Sunday, March 20, 2011

Greece Trip: Day 9

Here is the last journal of the Greece Trip.  It is probably a little briefer than most of the others.

Mask of Agamemnon

Day 9: March 18, 2011
Column from the Tomb of Agamemnon
Today, our final day, was spent back in Athens seeing several museums. The first one, and biggest, was the National Archeological Museum. It was built in the mid 19th century in the neoclassical style and houses many of the most precious archeological artifacts of Greece. Inside it is broken into areas based on time period. Prehistoric (17th century-11th century BC), Geometric (11th century-8th century BC), Archaic (8th century-6th century BC), Hellenistic, then Roman period (up through 1st century or so AD). While there was a lot there, I will just touch on a couple of big pieces. The primary civilization in the prehistoric period was Mycenae. Here is displayed the so called “Mask of Agamemnon.” This was found in a tomb at the fortress of Mycenae that we had previously visited. The man who found it claimed at the time it was the death mask of agamemnon, but it turns out it was made 500 years before he supposedly lived. However, it is still an amazing piece worked from pure gold. All in all, 30lbs of gold items were found in those tombs. Also found there were wall paintings, particularly significant because they displayed everyday life and helps show that this was probably a matriarchal society.
Large pot from Geometric Period
In the geometric period the society has abolished the monarchy and the king is only the head of the religion. Artwork in this period was all geometric shapes, hence the name, and there were seldom left empty spaces in the designs.
Bronze Poseidon from 470BC
The archaic period was when they started to come into contact with other civilizations from the east and egypt which affected their work. Started making life sized statues, but the design was still stylized. The statues were all made of one piece as they didn't yet have the skills to connect different pieces into one. As the archaic period progressed the style became smoother and began to transition to the idealistic form. A famous example is the bronze statue of Poseidon from around 470BC.
Bronze Horse and Jockey from C2 BC
In the Hellenistic period the style transitions from idealistic to more pragmatic, they start showing movement and action and emotion in the faces, i.e. pain or anxiety, etc. A good example is a bronze statue of a horse and jockey from the 2nd century BC. Once they progressed into the Roman period they moved this realistic, but still more ideal form, into doing portraits of actual people.

After the museum we had a presentation on ancient weapons. Weapon technology can frequently be a deciding factor in a battle. Warfare in ancient Greece was no different. The first armor was made of bronze and started in the bronze age (3000-1100BC). The early form is called dendra armor, it is made of overlapping bronze plates, kind of like the scales of a fish. Armor like this has been found in the the tomb of Agamemnon (12th century BC). This, and other technologies, developed into the more well known Greek soldier, the Hoplite. This name comes from their armor type. They had a bronze helmet, sometimes with a leather lining), bronze breast and back plate, greaves of bronze covered their shins and forearms. They had a round shield 3-4 ft in diameter made of wood and covered in bronze. These shields protected the body and were very important in the phalanx formation where the soldiers would all stand side by side in close formation and each man's shield overlapped and protected the man on your left. They used spears in this formation to level them forward as part of the charge, these were typically 9ft long, but sometimes were as long as 14ft. They also had a double edge sword for close combat.
Cycladic Statue
The next museum we visited was the Benaki museum. It is a private museum started with the private collect of a man named Benaki, since then they have acquired other pieces. Here there was a selection of statues and art ranging from cycladic art (we went to a museum for this also) and early jewelry to many icon paintings. This museum was interesting in that it had pieces up to the period when Greece was ruled by the Ottoman empire and into the victorian era, it had some clothes and furniture, etc.

Icon from Benaki Museum
To finish out the trip a handful of us went to the Cycladic Art Museum. This museum is dedicated to Cycladic art which is from a ring of islands in the Aegean sea, it is in a circle hence the name Cycladic. They circle around the island where the god Apollo was born. This museum was interesting, particularly because it was so focused on one area of history. It was also fun in that it was optional to go to so the group was much smaller and it was neat having a personal tour guide with such a small group.

Shirt seen while souvenir shopping
After the museum we went out for coffee. I've got to say, that is one aspect of Greece that is pretty awesome. They love their coffee and cafes here, there are cafes everywhere and there are always people in them and sitting outside drinking a coffee drink. When we were driving places in the bus we would usually stop every 2 hours or so at a rest stop of sorts for a bathroom and break and coffee break. Every place we went always had an espresso machine and sold coffee. I've got to say their obsession with coffee is pretty awesome, even if it does cost a lot.

We flew out of Athens Saturday morning. Travel went reasonably well except for an extra 5 hour delay in Newark because of mechanical problems, so we didn't get back to school until 5:20am, a little later than preferred, but it still works and what's flying without some sort of delay.

Final group picture in Athens

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Greece Trip: Day 8

Monument at Thermopile

Day 8: March 17, 2011
Mountains at Thermopile
Today was primarily a travel day driving 540km from Thessaloniki in the north back down to Athens for a couple days before heading back home. While it was mainly driving we stopped at Thermopile on the way. This is the place of the famed stand of the 300 Spartans. We had a presentation on the event while there. It is 480BC and King Xerxes of Persia is in Greece trying to take over. 10 years perviously King Darius of Persia had sent messengers to the city-states of Greece demanding their subservience. Some obeyed, others didn't, including Athens and Sparta. Now Athens simply put the ambassadors on trial but Sparta threw them down a well (like in the movie 300). This angered Kind Darius. While he was unable to subdue them at Marathon at that time he didn't want to forget them so he had a servant remind him daily of the Greeks. So, now King Xerxes is here and is marching south towards Athens. The Greek navy is guarding the straights of artemis to force the army to march south and the only way to travel through the mountains is through the pass of Thermopile. While it is now farther from the sea, it used to be nearly right next to it. However, the Persians came during a Spartan holiday and the Spartans wouldn't go to war during that time. They went to the oracle and Delphi and were told if they delayed the Persians a king of Sparta would die. King Leonidas took a group of 300 Spartans, the royal guard, to thermopile to buy time. They brought with them about 7000 other Greeks. When the Persians arrived the saw the Greeks there simply waiting rather nonchalantly, so they waited 4 days suspicious that something was up. They attacked on the fifth day and fought for 2 days with the Greeks soundly defeating the Persians. Then a traitor told the Persians of a smaller mountain pass that would allow them to get behind the Greeks. Leonidas knew about this and had stationed 1000 men there to guard it but they were caught by surprise and were defeated, though they sent a messenger to Leonidas to warn him. So, he sent away the other Greeks and kept his 300 to buy them time. However, 1100 other Greeks stayed with him to defend the pass. The Persians came and threw themselves upon them suffering huge casualties. Xerxes pulled back his men and used his archers whose many arrows were said to blot out the sun. It is even in the historical account that when a Greek heard that he said, fine, then we'll fight in the shade. In the end all the Greeks were killed. This was a decisive defeat for the Greeks. However, this battle shows two things: that excellent training counts for a lot even when outnumbered 100 to 1 and the effect of patriotism and fighting for one's homeland.
Monument with Inscription "Foreigners, Go to the
Lesadimonians(?) and tell them we stand by here for
our values" where bodies were found.
     There is today a monument at a place it is believed there used to be a monument of sorts and bodies have been found. It says “foreigner go to the lesadimonians(?) and tell them we stand by here for our values" because none of them made it out alive. While certainly glorified, this incident is powerful in that it shows a group of men standing by their convictions even unto death. Because of the oracle King Leonidas went into this expecting to die, even before surrounded, yet he still went. His men still went and those 1100 other Greeks stayed knowing they faced certain death because they desired there freedom so much. It is also interesting to note that though 1100 other Greeks stayed, the 300 Spartans got the credit and glory for this story trough history, they are the ones that people know about. It is interesting how history that we commonly know isn't always accurate and sometimes those who deserve to be remembered, or forgotten. All in all, a powerful story. This, and other things on this trip and elsewhere kind of make me wonder why warfare is more or less glorified in basically all cultures throughout time and even most religions. While there are many cultures that don't necessarily enjoy war, those who fight are respected and seen in an honorable, and sometimes glorified, light (though sometimes on and off depending on circumstances). I wonder why this is, if this is part of human nature or natural desires. If it is because of the innate recognition of those standing for and being willing to die for what one believes in and the protection of innocents that it is seen in that light. I'm not sure, but something to think about.
Leonidas and I
(Inscription above says "Come and get them [weapons]"
which he said to the Persians when told to lay them down)
We also had a presentation on slavery in the first century AD today. It was different than slavery as it was in modern times. Back then often nearly 30% of the population would be slaves (or more than 50% in Sparta). They would be in one of the 3 roles, agriculture, mining, or household. They were usually the results of warfare and being prisoners of war and being put to use. They might also be debtors or children of families who sold them for money. They would usually be sold in the agora to the highest bidder, though extra valuable salves might be sold in private. Their price was based on age, origin, physique, intelligence, and education. The agricultural mining slaves were what their name sounds like and household slaves might be in domestic roles or education/”nanny” roles for children, like the pedagogue talked about a few days ago, or even craftsman or assistants and shopkeepers. If a slave was freed, for whatever reasons decided solely by his master, his name would be carved onto a wall in a public place (like at Delphi) to create a record of their freedom.
Tonight we are back in Athens for one more day of seeing museums before leaving. We also spent some time tonight reflecting on what we've learned on this trip and the experience that we've had.

Greece Trip: Day 7

Day 7: 16-March 2011
Squid appetizer for lunch
Today we traveled east of Thessaloniki to Philip and the port city of Kavala. Kavala used to be called Neaopoli, however that simply means “new city” which many colonies and new cities were called. This is the port where the apostle Paul landed in Greece. Near Kavala is Mt. Athos, it is a holy place to Greek Orthodox monks. There used to be 35000 monks there but are now only about 2500. We did not visit the place because it is not a tourist place, though you can request special permission to spend a few nights in the monastery. They still live the way of the Byzantine period and have many treasures such as gold and precious stone covered Bibles. We ate lunch in Kavala right on the harbor in an open air cafe looking out over the harbor. It was a rather beautiful place and picturesque eating the fish and looking out over the harbor with mountains surrounding us and cats walking around our feet. We had fried calamari, which was neat because they were small whole squid. We also ate a type of codfish from the Mediterranean which is quite large and had slices simply cut out of it. Quite tasty.
River that Lydia was baptized in
A Basilica at Philipi
Fish on a capital at a Basilica in Philipi
Near Kavala is Philipi. Near here is the river where Lydia, the first Christian convert in Europe, was baptized. Philipi is where Paul and Silas traveled through on Paul's second missionary journey. It was originally founded by King Philip II. It was first excavated by Napoleon the 3rd because he identified with King Philip. It is currently being excavated and much of the town has been found including the agora, theater, and three basilicas. One of the basilicas was very interesting in that the capitals on some of the columns had fishes decorating them, the early christian symbol and password. Since Philipi was where Paul and Silas were imprisoned we had a presentation on 1st century prisons. They were a place meant to hold people while waiting for trial and judgement rather than a place of punishment like prisons today. Prisoners were not taken care of then like they are today. In fact they weren't fed or anything, friends were needed to bring food and provisions, etc. Many people died in prison because they were usually beaten first (like Paul and Silas were) and then thrown in there without medical treatment or food. Though, if you were well off enough and a known figure you could have house arrest. Because of the lack of care in prisons this is a big reason why Paul tells in his letters (like Heb 13:3) to visit those in prison. This was also a big deal because it caused them to be associated with those in prison and identified them as Christians, or at least sympathetic to them.
Ignation Road in Philipi
The ancient Ignation road ran through Philipi. The ignation road was an ancient Roman road that Paul traveled on and went through Greece. A portion of the road is still preserved in Philipi today, even the grooves worn in the stone from many years of wagon and chariot traffic. The current day ignation road runs along a similar route, it goes from the port of Igoumenitsa on the eastern coast all the way to the Turkish border. It is interesting to see how geography affects things and doesn't really change over the years. 2000 years ago this route was advantageous for a road, it led from places that were good to live and grow food to other such places and to places of commerce such as the port at Kavala and this was the most efficient route to go then and still is today. The effect of geography is everywhere in the world, whether it is the mountains and valleys in Greece caugin the formation of many independent city-states or the navigable rivers of the central US going through fertile farm land allowing for great prosperity or the lack of navigable rivers in Mexico or Russia preventing easy exploitation of vast natural resources among many different things. It sets up perpetual conflicts and tensions and alliances and really much of geopolitical structures. Once I understand these things as I have begun to over the last few years geography is now far more interesting than it was in high school.
Prison ruins from Philipi
A Theater in Philipi
We had a presentation on monasticism today as well. The idea behind it is in the Gospels and epistles such as 1 John 3:15 where it talks about not loving the world. There are two main categories of monasticism, hermetic and synobiotic (communal). The hermetic was started by St. Anthony of the desert. After he was converted he heard the verses of the rich young ruler being called to sell his riches as being directed at him, so he sold his possessions and went to the desert. He spent 15 years battling demons and desires within himself but he thought he needed even more solitude so around 285AD he moved a mountain and didn't talk to anyone for 15 years. Some people came to join him as they saw that lifestyle attractive. As it got crowded he moved on. As this lifestyle developed it could range from reasonably comfortable living to very harsh living with some monks eating once a weak and living on the edge of starvation in an attempt to be more holy and closer to God. The second type called synbiotic is basically a communal style. It comes from St. Pachomius in the desert of Egypt. He started living as a hermit but had a desire to bring others together and pursue spirituality together. He founded the first monastic compound in 318AD but it didn't work out very well as he was very strict. So he moved on and founded others that worked better, he ended up founding 9 monasteries and 2 nunneries. They were characterized by prayer, work and rest. To get in you had to prove your desire. You would often have to stand outside the gate for several days until the gatekeeper decided to let you in. Then you would be trained in the ways and Christianity and then given a place to live and a job to do. The monasteries were pretty much self sufficient. In the byzantine period there was a boom in interest in monasticism.
While in Kavala we had a presentation on seafaring in the ancient world. Seafaring was important in the mediterranean and particularly Greece because of the mountainous terrain making land travel difficult and slow so there were many port cities such as Kavala or Corinth or Athens, etc. There were two main types of ships, warships and merchant ships. The first warships had only a single row of oars and were rather slow. They grew to the famous trireme which had 3 rows and oars and could go 14-15 knots at battle speed. The ships would attack by ramming the enemy ships and sinking them. They did eventually develop ships with four rows of oars and two men per oar. Merchant ships were very common and needed for trade and they used sails and the wind for their propulsion. This is how Paul traveled on his fourth missionary journey. He sailed from Asia Minor around the southern edge of the Greek islands and Crete until the storm hit and they wrecked on Malta south of Sicily. Throughout ancient history of the mediterranean seafaring was incredibly important and affected the development of nations and the culture greatly, again, as mentioned earlier, this development of seafaring shows the importance of geography because it came out of the geography of where these people lived and created a necessity and advantage for this type of travel.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Greece Trip: Day 6

Here is today's.  Very few pictures because the museums where we for most of the day didn't allow photography.
Day 6: 15-March 2011
Today we drove out from Thessaloniki to the town of Pella. This is the site of the “newer” capital of the Macedonians. This is where King Philip II and Alexander the Great would have lived. Sadly, because of excavation work we weren't able to go out onto the actual ruins, but we were able to see the museum (sorry, no pictures allowed). The town was founded around the 5th century BC. The macedonians had their origins from southern Greece, they were from Dorian descent. Pella was a rather sophisticated design with running water going through sand filters and a sewage system, it was also laid out in an orderly grid fashion with 2 main roads crossing it with the Agora in the middle and the palace at one end. Pella itself was a very rich city with many musicians and other types drawn to the royal court. Much of its wealth game from the gold mined from Panger Mountain which allowed the financing of King Philips expditions to consolidate Greece under his control and Alexander the Great's military feats in conquering the known world all the way to India with 35000 troops and spreading Hellenistic culture and the Greek language as he went. Greek became the lingua franca of the known world, in fact it was primarily spoken in Egypt for 1000 years, which is why the Old Testament was translated in Greek, the Septuagint, in Egypt and the New Testament was written in it. There are always two sides to every story, while Alexander accomplished amazing feats, he killed a lot of people in the process, he was rather vicious in working to accomplish his goal of an incredibly large empire. However, there is the side that what he did also made Greek the common language and allowed the Bible and Christianity to spread more easily.
At Pella we had a brief presentation on Greek Mythology. The first mention of the gods was from the Mynoan civilization around 2000-1400 BC. They were often used as an explanation of natural phenomenon that the ancients didn't know how to explain, whether it was Zeus controlling the skies or giants causing earthquakes, etc. The Greeks were the first to represent the gods with human attributes, not being perfect. They could fall in love or even lie. They were all told orally until the time of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Within the stories of the gods there was much confusion and perversion in their relations. The gods were created out of creation. First were the primordial gods, such as Gaeia mother earth. From her and her son came the titans which then fought with the gods over control of the earth and the gods won. Zeus became king of the gods and the sky, Poseidon of the sea and Hades of the underworld. There were 12 different main olympic gods and cityies would pick a patron deity, such as Athens had Athena, etc. Though gods differed around the Hellenic world they all worshiped 4 of them: Demeter, Dionysus, Hestia, and Apollo. Besides gods there were also demigods which were the children of a god and human, Zeus in particular was quite a philanderer and produced many of them, an example of one would be Herakles or Jason.
We then visited the tumulus at Vergina. This was a place where 3 tombs of the macedonians from the 4th century BC were found. One had been plundered, one is believed to be the son of Alexander and Roxanne, and one is very likely the tomb of King Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great. While very little in archeology is completely sure, it is quite likely in that the time and place are right and the style and hastily built style (King Philip was assassinated so there was no time to prepare beforehand) and the fact greaves (armor for the shins) were found that were different lengths (King Philip is known to have had different length legs) lends much credence to the fact it probably was King Philip. It was found undisturbed in excellent condition. It was an underground mausoleum type structure with a Greek temple designed front. The archeologists descended into the tomb from the top, kind of like grave robbers would, to investigate the inside, but they have left the front door unopened and undisturbed. The tomb is now covered inside the museum in excellent condition, much of the painting of the front it still there, though perhaps not as brightly colored as it used to be. This to me was an awe-inspiring sight, simply because this tomb was 2300+ years old and was in excellent condition, nearly undisturbed in front of my eyes. Inside the tomb were a pure golden box containing the bones of King Philip and a golden wreath on top made form 330 pieces of gold leaves and acorns. Also found was a beautiful box with the remains of his 8th wife (newest when assassinated) and another golden wreath as well as a preserved purple cloth that her bones were wrapped in. This is considered one of the most important archeological finds. The detail and beauty and richness and age of these boxes was nearly overwhelming. They were incredibly beautiful and the workmanship was very detailed and also knowing they have been so well preserved they could have come from a jeweler after 2300 years was amazing.
Bema monument at Berea

The 3 surviving steps at the Bema
"Paul" reciting I Thessalonians
We then went to Berea (Verea in Greek) to see the steps of the Bema where Paul spoke. When we were there it was goofy but also neat in that a tour cruise that was also there had an actor dressed as Paul who recited a large portion of 1 Thessalonians. It was kind of neat in that it gave a little feel for what Paul may have been like. It was a man who stood up and started to speak over the crowd of people milling around spewing out ideas and some people would stop and listen and others simply ignored him. While there we had a presentation on God-Fearers. These were people in ancient times who were gentiles but were attracted to the Jewish faith and lifestyle. They were attracted by the monotheism, as opposed to the many pagan gods, and the ethical standards of the Jews. The Jews would let them worship with them but they weren't quite accepted into their society. There is archeological evidence for the god fearers, at some theaters signs have been found listing seating areas for Jews and god-fearers. While not used by name, they were mentioned in the Bible such as in Luke 7 with the Centurion or Acts with Peter and Cornelius. In Thessaloniki many God-fearers were converted to Christianity and often formed the nucleus of many early churches. They were often Paul's target audience, he would go to synagogues and preach and draw them away which would anger the leaders. That is why so much of Paul's writing talks about or alludes to many aspects of the OT because these God fearers were familiar with the stories of OT and would understand what he was referring to.
Tonight we went downtown Thessaloniki along the water front, the harbor of Thessaloniki. There are many cafes and higher end bars all along the waterfront packed in densely. It seems to be a very popular to place to be, even on a Tuesday night. Again, like elsewhere, many of the people at these cafes were sitting out on the sidewalk at chairs and tables with small heaters overhead. It was nice looking out over the harbor. We stopped at one for awhile and sat outside and had coffee. It was relaxing, then we had to walk maybe a 1 to 1.5 miles back to the hotel.

I talked about this issue of graffiti on Day 2 that I have noticed a lot of and I meant to post pictures, but I forgot to, so here are some.  This is just a small sampling of what we've seen  in both English and Greek.

In Athens:
On Mars Hill

Greece Trip: Day 5

Another note, sorry if these are a little rough, I'm simply typing them up each night and posting them without much proofreading.
A Monastery

Day 5: March 14, 2011
Today we were in Kalambaka, in central Greece. We were here to see Meteora (means suspended), the suspended monasteries. These are monasteries started around the 10th century AD. They are built on top of rock spires sticking up out of the plains, some of them several hundred meters tall. Up until 1922 pilgrims and monks were raised and lowered in baskets, taking as much as 30 minutes one way. Then stairs were built into the rocks to assist in getting up and down. If the clouds are right they can appear suspended in the air, hence their name. There were 24 at one time, now there are 6 monasteries and 4 nunneries. The monks in the eastern world, the Eastern Orthodox Church, became monks to live a separate life devoted to God rather than like many monks of the Roman Catholic tradition that ran hospitals, orphanages, etc. They would spend 1/3 each of their time in praying, work, and rest. It was the Greek church that helped preserve the Greek language and culture throughout the Turkish occupation. You couldn't be a muslim and a Greek culturally. The churches were places where the greek language was spoken and taught and used.
Remains of a former monastery on a spire
Another Monastery
The supply lift at Varlaam where we visited
We visited the Monastery Varlaam. It was built in the 14th century AD and then abandoned and rebuilt in the 16th century which is when much of what is left today is from. Standing up in the monastery was a beautiful view looking out over other rock spires and a plain and large snow clad mountains behind them. This monastery has 14-16 monks living there and it has a museum and facilitates tours for part of the day. Sadly we didn't get to go up in the basket but hiked up a path and over a bridge, though they still use the lift (motorized now) for hauling supplies up. In fact, they will occasionally lower and raise a monk by hand, for old times sake. This monastery is particularly famous for its wall paintings. They have survived in their original form very well and better than most. We were able to see them (though no pictures were allowed) and they were quite beautiful and in amazing shape for being 500 years old. It was neat to see all the icons painted and hear about the meaning behind them and the different aspects of the painting. They obviously are not made to look real, but different aspects all have meaning pertaining to the person they represent or the beliefs about them. Icons from that time were painted by professionals who traveled around doing it, but they didn't sign them back then because it was for their religion, not fame. The church also had a holy section that only the priest could go into. This came somewhat from the tradition at the temple in Jerusalem of the Holy of Holies.
A Nunnery
The Greek orthodox (much from a presentation) are one direction Christianity went from the early days. When the Roman empire split the western half developed the Roman Catholic church while the eastern half based in Constantinople developed the eastern/Greek orthodox church. While there are some theological differences between the two, a big difference that cause division was that the catholic church recognized the infallibility of the Pope, while the greek orthodox church didn't, they resolved issues of belief through ecumenical counsels.
After this we traveled up to Thessaloniki in northern Greece, the second largest city in Greece at about 1 million people. The name means victory (Nike) in Thessoloy (the area) and was named after King Phillip won a great victory in this area. It has been continuously inhabited since it was founded in 316BC. We briefly stopped at the Byzantine Museum and saw some artifacts from the byzantine era. In particular we focused on early Christian tombs that have been found. It was interesting it wasn't until the 4th century that crosses were used in connection with tombs.
View from on top the monastery
A 12000L wine barrel from the 16th Century
Old lift to bring up supplies
Another view from Varlaam Monastery
Cross from 4th Century Tomb
We then went to a Byzantine basilica, the basilica of Ayios Demetrius. The most important basilica in Thessaloniki. There are no basilicas before the 4th century AD since Christianity was illegal before then. This basilica is from the 5th century, so certainly on the older side. Demetrius was a Roman military official who was arrested at a Christian meeting. While detained he blessed another Christian who was to fight a much larger man in a gladiator fight, and he won. This angered the Romans who speared Demetrius to death. His remains are in the basilica built with his name. This basilica has 4 side aisles, and something I didn't know is there are always 3 entrances going into the main church from the Narthex to represent the trinity. This church was made a mosque after 1430AD when the Turks took over. After northern Greece was freed in 1912 it was restored back as a basilica though parts of it were destroyed in a massive city fire in Thessaloniki in 1917. Also in Thessaloniki we briefly saw the remains of the old agora and adium. The adium was like a theater, but was not built on a hill. A city wasn't fit to be called a city unless it had a theater or an adium and the culture that came along with it.
Basilica of St. Demetrius in Thessaloniki
Inside the Basilica of St. Demetrius
Our last bit of the day was a presentation on travel in the ancient world in preparation for seeing roads and places of Paul's travels. Travel has always been important and for much of history has been simply down by foot, that's what one is born with. Prior to classical greece it was all foot travel with only a little on mount animals such as mules or donkeys, or a horse if you were nobility. There were very few roads and the ones that existed were pretty rough and were usually more or less a foot path. Later the paths improved a bit for carrying carts, but they were just two grooves in the dirt or stone for the wheels and there were turnoffs every so often if carts needed to pass each other. The early carts had solid wheels and were quite heavy and pulled by oxen with wooden yokes since they didn't have harnesses and such for donkeys and similar animals. Once the Romans came though, the roads improved greatly, that is one thing they were known for. They even had distance markers every (5000 ft, a Roman mile) and maps have even been found with distances marked on them and services available at cities and stops. Most people could cover about 30-40km a day on foot (though it is said that Alexander the Greats troops could cover 100km in 24 hours providing a great military advantage) Paul did much of his missionary traveling by land which was rather grueling. Though he did travel by sea some which was the most efficient way for long travel and commerce. Traveling on the Roman roads and having to stop in different towns was one way the early church communicated. They would stay with other Christians and this allowed them to pass information and keep up on how different churches in different areas were doing. A lot of Paul's charges about being hospitable really make sense in this context. It is an interesting exercise to read the beginning and end of all of Paul's letters and look at the names and see how many are the same from people moving around and keeping in contact with each other.
That was pretty much all for today, though as I write this I smell cigarette smoke coming through the window and am reminded how popular smoking is here in Greece. It is far more popular than in the US, there is less stigma with it. Though it seems many buildings still don't allow smoking inside, though some do, including this hotel. However, this works well with the Greek desire to be outside a lot, all the cafes all have extensive outside seating and many have propane heaters as well so people can be outside for more of the year.