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Greece Day 6: Adventures For One Last Thyme

By Meghana Veldhuis

· Greece 2023

Due to technical difficulties, pictures will be added later.

Day 6: March 23rd, 2023

Hello my lovely readers and welcome to the last day of actual content for this blog.

History does not exist in isolation, and neither did ancient Greece, which is why, today, we learned a lot about the Romans. At 8:30 am, we boarded a bus to visit Corinth—our first foray far out of Athens! For some reason, everybody I spoke to was surprised that the bus ride took two hours; I am certain that we were told how long it was going to take yet we were all surprised by the time required. The wait was worth it, though—we got to see the sea again!

The American School of Classical Studies is currently excavating the parts of Corinth that don’t have actual neighborhoods living on top of them. I learned today that multiple countries have schools doing excavations that started around the 1800s, and many schools actually claimed Delphi so America kind of got Corinth as leftovers. Corinth ended up having an entire city buried underneath it while Delphi only had a sanctuary; the moral of the story is that, sometimes, it pays to be late to the party.

We started by learning about excavating and piecing together buried frescos. Many of the frescos are from the ancient Roman times as most of the Greek artifacts still remain under where the modern village of Corinth is, and nobody’s all too excited to make an entire village move just to potentially find some Greek art. The thickness, composition, and color of the frescos are all analyzed and pieced together; we learned that nearly every fresco has been repeated across the Roman empire and can be compared to well-preserved frescos in Pompeii, kind of like putting a puzzle together by looking at the picture on the box.

After the frescos are pieced together, they are glued together and the glue—but not the original pieces, just the glue—is painted with individual, cross-hatching brush strokes. This is to make the resulting puzzle look complete but also so that, if new pieces of the fresco are found, the glue can be dissolved and the pieces placed where they need to be. A new museum will be opened in about five years with all the frescos that we got to see—the fresco sneak-peak was woefully under-advertised when selling his trip—so we weren’t allowed to take pictures of anything as to not devalue the museum’s eventual opening.

Then, we saw the excavation site of an ancient Roman city. There was a relatively well-preserved temple for Apollo and then the remains of many common buildings and a fountain. There was also a giant, round pot that I learned is called a “pithos” and was buried in the ground to maximize storage of liquids like water or oil, keep them cool, and prevent leakage or vermin.

The specific ruins that were found were thought to have been part of some sort of marketplace (rather like the agora we saw yesterday!) and, as I said before, the Greek marketplace is probably underneath the modern village of Corinth and can’t be excavated. The Roman one was still very nice. There’s this one particularly well-paved road that we walked on to exit—I continue to be impressed by how very old everything in Greece is. For context, I think that Paramus is old, and it just turned 100.

We then had lunch (and met a nice cat named jellybean) and then visited the excavation museum, where we got to see all the status that would have been in the Roman city. Apparently, in Rome, to prove your worthiness and status, you would commission somebody to make a statue of you, with your inscription and your titles along the base. Like modern billboards, most people probably did not pay attention to the hundreds of statues that lined the streets. Still, I think it’s a good trend to bring back.

Because the Romans were practical, one person would carve the body of the statue and another the head, to allow for specialization and overall better-quality work. Therefore, most of the remains of the statues in the museums are headless. I find it hilarious to see—forget what I said before; I think we should bring back exclusively the trend of headless statues.

The museum also has one of the only ancient fish preserved. Somehow, a fish in a jar was buried, and we can still see its silver scales! It looks just like a fish. In fact, without any context, it’s entirely unimpressive; that’s what makes it so impressive in context. It’s a fish nearly 50 times the age of Paramus that still looks just like a fish. Somebody was probably going to eat it. Nature really is continuous.

After that, we drove up a very large hill to visit the Corinthian acropolis—remember that acropolis just means “high point”—that is also called the Akrokorinth. It is on a much higher hill than the Athenian acropolis and, like the Athenian acropolis, served as a fortress to defend Corinth as well as a place of refuge during a time of war; unlike the Athenian acropolis, it doesn’t currently have a temple on top of it, and, while the Athenian acropolis was an entirely doable 20-minute walk, if you’re admiring the scenery, I have no idea how anybody ran up Akrokorinth’s mountainous hill without quitting halfway through.

We were allowed to climb on the safe parts of Akrokorinth, that does look very much like an ancient fortress with its walls and towers. I decided put myself to use, as I do not have a fear of heights, by balancing atop the outermost wall of Akrokorinth and announcing when the drop looked particularly steep so others could avoid that section. Absolutely nobody listened to me; the views of the Corinthian countryside were too captivating.

Growing on the many rolling hills was a curious yellow plant that we later learned was thyme, which prompted me to make a few thyme jokes. On top of the title, please allow me to entertain you with:

-We didn’t need to worry about our bus running late because we had tons of thyme!

-All of the yellow plants we saw come from a common ancestor. This is because of Darwinian evolution, and also because thyme is relative.

After that was another two-hour bus ride back to the hotel, which I don’t think anybody truly comprehended as we all were tired and asleep for most of it. Then we departed for our final walk to dinner. I will miss walking to each restaurant; walking to Quick Check just does not hold the same novelty.

Dinner was lovely and had views of—you guessed it—the Athenian acropolis. If you’ve retained one thing from this blog, please let it be that acropolises are viewable from nearly everywhere by virtue of being acropolises.

Afterwards, we got to unite with our Pierce friends and frolic about Monastiraki square for one last time. It was amazing to see how long saying goodbye took to people we’ve only known for four days. At the rate we went, BCA should allot an extra half a day at the end of graduation for us to bid farewell to our classmates.

All joking aside, many people in Greece were lovely and many more lovely people were involved in making this trip possible, and I would like to thoroughly thank all of them.