: Field Trips

The Sklavokampos Documentation Project

The Sklavokampos documentation project is an interdisciplinary project that aims to record the conservation needs of the archaeological site of the Sklavokampos Minoan second order centre as a monument. This project was a part of the Three Peak Sanctuaries project of the University of Kent and the Heritage Management Organization which aims to document and study three Minoan peak sanctuaries of the Malevyzi area which define the greater area around the plateau of Sklavokampos both in antiquity and in its current social setting. The Sklavokampos documentation project is essential for the greater integration of this particular site into the current and future social, cultural and economic networks of the area. As such the Sklavokampos documentation project begun with ethnographic, bibliographical and archival work to determine the important values of the site of Sklavokampos Minoan second order centre and its environs. It is these values that have to be documented and protected and as such both the tangible fabric and the intangible values of the site form essential parts of this project.
In parallel with the documentation of the tangible constituents of the Sklavokampos Villa, an effort has been made for the documentation and preservation of the intangible values of the monument. Values such as the archaeological and physical man-made evidence as well as the non-archaeological evidence. We designed our project as a ‘conservation program’ that is not merely about the materials for the material’s sake, but it should help preserve the materials because, they are the basis on which important values are predicated. The materials should be preserved, so as to help us preserve the values based on them. Within this context we propose a series of actions aiming to the enhancement of all the values the archaeological site that include education and training programs both for visitors as well as locals for the preservation of these intangible values.
This is a first such effort to combine the tangible with the intangible in the same documentation project and as a result this project has recommendations for both. We firmly believe that this is the only way we can document conservation needs, since the word ‘conservation’ should not only include the tangible but also the much richer ‘intangible’.
The tangible heritage documentation’s initial stage included the deforestation of the site and the surrounding slopes. That way the complete photogrammetric documentation of the site was made possible. This work was the foundation on which the orthophoto maps, the master plan and all of the walls of the monument were created. The processed draws that were created from the photogrammetric plans, were used as the foundation on which all the documentation of the building elements was materialized regarding their categorization and their current state of preservation. Those plans were used also for the precalculation of all the surfaces of the monument that have to be restored.

SEM electromicrograph showing coarse grained sparitic calcite

SEM electromicrograph showing coarse grained sparitic calcite

After the macroscopic observation, identification and characterization of the building elements and the restoration materials, samples were acquired from the local stone formations outside the perimeter of the site. All the samples were analyzed regarding the mineralogical and chemical composition, through X-ray diffraction, petrographic microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, micro Raman and FTIR spectroscopies. The elemental and stoichiometric analysis was performed through the energy dispersing spectroscopy coupled with the SEM microscope. All the analyses mentioned above were performed at the labs of the Dept. of Chemistry, UoC. At the same time, samples of all the biological specimens (biological encrustations and growths) present on the building and architectural elements of the monument were acquired. The biological species were identified and characterized after the analysis of the specimens under the stereoscope, in the labs of the Dept. of Biology, UoC. During this stage it was made possible to connect the presence of the mineral whewellite (calcium oxalate monohydrate) that was documented on the surface of the stone building elements of Sklavokampos through the Raman spectroscopic analysis, with the presence of Aspicilia calcarea which is the dominant biological encrustation present on site.
Furthermore, with all the analytical information at hand, the damage assessment study was materialized and all the weathering forms were documented. Regarding the damage assessment evaluation, a series of experiments a was designed in collaboration with the Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry lab of the Dept. of Chemical engineering of the Polytechnic School of Patras. The aim of this project is to measure the solubility rates of the local Tripolis zone type limestone, from which the monument is built of. For this

Orthophotogrammetric map of site of Sklavokampos

purpose several local stone underwent an artificial ageing process (dissolution) in a batch type reactor using the constant composition technique (CCT) in order to study the dissolution kinetics in variable saturation conditions. Through those experiments it has been made possible to determine the deterioration rates of the building stones of the monument that result to the characteristic karst effect formations on their surfaces. The results of this work are representative for this specific type of rock and constitute an important value of mineralogical significance connecting this aspect of the geological heritage of the area of the St. Anna gorge and the Gonies plateau with their archaeological heritage.
This work will be published in the near future within the context of a case study regarding the assessment of weathering process related to the karst effect and the Sklavokampos site.
As regards to the restoration materials and applications, samples from the local soil were collected and analyzed in order to measure the mechanical and chemical properties of this material and therefore to determine if it is efficient in order to be used as a restoration mortar for the walls of the monument. This specific type of mortar is proposed based on its exceptional performance in the archaeological site of Tylissos were it has been applied for the same purpose. The analyses of the soil samples were performed by GeoTerra Ltd as well as in the analytical chemistry and X-ray diffraction labs of the Dept. of Chemistry, UoC. All the testing and evaluation of the materials, compositions and methodologies for the restoration and preservation of the stone elements of the monument have been completed.
Although we are not entirely satisfied with the results in the way in which the values of heritage are documented homogeneously throughout this study, this has been a first effort to do so and in such we consider this study a pioneer for the future. We are grateful to the Kaplan Foundation and to the Institute for Aegean Prehistory without the help of whom we would not be able to conduct such a study.

Giannis Grammatikakis is a conservation scientist with an MSc in environmental chemistry and a PhD in inorganic chemistry.

In 2005 he started his career working as “field” conservator, on monuments, as a member of the conservation team of Parthenon Temple on the Acropolis of Athens. Since 2006 as an employee of 23rd E.P.C.A. (Hellenic Ministry of Culture) he has made several surveys and restoration studies for several monuments mostly from the Minoan period. From 2010 till the end of the project in 2014, he was the Head conservator for the peripheral monuments of the Palace of Knossos.
Currently he is working as a researcher in the department of chemistry, University of Crete. He is also a mamber of the The Heritage Management Organization and the owner of Archaeoanalysis DBA.


The Refugee Identity Crisis: How Athens Builds National Identity through Heritage

As soon as you visit Athens it hits you square in the face, the strong nationalistic Greek identity is everywhere, sold in shops, on the shirts of the tourists and physically overlooking the city in the shape of the Acropolis. The visitor may not feel overpowered as they hop back on a plane home, but that is not the same for every resident of Athens.
Since the refugee crisis, tens of thousands have entered Greece and found themselves stuck and lost. Their homes destroyed, separated from family, and their national identity a distant past. Since their arrival, Athens has worked on satisfying necessities like health and shelter, and is now working on higher needs such as psycho-socio support. With this comes the chance to reform lost identity, forming a sense of belonging in Athens. To achieve this Athens is using their best product: heritage.
Refugees have been the focus of several temporary exhibits at the Benaki and Cycladic museum which focus on the travel and everyday aspect of their experience. This includes children’s drawings and sculptures by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who manifested the act of Europe letting go of its responsibilities to the refugees into an anthropomorphic statue.


Ai Weiwei exhibit photo credits: Kimberley Bulgin

Tours of the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum were started by the Greek cultural minister. Rather than focusing on the loss of the refugees, or the greatness of Athens’ past, he spoke of the Greek hospitality, of the similarities between their cultures and of the Parthenon and the lost Palmyra. He sent the strong message that their heritage may be lost but now the heritage of Athens is partly theirs.


shoes donated to refugees displaying an act of kindness via: [http://www.museumwithoutahome.gr]

Working on the theme of Greek hospitality Oxfam and Amnesty used heritage to thank Athens for their role in the refugee crisis. By creating an open-air museum exhibiting the items Athenians donated to the refugee camps Oxfam and Amnesty aimed to showcase the importance of goodwill to the new communities and hopes this will act as an incentive to others. This acts as a tool of community building between Athenians and the refugees which in time can create a new transcultural identity between the two shared experiences of the crisis.


Touberleki traditional drum used to bring communities closer via: [http://www.museumwithoutahome.gr]

Athens does have a strong migration history from the early 20th century, although not a part of curriculum there are talks of a new museum dedicated to this subject. With education from this new heritage site we can expect a level of education on the subject which can only lead to further acceptance and understanding of the new plight. If immigration becomes a part of the strong Greek identity it is easier for the refugee to see themselves within the landscape and create an identity. Representation in heritage spaces is imperative for the refugee for them to be fully engaged with the programmes Athens is offering.
In time, hopefully a transcultural identity can be created by both Athens and the refugee communities. This will need to be based on a sharing of heritage spaces and representation for both communities, working on similarities rather than differences. Athenians can feel pride for their role in the refugee crisis and in the future, this can become part of their joined identity, an experience shared and represented in heritage spaces.

Kimberley Bulgin previously studied Classical and Archaeological studies at the University of Kent and her interests in Heritage Management are on visitor engagement in educational settings.
(This was an excerpt from her paper ‘The Refugee Identity Crisis: How Athens is bridging the gap between a person and their homeland through heritage and meaning making’ presented at the University of Kent MA conference on Boundaries in Paris in May 2017.)

Promoting the Heritage of Southern Lazio On The Via Francigena Del Sud by Elle Arscott

With Rome taking centre stage, it’s not surprising that the region of Lazio often gets overlooked by tourists. The drained areas of the Pontine Marshes are now mile after mile of agricultural land and industrial complexes, whilst the towns and cities dotting the plain are uninspiring compared to the nearby grandeur of the capital. The coastal region is popular with daytrippers from the city looking to enjoy the clean waters and golden sands of the Tyrrhenian Sea, but few venture further inland.


The secret landscape of Lazio. Photo credits: author’s own.

However, on Sunday 14th May, a group of University of Kent students collected at the eastern end of the Circus Maximus in Rome. The goal: to walk 87 miles of the Via Francigena Del Sud, from Rome to Terracina, straight through the rural heartland of southern Lazio.  The Via Francigena Del Sud is a 434 mile pilgrimage from Rome to Brindisi, with Jerusalem the ultimate destination. It is the natural successor to its more famous cousin the Via Francigena, the pilgrim path from Canterbury to Rome. The section we were going to tackle from Rome to Terracina was only a small part of a much longer heritage route, steeped in history both ancient and modern. In Roman times, troops and civilians could have covered vast distances on the Via Appia, the strategic road connecting Rome on the west coast to Brindisi in the east. The Appian Way cut straight across the Pontine Marshes, the Romans being undeterred by stagnant waters or mosquitoes and confident in their complete domination of this flat, exposed stretch of land. By the medieval period, however, the region had broken up into small, often warring, factions and Christian pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem may have diverted their route further inland, seeking shelter in the towns of the Lepini Mountains on their way to Terracina instead.
Nowadays, the Via Francigena Del Sud is an officially recognised, waymarked route – at least in theory. Whilst the first three days of our walk, from Rome to Cori, were fairly straightforward and clearly signposted, the further we trekked into the hills and mountains the less clear the path became. All too often the route itinerary directed us to walk alongside busy roads or hack through overgrown hedgerows with no sign of a path.


The “path” between Nemi and Velletri. Photo credits: Julia Peters.

Unfortunately, these inconsistencies mean that the Via Francigena Del Sud is, in its present state, a limited tool for tourism development in the southern Lazio region. Greater attention needs to be given to waymarking (in both directions) whilst the suggested itinerary could be refined in order to better spread the distances covered and take advantage of staying longer in the more historic towns along the route and visiting local archaeological sites and museums.


The historic village of Nemi, perched above its eponymous lake. Photo credits: author’s own.

However, with these small issues ironed out the Via Francigena Del Sud has great potential to attract new visitors to the area, particularly repeat visitors to Rome who may with to divide their city trip with a rural escape. The rich history of the area has to be seen to be believed, whilst the amazing hospitality of all our hosts, the friendliness of local people, the fresh produce and excellent wine are all added bonuses to what is still an unspoilt and beautiful region.


Walking near Giulianello. Photo Credits: Julia Peters.

The 6 students walking the Via Francigena Del Sud were funded by the Kent Opportunity Fund, the European Centres and the School of English. See http://blogs.kent.ac.uk/linking-heritage/italy-walk/ for more information. Visit http://www.viefrancigenedelsud.it/en/ for more information on the official route.

“Elle Arscott is a candidate for the MA Heritage Management 2016-17, and has an undergraduate degree in History of Art & Music from the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in international arts and antiquities law, as well as heritage marketing and alternative approaches to heritage site management.”

A Day at the First Cemetery in Athens

It was a dark and gloomy day.
The clouds were hovering over Athens.
What a perfect day to go to the Cemetery.
Wouldn’t you say?

As part of our Education & Archaeology field trip led by Dr. Corbishley, we had the option to visit the First Cemetery of Athens.
Along with the University of Kent Archaeological Society (UKAS) students, who were visiting Athens, we created a tour around the city and made our way to the Cemetery. Here we saw Schliemann’s tomb which was rather grand amongst other grand tombs.  Continue reading “A Day at the First Cemetery in Athens” »

Celebrating International Women’s Day as a HERMA student

Today is the 8th of March. It is the day that societies celebrate their women; it was basically made for the working women, ignoring that the women whom be called “housewives” are doing great unpaid jobs. Women in numbers are half of the population in most societies, and are responsible to take care of the other half in most communities. Women have great power and are present in economy, politics and social life. In my country, there were many role models of women who were leaders in their fields, and I wish to join that list one day.
Continue reading “Celebrating International Women’s Day as a HERMA student” »

An Ancient Place and a New Home

As we departed Elefsina headed west, I could not help but think of my new classmates and what they were going to miss today. It was to be our first HERMA outing, and as usual, my poor planning showed, as only myself and my new friend Hadi rose early to catch the train at Magoula Station. We sat back in our comfortable seats in a cabin all to ourselves and watched as our new home passed beside us outside the train windows. The morning sun bounced rays of light off the serene surface of the Saronic Gulf. It seemed so perfect and peaceful! No wonder this part of the world has been inhabited by man as far back as we can document. As I closed my eyes and drifted off to the whirring sounds of the slow moving train, I could not help but think back to exactly one year before, when I left my home in Dallas, Texas on a trip here that would change my life forever.
I had planned my trip to Greece for many years and despite this, very few close friends thought me serious when I announced, in the summer of 2014, that I was leaving Dallas after 30 years for an unknown future in a land shrouded in myth and ancient history. They should, and indeed most, knew better that to doubt me. My living room and bedroom were lined with nearly every ancient history book printed about Greece and the ancient Mediterranean. I left my teaching job behind and my former business, now a shell of itself, did not require my daily attention anymore.
It was here last year that I came to realize what path lay before me, and all I had to do was seize the opportunity.
I was nudged awake by Hadi and realized the train was slowing and we had arrived at the train station in Corinth. As we bounded over the gap, grabbed our backpacks, and hit the gravel parking lot, I could see our destination on the western sky. One of the three fetters of Greece, it was said that whomever controlled these geologic fortresses controlled all of Greece. Our trip today was going to take us to one of these amazing fortresses known as Acrocorinth. From the train station it was to be a short cab ride up the back side of the mountain to the end of the pavement.

I had been to Corinth last year after a harrowing drive across the high Peloponnese mountains from Olympia. I remember driving east, past the high limestone cliffs, heading into Corinth that day. I had planned on making my way up the acropolis then, but on that rainy day I had endured enough wet mountain roads to shake even my steely nerves, so instead I spent my time in ancient Corinth, and imagined what it must be like to see the world from the mountaintop.


A thousand-year view

Today was my day to finally make my imagination a reality. Acrocorinth was once an island in an ancient geologic sea, and to see it today you can certainly understand why. It still remains an island unto itself, occupying the northwest edge of the Gulf of Corinth, and overlooking the Peloponnese to the southwest. When Hadi and I reached the summit, it was as if time stood still. No matter which direction I chose to look, the enormity of the world from here made me feel small. Small in stature for sure, but we also both knew we were standing in a place of history occupied by men who fought and died over the very place where now we stood.


The cistern, as it stands today

Akrokorinthos, the most impressive acropolis of all of Greece was all around us. It had been occupied and fought over repeatedly since archaic times. Due to its geomorphology, the acropolis has always had a secure water supply and, indeed, even today, there is water in the springs at the top of the acropolis. Hadi and I were fortunate to be able to explore the springs, and we entered the ancient stairs that led us into a walled underground cistern with plenty of spring water.  The acropolis was once home to many people as there are ruins of homes scattered about, but it is the fortified citadel that is prominent all around. It was heavily fortified during the Byzantine occupation, it later became a Frankish outpost, then the Venetians came and the Ottoman Turks.

Of course, my thoughts that day were of the heroes of ancient times. The Mycenaeans were here, of course. Agamemnon must have ventured here as his Mycenaean citadel lay only a bird’s flight away. Alexander from Macedon must have been here as well. The Romans laid claim here during those days of occupation while their armies carried much of Greece back home across the Ionian Sea. We sat on the high citadel walls, ate bread from a bakery back in Elefsina, and stared into the abyss that lay below us. As the hours passed and the warm Greek sun took its early departure behind the western mountains, we knew it was time to leave. Time is marked here by nature itself. The sun’s slow departure can be announced by a crisp mountain breeze that speaks loudly if you stay too long. As we exited the fortress and asked a stranger to take our picture, I felt a connection that I still feel to this day.  As Hadi and I walked the entire road down the mountain to ancient Corinth and we talked about our experience here today, I was thankful.


Two friends on a mountain

Thankful to a place that treasures it heritage like no other place in the world. Thankful for the opportunity to experience my world from a perspective that gives me hope and a desire to make a difference. Most of all, thanks to a program like HERMA and the new friends that I carry with me on my new journey.

Photos by Hadi Ahmadi

Rae Rippy was Student Academic Officer for the HERMA class of 2015-16. With a background in business, journalism, and geology, he was interested in the preservation of heritage around the world, and the role of education as it pertains to that goal. Rae has been in the HMO family since 2015 and has contributed enormously to our cause. We regret of Rae’s premature passing and we commit to continue his work for the benefit of heritage internationally.

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