Inside the Collection

Archaeology Week – the Powerhouse Museum in Greece

Photograph Paul Donnelly collecting pottery on the survey, November 2012
The author, Paul Donnelly collecting pottery on the survey,
November 2012. Photo:Meg Danes

Archaeology and the Powerhouse Museum go back a long way. The most obvious examples are exhibitions focussing on archaeological material including ‘1000 Years of the Olympic Games‘, ‘The Great Wall of China‘, and the recent, ‘Spirit of Jang-in‘ from Korea. Less well known is the Museum’s participation and support of archaeological excavations over the past four decades, with the most recent being the revived excavations at Zagora, on the island of Andros in Greece.

Last year’s season was a survey of the site and the Powerhouse Museum returns mid-September 2013 represented by me, a curator and trained archaeologist, and Irma Havlicek of Web Services. We will join the team of archaeologists from the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (AAIA) and the University of Sydney (USyd) on the project made possible through an Australian Research Council (ARC) ‘Discovery Grant’, and the support of the Archaeological Society at Athens. A major role of the Powerhouse involvement was the website component which details the daily life and many activities on a dig. Each season leads to what we hope will be a fascinating exhibition at the Museum showing how people lived at this unique site nearly 3,000 years ago.

Photograph of Steve Vasilakis and Rudy Alagich on survey
Team members (Uni of Sydney) Steve Vasilakis and Rudy
Alagich on survey at the a steep part of the site, 2012. Photo: Paul Donnelly

Zagora is a uniquely well-preserved ancient settlement of 6.7 hectares whose remains date to around 950-700 BC and to date only 10% of the area has been excavated so there is much still to be discovered. This period, known as the ‘Golden Age’, is revered for the development of the city-state (polis) and democracy, the burgeoning of philosophy and the sciences, and the flourishing of theatre – all of which have had a huge influence on western civilisation. Might the migration of people from Zagora have contributed to, or been caused by, the process that led to the development of the Greek city-states and culminated in the flourishing of Athens around the 5th century BC? We hope to better answer this and many other questions as each season unfolds.

Photograph of Cyclamen
Cyclamen eek out an existence in a sheltered crevice.
Photo: Paul Donnelly

The Zagora website is updated regularly with news and developments towards the season but really gets going when we’re digging. Please join us ‘on-site’ at Zagora via the blog from September 21, and don’t forget to comment, console (if it’s raining or windy or both) encourage, or ask questions!

Paul (and Irma, currently in France)

Photograph early morning in Zagora
The early morning trip to Zagora was not always welcoming.
Photo: Paul Donnelly

Written by Dr Paul Donelly, Curator, Design and Society

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