It has been a busy and exciting week. On thursday, we visited the Kerameikos and saw graves, pottery and the Themistoclean wall. We learned that you can date the Athenian wall layers by how it is built. The first layer is haphazardly thrown together, whereas the third and fourth are more angular and organized. We also saw the sacred way to Eleusis for the festival of Demeter, which also is the exit from Athens.
On Friday, we had a very interesting field trip. The class ventured to East Attica and we first went to Marathon. This is the famous place where the greatly outnumbered Athenians beat the persians in 490 BC. The name of the athletic long-distance endurance race, the "marathon", comes from the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek soldier, who was sent from the town of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been miraculously defeated in the Battle of Marathon. The most noticeable markings of the field was a large mound or tumulus. This was where the 192 Athenians that died in battle were buried.
The next visit was to Brauron. After studying the cults of Brauron, it was interesting to see it in person. Brauron is a cult of Artemis dedicated to the young girls' transition into womanhood. Girls ages 7-10 would stay there The girls would act as arktoi (young bears) and train in athletic events. The girls in our class had a foot race, which apparently is a sacrilege.
The last visit was my favorite. The trip was to Sounion to see the temple of Poseidon built around 440 BC. The view was breath-taking. The temple was on the top of a cliff and overlooked the sea. It was believed that this temple was built by the same architect who built the temple of Hephaestion. They both have 6 x 13 columns and are built in a similar style. Lord Byron carved his name in this temple. I didn't see it, but some of my classmates found it and managed to get a picture. The weekend was relaxing. It was my first trip to the beach since visiting here. My roommates and a couple other girls went to a public beach. The water was slightly dirty and the beach was rocky, but the water was nice. On Sunday, I woke up early and took a walk around the city. I stopped by the McDonalds and ordered a sweet McFrappe for 1 euro. Afterwards, I saw the changing of the guard in the syntagma. This was very cool to see the soldiers in their costumes march to traditional Greek music played by a band. Then I meet up with my roomies, we shopped around monastriki and bought gelato. Tomorrow, class starts up again with a visit to the National Museum.