I LOST MY MARBLES!

One of the first places I visited after arriving in Athens, Greece was the Acropolis ruins, carvings and statues at the Acropolis that where so detailed and unharmed for the most part. All of them were. There were many 2,000 year old made of marble which got me wondering how artists were able to carve such astonishing pieces the could withstand the test of time and still look as if they had been made yesterday.

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Pentellic Marble: A Monumental Metamorphosis 

Walking around the Acropolis Museum, only one word came to mind: candescent. Surrounding me, and throughout the whole museum, was the most beautiful white marble you could ever imagine. It gleamed bright white and nearly flawless in the sunlight and I honestly felt like I could have been standing right next to Hercules himself. For my whole life I’ve been enraptured by history and the Earth, and the Acropolis is a perfect example of where those two meet for everyone to experience. As I walked around the museum taking in all the incredible stone work and intricate details, my mind kept wandering to the story of the beautiful marble that was used to build one of the most famous monuments in history.  Continue reading “Pentellic Marble: A Monumental Metamorphosis “

Painting With Minerals 

I see artists as true innovators and inventors, people with creative minds and free spirits. To create something that can move people to tears or to a revolution. The evolution of art has changed throughout the eras, but the creativity and rigidness behind it hasn’t. I can remember when I was younger, coming home to my mom standing over our stove making dye from cochineal bugs. It was a vibrant red color. She would use this to dye shirts, or an art piece in technical patterns and designs. When walking through the Acropolis museum, a display of colorful minerals popped out against the white backdrop of statues and marble walls; it explained how the Ancient Greeks used different colored minerals to paint a world of amazing structures and statues.

 

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The Progression of Santorini

Four massive caldera-forming eruptions and 200,000 years later, the island of Santorini takes its modern and familiar shape. The pioneers of NAU in Greece have had the opportunity to observe and research first hand the most recent of these eruptions, and possibly the most significant: the Minoan. We have scaled the caldera rim at Cape Plaka, trekked to the top of Mt. Profitias Illias, hiked the entire northern region of the island to Oia, and explored the Akrotiri ruins just to get a glimpse into the past. When the entire island of Thera had been diligently and meticulously observed, we left to Nea Kameni, the resurgent shield volcano in the center of the caldera to explore some more.

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The Character of the Caldera

Greek literature is full of heroes: Achilles, Odysseus, and Zorba, just to name a few. I must admit that I initially signed up for NAU in Greece not for the opportunity to study geology, but for the chance to see and live in the land that these heroes call home. More than anything though, I came for the stories I would one day tell; I promised myself to find my muse, seize every adventure, and write every bit of it down in my travel journal. After three weeks here though, the pages of my travel journal are sparse, and instead my geological field notebook lays filled to the brim with discoveries.

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Living in the Walls of the Past

Why not create something beautiful out of a catastrophe? In Santorini, it is easy to find many structures built out of the destruction from the Minoan eruption. I have personally witnessed some of the techniques employed to create these domiciles. Through the build up of pumice and ash as results of the volcanic eruption, inhabitants of the island have taken advantage of what they have been given.
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Wine on Santorini — Meant to Be

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Evidence of wine production in Santorini dates back to 3500 B.C., but it was not until after the Caldera-forming Minoan eruption 20 centuries later that gave the island it’s unique environmental and geological characteristics that make the wine cultivation so unique. The rich soil that fuels over 10% of the island’s economy is known as “Aspa”, which is mainly composed of the porous volcanic rock called pumice, along with the volcanic ash from this explosive eruption.(1) The lack of clay in the soil make Santorini one of the few areas in the world not affected by the devastating Phylloxera pest, who depends on a high clay content to survive. Without the volcanic/tectonic influence on Santorini’s soil, wine cultivation on this Mediterranean island would have never made it through the 19th century. (3)

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There is No Bugging This Wine

There is money to be found in the lay of Santorini’s land. For over 4000 years, Santorini has prided itself on the production of a wine that is unique due to its’ harvesting circumstances. In order to generate income to sustain a stable economy, Santorini traded with many different countries: including France and Egypt. The wineries were not the only sources of wine on the island though, as every home contained a wine press. This enabled individuals to produce wine for themselves and excess to sell to the wineries to supplement income for Santorini.
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The Minerals That Paint Santorini, and Their Vitality

Have you ever made your own paint before? What about having to mine it in order to make it? Santorinians created their fresco paints out of the minerals that their island withheld, and the results of those frescoes are quite a sight to be seen. Because of these minerals, past Akroteri artists of Santorini have had the opportunity to make some of the finest, most … Continue reading The Minerals That Paint Santorini, and Their Vitality