We started the first full week of our season with a visit from three Regular Members of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Two PhD candidates, Alice Crowe (University of Cincinnati) and Belisi Gillespie (University of California, Berkeley), along with recent B.A. grad Braden Cordivari (University of Pennsylvania) made the drive up to Arma from Athens. All three students are interested in the Bronze Age, and both Alice and Belisi’s dissertation projects focus on Bronze Age material. Although they had just spent all year traveling around Greece to visit archaeological sites and museums, Alice, Belisi, and Braden wanted to make a special trip to Eleon before leaving the School for their summer fieldwork. The EBAP team was delighted to welcome them to Eleon. I asked them a few questions about their favorite parts of the visit.
Why did you want to visit Eleon?
Alice: For years I have been hearing about EBAP’s amazing finds at AIA presentations and from friends working on the project, and, every time I attended a presentation or heard more about it, it made me want to come check the site out, particularly to see the Blue Stone Structure!
Belisi: I’ve worked at Bronze Age sites in Crete, the Peloponnese, and the Levant. I have never spent much time in Boeotia, however, so I still feel like a big piece of the Bronze Age puzzle is missing from my experience. In a continuing effort to start plugging this hole, one of the sites that I most wanted to visit was ancient Eleon!
Braden: I’ve heard a lot about Eleon through Janelle and wanted to make sure we saw it before the end of the year, since the site was tarped and backfilled during the ASCSA trip to Boeotia and we didn’t visit.
What surprised or impressed you most about Eleon?
Alice: I was really impressed with the finds and architecture, especially the hearths in situ in the IIIC building, the stirrup jars, and the really large Early Mycenaean wall.
Belisi: I was completely blown away by the state of preservation of the site and the quality of the finds when I finally got there. I was most impressed, I think, by the grave enclosure – – both by the style of the graves themselves (and the burial assemblages), but also by the effort to monumentalize the cemetery by enclosing it with a wall and erecting enormous grave stelai that are still in place! To still see traces of the mound that once covered the whole area was really exciting too.
Braden: I was aware of the Early Mycenaean contexts, but hadn’t realized the extent of the LH IIIC occupation material, including the hearths! I was impressed also by the setting of the site – with views down to the Euboean Gulf and the surrounding inland landscape, it was easy to understand its position and regional importance.
What was your favorite artifact that you saw in the apotheke?
Alice: The stirrup jars.
Belisi: The artifact that I’ll remember most was a wheel-made bull figure. I had never seen one up-close-and-personal and had never really appreciated how they’re made before my visit to Eleon. I work a lot on figures and figurines, so it was a very special artifact for me to see.
Braden: I liked seeing the unfired pots from Tomb 10. The choice to deposit them in the tomb is interesting, and I wonder how their forming practices compare to contemporary fired ceramics.
-by Janelle Sadarananda