From my first visit to the Acropolis, I realised the impact of encountering archaeological sites in person, rather than in a textbook. Entering the Acropolis through the Propylaea, the sheer scale of monumental architecture is immediately overwhelming. As someone who has only studied Classics for a year and a half, the time I spent as an intern at the CIG was an intensive introduction to the field beyond undergraduate classrooms.
The exposure to Classics outside a university setting has opened my mind even more to the breadth of this field. Attending lectures and events at the many archaeological institutes in Athens not only gave me a window into a wide variety of research methods and topics but was an opportunity to meet and converse with scholars from all over the world.
Working in the CIG library was always a learning experience. As I was primarily updating our cataloguing to align with the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, I gained an appreciation for the importance of investment in collaboration for research. I also gained familiarity with the Library of Congress system which we use along with other practices which were new to me.
Living in Athens for a more extended period of time was also an opportunity to explore more fully a place and culture so different from what is familiar to me. With archaeological sites everywhere in Athens from metro stations to department store basements, every walk after work to explore the city was also a chance to visit an archaeological site or museum. In some parts of the Athens, it feels like every other building is another beautiful museum. While I enjoyed and revisited all of them, the National Archaeological Museum, the Byzantine and Christian Museum, the Cycladic Museum and so on, the beautiful curation of the Acropolis Museum stands out.
On a weekend visit to Crete, along with Phaistos, the reconstruction of Knossos in particular stood out to me as a site which demonstrates the importance of contemporary scholarship in our understanding of ancient civilisations. Spending Clean Monday on Crete, we also experienced more modern Greek culture, even getting a rare chance to sample lagana bread baked only on that day and watching the traditional kite-flying on the shores of the Aegean. The days we spent at Delphi drove home for me importance of the link between an archaeological site and its physical setting. At the partially preserved site situated on the side of Mount Parnassus overlooking the Corinthian Gulf, the breath-taking setting seemed to convey most clearly the awe experienced by ancient visitors to the oracle.
While my time at the CIG was cut short, I am sure the opportunity to encounter in real life so many artefacts and sites I have studied will transform my studies from now on.
University of Waterloo intern, winter 2020