In the third Century BCE, Callimachus calls out to Zeus in one of his many hymns. The poet asks Zeus whether he was born in the mountains of Crete, or on the ridge called Cretea in Arkadia, at Mt. Lykaion in the heart of the Peloponnese. Callimachus adds, before leaving the question open, that the ‘Cretans always lie.’
In 2004, a research team from the University of Pennsylvania and in collaboration with the University of Arizona and the Greek Fifth Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities began documenting and excavating the Upper and Lower Sanctuary at the summit of Mt. Lykaion–the birthplace of Zeus. The archaeological work at Mt. Lykaion has been informed by an unprecedented partnership with architects and architecture students since the project’s outset. First excavated in part by Kourniotis in the 19th century, Mt. Lykaion remains a site of panhellenic importance for which little state documentation had ever been created until the project began in 2004.
I worked in 2013 and 2014 as an architectural intern for the excavation, toward the massive goal of completing a state plan of the entire upper and lower sanctuary–an aim of the project since its very beginning. Students live in the tiny village of Ano Karyes (population ~17) and work in the field with analog tools measuring and recording by hand each individual architecturally significant stone, compiling plans, sections, and elevations of every structure on site as they stand today. After portions have been completed in situ by hand, students work to digitize those drawings in AutoCAD. This summer, 2015, I returned as the architecture team’s leader, instructing new interns in field documentation. Our team consisted of two architecture students from the University of Arizona and we three worked primarily to document portions of the Bath House’s northern auxiliary wall in plan, as well as take three sections through the enormous reservoir.
The integration of archaeology and anthropology with the work of architects at the Mt. Lykaion excavation is unlike any other, and the decade-long initiative to create a complete state plan of the entire mountaintop is an absolutely peerless effort. One which sets an example for the possibilities of interdisciplinary collaboration.
Following my time in Greece, I went to work for Blank Studio Architects in Phoenix, Arizona where I worked on a competition entry for the firm. The competition is sited on two adjacent city blocks south of the Phoenix downtown core in the historic Warehouse District. Bisected by a rail line, the site is perfectly positioned to act as an urban-scale threshold linking the Warehouse District to the city center. I collaborated with a team including our principal, a graduate student from the Frank Lloyd Wright School at Taliesin, and a graduate student who came all the way to us from Bosnia Herzegovina. The jury is still out, and I am proud to have worked with such a fantastic team!