Just a few days before the end of the academic year, ancient and incredibly hot Greece welcomed a small group of ECLA students. The trip was organized as a continuation of the elective course offered in winter term on Luxury in the Greek and Roman World: Self-identity and Self-indulgence. Although students had already been acquainted with the Greek culture through the texts covered during the core course of the fall term, the elective had quite a different focus. It examined various aspects of the notion of luxury starting with the representation of oneself in sculptures and images, to the use of space for building luxurious villas and public places. After the end of the course students followed up with small research projects, which culminated in the trip to Athens.
Mantha Zarmakoupi, the instructor of the elective and project supervisor, assisted students in writing the project proposal. With an academic background in architecture and classical archaeology, Mantha provided students with a lot of materaial concerning the architectural and archeological characteristics of the sites to be visited. Moreover, being from Athens herself, she became an excellent guide around the city’s monuments.
On the second day of the trip, we visited three archeological sites outside of Athens: the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, the Sanctuary of Artemis at Brauron and the Temple of Nemesis at Rhamnous. Moving between the sites allowed us to explore the significance of strategic location, special features of the architectural construction, and the use of materials and forms for creating a floating effect. “It is one thing when you read about all these techniques and look at the pictures, but it’s completely different and much more striking to see it in reality”, said Firuza Ganieva (2007, Tajikistan). The day brought many discoveries and discussions about the ways Greeks would indulge in the cults of different gods.
The very next day we went up the Panathenaic Way to the Athenian Acropolis and Agora. Walking among the ruins that used to be the heart of Athenian democracy, one could not possibly fail to observe the greatness of the Greek history. Thousands of years old ruins stand just next to modern buildings and numerous shops and cafes. It seemed like two worlds found a way to peacefully coexist here.
A small presentation about the trip to Greece was part of the End of the Year Celebration programme. Participants of the project shared their experiences with the rest of the ECLA community, demonstrating the interdisciplinary approach to studies offered during the year.
By Nargiza Majidova (2007, Uzbekistan)