Budding Archaeologists in Action: Voula Field School 2019

Another successful CYA winter intersession course, the Voula Field School, came to an end last week. Twenty-nine students with a serious interest in archaeology spent three weeks of January 2019 participating in the excavation of a site associated with Aixonidai Halai under the supervision of CYA professors Yiannis Karavas and Angelos Papadopoulos. The excavation is directed by archaeologist Eftychia Lygouri and her colleagues Maria Giamalidi and Anna Maria Anagnostopoulou of the Piraeus Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities.

Aixonidai Halai was one of the main coastal demes (municipalities) of ancient Attica. The site is located in the modern town of Voula, a coastal suburb of Athens that the CYAers came to know well. Each morning they would grab their shovels and picks, eager to uncover new artifacts while enjoying the splendid sea views.

Photo credit: Corynne Breen

Dr. Yiannis Karavas, one of the two professors supervising the excavation, explains the value of the course: “The primary purpose is to acquaint students with all aspects of material culture, which essentially boils down to the fact that what they excavate they also get to handle and study”. This is why the Field School comprises three essential teaching components: excavation, lectures, and lab-work.

Photo credit: Corynne Breen

Participants in the Voula Field School learn how to excavate under all circumstances and to evaluate the situation within their trench every single day. Dr. Angelos Papadopoulos tells us that “this was particularly true for the 2019 students as they had to work in rain, mud, clear skies, hot sun, and dry, hard soil. In the end, the experience was an invaluable way to learn what real-life archaeology is like”.

Photo credit: Corynne Breen

Most of the ‘Voula diggers’ were CYA Spring ’19 semester students who came to Athens some weeks earlier in order to take advantage of this unique opportunity to gain archaeological fieldwork experience. However, this year the program also welcomed budding archaeologists from Australia, with 14 students participating from Macquarie University.

At the end of the session, students enjoyed some coffee and sweets with CYA President Alexis Phylactopoulos, Vice President for Academic Affairs Theoni Scourta and the professors supervising the excavation, Yiannis Karavas and Angelos Papadopoulos. It was a wonderful opportunity to discuss the findings of this year’s excavation, share memories, and say goodbye to the Australian students.

This year CYA’s work at Aixonidai Halai focused on the remains of a large architectural complex, and it will be officially presented at the end of the semester. So stay tuned!

A big thank you goes out to CYA spring ’19 student Corynne Breen for the amazing photos of this post!

See more photos from the Voula Field School 2019 on our Flickr album!

Written by Tina Voulgari