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4.8 Journeys through Greece [2005]

4.8 Journeys through Greece [2005]


4.8 Journeys through Greece [2005]

In the course of her research, Dr. Keefe found that descriptions of the archaeological sites of late ancient and medieval churches were not uncommon, but that these did not always provide the reader with many details about the churches' baptismal fonts. Did a given church even have a font? Where was it located? Did it have its own separate room or section of the church (baptistery)? How big was the font? What was its shape? What was the source of its water? Armed with these and many other questions, Dr. Keefe compiled a long list of basilicas and churches throughout Greece and undertook to visit and photograph their fonts. Some of the fonts were already described in scholarly material, while others were not mentioned at all in the literature. Dr. Keefe's photographs and accompanying notes, then, provide a more robust description of this aspect of late ancient and medieval Christian practice than is available anywhere else -- and in some cases, she provides an account where none existed previously.

Dr. Keefe's journal from her trip to Greece, as well as her itinerary and notes she made on sites she wanted to visit prior to her travels, are in the Keefe Collection, Box 2, Folder 44. Photographs from her trip are in Box 3, envelopes 11–18.

Dr. Keefe's Itinerary

30 June 2005: Athens. Dr. Keefe arrives in Athens and visits three "possible baptisteries": Asklepeion, Hadrian's Library, and the Tower of the Winds (photos 1-10).

1 July 2005: Athens. Dr. Keefe visits the Christian and Byzantine Museum (photos 11-16) and the Benaki Museum (photo 17) in Athens, then makes her way back to her subway station by way of the Temple of Zeus (photo 18) and a brand new archaeological dig, on a site discovered in the course of digging the subway (photos 19-20).

2 July 2005: Athens. Dr. Keefe visits the ancient Agora and Temple of Hephaisteion, converted in 5th c. AD into a Christian church, St. George (photos 21-24). She also visits the Kerameikos Cemetery and the tombs of the "Sacred Way" (photo 25). Of note is photo 23, which depicts a sunken receptacle for funeral offerings that Dr. Keefe notes looks remarkably like a baptismal font, but predates Christianity. "If these were common," she notes, "Christians going into same type of font would have thought of death, maybe even [that] they were the funeral offering!"

3 July 2005: Island of Aigina. Dr. Keefe takes a ferry to Aigina (photos 26-27) in order to investigate church and baptistery she has read about, but in pacing off from a landmark she finds only Roman and early Mycenaean ruins.

4 July 2005: Route to Laurion-Olympus. Dr. Keefe visits the sites of Marathon (Rhamnous, photo 28) and Brauron (photos 29-31) on her way to Laurion-Olympus, where she finds the baptistery she had been looking for converted into an olive oil press and photographs some striking tombs (photos 32-35).

5 July 2005: Eleusis and Corinth. Dr. Keefe visits Eleusis and a baptismal font that has been replaced by a modern road (photos 37-38) as well as sites related to Demeter and the Eleusian Mysteries (photos 39-42). She then visits Corinth and finds the remains of baptisteries and fonts at Skoutela (photos 44-47) and Lechaion (photos 48-55), plus a mysterious pool at Akrocorinth (photo 56).

6 July 2005: Sikyon, Nemea, Argos, Epidauros. Dr. Keefe tracks down the baptisteries at the ruins of Sikyon (photos 57-58), Nemea (near the Temple of Zeus, photos 59-65), Aspis-Argos (photos 66-67), and Epidayuros (photo 68).

7 July 2005: Cenchrea, Aigosthena, Amfissa. Dr. Keefe visits the port from which St. Paul sailed and finds its ruins half-submerged (photos 69-70). Then on to Aigosthena with its distinctive (if small) baptismal font and baptistery (photos 71-75). At Amfissa, Dr. Keefe and her driver go on a long hunt for a font whose location is not described very well, ultimately being shown the way by a man on a motorbike (photos 76-79).

8 July 2005: Nikopolis. Dr. Keefe finds and photographs Basilicas A and B on the site; Basilica B was unfortunately closed off (photos 80-84).

9 July 2005: Dodona, Zarkon. Dr. Keefe visits a basilica constructed in the fourth century over the site of a sacred oak said to have been a pagan oracle. The church did not seem to have a baptistery (photos 85-86). Other sites, including Zarkon (photo 87) were mostly closed.

10 July 2005: Nea Anchialos. Dr. Keefe heads off to the Volos area, a city more famously used for the Olympic games, to explore Nea Anchialos and the ruins of several churches there. The main church is St. Demetrias (Church A), with a three-section baptistery and a half-sunken font in its northwest corner (photos 88-91). A block away from St. Demetrias is St. Peter's (Church C) with its octagonal font under restoration (photos 92-93).

11 July 2005: Nea Anchialos, Dion, Vergina. Dr. Keefe visits the Demetrias-Demokratia Basilica (photos 94-97) in the Volos area and the Dion Archaeological Park (photos 98-100) before heading to Vergina, site of Philip II of Macedon's burial tomb and the archaeological site of an ancient Christian basilica that apparently survived until a 1985 gas explosion.

12 July 2005: Thessaloniki. Dr. Keefe visits the Hagia Sophia and finds a baptistery across the street from it in the Catacomb of St. Ioannis (photo 101). Then she visits Agios Georgios, which once had an octagonal structure associated with it that may have been a baptistery and font, but now has a minaret on the site (photo 101b). Finally, she visits the Agora and finds the crypt of St. Demetrias with its bath/basin structures (photo 102).

13 July 2005: Abdera and Philippi. Dr. Keefe visits the "limited" Archaeological Museum in Kavala before moving on to the museum, town, and Archaeological Site of Abdera, with its two basilicas (photos 103-107). From Dr. Keefe's journal: "Oh, what heaven when I arrived at the ruins with an incredible view over sea, with waves roaring quietly and not a soul anywhere for miles. I loved just being in the warm sun, photographing the baptistery and sketching the plan of the church." From there she visited Philippi and saw a number of sites related to Paul's ministry and imprisonment and Lydia's baptism. She looked through the ruins particularly of Basilica B (photos 108-109), an Octagonal Basilica (photos 110-114), the site of Paul's imprisonment (photos 115-116), Basilica C (photo 117) and the basilica known as "outside the walls" (photo 118).

14 July 2005: Island of Thasos. Dr. Keefe visits two archaeological sites on the Island of Thasos, Evraiokastro (photos 119-121) and Aliki with its distinctive double-basilica ruins (photos 122-126).

15 July 2005: Thessaloniki to Heraklion. Dr. Keefe returns to Thessaloniki and just has time to visit Galerius' Palace (photo 127) before her flight to Heraklion.

16 July 2005: Kissimos-Episkopi. Dr. Keefe learns that two different cities exist called "Kissimos" and "Kissimos-Episkopi" or simply "Episkopi." While the former had a church called St. Michael, it was the latter that had the Church of Archangel Michael (photo 128) whose font she hoped to view. However, the church was locked and the Papas with the key nowhere to be found.

17 July 2005: Crete. Dr. Keefe visits three archeological sites, photographing the basilica ruins at Panoramas (photos 129-134), Goulediana (photos 135-137), and Vizari/Buzari (photos 138-141).

18 July 2005: Crete. Dr. Keefe heads to Knossos but finds a long line and opts to see Gortyn first. After a brief stop at the sixth-century church built on the traditional site of St. Titus's martyrdom (photo 142), she headed to the Acropolis area to see a basilica that had been built on an ancient pagan sanctuary, complete with a "bothros" (pit) that had been used by the pagan worshippers but that excavators have speculated was repurposed as a baptismal font (photos 143-149). The adventure of getting to the acropolis site involved bypassing German shepherds, barking at a stranger to ask about the German shepherds, and climbing a fence.

19 July 2005: Rhodes. In Rhodes, Dr. Keefe discovers a font behind Agios Georgios church (photos 150-153) that was not described in the scholarly literature she reviewed when planning her trip. She also visits Koimesis Theotokou church in the small village of Mesanagros and finds a font with an inscription on the rim (photos 160-166). Back at the Agios Irene monastery, Dr. Keefe cannot gain access to the interior but finds a font in the courtyard (photos 154-159). Finally, in a tourist area along the beach, she finds Kolympia and the ruins of Am Alsersheim church, locating its font decorated with mosaics (photos 167-175).

20 July 2005: Ialyssos and Rhodes Town. Dr. Keefe sees the Chapel of the Knights of St. John Hospitallers, built on an earlier (7th century) Byzantine fortification, with a sixth century font in its courtyard (photos 176-181). Then in Argyrokastrou Square, the entrance into Old Rhodes Town, she sees another baptismal font being used as a fountain (photos 182-185). Finally, she visited the Byzantine Museum, in a 14th-century church, and found a small monolithic baptismal font in the courtyard (photos 186-190).

21 July 2005: Kamiros. Dr. Keefe visits the ruins of the Doric settlement at Kamiros (Kameiros), forty kilometers west of Rhodes (photos 191-192). She does not find a baptismal font there.

22 July 2005: Kos. Dr. Keefe sets out to find (and succeeds in finding) three separate fonts, at sites in the Agora (Hafen Basilica, photos 193-199), the Western Archaeological site (Thermes, photos 200-205), and Psalidi (Basilica of St. Gabriel, photos 206-208).

23 July 2005: Kos. Dr. Keefe continues her tour of the archaeological sites at Kos, visiting the temple of Asklepeion (photos 209-212), Zipari's Basilica of Kapama (photos 214-217) and Basilica of St. Paul (photos 218-220), and the Basilica of St. John at Mastikhari (photos 221-227).

24 July 2005: Kos. Dr. Keefe visits St. Stephen's, a double basilica on the coast where swimmers wandered freely through the ruins to get to the beach. She photographed the basilica and its baptistery (photos 228-235), as well as a baptistery visible from the Orthodox Cemetery in town (photo 236), before flying back to Athens.

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