As I have written before, one of our tasks this summer is to work on the precinct where Champoiseau discovered the Nike statue. Several of the archaeologists have gone out to the site each morning to clean it, cutting down some of the weeds and troweling a little bit around some of the edges to increase their definition in order to prepare for some photography. In particular a gigapan of the precinct. Now I had taken two gigapans of the precinct two years ago, one from the front and another from above it along its eastern wall. ¬†You might notice from the frontal view that you can’t really see the floor of the interior due to the two massive boulders. This very short photographer is unable to get the gigapan up high enough to really get a good view inside.

So one goal this year was to provide a way for me to get up high enough to take the necessary photographs, shooting a bit over top of the boulders. Our ultimate decision was to put the tripod on a table top, then I could mount a ladder to set the process into motion. So yesterday morning we did just that. I mounted the gigapan on the tripod, then the camera on the gigapan. Then I put the tripod on top of a table, and climbed up a rickety ladder, and made the necessary camera settings and robot settings, and let it go. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see the settings I was making as well as I could if I were working on terra firma, so to speak. I ended up with a massive failure. I aimed the upper row to be too far up so eventually the camera twisted on the screw holding it to the robot, and fell back away from the button pusher mechanism.

Here is a picture of the table-tripod-gigapan-camera assembly:

So today we will try, try, again, this time with a sturdier ladder. But here is the bright side – I lugged the gigapan all the way here, I ought to at least have taken some shots with it. And, I had an interesting conversation on my way up to the site yesterday, with a professional photographer from Turkey, who was curious to know what the gadgetry was all about. Of course he did not speak good English, and I speak no Turkish, so we ended up having the conversation in Spanish.

Today is my last full working day here – I leave on the seven o’clock ferry tomorrow morning. I have so much left to do here today. So I had best get with the program. I will try to post something tomorrow once I get to my hotel in Athens. There is no wifi on the ferry, and, as I recall from the afternoon I spent there a few years ago, waiting for my lost bag to show up, the airport in Alexandroupolis has no internet. And I will have hours to kill between my ferry arrival at 9:30 am and my flight at 2:30 pm.

More later!

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On-line education is currently a hotly debated topic now in the higher education circles that I frequent. It is not that people doubt the technology, rather the controversy evolves around the extent to which it should be incorporated into the collegiate experience. As an example of the extent of the controversy, the president of the University of Virginia recently lost her job. Part of UVA’s board’s reasoning was that she was too slow in incorporating online learning. (The other part, from what I can tell, is that she was dragging her feet about killing the Classics and German departments.) (UPDATE: President Sullivan has been reinstated. You can read more about the controversy here.)

Online education is here to stay, and those of us in higher education are going to have deal with it. I will be amused to see, however, how many of the children of proponents of the online only institutions actually “send” their children there.

Enough of that rant. I am really thankful that I work at an institution that is as supportive of education in all of its forms as Emory. An example of one of the many guises of education is how my colleague Bonna Wescoat brings a new team of students to Samothrace summer after summer and guides their field experience. Here is a picture of the most formal part of this educational experience:

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This picture was taken at the start of the tour of the site, and we are sitting in the block field for the Propylon of Ptolemy II. The Propylon is the point of entry for initiates into the sacred cult that conducted its rites here. Bonna is on the far left, placing the building in the context of a map of the site. There are three Emory students here (third, fourth, and fifth students from the right), as well as students from Princeton and the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. Now these students can sit at their computers in the comfort of their homes in NYC or ATL and learn about the process of initiation, but NOTHING will replace the experience of being in this place.

One of the major things that these students will be working on this summer is the precinct that housed the famous statue, Nike, aka The Winged Victory of Samothrace. She sits atop the Daru staircase in the Louvre Museum in Paris, as seen in this picture:

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Here is a closer view:

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The statue was discovered here in the 19th century by French archaeologists and shipped back to Paris. The arms and head are missing, although a hand was discovered here in the 1950’s which was reunited with a finger later found in a drawer of an Austrian museum. The hand is also on display in the Louvre.

Speaking of education, the members of my department, students and faculty alike, all received departmental T-shirts. Our charge was to take them along on our travels and be photographed in them. So here is my picture, in which I answer the charge about the T-shirt, and pose as the Nike. This is taken in the precinct where the French found the statue.

More tomorrow!