Monday, 4 April 2016

Greece Trip. Day 1

Day 1 started in the Gennadius Library in Athens where we met with the directors of the American School and the British School. After a general introduction to the history of the collection by Maria Georgopoulou, director of the library, the group had the unique chance to see some of the rare treasures housed in the Library, such as a copy of the first printed edition of Homer (Florence, 1488) and books from the Travel and Geography section. The latter provided the ideal transition to the part closely connected with the Program’s theme, namely books and maps related to the Crusades and the Frangokratia in Greece. The maps from the second Venetian occupation of the Peloponnese documenting Frankish and Venetian castles and citadels in the region (e.g. Mistra, Modon) were the highlights of the presentation.

The tour of the Gennadius was followed by an introductory lecture by Bob Ousterhout on Frankish Architecture in the Peloponnese (“Ad modum Franciae? Interpreting architecture in the 13th-century Peloponnese”). The talk was a detailed panorama of monuments from the 13th century summarizing older and more recent research, including churches built by Western religious orders and the two key buildings, the Panagia Katholiki at Gastouni and the Church of the Dormition at Merbaka, that have been redated to the 13th century, thus challenging the whole chronology of Peloponnesian architecture. The main issue addressed was the importance of architecture for establishing identity, whether that of the Crusaders or of the locals. Although the presentation ended with a question mark awaiting answers over the following days, the picture that emerged was that of a local common identity with local masons participating in public works and Latin and Greek patrons involved in commissioning buildings with mixed architectural features.

An introduction to the Gennadius Library by Maria Georgopoulou
Demonstrating an example from the collection of Travel Literature
A tribute to Venetian Crete (for Maria) 

Bob Ousterhout preparing for his talk
Planning our itinerary in the Peloponnese

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