Visiting my extended family in Sparta, Greece, outside the capital of Athens, became my first time out of the US. I won’t bore you with my insomniac-like, midnight flight from Newark to London, or my slumber from England to Athens. I won’t blog about my trip through the cleanest subway station, getting to the scorching-hot Acropolis and seeing the Parthenon covered in scaffolding. I won’t tell you about all the artifacts and the city below the glass floors in the Acropolis Museum down the street. These sights were pleasant and visit-worthy, but there are better places that I absolutely adored.
Finishing my junior year of high school, I have college on the brain. Where to go, what to study, how to afford it- it’s a lot to contemplate. But ever since I was a child, I have loved ancient cultures. I became more curious every time I saw pictures of digs. What were they really like? All I wanted to know was who these ancient people were. This obsession of early civilizations has become my inspiration to apply to colleges as an archaeology major.
After my family and my younger cousin Teddy visited the construction site formerly known as the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum, where all the artifact reside, we visited a much lesser known, but a much more fascinating, site. From the museum, it was a ten-minute walk down the street past the Acropolis entrance to an ancient marketplace. Called the Ancient Agora, we used our inexpensive Acropolis tickets and walked around the ruins. Without barriers in the Agora, we were able to walk through the remains of Ares’s temple, stand on one of Zeus’s altars, and walk around the best-preserved temple in Athens- the Temple of Hephaestus. It’s a truly jaw-dropping moment when you know that the path you’re taking is the same path from thousands of years ago.
As much as I felt like a kid in a candy store, I knew that we were all exhausted from the intense afternoon sun. We made our way back to an older subway station, which was still much nicer than any American subway line I’ve ever been on. We made stops at Syntagma and one nearest Teddy’s house, a name which I can neither remember nor pronounce.
As much as that adventure made me want to pursue archaeology, there was another site the next day which I adored. On Marathon Road, the extended family stopped at a dig site. It was free admission, and I wanted to stay there for hours. The sign read “Early Hellenistic Cemetery”, but all I could see was my future. It was almost 5,000 years old and the bones could still be seen in their graves, protected by a glass covering and a roof over the entire site. Even in this early culture’s graveyard of rock shapes and bones, I could see how modern civilization started and was absolutely fascinated. Only the promise of more archaeology could have drawn me away from there.
The next amazing site was seen that evening. On a cliff over the Bay of Marathon, the Temple of Poseidon, my favorite Greek god, stood tall and glistened in the setting sun. The temple and sunset made the most gorgeous pair. But my favorite part was seeing a real archaeological dig right next to the temple. I could see the grid lines, the tape markers, and the places the scientists used for shade and respite. After everything I’d seen over the past two days, that sight confirmed everything about archaeology and me- we were meant to be together.
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