Philioremos means ‘friend of the solitary’. And when on top of this Minoan peak sanctuary, which dates back to c.1800BC, you can feel why. A hill much lower than the imposing Ida Mountains in the south, it nonetheless commands an impressive 360° view of the surrounding mountain valley. Standing on top, usually ducking to avoid the strong, cold wind, you have the impression of being at a distance from everything. The sounds of sheep bells, fragments of speech, the howl of the wind, a passing car in the distance, a dog barking somewhere, village bells, gradually surround you and make you turn inside, to the sound of your beating heart and your panting breath. It is a sense of solitude that contrasts the criss-crossing networks and flows of people, objects, animals, memories, stories, and official bodies that make up this site. These immaterial flows often make no sound that can be picked up in the natural soundscape of the area. But as one draws near the village, the fragments of sound turn into a profusion of voices.
Gonies used to be a large and strong village up until the 1960s. It is now home to less than 180 inhabitants, mostly elderly. Walking its narrow alleys, may give a first impression of abandonment. Getting to know its people, the Goniotes, however, begins to tell a story of resilience.
We got to know this place through the archaeological lens. Invited to do ethnography as part of the “Three Peak Sanctuaries of Central Crete” archaeological project (https://www.facebook.com/ThreePeakSanctuariesProject/), we hoped to bring up the connections of this group of people with the Minoan past. Traces of human presence in the area since the deep prehistory abound: place names of antiquity, fragmented ancient material culture, important Minoan landmarks, all surround the daily lives of the Goniotes. It soon became evident that the locals were fully aware of the deep past of this place and expressed it in many ways. However, they did not draw a sense of identity from this past. The stories they tell of themselves are stories of mobility and settlement in the past few centuries. They know this place is ancient, but they do not believe they were always here. They are the current stewards of this place’s past rather than being a community of Minoan descent. To our persistent questions about the ancient past, they replied with more and more histories about recent events. This was what was important to them. So, the project gradually turned its attention to what the community wanted to know about itself, its history and heritage.
This shift of focus broadened the scope of our project and made it more inclusive of the community interests, as well as more participatory. In a sense, the community took control over the production of knowledge and turned it into a collective process. It is this collaborative venture that prompted us to create a field school that enables the locals to teach their own history and heritage to students from all over the world.
We opted for the form of a field school rather than a lecture-based one to open up the process of collective ethnographic learning. On a daily basis, students, scholars and locals share experiences, discussions, celebrations, mournings, and stories, for a month every summer since 2014, contributing this way to the creation of a community-controlled archive of knowledge.
The simple act of having a local point at a wall and tell its story, give a guided tour of the village, describe the process of recognising his own sheep from those of others, and commenting on the effects of urbanization and development, broadens the gamut of educators in the village. Everybody can be a teacher. The subjects discussed are chosen by the speakers themselves. We usually give prompts, discussing the subject of each year’s school with people in the village.
Locals impart knowledge we do not and cannot have, the embodied experience of dwelling in this landscape for decades. And we impart our own experience of dwelling in a space that is sustained by the pull of theoretical activity in academia and the realities of being in the field. Knowledge production, collaborative research is a more encompassing praxis. It involves talking to people, forging and maintaining relationships, resolving conflicts. For some people in the village, the summer school is a highlight of their seasonal life, an encounter they look forward to. An occasion when the village resonates with voices, when some houses in the neighbourhood have lights on again at night. We create a multidisciplinary space between history, archaeology, art, museum studies, archival research, and oral history that leads to incredibly rich research contexts.
From the very beginning, our work was geared towards improving the livelihood of the people in the village either directly or indirectly. In the first season of our field school (2014), we collaborated with the Technical University of Crete, Department of Social Work, to provide a detailed census of the medical provisions and the needs of the village inhabitants. This census helped the social services of the Malevizi Municipality to plan better the health care for the village inhabitants, who on a weekly basis visit the elderlies’ home (KAΠH), used for physiotherapy and occupational therapy sessions, gatherings, creative activities and small feasts.
Simultaneously, during the first year of our field school, the archaeologist-artist Vasko Demou collaborated with us to implement a public art installation. It was based on ethnographic information provided by the locals about pastimes, landmarks and habitual practices, and gave us the opportunity to express this collectively created knowledge in forms beyond the conventional ethnographic ways.
This art installation, that took the form of a mapped itinerary in the village, was expanded in the following years into a trail that incorporated several interesting stops along the way, which reflected the embodied knowledge of the locals. Retracing the guided walks that the locals gave to us and the field school students, the trail was a way to transmit this knowledge to the visiting public. A communally created map was an opportunity for underplayed aspects of local heritage to be presented on an equal part with more male-dominated understandings of history when, for example, village ovens and the village’s springs were put alongside the heroic feats of 19th century brigands, thus creating discussion in the village about how exactly their heritage works.
Engaging the locals in the production and representation of ethnographic and archaeological knowledge finds fertile ground in community art projects, such as the one we implemented in 2015. The archaeologist Celine Murphy, specialising in Minoan clay figurines, in collaboration with the experienced potter Vasilis Politakis implemented a three-week workshop that involved locals and visitors in the collection, preparation and working of clay.
Within the framework of experimental archaeology, participants were asked to emulate the possible techniques used to make clay figurines. Embodied memory appeared to be a very important parameter of this workshop because a number of elderly Goniotes showed us the clay working techniques they used in their childhood in order to make their toys and utensils.
The artefacts created by the locals were presented in an open-air exhibition, which added to the already-existing path in the village, with the ultimate aim to turn the village into an open-air museum.
Art practice helps us create uncommon research situations by setting up hubs in the village that bring together individuals of different generations and backgrounds, and evoke embodied memories and techniques as well as personal narratives and stories, while they result in the creation of a communally produced work of art.
In 2016, the artist in residence, Aleka Karavela, and one of our former students and curator, Katerina Konstantinou, transformed a room in the abandoned school into an open studio with looms donated by the village. In the “loom project” men and women of all ages collectively weaved a cloth.
At the end of the field school, instead of making a presentation about the project’s outcome, we chose to put words to a traditional motif sung for the first time by Nathenoyannis and recorded in the village by the Swiss ethnomusicologist Samuel Baud Bovy in 1953-1954. This song was sung during the feast closing our research season in the village.
Alongside the weaving project, in the 2017 field season landscape was also a topic for exploration. Having experienced first-hand the locals’ relationship with their natural surroundings, we did not conceive landscape as a mere geographical space but as a cultural concept and a set of values significant to the local inhabitants. Some of the older ones, who know the area very well and have been walking it since childhood, gave our team a series of guided walks on what used to be the old paths that connected Gonies with the valley. In these walks we managed to acquire a sense of the landscape as a social and cultural construct modelled and embodied by the people who use it, live off of it and experience it on a daily basis. This unique natural, social and cultural entanglement helped us create a series of interpretive panels and signs, setting up a cultural heritage trail inspired by local knowledge and based on local narratives.
The ethnographic information we collected about knowledge on raw materials, techniques and local produce made us want to explore further the relationship of memory and material culture in the 2017 season. Memory in the village is often carried through material objects and artefacts. From a small handmade leather sack, the so-called sakadelo, that contains the utensils necessary to the shepherds’ everyday needs, spring not only objects but stories, reminiscences, sometimes even songs.
Unpacking the family trunk is like a stratigraphy of layered personal and historical memories. The 2017 season focused on exactly that: the materiality of things and their anchoring of memory.
Introducing, for the first time, visual documentation into the study of material culture and memory, we created a series of interviews on camera with the aid of our photographer in residence, Manolis Kandanoleon. This resulted in the creation of the community’s oral history archive, which we will continue to enrich in the following field school seasons.
Everything we collected this season relating to memories, visual images and material culture were great sources for the design of a small-scale exhibition as part of the closing ceremony of our field school. The exhibition comprised of various daily life objects kindly donated to us by the Goniotes, a number of oral narratives, artistic drawings and video projections.
There were times in the process of the exhibition design that it felt odd to be so self-referential, seemingly attempting to display to the village inhabitants elements familiar to them, closely relating to themselves and their lives. We often wondered what the purpose of such an exhibition would be, especially because our aim was not to simply display the tangible and intangible elements they shared with us but to present our ethnographic information and our experience of their own life experiences in new interpretive ways. Working and thinking in a self-reflexive manner is a core part of ethnographic research and thus it soon became clear to us that the exhibition could act as a field that voices the merge of our own contextualisation with the contexts that the locals communicate to us, relating to gender issues, love, emotion, belief, reminiscences, and practices.
Within the framework of Greek archaeological research, the fields of public/community archaeology and archaeological ethnography are two largely underdeveloped research arenas, mainly due to legal and institutional entanglements. Rather than perpetuate this problem, in the international field school we acknowledge local communities as integral constituents of the field, since they directly or indirectly influence our research questions as well as the processes and progress of our study. By co-producing and co-managing approaches of the ancient or more recent past with the local community, we end up with richer, less clinical, and more locally relevant results.
We would like to express our gratitude to the Community and the Cultural Association of Gonies, all the village inhabitants, our artists in residence and the participants in the field school. Without them, this project would not have been materialized and enriched, allowing us to further our engagement with the village community in the years to come.
University of Kent, The Heritage Management Organisation
Hellenic Open University, The Heritage Management Organisation
University of Kent, The Heritage Management Organisation
You are invited to participate in the Discovering the Archaeologists of Africa project.
This project aims to bring a general perspective on who works in African archaeology and the ways that archaeology is done in African countries.
In this first stage of the project, we are asking people to complete a short survey that asks questions about employment in archaeology and academic provision. It will take approximately five to ten minutes to complete the questionnaire.
Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There are no foreseeable risks associated with this project. However, if you feel uncomfortable answering any questions, you can withdraw from the survey at any point.
It is very important for us to learn your opinions. Your survey responses will be strictly confidential and data from this research will be reported only in the aggregate. Your information will be coded and will remain confidential. If you have questions at any time about the survey or the procedures, you may contact Kenneth Aitchison by email at email@example.com.
We would appreciate as many people as possible contributing as possible – so please send this link – https://discoafrica.questionpro.com/ – to any colleagues who you think could help.
Start the survey
Ruins, archaeological and historical, present a special category of monuments that ensue as a result of natural wear and tear, abrupt natural catastrophes, use, abandonment or intentional destruction. Continue reading “Monuments in Ruins, Ruins as Monument Evaluation, Protection, Enhancement & Management” »
Written by Katerina Konstantinou
The “loom-project” was centered on women’s weaving practices and drew upon art and ethnographic methods. The first seeds of this project were planted in the summer of 2015 at the 2nd Archaeological Ethnography Summer School organized by the Heritage Management Organization in Gonies, Crete, which I was attending as a postgraduate student. My contribution to the school’s fieldwork, conducted within the broader context of the Three Peak Sanctuaries of Central Crete research program, focused on unraveling the history of weaving in Gonies. A year later, Alexia Karavela, an Athens-based visual artist, joined me to further investigate the multitude of stories, reminiscences and songs related to woven textiles and their production. This was made possible due to HMO’s decision to host an artist-in-residence program alongside the 3rd Archaeological Ethnography Summer School.
My preliminary fieldwork on weaving raised many issues regarding the textile heritage and its multiple uses in the past, present, and future. Whereas non-mechanized cloth production was largely abandoned in Greece after WWII due to the industrial production of textiles, looms remained in use in Crete to meet growing demand for souvenirs in the early 1970’s. During this period, textiles were mass-produced throughout the island and were sold by wholesalers all around Greece. It was within this context that weaving provided a significant source of income in Gonies from the late 1970’s until 2000.
Material evidence of this relatively recent past abounds in Gonies. Nearly every house has its own loom. Many textiles, collected and preserved mainly by elderly women, have survived long past their period of use. These collections provide a rich source of information concerning the relation between memory and the material world. For instance, the textiles recall memories of the past in which almost every woman was weaving day and night.
The idea of continuing the research next year was born out of this relation between material and memory. In order to deal with the material nature of textile production and bridge the gap between research and practice, I invited Alexia Karavela to join me. Alexia has been concerned with ethnographic themes and issues of materiality, social memory and identities in her work as a visual artist (http://alekakaravela.blogspot.gr/). With a particular focus on the recent political history of Greece, she critically comments on the everyday life that continued alongside great political events of the 1980’s and 1990’s. In one of her previous works, presented for her Master of Fine Arts graduation in 2015, entitled “I Hira” (“The Hand”), she explored aspects of social memory in the manual production of textiles. Installed alongside other materials, Alexia used an old, very simple loom and textiles woven with unconventional materials such as magnetic tapes to refer to history-writing processes.
Her weaving experience as well as her critical thinking towards cultural heritage and material culture additionally inspired me to design a community engagement art project that combined contemporary art practices and fieldwork methods for the summer of 2016. Alexia was to apply her artistic practices on the fieldwork, and I was to coordinate the project and collect the ethnographic information. We were accommodated by the team of anthropologists and archaeologists, Aris Anagnostopoulos, Lena Stefanou and Celine Murphy, who were running the 3rd Summer School of Archaeological Ethnography in July of 2016.
Shortly after our arrival to Gonies, we transformed a hall of the abandoned school into an open studio, and a local man donated an old loom to Alexia. The loom was restored with the help of some locals and put to working condition. Having thus occupied the school and set up the loom, we set about encouraging locals to help weave a collective textile.
The community of Gonies enthusiastically responded to our call and the school was infused with new life as locals gathered daily to weave or to simply spend time with us. As one local would pick up where another had left off, all who participated left their mark on what became a collective, community rug. Locals of all ages had an eagerness to weave that had many different motivations: such as a desire to experience the past, to understand this old tradition, or even to reignite potentially profitable local industry. In all cases the experience of weaving in a loom was perceived as performing part of cultural heritage. On our part, weaving served as a point of departure by which to communicate with people and observe them interact with locally-significant objects. These interactions provided a rich source of ethnographic data not only regarding what people remember but also how they remember and how they forget.
Later on during this one month stay in Gonies, a second loom was brought to our studio in the school by local women. This loom was dismantled, moved in and restored again to weave a triopatitero, a weaving technique that is considered to be characteristic of the island of Crete and requires particular skills and knowledge. The energy with which elderly women commandeered the project made us step aside at times and watch them act. After all the “loom-project” aimed at making the local community define what was there to be preserved as part of their textile heritage.
Moving beyond the traditional fieldwork methods required that we collaborate with the locals and therefore made us reconsider the ways we do ethnography. Rather than imposing out own research framework, we hosted them in an open studio that was designed to inspire some artistic production through which Goniotes were actively involved in defining the textile heritage of their village by nominating heritage items and by ensuring local knowledge. We allowed locals to decide on the project, to a great extent, and thus avoided playing an over-determining role in the interaction. We found that artist Alexia Karavela’s presence considerably facilitated local involvement in interpreting their heritage. Her artistic approach to the field of ethnographic research elucidated issues relevant to the poetics of fieldwork. Such an approach strengthens the creative and metaphorical dimension of the discourse produced through ethnography and challenges the ethnographer’s conception of the ways we conduct fieldwork.
The “loom-project” incorporated a series of paintings produced by Alexia as a way to analyze and interpret the ethnographic material gathered in Gonies. An exhibition was put together almost a year later in DA, an artist-run space in Heraklio, which is the closest city to Gonies, where most Goniotes live during the winter. Through this exhibition, Alexia proved that artists can use their position to bring new dynamics and practices not only to the production of ethnographic data but also to its interpretation and representation.
Although ostensibly investigating the position of textile heritage in Gonies as cultural and economic resources, the “loom-project” was largely focused on an exploration of new ethnographic methods. Equally significant was the investigation of new ways of representing ethnographic knowledge. Several issues regarding the relationship of art and anthropology were raised during all phases of the “loom-project” such as the appropriation of methodologies and subjects between them that demand further consideration by the actors of the project.
Katerina Konstantinou is a PhD candidate in the Department of Social Anthropology at Panteion University. She is an art historian and holds an MA in Curating. Her research interests focus on the intersection of the fields of contemporary arts, anthropology and archaeology. She has participated in several research programs, such as the Three Peak Sanctuaries in Central Crete in Gonies. She has worked for museums and cultural institutions. She has participated in conferences and she has published texts in collective volumes and art magazines.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.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. 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.
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.)