BGC Summer Field School participants with Professor Caspar Meyer at the Acropolis. Photo courtesy of Rachel Salem-Wiseman (MA ’24).

In its second year, the field school in archaeology and material culture was again offered on the Cycladic island of Antiparos and the adjacent island Despotiko, where students participated in a project to excavate and rebuild the sixth-century BCE sanctuary of Apollo. Professor Caspar Meyer, who has been working on the sanctuary site since 2017, leads the field school. All first-year BGC students have the opportunity to add the field school to the existing BGC travel program to Berlin and Paris. This year, thirteen students participated in the program.

The region exported marble to centers like Athens—some of the earliest statues from the Acropolis were made of Parian marble—and current work on the site contributes to our knowledge of the material’s enduring cultural significance. Since its discovery in the early 2000s, the sanctuary on Despotiko has produced an uninterrupted string of finds, including votive deposits under the temple floor and domestic buildings pre-dating the sacred structures. The site has become key to understanding the connections between seafaring, craft, and religion that shaped Greek culture for centuries

Students spent two days visiting significant ancient sites and museums in Athens and then traveled to Antiparos for six days of work and study. Each morning, students crossed a small channel to Despotiko to work on the excavation site until the afternoon. Evenings were dedicated to building an outdoor kiln for making clay ceramics under the guidance of an expert in ancient potting techniques. This unique opportunity in the handcraft behind the pottery fragments found at the site facilitated an understanding of object interpretation and reconstruction.

The purpose of a field school is to take students out of the classroom so they can test what they have learned there against practical, first hand experiences. Students are confronted with the unpredictability of unearthing, cleaning, and identifying an object, as well as subsequent collaboration required to archive, conserve, and reconstruct an object that may eventually find its way into a museum display.

Student participation in the BGC Field School in Archaeology and Material Culture was made possible in part by the generous support of the Malcolm Hewitt Wiener Foundation, Inc.