MQ Student experience on the Perachora Peninsula Archaeological Project

By Michael Hitches and Dean McMah

From January 10th to February 1st 2019, 15 Macquarie University students took part in the first year of the Perachora Peninsula Archaeological Project (PPAP). A project spearheaded by Macquarie’s own Dr Susan Lupack in collaboration with Panagiota Kasimi, the Ephor of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Corinth. Today we will hear from two of these students, Dean McMah and Michael Hitches, about their experiences on this project!

Dean McMah:

Personally, as an aspiring classicist, I always felt more comfortable in the library, flanked by numerous histories, commentaries and letters from or about the ancient world. For a long time, these books and texts were the portals to which I experienced and communed with the ancient cultures I always cherished and admired. Before this Project, I had not yet experienced the thrill of applying my passion for Greek history in Greece, and I struggle to come up with a more inspirational sanctuary than Perachora. Furthermore, (as Tyche would see to) I did not expect to be working alongside Susan Lupack, Petra Hermankova, Adela Sobotkova and Shawn Ross, whose knowledge and expertise were matched only by their friendliness and approachability.

The peninsula, with its untamed forest areas, the dominant mountains, endless coastlines and the plethora of olive trees surrounded in perpetual embrace by the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, was my office for three immensely rewarding weeks. While the natural beauty of the place spoke for itself, the area was indeed home to features belonging to settlements which were up to 2500 years old. Notable features were the Heraion (a sanctuary complex dedicated to the goddess Hera), the ruins of the settlement’s ‘Fountain House’ (Fig. 2), and the remains of ‘Houses A, B, and Z’. Time itself seemed enchanted by the area as these three weeks seemed to pass me by in a matter of moments. Nevertheless, during this time we surveyed the peninsula intensively, recording GPS locations, topography, features (of which new ones were discovered continuously), and ultimately delighting on the seemingly endless bounty of objects and artefacts the land offered for our passion and efforts. Even the labour of clearing the vegetation covering these archaeological marvels could do nothing to dampen our enjoyment and enthusiasm. Publication-quality photographs were taken of all the areas surveyed, features recorded and samples taken, as well as a number of delightful ‘action shots’ which captured various students undertaking the roles and responsibilities of the day’s demands. Each day usually concluded with processing and digitising all data collected into an organised and central data storage unit, which took place in our accommodation on the edge of the alluring Lake Vouliagmeni (Fig. 3). Even though we each had our own responsibilities in the project, I also felt a comforting aura of teamwork. Even as the list of tasks steadily increased as our time swiftly escaped us, I felt that each person there was willing to step up and contribute to the best of their ability because when the physical endurance began to wane, archaeological fervour took up the standard.

By Michael Hitches:

Working as part of the Perachora Peninsula Archaeological Project not only allowed for me to gain firsthand experience into the Greek archaeology (something I had always wanted), but also enabled me to apply (and further develop) key archaeological skills I had acquired during my undergraduate studies at Macquarie. Led by Dr Susan Lupack, this expedition sought to understand the society and culture of the peoples surrounding the Heraion. As mentioned by Dean, through intensive urban survey, total pickups, feature recording and minor excavation, the team of students and field directors successfully collected valuable data that would greatly assist in the following archaeological seasons. The strong emphasis on including technology within this project was fascinating, with Associate Professor Adela Sobotkova spearheading the recording of field survey data using the FAIMS mobile platform. Students were also able to gain insight into the dynamics of pottery classification and analysis alongside Dr Lupack, and the use and importance of photogrammetry was demonstrated by Associate Professor Shawn Ross. As such, the PPAP project provided students with invaluable archaeological skills that will greatly assist with furthering their academic careers (I sure know my future will greatly benefit from it!). For myself personally, the most exciting experience came in the waning days of the project when a fellow student and good friend of mine, Alison Carfi, and I were undertaking feature recording (a process seen in Fig. 4). By cross-referencing the remains of some ashlar masonry with the original site records we were able to locate some of the remains of an ancient Greek temple complex!

Edited by Ewan Coopey

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Michael Hitches and Dean McMah

Michael is in his final year of his Bachelor of Ancient History. He is passionate about Egyptology, the Greco-Roman world, bees, and everything archaeological. Dean has just commenced his first year of the Masters of Research at MQ. His interests include Classical philosophy and the ancient Greek world.