Presenting the work of CYA at Aixonidai Halai
A highlight of the Spring Semester!
This year’s CYA Voula Field School excavation focused on the ruins of a large Agora, and its architectural remains at the site of Aixonidai Halai, one of the ten demes of Attica in the coastal suburb of Voula. CYA students helped uncover more information about the area, and presented the results of their findings at the Annual Voula Dig Conference, which took place at the CYA Academic Centre on the 27th of March, 2018.
Students, faculty, staff came out to support the students including Eftychia Lygouri (Site Director), and her colleague Maria Giamalidi of the Piraeus Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities. Theoni Scourta (V.P. of Academic Affairs), Professors John Karavas and Angelos Papadopoulos (Excavation Supervisors) gave an opening address introducing the history of the excavation and summing up the overall success of the course.
Voula Field School students, Rebecca Bowles (Emory University) , Allison Davis (College of Charleston), Carolyn Dorey (College of Charleston) , Abigail Ferguson(University of Notre Dame) Will Feuer (University of Michigan), Winston Klapper (Lawrence University), John McLaughlin (Harvard University) and Alexandra O’Connor (University of Notre Dame), enthusiastically presented their findings and shared their drawings, examples of their context and bag register sheets and even an on-site time-lapse video of all three-weeks of the excavation.
In was engaging to hear the students share funny personal accounts and reflections of their experience excavating at the Voula Field School. Some students recalled memories of painstakingly excavating small stones, others described their surprise to learn that dirt can be analyzed to unveil important details about the context of the site.
Some of the highlights included:
Allison Davis (College of Charleston) presented her 3D model of the site, which she created independently using the skills she learned in the fall semester Digital Archaeology course taught by Professor Hüseyin Öztürk and utilizing the GIS software available at CYA.
The most significant discoveries included a bronze mid-3rd-century coin and a sea-shell ( Bolinus Brandaris) traditionally boiled to extract an imperial purple or porphyranatural dye used for clothing. The findings fit in with the context and activities of the area of the Agora at Aixonidai Halai and reaffirm its long-standing and uninterrupted occupation throughout antiquity.
Students highlighted the benefits of working in ceramics, metallurgy and bone labs in addition to their classes which exposed them to information about the most up-to-date archaeology methodology. They learned about non-invasive GIS archaeology, aspects of stratigraphic excavation, material culture, artifact processing and cataloging, dating techniques and how to illustrate findings.
It was eye-opening to discover that some of the participants in the CYA Voula Field School had very little or no background in archaeology before coming to CYA, and how upon reflection they have a better understanding of the role that archaeology plays in interpreting history in its context.
What is Voula Field School?
Voula Field School is the latest incarnation of CYA’s longstanding intensive two-week winter intersession Voula dig excavation. Students with an interest in Archaeology come to Greece to get hands-on experience excavating the ancient Athenian deme of Aixonides Halai on the outskirts of Athens, in the seaside town of Voula and participate in related workshops. The program is led by excavation supervisors, CYA professors, John Karavas and Angelos Papadopoulos in collaboration with Eftychia Lygouri (Site Director), and her colleague Maria Giamalidi of the Piraeus Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities.
Since CYA students first excavated the site in January 2008, we haven’t looked back. Attesting to the success of the program, CYA has now developed it into a fully-fledged 3-week course, combining both practical hands-on excavation experience and theory.
Inaugurated in January of this year, the Voula Field School has already been lauded as a breakthrough, monumental for not only being one of the finest excavation seasons but also for the overall number and diversity of participants.
While the 2018 season attracted its mainstay full year and semester CYA students, and a team of local Greek archaeology students, it also expanded its reaches to Australia for the very first time, welcoming eighteen students from the University of Sydney and two from the University of Melbourne, and The University of New England.
CYA was delighted to commence this exciting new collaborative venture with the University of Sydney’s Department of Archaeology, spearheaded by Dr. Lesley Beaumont (Associate Professor of Classical Archaeology). It was also a great benefit for the Australian, Greek and U.S. participants at Voula to be able to collaborate, develop friendships, and network with future international colleagues.
CYA is proud that its program -from very humble beginnings almost ten years ago- has now expanded into an international field school. It gives students the opportunity to obtain full credit towards their degree and participate in a hands-on excavation. Voula Field School provides excellent exposure to the field combining on-site practice with follow-up lessons and workshops consolidating their learning.
We look forward to continuing the legacy of the Voula Dig for future generations of students globally.