a bus in Copenhagen. 

Social immersion and access to "thick descriptions" is the ethnographer's goal. This cannot be the case with the archaeologist, who must spend his limited resources in silence documenting buildings, walls, objects, landscapes. Globalization has thrown a wrench into the ideals of anthropological fieldwork. The difficulty of the anthropologist's immersion into social groups who are themselves in motion is most evident in refugee fieldwork, see Gregory Feldman "nonlocal ethnography," in Migration Apparatus (Stanford, 2012, pp. 180-198). Equally interesting is Dan Miller's new project on the anthropology of Global Social Media.

I am still torn between the tensions of material versus oral culture. The tension is becoming more vivid as I delve deeper into the archaeology of diaspora and the archaeology of refugee camps. I am envious of more theoretically-minded archaeologists, who have done a more complete turn towards ethnography. But they have sacrificed material documentation. Surveying publications over the archaeology of the contemporary world, one is struck by the great volume of theorizing and experiential describing versus a shortage of data. Although I must sharpen my ethnographic skills, I can make greater contributions in mapping or spatial documentation. I guess, my ethnography is subservient to my spatial documentation. And it's important to understand that shortcoming. Yet the question remains. What will I do with all these hours of interviews and transcriptions?


Friday, October 28, 2016

Wool and Rubble Walls: Domestic Archaeology in the Medieval Peloponnese

Back in March 26, 2015, I participated in a conference on Byzantine textiles at Dumbarton Oaks, "Liminal Fabrics: Furnishing Textiles in Byzantium and Early Islam." I made the argument that piles of rubble walls and ceramics from archaeological survey tell a much better story about medieval textiles (through production) than the few surviving pieces in museum collections (through artistic analysis). 

I have just finished writing up the essay and submitted it for review in the conference publication, edited by Gudrun Bühl, director of the Dumbarton Oaks Museum. I celebrate International Open Access Week by posting my draft.

This is the first paper that I have written entirely on iCloud's Pages, integrating laptop, tablet, and smart phone in one process. The paper was never printed out in hard copy or read as a Word document.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Archaeologies of Care

I am so thrilled to be part of a panel on "Archaeologies of Care: Rethinking Priorities in Archaeological Engagement" at the annual meetings of the Society of Historical Archaeology in January 2017. The session is organized by Christopher Matthews, whose Archaeology of American Capitalism (2010) was monumental in my research and Richard Rothaus, best known for his work in Greece, Corinth: The First City in Greece (2000), CRM in Minnesota, North Dakota, Turkey, and (while wearing a suit) Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs at the North Dakota University system. We established that Richard coined "archaeologies of care" live on a Caraheard podcast.

The panel includes papers on New York City homelessness (Singleton), oil worker housing in the Bakken (Weber, Caraher, Rothaus), native and African American archaeology in Long Island (Matthews), competing archaeological priorities in the Navajo Nation (Thompson), African American archaeology in central New Jersey (Burton, Markert, Weston), World War II Japanese internment camps in Colorado (Clark) and Arizona (Ozawa), segregation of African-Americans in swimming pools, beaches, and rivers (Mullins, Yimaunu), and the refugee settlements in Greece  (Kourelis). The full program with abstracts here. I especially like the quote in the session abstract, "Writing against the presumption that archaeologists will be defenders of ancient sites destroyed by ISIS militants, some have voiced alternative possibilities for who and what archaeologist are in these settings."

I only wish I could see the sessions on migrant archaeology at the American Association of Anthropology meetings (Minneapolis, Nov. 15-20) organized by Yannis Hamilakis and Jason de Leon.

SYM-009: Archaeologies Of Care: Rethinking Priorities In Archaeological Engagements
Thursday, 05/Jan/2017:

1:30pm - 4:15pm

Session Chair: Richard Rothaus
Session Chair: Christopher N Matthews
Discussant: Carol McDavid
Location: Texas Ballroom D

Session Abstract
Inspired by recent thinking about the role of archaeology in war torn Syria and the ongoing refugee crisis, this session brings together two threads of interest regarding archaeology and archaeologists. Writing against the presumption that archaeologists will be defenders of ancient sites destroyed by ISIS militants, some have voiced alternative possibilities for who and what archaeologist are in these settings. For one, archaeologists are literally boots on the ground working with local people, which leads them to care, or to take seriously the everyday lives of these individuals and communities. Second, this engagement leads to prioritizing the documentation of displaced people over the preservation of sites, since it can very well be our colleagues being displaced. Moreover, we recognize that displacement creates its own elusive materiality that can only be recorded in the moment and by those familiar with the settings and social contexts that forced the decision to leave.

1:30pm - 1:45pm
A Sympathetic Connection: The role of sympathy in an archaeology of contemporary homelessness
Courtney Singleton
Columbia University, United States of America;
Sympathy is a sentiment that involves the recognition of self in another on the grounds of similitude. For archaeologists sympathy is an important concept as it is materially based and allows for communication across various boundaries of difference. Most scholars tend to focus on the body and embodied experience as the grounds for sympathetic connection. However, archaeologists can evoke sympathy in the marked absence of bodies in order to connect across spatial, temporal, and social boundaries through particular objects within particular contexts. This paper will explore sympathy in the context of contemporary homeless encampments in the United States, focusing particularly on an archaeological site in New York City. It is argued that the object of home becomes the sympathetic grounds upon which an archaeology of care connects to larger political issues surrounding displacement and poverty.

1:45pm - 2:00pm
An Archaeology of Care in the Bakken Oil Patch (North Dakota, USA)
Richard Rothaus1, William Caraher2, Bret Weber2
1North Dakota University System, United States of America; 2University of North Dakota, United States of America;
The University of North Dakota Man Camp Project has used archaeology to engage seriously the issues of workforce housing and industrial landscapes in the Bakken. Our work proceeds with a focus not on the ebullience (or catastrophe) of the Bakken, but rather on the material culture of housing in a dynamic extractive landscape. We do not advocate, nor do we analyze or make policy recommendations. Our work in the field epitomizes, however, an archaeology of care for the communities in which we work. Our conversations in the field, attention to detail, and willingness to take seriously the everyday life of individuals and communities create a connection between the wider world (which we represent, oddly enough) and their very personal experience. Our recognition of, and interest in, the agency of individuals buffered by incomprehensibly large forces has value for the academic and non-academic communities.

2:00pm - 2:15pm
Caring Forthe Future With Archaeology
Christopher N Matthews
Montclair State Univeristy, United States of America;
Historical archaeology is a useful method for discovering silenced and hidden pasts that force reconsideration of how the present came to be and at what and who’s expense. This impulse regularly generates deeper appreciations for the power of the past in and over the present. Yet, archaeologists less often move their results forward to engage with the futures that contemporary people, such as descendant and local communities, can make with new archaeological knowledge. This is surprising since a critical study of the past that provides ownership of it to marginal people and groups inherently and simultaneously calls for consideration of who the owns the futures that will be built on such new pasts. Drawing from my research with a descendent nonwhite community in Setauket, New York, I explore the intersection of past and future in the way historical archaeological research has been imagined and practiced.

2:15pm - 2:30pm
Everyday Archaeology on the Navajo Nation
Kerry F. Thompson
Northern Arizona University, United States of America;
The role of archaeology in facilitating everyday life on the Navajo Nation is a day-to-day concern for many Navajo Nation citizens. Citizens and communities of the Navajo Nation and the nation itself engage with archaeology in three ways. Individual citizens require archaeology to secure the necessary permission to build a home on reservation land. For Navajo communities, archaeology is part and parcel with infrastructure and land use planning and development. At the government level archaeology is required for water and land claims litigation, NAGPRA claims, and TCP identification and protection. The traditional disciplinary goals of site preservation, data collection, and furthering knowledge of the past are secondary to these three more immediate needs of the Navajo people. Academics and CRM professionals who fail to recognize these three necessary engagements that Navajo people have with archaeology run the risk of further alienating the people they seek to engage in archaeological research.

2:30pm - 3:00pm
15min presentation + 15min break
Expanding the Dialogue: A Conversation Between Descendent and Archaeologist about Community, Collaboration, and Archaeology at Timbuctoo, NJ
Christopher P. Barton1, Patricia G. Markert2, Guy Weston3
1University of Memphis, United States of America; 2Binghamton University, United States of America;3Timbuctoo Discovery Project, United States of America;
Meaning is not monolithic. Presented here are different narratives on the interests of archaeologists and descendants. Focus is given to the African American community of Timbuctoo. This project, like many other attempts at community archaeology is not a story of unabated triumphs: rather, these narratives are about the challenges that can emerge through collaboration. This is not meant to demean collaborative archaeology, rather it is to underscore that through pragmatic discourse we can uncover an array of meanings for different groups. It is our belief that collaborative archaeology represents the future of archaeological practice.
Central to this future is that there is no template on how to conduct community archaeology. The most fruitful projects have only reached success through years of trial-and-error. Our work at Timbuctoo has been no different. We argue that community archaeology is not just an goal: it is a process, and must be treated as such.

3:00pm - 3:15pm
Passionate Work: Communities of Care and the DU Amache Project
Bonnie J. Clark
University of Denver, United States of America;
Working at Amache, the site of a WWII era Japanese American incarceration camp, involves several facets of an “archeology of care.” First, over five field seasons the University of Denver Amache Project has revealed significant physical evidence of how these displaced people took care of themselves, their families, and their neighbors. Both artifacts and landscape modification speak to many caretaking strategies. Second, the project creates space for the care of stakeholders through opening up the practice of archaeology. This happens through project structure, with High School internships volunteer programs, and an open house day for people with a personal or family tie to the camp. Finally, the work at Amache is geared to caring for a publically accessible site in a way that is sensitive to many communities of concern. By caring for the site and associated museum, we care for multiple heritages.

3:15pm - 3:30pm
Race and the water: the materiality of swimming, sewers and segregation in African America
Paul Mullins1, Timo Ylimaunu2
1IUPUI Dept. of Anthropology, United States of America; 2University of Oulu;
Few dimensions of the color line were monitored as closely as access to American rivers, beaches, and swimming pools, which became strictly segregated in the early 20th century. This paper examines the heritage of color line inequalities in Indianapolis, Indiana's waters, where beaches were segregated, African Americans were restricted to a single city pool, and waterways in African-American neighborhoods still accommodate sewer overflows. Despite that history, a new wave of urbanites is now settling in formerly African-American neighborhoods, displacing historically African-American communities,and reclaiming the waterways without any recognition of the link between race and the water.

3:30pm - 3:45pm
The Archaeology of Refugee Crises in Greece: Diachronic Cultural Landscapes
Kostis Kourelis
Franklin and Marshall College, United States of America;
The escalation of the Syrian Civil War caused a refugee crisis in Greece as thousands of people crossed the Aegean, leading to tragic loss of life. When Balkan neighbors closed their borders in 2016, some 50,000 migrants and refugees were trapped in Greece. The country responded by a dispersing this population throughout the country in new camps over abandoned sites like army camps, tourist resorts, commercial spaces, gymnasia, fair grounds, and even archaeological sites. Using lessons from the archaeology of the contemporary world, we apply remote sensing, media analysis, and limited field observation to document camps in real time and to address ephemeral urbanism. Refugee camps have been a permanent reality in Greece for a century. The paper also considers camps from the 1912-14 Balkan Wars, the 1922 Asia Minor Catastrophe, World War II, and the Greek Civil War and outlines a comparative archaeology of crisis.

3:45pm - 4:00pm
The Gila River Japanese American Incarceration Camp: Thinking With The Past
Koji H. Ozawa
Stanford University, United States of America;
Recent research on the World War II Japanese American Incarceration Camp at Gila River has provided both depth of knowledge to the subject and a forum for community engagement. Archaeology in particular has brought to light the diversity of experiences and the specific physical conditions of this displacement and confinement. Through a thorough examination of the context and materials of the Japanese American Incarceration, archaeological investigation can further our understanding of the effects of the camps on the individuals and the wider community. This paper seeks to show how the theoretical and methodological approaches to this subject can aid in our understanding of displaced peoples in the present. Today, the number of people displaced by conflict or persecution worldwide has risen to over 65 million, the highest number since WWII. Archaeologists are uniquely positioned to engage with these displaced communities, and to bear testimony.

4:00pm - 4:15pm
Carol McDavid
Community Archaeology Research Institute, Inc., United States of America;

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Velouchovo Cave

In 2014, the Lidoriki Project concentrated on the survey of the acropolis of Ancient Kallion which housed the medieval fortified settlement of Velouchovo. The site was surveyed by Petros Themelis in the 1970s during the salvage excavations of the Mornos Reservoir, which ultimately submerged the modern village. In the 1980s, the Dutch Aetolian survey carried out a pedestrian surface survey (Bommeljé et al. 1987) and Joanita Vroom published the definitive study of the medieval occupation, where she identified Velouchovo as the medieval location of Lidoriki (Vroom 1993). Our job in 2014 was to create a detailed architectural study of the medieval kastro with aerial photogrammetry and measured survey. We produced a high resolution 3D-model of the site, seen above (Brenningmeyer, Kourelis and Katsaros 2015).

Although we did not conduct an artifact survey (as the Dutch had done in 1988-1991), we made close topographical studies. On the southwest slopes of the citadel, we identified the mouth of a cave. And right in front of the cave, we found two bullet casings. The initials "SMI" belong to Societa Metallurgica Italiana, the ammunitions company that armed Mussolini's invasion and occupation of Greece. After the Italian surrender in September 1943, the Greek partisans acquired a large number of weapons from the retreating Italians. This assemblage might, therefore, be interpreted as a site of partisan resistance. I would not want to make too many conclusions, but it helps us reconstruct the modern topography of the region. 

We photographed the two Italian bullets on graph paper (1/4 in grid).

Not far from the cave of Velouchovo, the British soldiers Chris Woodhouse and Eddy Myers were parachuted on September 28, 1942 to join the resistance. One of the caves in which they lived (near village Stromi) is now a national monument to the Greek resistance, commemorated every summer on July 6. 

Myers give detailed descriptions of the material culture of their precarious camps from the "wigwams," shelters built out of broken fir branches to the caves that were regularly used to store supplies and ammunition. Myers describes two caves.

"We had spent the previous night in pouring rain, huddled inside our parachute-rigged tent. We had the greatest difficulty in keeping this improvised structure intact, and one of it was blown away. The parachutes were poor protection against the rain, which soon seeped through and dripped on us whenever we were lying. We decided therefore to move into the cave and make it not only our store but or home as well. It was a funny home. I felt just like an animal wriggling my way in and out of it. But once inside, it was comparatively comfortable, even though it was poorly lit by the narrow beam of light which came through its tortuous entrance." (Myers 1955, p. 44).

"Our new cave had a wide entrance which let in plenty of daylight. It was far more congenial than the dark cavern-like one of the high stony plateau of Prophet Elias. Nearly an hour's climb from Stromi it was situated on a wooded mountain-side at the foot of a rocky escarpment about fifty feet high. It opened on the small patch of ground, around which closely packed fir trees obscured it from the opposite side of the valley. (Myers 1955, p. 49)

Caves need not be associated strictly with partisan activity. As in many mountainous regions in Greece, caves served the first line of shelter at times of danger. We know from our interviews at Lidoriki that during the burning of the village by the Nazis, the entire population withdrew to caves as far as 13 miles away. A more famous retreat into caves is found in the narratives of Nicholas Cage's Eleni (1985).

Although there is plenty of narratives on the German Occupation and the Civil War in Greece, there is little archaeology. One is hard-pressed to find a systematic or intentional fieldwork on war sites from the Greek War of Independence to the present.  A couple of new publications suggest the blossoming of a new discipline. I am grateful to a circle of socially active archaeologists for sharing exciting new work coming out of Greece. Here are four projects.

1.    In the field of pedestrian survey archaeology, the Antikythera Survey Project discusses a military assemblage found on the coast of the island (Bevan and Connely 2013, p. 78, and fig. 17). 

2.    Demetris Papadopoulos has surveyed the territories in Greece's northern border, the Prespa lake region land (Papadopoulos 2010, 2016)

3.    Although not a field project, Susan Hueck Allen has been mining US government archives for topographical, photographic, and personal information about the American involvement during the resistance. Allen presented her new research at the 2015 MGSA symposium (Allen 2015).

4.   Agni Karademou and Michalis Kontos have been conducting research in caves used by the Greek resistance in Macedonia. They presented their finds in the 2016 Architectural Dialogues conference in Lesvos (Karademou and Kontos 2016).

My sense is that the the archaeology of the contemporary world has caught up in Greece. There are many more studies about memory, historiography, and the intentional suppression of materiality. Yannis Hamilakis's essay on Makronissos opened up a new chapter on the study of Greek national memory a little over a decade ago (Hamilakis 2002). As an archaeological community, we must take up Hamilakis's challenge and see how much we can push the material documentation of this new socially-engaged practice. I feel that some day (maybe not yet) Makronissos might become the subject of an archaeological survey. 


Allen, Susan Hueck. 2015. "Like Pulling Teeth with EAM," 24th Modern Greek Studies Association Symposium, Atlanta (Oct. 16, 2015)

Bevan, Andrew and James Connolly. 2013. Mediterranean Islands, Fragile Communities and Persistent Landscapes: Antikythera in Long-Term Perspective, Cambridge.

Bommeljé, S. et al. 1987. Aetolia and the Aetolians: Towards the Interdisciplinary Study of a Greek Region, Utrecht

Brenningmeyer, Todd, Kostis Kourelis and Miltiadis Katsaros. 2015. “The Lidoriki Project - Low Altitude Aerial Photography, GIS, and Traditional Survey in Rural Greece,” in CAA 2015: Keep the Revolution Going. Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Conference on Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology, ed. Stefano Campana, Roberto Scopigno, Gabriella Carpentiero, and Marianna Cirillo, pp. 979-988, Oxford.

Cage, Nicholas. 1985. Eleni, New York.

Hamilakis, Yannis. 2002. “The Other ‘Parthenon’: Antiquity and National Memory at Makronissos,” Journal of Modern Greek Studies 20:2, pp. 307-338.

Karademou, Agni and Michalis Kontos. 2016. “Αρχαιολογία του Ελληνικού Εμφυλίου Πόλεμου: η περίπτωση των σπηλαίων της Δυτικής Μακεδονίας,” Σύνορα/Όρια. Αρχαιολογικοί Διάλογοι 2016, Mytilene (April 15, 2016).

Myers, E. C. W. 1955. Greek Entanglement, London.

Papadopoulos, Dimitris C. 2010. “Σχηματίζοντας τη λίμνη: Εμπειρία και διαμεσολάβηση του τοπίου στις Πρέσπες,” PhD diss University of the Aegean, Mytilini.

Papadopoulos, Dimitris C. 2016. “Ecologies of Ruin: (Re)bordering, Ruination, and Internal Colonialism in Greek Macedonia, 1913-2013,” International Journal of Historical Archaeology 20, pp. 627-640.

Vroom, Joanita. 1993. “The Kastro of Veloukhovo (Kallion): A Note on the Surface Finds,” Pharos 1, pp. 113-138.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Lidoriki Pillbox

One of the main themes in our survey of the deserted village Aigition/Strouza has been the archaeology of destruction in World War II, when the village was burned and its residents shipped to a concentration camp in Athens. As we process the material for publication, I lament the lack of comparative studies (in contrast to Spain, U.K., Norway). In order to add to the discussion, I process the preliminary drawings from the World War II and Civil War pillbox in Lidoriki. 

The WWII pillbox is located on the northern edge of the village; it controls the valley and the main national road towards Karpenisi to the north and Lamia to the northeast (we think this stretch of road was constructed in the 1880s). It sits on the N side of the road as one exits the village, at location Lat/Long N 38°31'44.0, E 22°12'10.06.5" We have driven by this structure every day on our way out of Lidoriki, but finally this summer we stopped to mearure it.

The pillbox is circular (3.50 m. diameter x 2.20 m height). Pillbox typology is well worked out in northern Europe, but I do not know of any Greek study. They are very popular to photograph and comment on but rarely surveyed. Thus, in the spirit of Paul Virilo's 1965 exhibition Bunker Archaeology, at the Pompidou Center, bunkers are objects of sublime photographic response rather than physical documentation.

Lidoriki's pillbox is most interesting in its constructional bilingualism. Only the upper part of the structure fits the typology of reinforced concrete common to pillboxes. The lower part of the structure is built in traditional stone. The upper structure required form-work, steel, and precise measurement, expertise and material beyond the village. The lower structure belongs to a craft tradition practiced by local masons. We have surveyed countless 19th- and 20th-century storage rooms (apothekes) using this technique in the area. In its material stratigraphy, it speaks of an interaction between indigenous and external forces, traditional and modern modes. 

The Lidoriki pillbox needs more work on our part. We haven't yet collected all the local histories to help us define the building's chronological horizon. We do not know whether it was built before or after the village was burned by the Nazis and how it functioned during the Civil War. We also need to study the post-abandonment processes. The pillbox was repurposed after the war. The gun slits were filled with brick (left) and stone (but when?) 

As the photo illustrates above, the Lidoriki pillbox belongs in a rich historical landscape. No doubt, it is a ghostly reminder of military trauma and it provides a philosophical contemplation of modernity (in the spirit of Virilio). At the same time, however, it is a complex physical artifact of this world and warrants the stratigraphic disentanglement that we lavish on ancient ruins. But survey is work. Next summer, we hope to expend some work in mapping the building as an extensive site. 

The Lidoriki Project is a collaborative teaching laboratory directed by Miltos Katsaros (Athens Polytechnic University), Todd Brenningmeyer (Maryville University) and myself. Every summer, it brings together Greek and American students to collaborate with the local community in the archaeological study of its late modern heritage destroyed by the Mornos Reservoir to water Athens and, more recently, by bauxite mining.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Aegina Orphanage 1829-1834

I argue that we need to embark on a refugee archaeology in order to confront the current crisis head-on, on the one hand, but also to make up for lost ground in having ignored the modern Greek periods as archaeologically valuable. There are three foci for our historical archaeology 1820s/1920s/1940s and the refugee crisis following the nation-states three greatest moments of crisis before the 2000s.

I have been trying to collect a state-of-the-field on these three loci. Focusing on the 1820s, we have the refugee settlement of Pronoia in Nauplion as the best documented by historical sources (Kardamitsi-Adami 1994). As far as I know, there hasn't been a systematic survey of the neighborhood assessing how much of the urban fabric dates to the initial phase. 

Aegina has some prominence, too, but it is not so well documented. We know from Kapodistrias and Samuel G. Howe that the refugees inhabited the islands caves and Mycenaean burials (a topic for a future post). Greek philanthropism is concentrated on Aegina's orphanage, which became a prison. Vasilis Petrakos has just published man primary sources about the archaeology of Kapodistrias and includes the plans below from a 1991 survey of the building (Petrakos 2015, v. 1, pp. 77-78). 
The orphanage of Aegina was Kapodistrias' largest building project constructed in October 1828 and occupied in April 1829 (thus at the same time as Howe's Washingtonia). It was designed by Theodoros Vallianos, a native of Cephalonia who trained in Russia. The decorative treatment of doors, windows, and corners has Baroque sensibilities popular in Europe (and especially the Ionian). The building was designed around a large courtyard, and a central axis aligning the entrance with a chapel. In addition to dormitories, the orphanage housed its own school and craft workshops for carpentry, bookbinding, tanning, and textiles. It also housed the nation's first library, printing press, and archaeological museum (before it moved to what is now known as the Old Museum). 

This ambitious philanthropic agenda did not last. Only five years after opening, the orphans were moved to Nauplio, and the building was converted into a military school. In 1841, it was converted into a quarantine hospital, and in 1860, it was converted into a psychiatric hospital. For three years, 1866-1869, it served refugee again, this time from the Cretan war. The old orphanage is best known for its last and longest phase, 1879-1984, as a prison. During this period, thousands of political dissenters (as well as criminals) were incarcerated here and, in some cases, executed here. Kapodistrias' humanitarianism turned full circle with a most repressive prison in Greek history.

The continuity between institutions of social correction and social punishment is not unusual (no need to read Foucault here), but it raises a number of questions that warrant an archaeological lens.


Kardamitsi-Adami, M. 1994. “Πρόνοια, ο πρώτος προσφυγικός συνοικισμός της ελεύθερης Ελλάδος,” Archaiologia 51 pp. 35-46

Petrakos, Vasileios Ch. 2015. Ημερολόγιο αρχαιολογικό. Τα χρόνια του Καποδίστρια 1828-1832, 3 vols., Athens: Vivliotheke tes en Athenais archaiologikes etaireias.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Doxiadis: The Archaeology of WWII Destruction

We have started working on the book manuscript for the deserted village of Aigition/Strouza. This is the site that we have been surveying for the last four years, a village founded around 1850, with many houses built with remittances from the U.S. in the 1910, burned by the Germans in 1943 (its population taken into a concentration camp in Athens), reoccupied and abandoned slowly.

There is very little archaeological work on one of the most important phenomena in the Greek countryside, the burning of 1/4 of all standing Greek villages during World War II (according to the Nuremberg Trials: 1,600 out of 6,500). With all attention place on reconstruction and the scars of the Civil War, this is an archaeological chapter that has staid closed in Greece. One of the important figures in the documentation of destruction was Constantine Doxiadis, director of urban planning in Athens in 1937, and director of the reconstruction. Doxiadis is best known for his ekistics movement and his planning of major cities like Islamabad or, closer to my home, Philadelphia's Eastwick neighborhood.

One of the lesser known activities of Doxiadis are his documentation of villages. During the war, he served in the resistance and published the only underground architectural journal of occupied Greece. After the war, he became director of the Ministry of Housing and Reconstruction, where he sent out architects throughout Greece to collect data on villages and architecture. This led to the publication of a series of pamphlets in English as "Series of Publications from the Undersecratary's Office for Reconstruction" in 1947. These publications coincide with Doxiadis' role as Greek representative at the United Nations International Conference of Housing, Planning and Reconstruction in San Francisco, etc. Reconstruction in Greece, of course, got wrapped up in the Marshall Plan and the Cold War, which gets us into tricky geopolitical waters.

In a 2010 conference "Front to Rear: Architecture during World War II" held at the IFA, Ioanna Theocharopoulou, urged us to reconsider "Constantinos A. Doxiadis: The War and the Archive," (watch the paper here). I love Theocharopoulou's thesis and I have followed up the publications. I would love to visit the Doxiadis archive in Athens in some future point. 

Destruction of Towns and Villages in Greece (Series of Publications from the Undersecratary's Office for Reconstruction No. 11, Athens: 1947) contains invaluable raw data, such as a location map of all destroyed villages, and detailed destruction maps for Attica, Piraeus, Chania, Kalavryta, Larissa, and the Corinth canal. These are ready to be georeferenced in GIS and taken into the field, so that we can initiate a systematic archaeology of crisis. The first thing I'd like to do is tackle Kalavryta, the best known of massacres (after perhaps Distomon).

I am working on an article with a wonderful team of collaborators on locating the refugee settlement of Washingtonia, founded in 1829 by Samuel Gridley Howe. David Pettergrew has published a post on the liberation of Corinth and I have promised to send him Doxiadis' map of the location spots of all the damage on the Corinth canal. He tells me that he already has other reports, and I'm curious if they two are consistent.

Below, I post the map of Kalavryta, in case anyone wants to get a GIS head-start.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Kandinsky, Small Worlds IV

The Phillips Museum of Art at Franklin & Marshall College has some wonderful pieces. One of my favorite prints is the Kandinsky lithograph of Kleine Welten IV (1922) that we recently exhibited . We don't know very much about how we acquired this piece (but hope to find out). 

Kandinsky arrived at the Bauhaus in 1922 to teach mural painting and visual principles. In the summer months, likely at the studios in Dessau, he made a set of 12 prints that he published as an album Kleine Welten (Small Worlds) by Propyläen-Verlag, Berlin.

Thanks to a wonderful post by on Facebook by Marilena Cassimatis, I learned that the National Gallery in Athens also has one, acquired by the director Marinos Kalligas in 1966. I have always wondered how our little museum acquired this piece. 

I fantasize that it came through Albers.  In a letter dated May 5, 1935, Kandinsky (at Neuilly) writes to Albers (at Black Mountain, N.C.): 

"I am very pleased that you ordered another three of the "Sm. Worlds" series, you seem to be becoming my representative in Bl. Mountains! If Nierendorf cannot send you any small lithographs (the diagram in your letter was very accurate), I could send you 10 or so. I have still got some, but do not know offhand how many" 

See, Josef Albers and Wassily Kandinsky: Friends in Exile. A Decade of Correspondence, 1929-1949, edited by Nicholas Fox Weber (dir. of the Albers Foundation) and Jessica Boissel (former curator at the Pompidou), p. 70.

Most likely our piece came through Nierendorf Gallery that operated in New York between 1936 and 1947. When Karl Nierendorf died in Germany without any heirs in the U.S., the Gallery was confiscated by the State of New York. The Museum of Modern Art bought all its contents, which explains the Small Worlds in MoMA's collection.

Franklin and Marhsall has had a number of students studying heritage law within art history (Emma DeDourcy '15, Joel Naiman '14). Like most museums, we have plenty of pieces with complicated provenances. 

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Cretan Black Lives Matter

There is an interesting intersection between Black Lives Matter and Greek refugee camps. The exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey after the 1922 Asia Minor disaster, lead into the massive deportation of Greece's African population. Having been brought to Greece as slaves during the Ottoman Empire, many became free and congregated in urban enclaves in Greek cities. One such enclave was "The Black Caves" on the slopes of the Acropolis in Athens. Thanks to Michael Ferguson's research, we know a lot more about the African neighborhood of Chania, Crete. During the 2009 Modern Greek Studies Association Conference in Vancouver, Ferguson presented one of the most interesting papers, “The Subsaharan Africans of Chania Crete in the 19th Century: A Comparative Perspective.” 

The published version of the paper appeared as “Enslaved and Emancipated Africans on Crete,” in Race and Slavery in the Middle East: Histories of Trans-Saharan Africans in Nineteenth-Century Egypt, Sudan, and the Ottoman Mediterranean, ed. Terence Walz and Kenneth M. Cuno, (Cairo, 2008), pp. 171-195. [I have PDF]

It is from this paper that I take the photo above, which is of an African refugee camp in Chania from ca. 1900. Why would Africans in Crete live in a refugee camp? Documented as late as the 1880s, freed African slaves had established their own quarter in Chania. We know very little about the architecture of this settlement, only that the houses were square and that they had flat roofs (very much like North African adobe houses). After a long series of wars, Greeks liberated Crete from the Ottomans in 1898. Neither Greek nor Ottoman, the freed Africans found themselves in the mercy of ethnic binaries. Their quarters were burned down by Greeks who saw them as Muslim. The picture above, shows the African Greeks as internally displaced peoples within the island that they had once called home, living in tents, around 1900. 

I do not know much about the topography of Chania to figure out where this might be. In the distance, you see the barracks that were taken over by Italians after the Ottomans were expelled.

During the 1922 exchange of population between Greece and Turkey, these Africans were displaced to Turkey (where they had no connection). A very small number defied the deportations and staid in Crete. They were studied by Charidimos Papadakis, The Africans of Crete: Halikoutis (Athens, 2008)

Papadakis reports on the last Afro-Cretan survivor whom he met, Salis Chelidonakis (1884-1967), pictured here. Once again, this is all from Michael Ferguson's research. What I'd like to do is add some archaeological specificity to the photograph above. And I need help from friends with Cretan topographical credentials.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

How a Quaker Metropolis Became an Orthodox Village

I was invited to give a paper at a conference at Yale this October, which will be the first in a series of papers from the fieldwork that I did with my students in Philadelphia's Greek town. The conference is about liturgical arts and material culture. I will be talking about the 18th/early-19th-century houses, churches, and public spaces left behind by white flight (to West of Broad Street, the Main Line, etc.) and occupied by
 Greeks, African Americans (to the south), and Russian Jews (to the east). The photo above is from the Greek American Heritage Society of Philadelphia archives. It is the annual Easter festival hosted by the Stephano Brothers at their house in Elkins Park. Here is my abstract

How a Quaker Metropolis Became an Orthodox Village
Material Christianity in Philadelphia’s Greektown, 1900-1930

The modern American city witnessed a great influx of immigrants whose religious traditions differed greatly from the Protestant or Irish Catholic mainstream. Fleeing economic or political hardship, the ethnic migrants did not bring to the U.S. the artistic materiel of their ancient liturgical traditions, but sustained the ecclesiastical needs of their homes by sending remittances to their impoverished villages. How did art and architecture materialize liturgical experiences in the melting pot of the American city? The archaeology of Philadelphia’s Greektown offers insights on how a historically Quaker city became materially Orthodox by a migrant minority. As Philadelphians abandoned their colonial city for the affluent suburbs, the new Greeks shared spatial and artistic experiences with two equally marginal newcomers, Russian Jews and African Americans (studied in great detail by W. E. B. Du Bois). On the opposite side of the transnational story, the archaeology of Greek villages reveals material transformations of Orthodox Christianity back home.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Finding Washingtonia

I have been enjoying the digital conversation following my post on Washingtonia, the first refugee camp in Greece, built by Samuel Howe (shown here, about 30 years after his youthful work in Corinth)

I have this crazy idea that if I digitally pool the ground expertise of Tim Gregory, Guy Sanders, Tom Galant, Bill Caraher, Dave Pettegrew, Richard Rothaus, Hector Williams, Dimitri Nakassis, and James Herbst, we will locate the site of Washingtonia remotely. Toward this digital conversation, I transcribe two documentary details (which Tom has in his file cabinet back in San Diego and not in Athens) from Franklin B. Sanborn (journalist, friend of Emerson, member of the Secret Six) and Laura H. Richards (Howe's daughter). 

The first document was found by Sanborn in the letters between Howe and Horace Mann, and quoted Howe directly:

"Afterwards I applied to the Government, and obtained a large tract of land upon the Isthmus of Corinth, where I founded a colony of exiles. We put up cottages, procured seed, cattle, and tools, and the foundations of a flourishing village were laid. Capo d’Istria had encouraged me in the plan of the colony, and made some promises of help. The Government granted ten thousand stremmata of land to be free from taxes for five years: but they could not give much practical help. I was obliged to do everything, and had only the supplies sent out by the American committees to aid me. The colonists, however, cooperated, and everything went finely. We got cattle and tools, ploughed and prepared the earth, got up a school-house and a church. Everything went on finely, and we extended our domain over to the neighboring port of Cenchraea, where we had cultivated ground and a harbor. This was perhaps the happiest part of my life. I was alone among the colonists, who were all Greeks. They knew I wanted to help them, and they let me have my own way. I had one civilized companion for awhile, David Urquhard, the eccentric Englishman, afterwards M. P. and pamphleteer. I had to journey much to and from Corinth, Napoli, etc. always on horseback, or in boat, and often by night. It was a time and place where law was not; and sometimes we had to defend ourselves against armed and desperate stragglers from the bands of solider now breaking up. We had many ‘scrimmages,’ and I had several narrow escapes with life. In one affair Urquhart showed extraordinary pluck and courage, actually disarming and taking prisoner two robbers, and marching them before him into the village. I labored here day and night, in season and out, and was governor, legislator, clerk, constable, and everything but patriarch; for, though I was young, I took to no maiden, nor ever thought about womankind but once. The Government (or rather, Capo d’Istria, the President) treated the matter liberally—for a Greek—and did what he could to help me." (Sanborn 1891, p. 79-80; Howe 1906, vol. 1, p. 365-366)

The second document is not in Howe's words. Sanborn summarizes some topographical information based on the correspondence between Howe and Kapodistrias, which he saw in 1870.

"I found at Athens, in 1870, the correspondence between Capo d’Istria and Dr. Howe on this subject printed in the great volumes of the unfortunate President’s correspondence which his brother edited long afterwards. The colony was near the present railway station of Hexamilia, on the way from the new town of Corinth to Argos. It extended southeast from Hexamilia towards Cenchraea, and was nearer to the Isthmian sanctuary than to New Corinth, which was only founded in 1858. Old Corinth lay on the northwest side of Acro-Corinth, from Dr. Howe’s village." 
(Sanborn 1891, p. 79-80; Howe 1906, vol. 1, p. 365-366)

So, if we were to search for the site of Washingtonia, we need to start from the Hexamilia train station. My sense is that the houses of this camp were huts made out of wood. But knowing that a church and a school house were also built increases the chances of visible masonry remains above ground. I zoom into Google Maps and find myself at 37°53'57.16"N , 22°54'28.45"E where the railroad crosses the main street. The area is industrial. Here I leave my Corinthian topographers to take over.

These sources reveal a couple of additional characters in the story. First is the Scottish politician David Urquhart who assisted Howe in the operations of the camp (there might be some further clues in his papers at Baillol College). Second is an unnamed local woman with whom Howe had a relationship. I am reading the new biography of Howe's wife, by Elaine Showalter, where I learned about the relationship with the Corinthian woman. "Although he was repelled by the Greek tribal women, whom he found coarse, illiterate, and ugly (moreover, he wrote primly, they did not wear stays [corsets]), Howe probably had his first sexual experiences in Greece. He occasionally admitted in his journal that he had been aroused by seeing the body of a young camp follower, “ a most elegant young creature,” and even confessed to getting involved with a woman while he was doing relief work in Corinth, although the Greek government, unsurprisingly, ‘treated the matter liberally.” (Showalter 2016, p. 29).


Howe, Samuel Gridley. 1906. Letters and Journals of Samuel Gridley Howe, ed. Laura E. Richards, Boston: Dana Estes and Company.

Sanborn, Franklin. 1891. Dr. S. G. Howe: The Philanthropist, New York: Funk and Wagnalls.

Showalter, Elaine. 2016. The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe: A Biography, New York: Simon Schuster.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Migrant and Refugee Camp Catalog, Mainland, Greece

Archaeologists of the Greek landscape can deploy their analytical tools in studying settlements to document current migrant and refugee camps. Consider what Adrian Meyers did with the archaeology of Guantanamo Bay (World Archaeology 2010). The UNHCR has just made this easier through a cartographic portal (here and here) that also includes individual camp reports (not all current). Since the data is difficult to sort through, I have created a working list of locations for 56 current sites in Central Greece. I am interested in the mainland sites as planned constructed places (different from the emergency sites of Lesvos and the Aegean Islands).

I don't know if this is useful to anyone, but here is what I plan to do with all entries. Take the Lat/Lon coordinates (simply copy/paste) into Google Earth. This will give aerial view of the camp at varying resolution. Depending on when the last satellite image of that particular region had been taken, one may or may not yet see the camp. The precise location provides a starting point for further remote sensing and for the beginnings of an analysis of each camp's spatial particularities. For instance, we can see (in most cases) the development of the site since about 2004. With street view (if camp is located on central road) one can even monitor the current situation three-dimensionally. This is not easy. It will take lots and lots of cartographic analysis. But we must start somewhere. The numbers below are as follows. Site number, Site name (using UNCHR naming to avoid confusion), GPS Latitude, GPS Longitude, Capacity of inhabitants, Current number of inhabitants, Date that camp opened, and Province. The UNCHR makes it clear that these are numbers provided by the Greek government and have not been independently verified. The UNCHR keeps track of the population figures. The numbers in my list are from the mid-September update. 

1 Agios Andreas 38.0627 23.9877 200 176 3/8/16 Attica
2 Elefsina 38.0314 23.491 346 359 Attica
3 Eleonas 37.9841 23.6963 2500 2183 8/16/15 Attica
4 Elliniko I (Hockey) 37.8978 23.7219 1400 941 2/25/16 Attica
5 Elliniko II (West/Olympic Arrivals) 37.8998 23.7263 1400 802 9/28/15 Attica
6 Elliniko III (Baseball Stadium) 37.8974 23.7292 1300 739 2/29/16 Attica
7 Lavrio 37.7031 24.0335 400 320 3/14/16 Attica
8 Lavrio (Accomodation facility) 37.7128 24.0542 600 441 Attica
9 Malaksa 38.2393 23.7945 1500 905 3/8/16 Attica
10 Piraeus Port 37.9398 23.6243 0 0 Attica
11 Rafina 38.0087 23.9952 120 89 Attica
12 Schisto 37.9803 23.5936 2000 950 2/22/16 Attica
13 Skaramangas port 38.0048 23.5891 3200 3450 4/11/16 Attica
14 Victoria Square 37.9932 23.7298 0 0 Attica
15 Oionfyta 38.3236 23.6288 600 680 4/13/16 Central Greece
16 Ritsona 38.3869 23.5046 1000 665 3/13/16 Central Greece
17 Thermopiles 38.7972 22.5432 500 488 3/3/16 Central Greece
18 Koutsochero 39.6148 22.248 1500 0 3/20/26 Thessaly
19 Kipselochori 39.776 22.5129 600 126 6/23/16 Thessaly
20 Trikala (Atlantic) 39.5561 21.7949 360 277 7/28/16 Thessaly
21 Volos-Mosas 39.3816 22.8517 200 135 4/14/16 Thessaly
22 Alexandreia 40.6354 22.454 1200 610 3/25/16 Central Macedonia
23 Cherso 41.0945 22.772 4000 1767 2/28/16 Central Macedonia
24 Derveni (Dion-ABETE) 40.7642 22.9763 400 174 7/25/16 Central Macedonia
25 Derveni - Alexil 40.7244 22.9771 850 791 5/25/16 Central Macedonia
26 Diavata 40.7009 22.8639 2500 949 2/24/16 Central Macedonia
27 Giannitsa 40.7643 22.4467 900 0 3/21/16 Central Macedonia
28 Kalochori - Iliadi 40.6525 22.8527 500 487 5/21/16 Central Macedonia
29 Lagkadikia - UNHCR 40.6291 23.2453 787 3/21/16 Central Macedonia
30 Nea Kavala 40.9906 22.6248 4200 1975 2/28/16 Central Macedonia
31 Oreokastro 40.7009 22.9027 1500 1294 4/28/16 Central Macedonia
32 Pieria (Camping Nireas) 40.178 22.554 400 395 2/25/16 Central Macedonia
33 Pieria (Ktima Iraklis) 40.2559 22.3675 200 49 3/28/16 Central Macedonia
34 Pieria (Petra Olybou)  40.1953 22.3229 1400 1230 4/11/16 Central Macedonia
35 Serres (KEGE) 41.0724 23.5474 600 512 8/5/16 Central Macedonia
36 Sinatex - Kavalari 40.6733 23.0832 500 308 5/27/16 Central Macedonia
37 Sindos - Frakaport 40.6659 22.8337 600 550 5/25/16 Central Macedonia
38 Sindos - Karamanlis building 40.6452 22.8242 600 573 5/21/16 Central Macedonia
39 Softex 40.6701 22.8748 1900 1339 5/25/16 Central Macedonia
40 Thessaloniki Port 40.58 22.8835 0 0 3/17/16 Central Macedonia
41 Vagiohori 40.7131 23.3792 631 210 5/26/16 Central Macedonia
42 Vasilika 40.5016 23.0983 1500 1273 6/14/16 Central Macedonia
43 Veria (Armatolou-Kokkinou) 40.5154 22.2083 440 330 3/26/16 Central Macedonia
44 Chalkero 40.956 24.457 350 281 4/11/16 Eastern Macedonia Thrace
45 Drama 41.1714 24.069 550 200 3/1/16 Eastern Macedonia Thrace
46 Kavala (Perigiali) 40.9469 24.4294 270 119 8/5/16 Eastern Macedonia Thrace
47 Kozani (Leukovrisi Stadium) 40.299 21.794 400 215 2/22/16 Western Macedonia
48 Doliana 39.8985 20.5783 400 205 3/15/16 Epirus
49 Filipiada 39.2244 20.873 700 421 3/18/16 Epirus
50 Katsika Ioanninon 39.6077 20.9023 1500 739 3/16/16 Epirus
51 Katsika Ioanninon (EMAK) 39.6998 20.773 250 239 Epirus
54 Konitsa 40.0494 20.7493 200 167 3/15/16 Epirus
55 Tsepelovo 39.8849 20.8003 200 142 4/16/16 Epirus
56 Andravidas 37.9384 21.2069 300 246 3/31/16 Western Greece

Context: In March 2016, Greece's northern neighbors closed their borders to refugees and migrants. Approximately 57,000 individuals could not reach their intended destinations in Northern Europe and were effectively stuck in a country they did not want to be in, and a country that was not prepared to host them. A situation that had already escalated into a humanitarian crisis took an unusual turn towards long-term settlement rather than temporary passage. The closing of borders, exclusionary foreign policy, and a deal struck between the EU and Turkey on March 18, 2016 changed the spatial character of Greece’s migrants and refugee management. Before March, the humanitarian crisis was concentrated on the islands of the Aegean, where migrants and refugees landed in great number, and where they had to process their initial paperwork. The deal with Turkey gave control of those points of arrival to Frontex, EU’s coast guard. Frontex coordinates and control the Moria reception center in Lesvos and polices the waters between Greek and Turkey. The 57,000 refugees and migrants already trapped in Greece became de facto a Greek internal affair. Initially, the landlocked refugees created ad hoc camps with a large concentration at the rail depot and border control at Eidomeni. The Greek government’s solution to this new phase of the crisis was a strategy of decentralization. Greece’s incapacity to process even the minimum number of asylum seekers in the early 2000s was compounded by the 2009 debt crisis. Without the bureaucratic, logistical, or financial infrastructure to solve the humanitarian crisis in a centralized manner, the Greek government initiated a decentralized plan of dispersing its new migrant population across the provinces in newly erected camps. In March 2016, there were 26 camps, but in August that number had grown to 70.

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States