Happy snaps from Syros

SyrosAs you may know, the Zagora archaeological season is six weeks long. We work six days a week every week, Monday to Saturday except for the middle weekend, after the third week of work, when we get all of Saturday and Sunday off.

This year, Andrew Wilson, Paul Donnelly and Kristen Mann and I decided to go to Syros. Paul had been many years ago and remembered it fondly so he wanted to revisit the place.

It was an occasion to relax and unwind, and prepare for the last three weeks of the season.

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Menites Pork Festival

A Menites vista
A Menites vista. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek

On Sunday 6 October 2013, a few of us attended the third and final day of the Menites Pork Festival.

Beatrice McLoughlin, who has lived and worked in Andros over many years while doing Zagora research, and has her finger on the pulse of Andros, told us about the Menites Pork Festival about the time that I discovered that Menites is where the Zagora team stayed in the 1970s (see the post about the remarkable connection with 1970s Zagora photographer Raymond de Berquelle).

The community gathers together annually for the Pork Festival in Menites. They slaughter a pig, and then, together, butcher it, and make sausages out of it. They and guests eat some of the sausages during the Festival, and store the remaining sausage in tins, sealed with pork fat. This provides an effective preservative.

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Sophia Melita, Batsi ceramist

by Irma Havlicek, Powerhouse Museum Web Producer
with Lea Alexopoulos, archaeologist

Sophia Melita behind her shop counter.
Sophia Melita behind her shop counter. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek

Sophia Melita knew from an early age that she wanted to be a ceramist so she went to art school at 17 to study the craft. After four years study in Athens, she began her career as a ceramist which is what she has now been doing for 33 years, running her own workshop and shop.

From late May to early October, the holiday season, she sells her products in her shop in Batsi (up the steps off the main street, and to the right from the Tountas Bakery). For the rest of the year she is working in her workshop in Andros, creating ceramics for her shop.

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Team Zagora plays soccer with the locals

by Irma Havlicek
Powerhouse Museum Web Producer

Giorgos, our host at the Kantouni pensione/restaurant, has the ball
Giorgos Moustakas (holding the ball) organised the game. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek

Giorgos Moustakas, our host at the Kantouni restaurant and pensione, last year organised a soccer match between his team and Team Zagora – a team cobbled together from among the archaeological team. Last year we played on a pitch in Gavrio at night – and it was freezing.

But a tradition was born, and this year we played again. This time during the day last Sunday, when it was warm and pleasant, on a playing field up the hill at Batsi.

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Sunset over the marina at Batsi

Sunset over the marina at Batsi
Sunset over the marina at Batsi. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
by Irma Havlicek
Powerhouse Museum Web Producer

I snapped this sunset over the marina at Batsi about 7pm yesterday when walking back from the shops to the Kantouni restaurant for dinner. It was so lovely, I just thought I would share it with you.

Archaeologists dig the Lagoudera restaurant

by Irma Havlicek, Powerhouse Museum Online Producer
with Steve Vasilakis, Archaeologist and Mariner

Partners in life and in the restaurant, Thanasis and Angeliki.
Partners in life and in Lagoudera restaurant, Thanassis Schinas and Angeliki Marinaki. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek

On Saturday nights when we didn’t have dinner at the Kantouni restaurant, we tended to head to one of the other Batsi restaurants only a few minutes walk away. One of these dinners was at the Lagoudera restaurant (‘lagoudera’ means ‘steering tiller – the wooden bar found on the head of a boat’s rudder), run by Thanassis Schinas and his wife, Angeliki Marinaki.

Early in the 2012 dig season, Steve Vasilakis, one of the archaeologists in the Zagora 2012 team (whose special interest is archaeology from a mariner’s perspective) began exploring the small port of Batsi, and befriended some of the fishermen there. One of these was Thanassis, who became a dear friend with Steve over shared interests of fishing, the sea, archaeology, history, adventure, music, poetry and philosophy, not to mention fine food and wine!

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Kantouni for feasting and friendliness

A smiling Alexandra serves our dinner
A smiling Alexandra serves our dinner at the Kantouni © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek

by Irma Havlicek
Online Producer, Powerhouse Museum

One of the things that made the whole experience of the 2012 Zagora Archaeological Project season so enjoyable was the generosity and warmth of our hosts at the Kantouni Pensione and Restaurant (and also their friends…. continue reading further down for more).

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Strawberry heaven – traditional specialties of Andros

by Irma Havlicek
Online Producer, Powerhouse Museum

A selection of goodies available at Rodozachari
A selection of traditional Andriote specialties available at Rodozachari, in Chora; © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
One day, my Andros room-mate at the Kantouni Pensione, Meg Dains, invited me to try some treats she had in a small clear plastic container. I couldn’t tell what they were. They were small jubey lumps, dark red in colour.

I put one of the chewy lumps into my mouth and experienced one of the most intense flavour burst sensations I’ve ever had: fragrant, sweet and delicious!

Strangely, I couldn’t identify what I was eating. I think the flavour was simply too intense. Eventually, Meg told me that they were dried strawberries. And of course, once I knew, it seemed perfectly obvious what they were.

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See Saturn, Venus and Mercury from Andros on 27 December

by Irma Havlicek
Powerhouse Museum Online Producer

Jupiter over Batsi on 4 November 2012
Jupiter over Batsi on 4 November 2012 before sunrise &copy PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
While we were in Andros recently, Sydney Observatory Senior Astronomy Educator, Geoffrey Wyatt, commented on the blog to let us know that in the Northern Hemisphere Jupiter would be bright in the sky and particularly close to the waning gibbous Moon on 2 November.

I mentioned this to our Zagora team members and Kantouni Cafe staff after dinner, and we all trooped outside the Cafe to take a look, the waters of the Aegean lapping quietly just metres away. I think most people were surprised and quite awed to know they were looking at Jupiter. There was a lovely connection about it all – Australian archaeologists and locals, Earth and sky, Australia and Greece.

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From A to Z (Australia to Zagora) and back again – what now?

By Irma Havlicek
Online Producer, Powerhouse Museum

Aegean aqua
Aegean aqua © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
The 2012 Zagora archaeological season finished just over a week ago. Much remains to be done in terms of reviewing the finds of this season and also planning for future potential work.

As I’ve mentioned before, we need to wait until findings are officially published before we can post about the findings on this blog. However, there are still stories about the process of archaeology and the different specialisations and perspectives which are being applied at Zagora which we would like to share with you. Among these are posts about the importance of slag, what animal bones can tell us and more about what we hope to learn about how the buildings were used.

I took a great many photographs of this amazing place and the work done there, as did other members of the Zagora team. Some of the posts in coming months may be photo essays of different aspects of Zagora, and also elsewhere on and around Andros.

The heavenly Aegean from Zagora
The heavenly Aegean from Zagora © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek

So I hope you’ll stay tuned, and feel free to make comments or ask questions which I can pass on to the experts who can best answer them.