Saturday 25 August 2018

Aug 24: Happy Wayzgoose Day!

Wayzgoose Feast

According to my Brother, a former Academic and prolific publisher, my scribblings around these parts constitute Self-Publishing. Thusly, I feel that the Pipistrello household is quite entitled to celebrate Wayzgoose Day, (the day for printmakers to get an outing and a dinner at the master's expense), with a bit of feasting and merry-making and a holiday from our labours.

Traditionally, the day marked the end of summer and the transition to working by candlelight, but of course things are back-to-front here in the Antipodes, however the 24th of August is still Saint Batholomew's feast day, the patron saint of bookbinders.

As the Master Printer of my blog, I prepared the following schedule of festivities: Firstly, no lurking about on the blogosphere (as tools were supposed to be downed), then Mr Pipistrello was left with an appetising platter of nibbles (hummus and olives) while I went off to engage in some callisthenics (the official Outing), and finally, back home for an elegant repast of reheated leftovers and a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape in front of the telly where we mightily enjoyed an old episode of Poirot. Fin.

Thursday 16 August 2018

Greek Series: A Sheltered Harbour & A History Lesson

Hello Sailor!
Dear Reader, do let your eyes glaze now if a bit of History is not Your Thing, there are some holiday snaps further on ... Meanwhile, this fellow needs no introduction to anyone familiar with Classical Exhibitionism. It is, of course, a rather fanciful rendering of the Sun god Helios, a.k.a. The Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. While it is only guesswork as to where exactly he stood and how he was posed, a bronze statue of Helios was erected by the harbour in 280 BCE to celebrate the Rhodians victory over their beseigers, the Cypriots. Maritime travellers were no doubt reassured to see his welcoming and confident likeness, at least for a little while before he fell in an ignominious heap and lay there for around 800 years to be gawked at by olde worlde tourists.

C16th Piri Reis map of our little islands

The harbour between Antiparos and Presepinthos, the Classical name for Despotiko, has been well known from antiquity until now as a Sheltered Harbour, and many sailors over the millennia have sought a bit of respite there from the Weather. Neighbouring Paros, famous and rich from its Parian marble mines, built a Sanctuary to Apollo (the Titan Helios' Olympic-doppelgänger) on Presepinthos to shepherd in weary travellers and give them somewhere fancy to hang out and make a sacrifice or two (and where the Lovely L & I picked over their leavings). Whether Apollo had a similar statue outside his cosy Temple and at the harbour's entrance, waving his man-bits at the passers-by, only time and a lot more digging will tell. The Sanctuary was destroyed around 500 BCE*, and there are no surviving written descriptions of the place; Herodotus, for instance, lived too late to be aware of it. It's all so mysterious!

Parian marble statue of Artemis in Paros Museum

Between those times and now, the other claim to fame (well, infamy) for Presepinthos/Despotiko was a history of uncomfortable shaves with piracy. Keeping a base around a sheltered harbour on a lively trade route was also appealing to members of this Criminal Class. According to the colourful backstory to Despotiko's present destitution, all habitation on the island came to a crashing end around 1675 after French pirates launched themselves at the locals to avenge the slaughter there of one of their notorious compatriots, Captain Daniel**, and his crew at the hands of Turks who had surprised and surrounded them in the harbour. The locals never came to Captain Daniel's aid, despite his attempt at bribery, so retribution was well and truly paid.

Dionysus as a Pirate-biting panther - one way to rid yourself of a scourge

The initial seasons of digging at the site by the present-day archaeologists, after first relocating the goatherder's barn which had been conveniently built over (and with!) the fanciest bits of the Sanctuary, had been spent working their way down through the pirate-sacked ruins then through Byzantine-, then Classical-era layers to where we are today, the Archaic period, viz. circa 500 BCE, which is where all the Apollo action lies. So lucky us for digging in the 2018 Season!

The vista below Apollo's Sanctuary, looking more peaceful these days

Anyway, with the Lesson Endeth, that bit of background was just to remind The Reader that while the Sailors may change, the Weather does not. And true to form, in spite of the clear summer skies, there were still some wildly windy days during our fortnight of toil which led to a) our generally being sandblasted and all our exposed (and, remarkably, some hidden) physical nooks and crannies filling up with dirt, and b) an assortment of Modern Day Sailors seeking sanctuary in the said harbour.

Step this way for a closer look at some of these Sheltering Vessels (sadly no triremes in sight); these sneaky pics taken a bit too early in the mornings for any signs of life:

Very smart livery!

A little flotilla

A bit of both worlds

Are they pirates??

Stealth Grey must be this season's colour

Dwarfed by the sheltering cliff ... we need to take a closer look ...

Still hanging about the next day, complete with some toys

* The latest and quite compelling theory is the Sanctuary was sacked by Miltiades after the Battle of Marathon as retribution for the Parians siding with the Persians, who they amicably traded with.

** Try as I might, I cannot find any attribution to this tale nor reference to a French pirate of this name; it may just be apocryphal. It does, however, get a confident retelling in the archaeological papers!

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Greek Series: Working With Animals

The goatherd's friendly donkey, always up for a pat

Greeting the goatherd's arrival each day

Donkey poo festoons dozens of this variety of shrub ... and nowhere else!

Goats galore!

Goats loving the improved view atop our karotsi dump

When the diggers are away the goats do play!

Federico & his little legs need lots of rest

Federico & Pipistrello prints

Monday 13 August 2018

Greek Series: The Daily Commute

Despotiko, Yonder

Remember Despotiko? It seems so long ago now, and indeed the six weeks since the Lovely L and I finished our toil as volunteer archaeological labourers has flown by with barely a peep from these pages, so I thought a little Greek Series would be in order. In case you are utterly disinterested in how students and graduates of various international Faculties of Arts & Social Sciences Get To Work(albeit unpaid work), avert your gaze now.

First up in this Series is a typical Daily Commute to and fro the dig site. While the hours between spent scraping and shovelling and generally shifting dirt and rocks around is hardly worth sharing in a visual fashion, although thoroughly good fun and physically rewarding for those involved (I would proudly display my newly resurrected biceps, but I sensibly won't), I shall restrain my urge to produce a tedious Slide Show and limit today to the Journey itself. 

Oh, if you insist then ...

At around dawn, there is not an awful lot of life up and about in Greece. In Antiparos town we would only rub shoulders with fishermen in otherwise empty cafes, back on terra firma after a night at sea, bakers (thankfully!) laying out their fresh wares for the day, and some builders and labourers heading off to various projects about the traps. The drive across the island to the jetty each day was marked only by the progress of a local refreshing the whitewash on the coping of his perimeter stone fence, and a solitary lady power-walker, both trying to make best use of the coolest part of the day. As I am not naturally a morning person and a Holiday does not, by definition, include the regular witnessing of a Sunrise, it may be deduced that the following sight each day was worthy of recording:

An Uncommon View

The Sargos and her trusty sea mutt greeted us each morning at the jetty to take us the short hop across to the deserted island. She made two trips to ferry the day's few dozen diggers and marble masons. As ever the girly swots, we were first to arrive each morning, hefting our gear which included 3 litres of drinking water and 4.5 litres of unpotable tap water for washing pottery, each! Phew!

Muttley keeping charge
Such a soothing Commute

Disembark at the jetty then hike up the hill to the site through the ankle-high herby scrub, goat poo and centuries-old pottery sherds that are strewn about the place. Apart from the occasional Special Find amongst these miscellaneous scatterings, they are more or less ignored by the archaeologists as they cannot be properly placed and dated like the thousands of bits and pieces that we helped to scratch from the earth. So did we ignore these tempting morsels? I should say so. 

Although ... a visitor to the Pipistrello bathroom may sit upon the loo and wonder about the age of this curiously pocket-sized bit of, ahem, Rustic Pottery on the shelf:

Hmmm ... couldn't be circa 500 BCE, surely??

All I shall say is that this was the view as I did contemplate any such sneaky appropriation:

Humdeehum ...

Just admiring the view ...

The camp was a shipping container with a shade cloth for shelter and some old pallets for seating:

Faffing about before getting stuck in for the day
Everyone took a turn at washing pottery finds, (a quick scrub in a bucket of water with an old toothbrush), sorting the fine from coarse pottery, sun-drying and bagging it up ready for the museum staff on Paros to work their magic on the shrapnel. On the very windy and hottest days there was no shortage of volunteers for washing as you got to sit in the shade.

Otherwise, it was a full day of Earth Moving. After the first week, the Lovely L's and my first small team left this tidy room. It was thought to be a kitchen and was filled with potsherds and chicken and goat bone fragments. Every scrape was sorted for bits and so it took a full week of digging to bring the level down around 5cm. I'm to blame for the hole in the bottom left corner of our otherwise nice smooth finish, as there was a rather large pot squatting there ... but that's for Another Day!

The Good Room - heaps of stuff here!

The second week saw us with another team outside the main dig perimeter in Room Z, sandblasting ourselves in the wind as the Lovely L unearthed a large paved area and I moved more Rocks & Earth. In case you are wondering, the Greek word for wheelbarrow is karotsi ... 

Room Zeta - rock lover's paradise!

Pack the day with digging, scraping, sweeping & karotsi-ing, then tidy up the site and leg it back down to the jetty and throw your filthy body into the water before the boat comes to take your tired and bruised limbs back to Antiparos. Deal with wannabe dreadlocks in hair, eat, fall into bed at an unseemly early hour, sleep, repeat.

The tired march to the jetty - cradling a Special Find!

Karotzi filled with finds for the Paros Museum

Waiting for the second boat run

Federico the Dachshund still supervising at day's end

Bats In The Belfry