Our Last Few Days

img_0423As our time working in the Centre for Asia Minor Studies drew to a close, each of us began to reflect on our month of working in the archives. Each of our paths has led us to a different place, learning about a variety of topics and exploring different resources within the archive. From the archives themselves, to the plethora of books, images, and maps available, each of us have vast resources to learn from and use as we plan and write our papers.

As the program comes to an end, we would all like to thank the sponsors of the program, including the New York Life Insurance Company Center for the Study of Hellenism in Pontos and Asia Minor at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and the Dean C. and Zoe S. Interdisciplinary Center for Hellenic Studies at Stockton University. We would also like to thank Professor Tom Papademetriou of Stockton University and Professor Paschalis Kitromilides of the University of Athens, for their enthusiasm during the program and their guidance and support while we searched through the archives and dove into our research interests. It is an experience that we will all remember and hope to bring back to our own communities as well.


Monday, August 8, 2016

On Monday morning we woke up in beautiful Prokopi and decided to venture a little farther north on Evia to the village of Nea Sinasos. This visit was particularly interesting for many of us who had already been reading the files in the archives regarding Sinasos, a village in Cappadocia. The village of Nea Sinasos was established after Greeks from Sinasos settled in northern Evia.


Church in Nea Sinasos

Our first stop was at the church in Nea Sinasos. This visit was very special as the priest spoke to us about the history of the church and how the people had preserved their religious life as they settled into their lives in Greece. It was important for them to preserve this part of their lives, and for this reason there were many items in the church, including icons, relics, and chalices that they brought with them when they left Sinasos.

After visiting the church, we visited the school in the village where the children attended school and enjoyed a delicious seafood lunch on the water in a nearby village.  Here, we were met by representatives of the Mayor of Nea Sinasos who spoke further with us about the history of Nea Sinasos and their hopes for the future of the village.

After a beautiful two-day excursion into the countryside of Greece, we returned to Athens on Monday night, eager to commence our work in the Centre again.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

2-%cf%84%ce%b6%ce%b1%ce%bc%ce%b92016-08-07-10-50-48On Sunday morning, we boarded a bus and headed from Athens to Chalkida, a city on the island of Evia about one hour from Athens.  Our first stop was at the Emir Zade Mosque which is now a museum displaying etchings of the city of Chalkida. These etchings were interesting as they show a progression of the history of Chalkida that spans 3,000 years. The Emir Zade mosque dates from the 15th century and features an impressive dome. Our next stop was the Folklore Museum of Chalkida, which houses over 1,200 items. The museum was particularly interesting as it is housed in some of the city’s medieval fortifications.

2016-08-07-13-17-18We also had the chance to visit the church of Agia Paraskevi, as well as the Archaeological Museum of Chalkida, featuring works starting in the Paleolithic Period to the 3rd century AD. Our final stop in Chalkida was visiting the Karababa Fortress, a castle built by the Ottomans in 1684 as protection against the Venetians. The exhibit within the fortress features a rare collection of Venetian Lions of St. Mark.fullsizerender

After finishing our time in Chalkida, we ventured north to the village of Prokopi in Evia, known throughout the world as a pilgrimage site for those who wish to venerate the body of St. John the Russian. In the evening, we attended the Paraklesis service in the church, which was built from 1930 to 1951. To conclude a very exciting day, we were treated to a wonderful dinner at a restaurant near the church and enjoyed an evening walk in the quiet of the village, something we had not experienced in Athens! We are very thankful for everyone’s hospitality!



Friday, August 5, 2016

We finished up the last day of our third week in the archives as usual. Now that we were coming up to the end, we had all settled on our own individual areas of focus, and had been digging deep through the oral history records, finding many interesting accounts.
There was nothing specific planned for the evening afterwards, but as it was the eve of the feast-day of the Transfiguration of Christ, some of us elected to attend the festal Vespers service. Conveniently enough, the church right across the street from the Center for Asia Minor Studies is dedicated to the Transfiguration, and so we joined Dr. Tom Papademetriou and Dr. Kitromilides for the panygiri celebration there. The service itself was beautiful, and afterwards the priests most generously treated us to a delicious meal with them. They were very welcoming to all of us, and went out of their way to make sure we were very well-fed by the time we left for the night (in typical Greek fashion).
Having sufficiently celebrated the eve of Transfiguration, we made our way back to the hotel for the night. After this, we had one day to prepare, and then would be off to Euboea!

Wednesday August 3, 2016

Wednesday, August 3rd was rife with adventure.  To begin the day, our group visited the National Library of Greece.  Built in the nineteenth century, the library anchors the row of, perhaps, Athens’ three most iconic neoclassical structures (the additional two being the University of Athens and the Academy of Athens).  Upon entry, we were ushered into the stunning central reading room—a vast, old-world hall framed by bookshelves cradling countless antique volumes, amidst which stood twenty Ionic columns, crowned by a glass ceiling, flooding the space with natural light.

After a presentation from the chief librarians, we were given a moment to move about the reading room.  Further details were pointed out to us: the iron shelving and spiral staircases brought from Turin, Italy; Portraits and busts of significant figures; special archival collections.  Professor Kitromilides shared nostalgia of bygone eras, pointing out the table that was once reserved for IMG_8942“professors and higher clergy,” as well as the anachronistic sign alerting patrons of the smoking ban within the reading room and its walkways. 

We also took a moment to peruse the old card catalogue system—something of particular amusement to the millennials of our group.IMG_8971

Following our exploration of the reading room, our tour continued through the stacks—6 floors—where we had the opportunity to view a diverse and fascinating collection comprised of innumerable well-aged volumes, the spines still bearing the stamp of the library’s original  cataloguing system. 

While it may be difficult to say which portion of our visit was the highlight, it certainly was a distinct honor to be granted the rare opportunity of not just access to peer into the manuscript collection, but the privilege to view and handle some manuscripts relevant to the subject matter of our seminar.  These included Greek military documents regarding IMG_0431the landing at Smyrna, a Patriarchal sigilum written in Karaman, a rare vellum manuscript of the Book of Matthew, and a manuscript containing Middle-Byzantine musical notation.  Moreover, the significance of each of the pieces was explained to us by an expert in the respective field. 

Our exciting time in the library represented something of a closing of an era.  Due to spacial and technological constraints, the library will be moved to a newly constructed 240,000 square foot facility in Phaleron Bay, through the generosity of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.  While we were there, we observed workers 2016-08-03 12.21.55slowly packing books and cataloguing the older pieces.  In light of this, we have experienced a historical moment in the Greek history—the classical appearance of the original library (soon to be called “old library”), on the eve of its historic move.

That afternoon, as we returned to the Center for Asia Minor Studies to work on our projects, we were paid a visit from Fr. Maximos Constas, who offered his insights into our projects during a roundtable discussion.


After work in the Archive was finished for the day, we followed the cool, pine tree covered FullSizeRender-3footpaths up Philopappou hill to engage in further research of the cultural variety at the Dora Stratou Foundation.  Upon arrival, we were greeted by the director and president of the Foundation, Professor Alkis Raftis, and proceeded to a lesson in the Dance and Music of Cappadocia, which included instruction in traditional Cappadocian dance.  After a spirited experience, we were treated to a performance by the Foundation’s eponymous dance company, who performed dances from Asia Minor in traditional costume of the various regions from which the dances originated, including Pontos and Pharasa (a village, incidentally, that was instrumental to the formationFullSizeRender-2 of the Center for Asia Minor Studies).

As the moon rose over the Acropolis, we made our way home, grateful for the days rich learning experiences.


Monday, August 1, 2016

On Monday we continued our work in the archive and began focusing on our paper topics more closely.  Our group has chosen a wide variety of topics to focus on.  While some of us are interested in the intercultural relations and development of traditions and customs, others have focused on the institution of the Church and its development throughout Asia Minor during this period.  Our continued research in the archives has led to many new discoveries!  We are excited to see what the next two weeks hold.


Friday, July 29, 2016

As we finished our second week in the archives, we spent time searching and recording our findings.  As we work towards focusing our research on specific areas of interest, we have become further acquainted with using the oral histories and using what is especially significant about a particular practice or village.  While some of us have been looking at specific villages, some students have also been researching religious practices or traditional dances in several different villages in order to gain an understanding of the relationships between villages.  It is particularly interesting to study whether they communicated with each other or rather were isolated from one another.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

On Thursday we heard from Stavros Anestides, a researcher at the Centre.  He spoke on the 1923 Population Exchange and the Exodus of the Greek Orthodox Inhabitants of Sinasos.  Many of the refugees from Sinasos ultimately settled on the island of Evvia in a refugee settlement called Nea Sinasos.  We will be visiting Nea Sinasos in the next couple of weeks!  Many refugees from Sinasos also settled in Constantinople.  The village of Sinasos was well-recorded through photographs that are in the photographic archive at the Centre.

Chapel of Saint Eleftherios next to the Metropolis Church of Athens.  Its exterior is constructed out of recycled Pagan temple pieces.

In the afternoon, we enjoyed another tour led by Nicos Nicolaides.  This tour was an Ottoman Tour of Athens.  It was interesting to walk through neighborhoods that we walk through daily, but this time we were able to stop and learn about the buildings weIMG_20160728_193207832_HDR pass everyday and their history.  This was especially interesting as we were able to see the architectural transition to the Neoclassical style which favored symmetrical designs.  To conclude the evening we enjoyed dinner at a Cretan restaurant and ate authentic Cretan foods, including snails, dakos (Cretan bread), and gavros (fish)!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

FullSizeRender-2On Wednesday we heard from two of the librarians who work in the Centre, who spoke about the photographic archive.  The photographic archive of the Centre has around 7,000 photos, including photos from before, during, and after the Catastrophe of 1922.  We hope to use these photos to enhance our learning about this time period.  

In the afternoon, we were led on a tour by Nicos Nicolaides who also works in the Centre.  Our tour included visiting several churches around Athens, including a Russian Orthodox Church from the Byzantine Era.  The iconography reflects a unique style which contrasts to what we had seen in other churches.  We also visited the Metropolis Church of Athens and then made our way to the Byzantine Museum.  The Byzantine Museum had many unique icons.  It was interesting to see how certain events throughout history influenced the style of iconography.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus, with the Parthenon on the left and the Pentelic Moutains in the background.

In the evening, some of the group saw Carmen performed in the Odeon of Herodes Atticus.  It was a brilliant sight to see such a dramatic performance take place with a view of the Parthenon and the Pentelic mountains in the background!




Tuesday, July 26, 2016

IMG_0296Tuesday was an exciting day as we travelled north of Athens to Nea Philadelphia, a refugee settlement set up in the 1920s after the Smyrna Catastrophe. While the town was named after the Asia Minor city of Philadelphia, located in proximity of modern Aydin, refugees also came there from other places including Proussa, Smyrna, Trapezounta, Bourla, and many other cities, towns, and villages.

While walking around the town, we were able to IMG_0297see original houses built for the refugees. While some had become dilapidated as they are now unused, some have been renovated and have families living in them. In this way, the history of the town has been preserved. We also had the opportunity to visit a museum devoted to refugee history established by Yiayia Filió. She spent her life collecting items from members of the refugee community and worked hard to display these items in a museum to ensure that Asia Minor would never be forgotten. The museum had many artifacts including traditional dresses, everyday items such as wallets and glasses, and other objects including wedding and dowry items, school records, and spools used for weaving. These spools represented how people’s memories have been wound and unwound, and also were integral for textile manufacturing.IMG_0301

We also visited the church of Dormition of the Virgin Mary in Nea Philadelphia which was built by the refugees after they arrived.  In the church, there is an icon of the Virgin Mary and Jesus that is badly burned.  This icon was brought by refugees from Bourla, near Smyrna.  After visiting the church, we ate lunch at an Anatolian restaurant and tried many new foods.FullSizeRender

In the evening, some of the group ventured to the church of Agios Panteleimon to celebrate Vespers.  We witnessed the procession around the village of Halandri with the icon of the saint and ate dinner with the priest of the church afterwards.