Our season begins at the Athens International Airport on June 26 where most of our group meets for the drive to Mt. Lykaion. The students have come from all over the USA to assemble for our 2007 campaign. We have picked one of the hottest days of the summer when the temperatures in Athens are reported to be between 43-46 degrees Celsius. One report from the airport was actually 49 degrees C! The vehicles are rented (four vans and one car) and we drive 3.5 hours to Arcadia and to our villages of Ano Karyes and Xastanochoroi, our homes for the next six weeks. The winter population of each of the villages is in the low 20’s and we have 37 students and staff that are about to descend on these mountain communities. In fact within days our numbers will expand to 47 persons. The Patriotic Syllogos of Ano Karyes and its President Christos Koumoundouros has been working hard all year to provide the necessary housing and support systems for our large group and Christos is in the village to welcome us as we arrive. Housing for such a large group in such small communities is a huge challenge and since the success of the entire project depends on this we are greatly indebted to the Syllogos for their support and to the residents of these villages for welcoming us. There are no stores or services available locally so we must bring with us our food and supplies for the first few days and we will have almost daily trips to Megalopolis to replenish our stores. The cook for our meals this year is Tommy Dimaggio from Tucson and supplemented by Mrs. Vasso from Megalopolis.
Our next two days are spent as all day orientation sessions for the entire group that includes tours of the lower and upper sites as well as brief talks by our Directors and Assistant Directors having to do with our architectural, geological, topographical survey, excavation and museum aspects of the project. Procedures are explained and time is spent unpacking the equipment that has been stored over the winter in the Cultural Center of the village of Ano Karyes. We set up the first floor of the Cultural Center, courtesy of the Syllogos of the village, as our laboratory and study area as we have done each summer since 2004. After dinner on one of these first days Christos Koumoundouros presents Mary Voyatzis, George Davis and myself with Honorary Membership in the Association of thr “Lovers of Classical Athletics” which had been bestowed on us at their recent meeting near Athens of the “Literary Olympics Association” in May.
The architectural team, the topographical and survey team and the geological team are able to begin preliminary aspects of their work within the first days. We are joined by our Greek colleague, Anastasia Panagiotopoulou of the 5th Ephoreia in Sparta who is our project collaborator and Co-Director.
During the afternoon of June 28 Dr. Apostolos Sarris and his team of six arrive from the Laboratory of Geophysical – Satellite Remote Sensing & Archaeo-environment, Institute for Mediterranean Studies, Foundation for Research & Technology (F.O.R.T.H.) in Rethymnon, Crete. Dr. Sarris will be carrying out remote sensing; magnetometry, resistivity and ground penetrating radar, in and around the site for the next week or so. We are happy to have the visit of Dr. Anna Karapaniotou and a small group from the Tripolis Ephoreia during the course of this week.
Our Sunday excursion is a hike to the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassai which is approximately 7 miles distant, a pleasant walk of 2 hours 45 minutes. The site of the Temple of Apollo, now enclosed by a canopy, is clearly visible to the west from the ash altar of Lykaion Zeus. There is time to visit the exhibits at the site both inside and outside. Dr. Mary Voyatzis and I give a brief presentation on the architecture of the temple and the history of the cult and Dr. George Davis speaks about the geology of the region and the specific nature of the blocks of the temple. Following is an excursion by vans to the beach on the Ionian Sea at Kalo Nero.