Thursday, April 2, 2009

Euboea (APRIL 1, 2009)

Hello again! My day started off early (7 am) when I rolled out of bed and out the door to catch the bus down the street for our excursion to Euboea, a long island skirting the eastern coast of mainland Greece. Our first stop after a nice nap on the bus was to the Amphiareion, or the Sanctuary of Amphiaraos, located near Oropos. The sanctuary was dedicated in the late 5th century BC to the hero Amphiaraos, one of the members of the expedition against Thebes who knew it would fail, and upon retreat from a battle with a son of Poseidon, he angered Zeus, prompting him to hurl a thunderbolt and break open the earth, swallowing the chariot of Amphiaraos. The sanctuary was founded around the spot where supposedly Amphiaraos' spirit breaks free from the earth in the form of a sacred spring, and later on became a famous oracle (one of the two reliable oracles, with Delphi, according to Herodotus' Croesus). At the site, we visited the 4th century BC Doric-order Temple of Amphiaraos, whose pediment was on display in the courtyard of the museum, with remnants of paint still extant. In front of the temple is a great altar with inscriptions to a number of gods and heroes and surrounded by a poor-quality theatre set-up of carved benches. Across from the altar is the stoa, with several extant staute bases, where in ancient times pilgrims would, after making a sacrifice of a ram, sleep overnight in the ram's hide in order to "incubate" and cure their troubles (the rooms where they incubated are visible in wall foundations). Behind the stoa stands a Greek-style theatre, which is one of the most well preserved in Greece, as the proscaenum has been reconstructed in its original form, and the dedicatory seats for priests and magistrates still stand. Across the ravine/river/torrent lay the foundations of several large houses as well as a very unique object: a klepsedra, or a water clock, essentially a cistern filled with water that is released at a regular flow which is used to tell time via the present level of the water. This water clock was especially unique because the bronze valve was still intact in the bottom of the cistern. After admiring the water clock, we got back on the bus and headed to Oropos, where we boarded the ARES II ferry to Eritria. When we arrived in Eritria, we headed straight for the Archaeological Museum, where they had the finds from the various sites in the area, including the theatre, Sanctuary of Apollo, the house of the mosaics, the old town, and the "Heroon" at Lefkandi, a 10th century apsidal (curved at one end) hall where the Swiss Archaeological School found a "chieftain" cremation burial alongside the inhumation of a woman and that of two horses. After wondering at the finds, including a centaur from Lefkandi that was decapitated and buried in two places and the pediment sculpture of the Archaic Temple of Apollo, we walked to the House of the Mosaics, where we were let in by a special key to view the well-preserved mosaics once decorating a floor with a highly mythological program. We then ventured to the old theatre, which was massive and partialy hidden by the top of the Scaenum (stage building) at ground level. We walked on to the old town, which was a meter tall labyrinth of walls, but provided ample opportunity for scampering and climbing among the ruins, even including a nearly 3000 year old tunnel to walk through at the West gate, once part of the great defensive wall. We found the Temple of Hephaestus, now a simple foundation with a hole in the middle, as well as the Heroon, which we had been standing on the whole time and didn't realize until we found a sign with a map telling us where we were. After copious amount of ruin walking and I'm pretty sure an epic game of "Don't step in the lava", we left to eat lunch on the harborfront, where some kids from the school behond us kept hitting on all the girls, telling them to call them later. It was great! We then went to the final stop on our journey, Lefkandi, which was really just scant remnants of walls and a few holes in the ground, some systematic, some from looters. I was able to orient Helma and help her realize where the Hero-graves were, and that the "trapdoors" led down to them by way of a metal door. I took a few pictures of what remained, and then we had to go back to the bus to make our way home. (NB: We had to be let in to all the places in Eritria with a special key. Kinda makes me feel special.) After a ferry ride and a 2 hour bus ride home, most of which I slept through, we made it back to Athens, where I talked to Katt, had some totally awesome Pita Quesadillas, and subsequently passed out. So, reader, until next time...

No comments:

Post a Comment