Blog

The 2021-2022 academic year has begun at the Institute, and we welcome the Institute’s 2021-22 Neda and Franz Leipen Fellow, Katerina Apokatanidis, and Wilfrid Laurier University interns Nekesh Nair and Alice Maksimowski.

Katerina Apokatanidis is a PhD candidate in Classical Archaeology at the University of Toronto, under the supervision of Prof. Sarah Murray. Her thesis, entitled “Greek Religion and Funerary Culture in the Archaic and Classical Periods: The Case-Study of the Worshippers of the Orphic Dionysos,” focuses on the tomb assemblages that yielded the Orphic Gold Tablets.

The Orphic Gold Tablets are thin, gold inscriptions that point to the existence of a Bacchic-Orphic religious group. The Bacchic-Orphic cult seems to have operated on the periphery of public religious practice. The texts record what each deceased initiate should do to be free of the cycle of reincarnation on earth and enter the Elysium Fields, previously reserved for descendants of the gods. This cult is visible to us only via these tablets as well as the Derveni papyrus. Such textual references enable us to detect this unusual religious practice and identify key aspects of the worship of a different Dionysos, one more intimately connected with death and the afterlife.

With the support of the Canadian Institute in Greece and the Neda and Franz Leipen Fellowship, Ms. Apokatanidis wishes first to assemble the funerary context of the Orphic Gold Tablets that have not been adequately situated in material cultural perspective to date. Second, she wishes to assess the objects of the tomb assemblages of each worshipper both as isolated cases and as they compare to others of the same and subsequent periods. To accomplish these objectives, a hands-on study of the archaeological material from these tombs will be carried out at museums in Greece and Italy. This project will fill several gaps in our knowledge of the Bacchic-Orphic cult by interpreting the tablets within a robustly archaeological framework, considering issues of production, material properties, and assemblage.

Nekesh Nair is a recent graduate of the Archaeology and Heritage Studies program at Wilfrid Laurier University, who is planning on continuing his education in Classical Archaeology at the graduate level.

Through the various courses and experiences undertaken while doing his undergraduate degree, particularly excavations and courses related to the Classical world, Nekesh developed a fascination with the history and the archaeology of Greece. Nekesh will be starting his graduate program in the fall of 2022 and will be hoping to develop more insight and gain new experiences in Classical Archaeology.

Being given the opportunity to work as an intern at the Canadian Institute in Greece, Nekesh hopes to learn more about the archaeology of Greece. Additionally, he hopes to gain more knowledge about further careers in archaeology that can be undertaken after his graduate program.

Alice Maksimowski is an undergraduate student in her fourth year at Wilfrid Laurier University. She is majoring in Archaeology and Heritage Studies and double-minoring in Ancient Studies and Medievalism Studies. She plans to continue her archaeological studies to a graduate level.

Through her studies and opportunities to participate in archaeological excavations in Romania and Jordan, Alice has formed an interest focusing on the Classical world and the medieval era in Europe and the Middle East. She is also interested in the study of osteology, and would like to continue her studies in that area.

By being given the opportunity to work at the Canadian Institute in Greece, Alice hopes to learn about Greek culture, language, and history, as well as the history of archaeological excavations in the region. This position will help her understand what other career paths there are in the archaeological community.

Jonathan Tomlinson
Assistant Director