Anna Matthews: 04/12/2017
This year Dr. Patrick organised a trip for 33 students to Santorini and Crete, as part of an annual Classics Departmental trip abroad. Previous years have included the destinations of mainland Greece, Sicily, and Rome.
Following the College’s House Unison Song competition, and a tiresome flight to Thira, we began our trip with a visit to the buried Minoan trading post of Akrotiri. Following a wander around the covered sight, we finished our first day with a trip to Oia to enjoy an ice cream, whilst overlooking the coast with the spectacular sunset being an excellent day to an extraordinary day.
The next day, began with a hike to the summit of the ancient citadel of Thira, giving us stunning views all around. After our descent, we were taken straight to the Archaeological Museum of Fira, where we took lunch and swiftly moved on to the port of Santorini to catch our ferry to Heraklion.
On the Sunday, Giorgos the bus driver, expertly drove us down the winding roads to the ancient necropolis of Eleytherna, where photos were forbidden as a result of the site being recently discovered. However, a visual description of the site could be put as a large area with many corpses buried in large pithoi.
Monday saw us visit the Minoan palace at Malia, and the palace at Knossos, where we were lucky enough to be given a tour by the curator of the Villa Ariadne, Dr.Christakis; afterwards, it was safe to say we had been meticulously informed of the purpose, materials, and destruction of the palace of Knossos. Incredibly, we were even fortunate enough to be offered a visit to the Villa Ariadne, which Sir Arthur Evans had built and used during the excavations of Knossos. Dr.Christakis even offered up more of his time and allowed a select few of us to handle finds from previous excavations of the site, such as fragments of pottery as well as some carbonised grape seeds which had been found during the dig. In the afternoon we went to the archaeological museum of Crete; a particular highlight of this for me was the room of marble sculptures.
The day after this incredible experience, we visited the Minoan palace of Phaistos, which, similar to Knossos, was built at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. Following our trip to Phaistos, we took lunch at the seaside town of Matala, where previous Roman inhabitants buried their dead into the rockface. In the afternoon, we went to the Roman town of Gortyn, which had the remains of a fantastic odeon, which had incorporated into its walls stones bearing inscriptions of a Classical Greek law code in a Dorian dialect. The next day we visited the archaeological museum of Sitia, which housed a chryselephantine statue of a kouros, made from hippopotamus ivory, with a head carved from serpentine and rock crystals for eyes, internally wood, and with gold leaf for clothing. We then stopped off at Palaikastros where this statue was found, and then went to the Minoan palace at Kato Zakros.
On Thursday, which was our last day in Crete, we went to Lato high up in the mountains, which had been abandoned long ago by its people, who had relocated to Agios Nikolaos, the town which we had been staying in on Crete, for practicality purposes. After that, we went up to the Dikti cave, a cave in which Zeus was said to have been born in in Classical Greek mythology. I really enjoyed the trip, and I would definitely recommend going on future ones.