Home is where the heart is, but sometimes you just can’t get enough of being away: hardly recovered from my jet lag, I paid a lightning visit to Athens again last week. This time, the visit was all about the ‘Strategies of Remembrance in Greece under Rome’ conference held at the NIA. The conference was organized by my friends Tamara Dijkstra (doing her PhD in archaeology in Groningen) and Inger Kuin (post-doc in Ancient History in Groningen), together with Muriel Moser and David Weidgenannt from Frankfurt. Held partly in the Anchoring Innovation framework, the conference concerned ways in which people referred back to the past in order to (re-)construct their identity, once power structures radically change. The case study of Greece in a period in which it was subjugated as a province under the Roman Empire, proved especially fruitful. You can read all about it in the report that my fellow graduate student Caroline and I wrote on the conference, which is now available on the Clio website.
Despite the brief nature of the visit, we managed to make time for some classically justified entertainment. On Sunday, I organized a small road trip together with Tamara and Caroline, to visit some sites in Attika that I had not seen before. Leonore and Sam, two of the other graduate students that had come to the NIA to visit the conference, also joined us. First surprise: in the early morning, the people at the car rental informed us that the Athenian marathon took place on that exact day, which immediately caused confusing route changes. Only once we had left the city, did I realize that the Athenian marathon does not, as I had assumed, take place within the city (as in London, New York, et cetera) – it leads, of course, from Athens to Marathon. As a result, the first part of the drive was spent avoiding groups of people and individuals who were running right beside and sometimes on the provincial road(!).
After taking an exit in southern direction, we drove to the excavations of the demes Brauron and Rhamnous (a spectacular highlight I think), had a late lunch / early dinner in the modern town of Lavrio (nearby the classical silver mine of Laurion), and ended the day, as one should, with a sunset at Sounion. Exhausted but with a thoroughly satisfied archaeological heart, most of us settled back in to commence our way back the next day.