On Site: Fracchia ’14 Drafts Topographical Map of Gournia

Adriana Fracchia '14 and Professor John McEnroe on site in Gournia using the Topcon Total Station.
Adriana Fracchia '14 and Professor John McEnroe on site in Gournia using the Topcon Total Station.

Adriana Fracchia ’14 was awarded an Emerson Foundation Summer Research Grant to assist John and Anne Fischer Professor in Fine Arts John McEnroe in conducting one of only three officially sanctioned U.S. excavations in Greece. Fracchia is working to draft a topographical map of the ancient village of Gournia, located on Crete, as a continuation of the  work done by fellow Hamilton student and Emerson Grant recipient Caroline Morgan ’13 in 2011. She is also working with American School of Classical Studies scholar Matt Buell.

Gournia is a late village of the Minoan civilization which was discovered by famed female archeologist Harriet Boyd-Hawes in 1901. The village, which thrived from 1800 BCE to 1490 BCE, is comprised of ancient winding streets interspersed with more than 60 houses, a palace and a public court, nearly all of which were documented in a two-dimensional model by Morgan in the summer of 2011. Fracchia’s goal is to expand the previously created catalog by adding three-dimensional models of previously and newly discovered buildings to the existing map.

She uses a program called Topcon Total Station and GIS Software to construct her three-dimensional representations and often engages in architectural surveying to obtain her data. Her work will not only expand archaeologists’ geographical and architectural understanding of the village, but it will also allow archaeologists to better date certain sections of the village based on building styles.

As a world politics major, Fracchia noted that she particularly appreciates the artistic and architectural influence that politics have had on the early village. The palace’s architectural design and the artistic representations of ancient political figures have helped to give her an impression of the ancient political culture of the site.

Fracchia’s time in Greece has also given her insight into the present day political situation in the country. While she was initially somewhat nervous about living in Greece during the height of its debt crisis, she observed that “[the village] is in fact rather peaceful … Crete seems to be in its own world, separated to a degree from the chaos in Athens.” Fracchia was impressed by how hardworking and optimistic most of the Greeks she met are, and she remarked that many are frustrated with the image of laziness that much of the world has tried to impress upon them. “It’s the system, not the people, that’s failed the country,” she said, referencing as an example the building of a €300,000 stimulus project café adjacent to her site, which has slowed down their excavation and is on the verge of its second bankruptcy.

The mapping process itself has moved along smoothly for Fracchia and her group, and she noted that the most difficult part of her work is often simply getting up at 6 a.m. to face the beating sun. “It’s a profession of little monetary incentive,” she remarked referring to archaeology, “but one that is filled with satisfaction on a daily basis.” Fracchia will deliver an on-campus lecture on her research in the coming fall semester, and her group plans to present their initial findings to the general meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America and publish their completed report in the Journal of the Institute of Aegean Prehistory.

Fracchia is a graduate of Millbrook Prep School (N.Y.)

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