Visiting the Argolid
Denver Wade ’10 – Today presented another new and amazing experience for our class. After waking up at 7:00, we caught a bus and headed from Athens past the Isthmus of Corinth into the region known as the Argolid. It was here where we saw firsthand the palaces of the Mycenaeans, who were the early predecessors to Classical Greek civilization. When we arrived at the Palace of Mycenae, we met John Fischer, the well-known and respected Professor Emeritus of Classics at Wabash for over forty years. He guided our group around the palaces, providing a wealth of knowledge about all the intricacies of the complexes. We really respected his wisdom and the passion he had for the Mycenaean Civilization.
Going around the Palace of Mycenae, what really struck us was the immense size and might of the fortified structure. We had all seen pictures of the legendary city in our class, but nothing could prepare us for the magnitude of this. We were taught that the stones composing the outer palace walls were called Cyclopean, because later popular legends reported that the mythical Cyclopes cut and placed the gigantic stones. They definitely lived up to their reputation. It’s baffling how the Mycenaeans were able to utilize such massive stones.
Not only did the Mycenaeans construct such large fortification walls, but they also showed their noble citizens great signs of respect by constructing enormous tholos tombs. The basic structure for a tholos tomb is a domed interior led up to by a path called a dromos. We had seen tholos tombs earlier on our trip, but nothing could prepare us for the magnificent Mycenaean tholos tombs. One tomb stood out in particular – the “Treasury of Atreus.” The “Treasury” (wrongly titled so the traveler Pausanias) had a dromos that was the length of over half a football field. Its dome, as Mitch Brown, who gave a great presentation on the tomb pointed out, was the largest dome in the world for centuries!
To finish the day, Dr. Fischer took us to the town of his summer residence. The town, Nauplion, was a beautiful joining of Greek and Venetian architecture. We went to a delightful restaurant that served numerous dishes of unique Aegean cuisine. After lunch, we walked through the old town square, where the children of the town were involved in a game of soccer. In the square, we ate delicious gelato. As our trip winds down to an end, I can only think how great it has been. Not only have we seen all the archaeological sites which we studied, but we also have immersed ourselves in a beautiful foreign culture.