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.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Undocumented Greek Migrants

European ethnic groups in the U.S. have not been uniformly supportive of the 11 million (mostly Hispanic and Latino) illegal immigrants, since most of them arrived when more liberal immigration policies were in place. Greek Americans see their story as a narrative of legal migration. But is this entirely true? Alexander Kitroeff raised that question in his editorial "Greek-American History and Unauthorized Immigration" in The National Herald (Oct. 15, 2015, p. 15). He notes that if you scratch the surface below the official story, you will find evidence for Greeks arriving to the US illegally, primarily by jumping ship. This is well-known among the Greek community but rarely stated in public or in the official histories.

Over the summer, I spent some time at Temple University's Urban Archives that includes the records of the Nationalities Service Center (NSC), an NGO founded in 1923 to assist new immigrants in Philadelphia. Among the Greek papers, I found the very evidence alluded to by Kitroeff. It is a type-written report of a meeting that took place on June 20, 1942, called "Greek Seamen."

The NSC had a meeting with members of Philadelphia's Greek community to discuss the crisis of Greek asylum seeker in the ports of Philadelphia, Boston and New York. The NSC wanted to discuss the crisis and see what the Greek community was doing about it. At that point 200 Greeks had been interned at the port of New York, and another 110 at the port of Boston. The report presented solutions to the Greek refugee crisis, as well as a report on the causes of the defections. I reprint the first page above, courtesy of Special Collections, Temple University Libraries (Record Group 625, Box 58, Folder 41) and Kitroeff's (hard to find online) editorial below.

Monday, September 19, 2016


During this last year, I have been energized by the conversations over archaeological responses to the recent refugee and migrant camps in Greece. There is a rich tradition of an archaeological discipline, from Janet Okely's Roma camps in England (1975) to Jason De León s Undocumented Migration Project  in the Arizona-Mexico desert (2009). The conversation in Greece began in April, with the Archaeological Dialogues plenary session in Lesvos (see, The Nation). It will continue at the American Anthropological Association meetings in Minneapolis this November with two panels devoted to the Contemporary Archaeologies of Forced and Undocumented Migration as well as in January at the annual meetings of the Society of Historical Archaeology at Fort Worth. 

Struggling to organize my own thoughts and practices around this topic has resulted into a number of ideas. One of them, has been the realization that we need to do a lot more fieldwork-based archaeology (as opposed to the theoretical-based archaeology that also needs to be done in tandem). 

Few countries have the quantity of refugee settlements that Greece has historically had. Anthoula Karamouzi (1999) drafted a catalog of refugee sites in Greece and it numbers to the 3,000s. We tend to think of the Asia Minor refugees because of their demographic impact (2,089 new villages built by the Refugee Resettlement Commission) but we forget the refugees of earlier centuries like the encampment of African slaves under the Acropolis in the 18th century. In spite of the great quantity of refugee sites in the history of Greece, few of them have been approached archaeologically (as far as I know). I would argue that in order to build a hefty archaeology of the contemporary crisis, we also need to work on the foundations of historical crises.

So, I ask myself this question. What is the one refugee camp of historical significance that I would excavate first. This last summer, I had a wonderful conversation with Thomas Gallant to discuss our two projects on deserted villages (his in Kefalonia and Andros; mine in Lidoriki). The conversation also centered around the 1897 Greek-Turkish war and its archaeology. Tom has argued in his Edinburgh History of the Greeks 1768-1913 and elsewhere that we need consider the 1893 Greek bankruptcy and the 1897 failed war with Turkey as watershed moments in modern history. Tom has called for a carefully study of the 1897 battle lines in Thessaly.

In this thrilling conversation (over delicious fresh fish and wine in Pangrati), we started talking about the site of Washingtonia, in the Corinthia, as another ideal place to excavate. And this brings me back to the question of refugee sites. The first documented refugee site in Greece was built by the American activist Samuel Gridley Howe in 1829 at modern day Hexamilia. He named it Washingtonia. In his letters, we have a clear and detailed description of the architectural character of this site. During the 1990s, Timothy E. Gregory surveyed the area during the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey, finding no overground elements (see discussion here). Guy Sanders, director of the Ancient Corinth Excavations has also explored the site (see discussion here). Between Gallant, Gregory, Sanders, as well as Lita Gregory, Bill Caraher, David Pettergrew, and Dimitri Nakassis, I am sure the boundaries of a trench would easily emerge.

Howe described Washingtonia in his letters (edited posthumously by his daughter). The description provides clear parameters of what this excavation should look for. Definitely not traditional masonry walls, but obviously the shadows of ephemeral architecture, huts made of wood.

"I selected twenty-six families from Sico, Aivali, and Athens brought the men herewith me, in a few days put up some huts, and then transported their families here. They were all then employed in cultivating the earth. I procured about two hundred of the poor who were wandering about Corinth in idleness, and began building huts for the colonists. I determined to give each family a house, or hut as you would call it and as the foundations and the fallen walls [of a former village] remained, and since the earth mixed with water makes mortar, there was little that could not be done by the poor. They make the mortar, ring the stones, cut and bring the wood, and are paid [p. 354] merely as much bread as they can live up… When I say ‘doors,’ however, you must not imagine panels, hinges, latches,, locks, etc. There is not a particle of iron about them except nails, and perhaps I cannot give you a more correct idea of the economy and even saving we use than by describing one of them. It is composed of three boards, six feet in length, nailed together, and having an upright stanchion attached. Each end of this stanchion is pointed, and it is set into a hole mortised in the door-frame above and below. This serves for hinge. This door stands open in summer, and when closed is fastened by a wooden bar which shoves into a hole in the wall by its side. [p. 355]"

In 2015, Todd Brenningmeyer and I had the pleasure of surveying the deserted village of Penteskouphi with James Herbst and a gropu of wonderful undergraduate students from F&M and Maryville (picture above). Sanders presented his ongoing analysis of this mud-brick village at the Deserted Village panel of the Archaeological Institute of American 2016 meetings in San Francicso. While presenting this survey at a conference on the Ludlow Massacre at San Francisco State, I had the most amazing experience. A gentleman in the audience came to me after my talk and told me that his father was assassinated during the Greek Civil War. His father was abducted from Hexamilia (the site of Washingtonia), killed, and the body was dumped in Penteskouphi, but has never been found. Could the work in Penteskouphi be integrated with Hexamilia? 

Over the summer, I have been doing more research on the archaeology of Greek immigration. In the 1820s, Greek Philhellenism was centered in Boston (e.g. Howe) and Philadelphia. What I only recently discovered was that Howe went to Brown University in Rhode Island (where Yannis Hamilakis is now teaching). Brown's flagpole is dedicated to Howe and most amazingly, it was paid by the American Hellenic. The base of the flagpole has the shape of a Doric capital (see here). Also note that there is a brand new biography of Julia Howe (Samuel's wife) by Elaine Showalter that should nicely complement the 2012 Howe biography by James Trent. Howe's Papers are not at Brown, unfortunately, but at Harvard.


Gallant, Thomas. 2015. The Edinburgh History of the Greeks, 1768 to 1913: The Long Nineteenth Century, Edingurgh: Edinburgh University

Gregory, Timothy E. 2007. “Contrasting Impressions of Land Use in Early Modern Greece: The Eastern Corinthia and Kythera,” in Between Venice and Istanbul: Colonial Landscapes in Early Modern Greece (Hesperia Supplements 40), ed. Syriol Davies and Jack Davis, pp. 173-198, Princeton: American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

Howe, Samuel Gridley. 1906. Letters and Journals of Samuel Gridley Howe: The Greek Revolution, ed. Laura E. Richards, Boston: Dunn, Estes, and Co.

Sanders, Guy D. R. 2013. “Landlords and Tenants: Sharecroppers and Subsistence Farming in Corinthian Historical Context,” in Corinth in Contrast: Studies in Inequality, ed. Steven J. Friesen, Sarah James, Daniel Schowalter, pp. 103-125, Leiden: Brill

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

Trent, James W., Jr. 2012. The Manliest Man: Samuel G. Howe and the Contours of Nineteenth-Century American Reform, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press

Blog Archive

Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States