For our last field research, we visited the famous capital of the ancient Macedonian kingdom, Pella, and its new archaeological museum. The first impression had to do with the comparatively large size of the city that once stood in this area. We were taken aback by the width of the roads, the scale of the mosaics that adorned the floors of certain buildings, and the infrastructure of the old agora, which made it easy to imagine it bustling once with shops and customers. Our guide, the archaeologist Haris Tsougaris, made sure that we do not miss on the opportunity to appreciate the historical value of the site and of the findings which he later showed us in the museum. Towards the end of the visit of ancient Pella, students had the chance to observe the making of officially certified souvenirs that were copies of Pella’s artifacts and which were made on site.
The museum presented yet another concept of displaying ancient artifacts. Students especially appreciated the small devices that had been implemented so as to bring the visitor closer to how things used to be: a small step that allowed one to peer on a mosaic from a relatively higher position, the presence of a wall of one of the houses in Pella, which confirmed the existence of two or three storied houses, and later, on the second floor, a break from the ancient times was provided by the exposition of drawings from primary school students sent from all over modern Greece. The experience in Pella was, in short, very different from that of Vergina (Aigai), even though both sites used to be the capital (one after the other) of the kingdom of Macedonia.
After the tour of the museum, the mayor of Gennitsa (local community), Grigoris Stamkos, and the director of the museum, E. Tsigarida, came to greet us, to make a short speech on the relation between the site and the local community, and to answer to our students’ questions. Here, the connection with the local administration sounded strong, even though the usual issue of land confiscation for archaeological excavations existed as well. After this session, students (who were assigned yet another category of stakeholders to interview with GSP students they had as yet not worked together) rushed to their interviews, especially to catch the site employees before they stopped working for the day, and to question the visitors, who, unfortunately, were much fewer than in Vergina and Dion. After a brief lunch, students went back for interviews, and some met a group of university students from Venice, who were taking part in a project to walk the whole length of the ancient Egnatia road, from Durrës (in Albania) through Pella (Greece), to Istanbul (the ancient city of Byzantium later called Constantinople).
At 6pm we were back on the bus and on our way to Thessaloniki, but Professor Papadopoulou had arranged for us to stop by the Chatzivariti estate, a winery owned by the family of Professor Iakovidou (who had kindly contributed to our program two years ago). Here students learned about wine making by the daughter of Prof Iakovidou, and later had the chance (for those who were at least 20 years old) to taste the Chatzivariti wine. And as always in these Greek late evenings, the day ended with some dancing…