It would never have occurred to me to take a journal on my return to Crete this past September. Now, the whole collection of days and their events throughout the trip have started blending into a single impression, albeit a wonderful one. The precise recollections dwindling are the sweet incidental interactions with people, not sights seen at one point or another. Lesson learned.
Whereas I don’t think I traveled more than 30 kilometers in either direction from my Air Force base 45 years ago, on the return trip, Stephen and I traveled from Elafonisi on the SW tip of Crete, to Siteia on almost the NE tip.
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The visit to Siteia was a pilgrimage to the Archaeological Museum of Siteia, whose crown jewel is the ‘Palaikastro Kouros’. I will depend on any interest on your part to click HERE for details.
I haven’t found a single picture online or elsewhere up to the task of representing how exquisite the thing is ‘in person’, but here’s a photo robbed from the internet, and a detail shot of my own. Victim of a fiery pillage, for something shattered into hundreds of pieces and buried in the Cretan soil for about 3500 years, it’s in pretty good shape, don’t you think?
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During the countdown to this trip to Athens and Crete, we became aware of the Palaikastro excavations in a video online, which included a gentleman by the name of Alexander MacGillivray, apparently the foremost authority on the small statue. Here is a short ‘About’ him I found very intriguing.
At this point, you’re either asleep, or you might find it intriguing, too.
“I have always been obsessed with history and storytelling (same thing really). Add artifacts and you get archaeology – finding the tangible clues to make your stories believable. After all, aren’t true stories always more compelling? I’ve been lifting historical clues from the ground since I found old bottles in my mother’s deep rose beds alongside our St Lambert, Québec yard in the 1960s. Then, slides of Knossos projected onto a wall at Montreal’s Dawson College in 1970 triggered a longing to discover my connection to that strange Cretan civilization, the Minoans. They built huge, sumptuous palaces filled with rich art then vanished into myth, remembered only in Greek tales of the evil emperor Minos who fed young Athenian nobles to his Minotaur in Daedalus’s labyrinth until his own daughter Ariadne helped Theseus slay the beast and escape. Totally hooked, I studied ancient history and classics at McGill University and then focused on the Minoans for my PhD at Edinburgh University. In 1979 I was initiated to the tense thrill of delivering ancient artifacts from the ground, like some tireless midwife, with a British team at Knossos. In 1980 I worked at Sparta and since 1983 have co-directed a series of British excavations at the Minoan town and sanctuary site at Palaikastro in eastern Crete. From 1988 to 1997 I discovered the buzz of sharing my enthusiasm for history and archaeology with bright and eager young minds at Columbia University in New York. Now, much of my time is devoted to writing up the amazing things we’ve found at Palaikastro. But thirty years of digging up antiquities has shown me the other, less familiar side of archaeology; how we actively create what we find, strange as it sounds. My first foray into exposing how this works is ‘Minotaur’, in which I examine how Sir Arthur Evans created the Minoans. Next, I look at myself.”