Thursday, January 21, 2016

From Greek Village to the American City: Archaeology of Immigration

Franklin and Marshall College has a generous policy for faculty and student collaborative research. Every summer, I bring 1-3 students to do archaeological fieldwork with me in Greece, Philadelphia, Lancaster, or North Dakota. Building on such work with students, I propose the following plan of research for this summer. Here is my Hackman Faculty Grant application. See my report from two years ago, last time I applied for funds [here]

The image [R] is the inscription on a 1908 house in Leontio, Peloponnese, marking the American journey that its proprietor took to build the house.

From Greek Village to the American City
The Archaeology of Immigration

The Deserted Greek Village Project is an archaeological survey of late medieval and early modern villages whose abandonment began in 1893, after Greece's first major economic collapse. Between the 1890s and the 1920s, one in every four Greek men of working age migrated to the United States as a result of this economic crisis. These immigrants created new “Greek towns” in American cities, while also sustaining the villages back home through remittances. The study of material culture (objects, buildings, urbanism) of this phenomenon is by necessity a transnational project. This summer, we will turn our research to the study of both deserted Greek villages and the American Greek towns of the early 20th century. The fieldwork is divided into two parts: Two weeks of fieldwork in Greece, and four weeks of fieldwork in Pennsylvania. The team will include two F&M students, Elizabeth Wood (’17) who participated in last year’s field season and Cassandra Garison (’19). Wood will investigate domestic objects and Garison will investigate the houses of the project. Although working together, the two students will diverge in primary sources and methodology, a digital museum exhibition for Wood’s objects and a GIS database for Garison’s buildings. Both students were in my House Archaeology (ART 279) seminar last semester and have demonstrated both excellence and the desire to collaborate.

All three of us will travel to Greece and work collectively for two weeks. We will continue our documentation of the Lidoriki region with drone aerial survey, 3D modeling, GIS mapping, oral histories, and museum curation. Last summer we targeted the deserted village of Aigition and its objects and presented the results of this research at the Annual Meetings of the Archaeological Institute of America in San Francsicso. Our student Lizzy Wood ('17) presented a separate co-authored poster session at that meeting. This summer, we will submit an article for review in the Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology. While in Greece, we will also discuss contemporary migration by visiting refugee camps established for Syrian asylum seekers.

The Pennsylvania component of our research will take place at the Balch Institute of Ethnic Studies in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Greek American Heritage Society of Philadelphia, and the Digital Harrisburg project at Messiah College. We will target three Greek towns in southeastern Pennsylvania: Harrisburg, Lancaster, and Philadelphia. With the assistance of Digital Harrisburg (that has already mapped its Greek town), we will map the Greek towns of Lancaster and Philadelphia by linking census data from 1900-1940 to individual properties. While identifying the buildings into which Greek migrated, we will also catalog contemporary objects and records from the Philadelphia diaspora (housed at the Greek American Heritage Society museum and the Balch Institute of Ethnic Studies). The questions we will ask are how did rural Greeks from mountainous villages transition into row houses of eastern Pennsylvania? What kind of material culture did they bring from Greece, and what kind of material culture did they send to Greece? Most ethnic groups migrating to the United States did not leave extensive textual sources. The first generation of immigrants, even if literate, spent its resources as laborers rather than intellectuals. Material culture, thus, offers a unique window into a transnational experience.

I initiated the Deserted Greek Village Project in 2014 with the support of a Hackman Research Fellowship and the assistance of students Joel Naiman ('15) Hackman Fellow and Joanna Radov ('16) Summer Research Fellow. Elizabeth Wood joined the research as a Summer Research Fellow in 2016. Based on those experiences, Naiman is currently pursuing a Master’s in Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania, and Radov is exploring graduate studies and scholarships post-graduation. Wood’s co-authored poster at the Archaeological Institute of America was the first time an F&M presents research on this national forum. This semester, Wood is taking an Independent Study, where she will design an online exhibition for the 136 objects that she recorded in the Lidoriki Folklore Museum last summer. Garison has already done demographic mapping of Lancaster census data for my House Archaeology seminar and will be learning GIS this semester.


Biermann, Shelby, Todd Brenningmeyer, Sara Loynd, Miltiadis Katsaros, Kostis Kourelis, Austin Nash, Nicole Thompson, Elizabeth Wood. 2016. “Artists at Aigition: Documentation, Design, and the Investigation of Rural Greek Villages,” Poster Session, 117th Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, San Francisco, January 7, 2016.

Brenningmeyer, Todd, Kostis Kourelis, and Miltiadis Katsaros. 2013. “The Lidoriki Project: A Historical Topography,” Sixth Annual Congress, Science and Technology for the Safeguard of Cultural Heritage in the Mediterranean Basin, Athens, Greece, Oct. 25, 2013.

Brenningmeyer, Todd, Kostis Kourelis, and Miltiadis Katsaros. 2015. “The Lidoriki Project - Low Altitude Aerial Photography, GIS, and Traditional Survey in Rural Greece,” Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) Annual Conference, Sienna, Italy, Mar. 30, 2015.

Brenningmeyer, Todd, Kostis Kourelis, and Miltiadis Katsaros. 2016. “Drones and Stones: Mapping Deserted Villages in Lidoriki, Greece,” 117th Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, San Francisco, January 8, 2016.

Kourelis, Kostis. 2008. “The Archaeology of Xenitia: Greek-American Material Culture, 1873-1924,” in Archaeology and History in Roman, Medieval and Post-Medieval Greece: Studies on Method and Meaning in Honor of Timothy E. Gregory, ed. Linda J. Hall, William R. Caraher, and R. Scott Moore (Aldershot: Ashgate), pp. 411-453.

Kourelis, Kostis. 2008. “From Greek Revival to Greek America: Archaeology and Transformation in Saint George Orthodox Cathedral of Philadelphia,” New Griffon 10, pp. 28-36.

Kourelis, Kostis and William R. Caraher eds. 2010. The Abandoned Countryside: (Re)Settlement in the Archaeological Narrative of Post-Classical Greece, special issue of The International Journal of Historical Archaeology 14:2 (June 2010)

Kourelis, Kostis and Vasileios Marinis. 2012. “The Immigrant Liturgy: Greek Orthodox Worship and Architecture in America,” in Liturgy in Migration: Cultural Contexts from the Upper Room to Cyberspace, ed. Teresa Berger, pp. 155-75, (Collegeville, Minn.: The Liturgical Press), pp. 155-175.

1 comment:

David Pettegrew said...

This is excellent, Kostis. Looking forward to seeing what you find, and working together on the Pennsylvania cities.

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States