Hannah Walker's Summer in Greece
Posted on: 13 September 2023 by Hannah Walker in 2023 posts
The undergraduate program at the British School at Athens (BSA) is an archaeological and historical summer study program consisting of 3 weeks in Greece touring the ancient sites of the mainland. This summer I have been lucky enough to be one of thirty students to attend this amazing trip, making memories and friends for life whilst learning about Ancient Greece in the most exciting way possible.
Our trip began with 2 weeks in Athens and Attica, whilst living at the BSA. In this time we visited famous sites such as the Athenian Acropolis, the Roman Forum, Marathon, and many more. The most exciting part of the trip came on day two when we were surprised by an exclusive trip into the Parthenon. The Parthenon interior is closed off to guests, so this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Inside we were given a lecture about how the Parthenon was built and the many optical illusions used to create its defined lines. For example, each of the columns is wider at the top than the bottom and the longest sides are 11cm higher in the middle than at the corners. This design, though seemingly bizarre, makes the temple appear straight from the floor.
In our 2nd week in Greece, we ventured slightly further from the BSA to spend the night away in Levadia, a town famous for its Souvlaki. A traditional Greek dish which I have probably eaten far too much of - it's just too tasty! This trip was not for the food however, but to visit Delphi. I cannot put into words the emotions I felt standing at this site. For my entire undergraduate degree, I have been taught about this important Panhellenic site where Apollo's oracle sat. Not only this but Mt. Parnassus, on which Delphi sits, was widely regarded as the centre of the world and believed to be the belly button of the earth mother Gaia. The sanctity and importance of this site was palpable simply on entering. My highlight of the day was talking about the myths of not only Apollo and his oracle, but also the older oracle of Gaia who sat on the Sybil rock at the site long before Apollo was born.
After two exciting weeks we were given a day off to enjoy Athens. I made the most of the day, heading to Lake Vouliagmeni - a mineral lake formed from a collapsed cave just outside Athens. My friends and I spent the whole day at the lake making the most of the sunshine. The lake also contained the little fish that eat your dead skin giving us a fantastic pamper session after two weeks of walking around sites!
For our final week in Greece the program took us on a road trip around the Peloponnese. This allowed us to visit well known sites of Eleusis, Corinth, Mycenae, Sparta, the Palace of Nestor, and Olympia along with numerous other smaller sites. For me the most exciting of these was the final site of our trip Olympia. Olympia was fantastic, as the Panhellenic sanctuary is huge and is a great example of multi-temporal spaces. Not only this but the Assistant Director of the BSA Giorgios' (our main tutor) main area of research is ancient athletics. Thus, resulting in our lectures in Olympia being highly detailed and interesting. My favourite part of the day, however, was running in the original Olympic stadium! This was an exhilarating experience and definitely an opportunity I wouldn't have had without the BSA.
My trip on the British School at Athens summer undergraduate program can only be described as once in a lifetime and was absolutely amazing! The trip is run every year and I recommend that any undergraduate with an interest in archaeology or ancient history apply to the program, it is an amazing an opportunity that should not be passed up.