Student Journal: summer dispatches from the field The Olympics of Ancient Nemea: excavating the way they were
About the project
Profile of students
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The Dispatches

1- A taxicab driver's introduction to Nemea and an archaeological jigsaw puzzle

2- The terra cotta jigsaw puzzle and Indiana Jones and his leather coat

3- Connect my 50 bug bites and you have a map of Nemea

4- Pilgrimage to Delphi, the center of the ancient Greek world

5- Upstairs to the Palamidi fortress, eye level with Zeus

6- Goodbye to Nemea, inventorying 5,000 artifacts


Profile of Katherine Chou

I've just finished my third year at UC Berkeley. I'm getting my bachelor's in Classical Civilizations with my concentration in Art and Archaeology. I'm also taking pre-med courses because while I love classics, I want to be a forensic pathologist. I know the two seem completely unrelated, but it actually makes sense. As a Classics major, I can gain insight into the lives of ancient Greeks by examining the silent remains of their civilization such as the excavation site of Nemea. In a similar fashion, as a forensic pathologist, (hopefully as the chief medical examiner of a major city) I will interpret what the physical evidence of the crime scene shows me in order to understand how a crime was executed and who might have been present.

In the spring of my sophomore year, I had just decided that I wanted to be a classics major. No, I take that back. I had a general, hazy idea that all my antisocial, nerdy inclinations of reading watered down Greek mythology books as a kid could be justified if I became a Classics major. Yeah, that's closer to the truth. Anyhow, I started taking some upper division classes, choosing the ones that would fit around my giant blocks of lab time and that were not in Greek or Latin. This led me to Professor Steve Miller's class, Greek Sanctuaries.

The first day of class, he announced that there was no final because he wouldn't be around to give it. He was leaving in early May because he had to oversee the excavations at his dig site at Nemea. This blew me away - no final! Oh yeah, also the fact that here was a person who didn't rely solely on the information gathered by other people. He was the one whose firsthand opinion mattered, and was published. Professor Miller was the first person I met at Berkeley (but not the last) who I recognized as willing to get his hands dirty to get information he wanted instead of being satisfied with looking something up in a textbook and learning about it secondhand.

I remember asking him once about his work at Nemea. I told him I would be more than happy to help him with his dig. By this time it was too late for me to change my plans for the summer (of debauchery) to go to Nemea for the summer. I asked him, "Can you tell me how long you're going to be working at Nemea?" His answer was, "Can you tell me how long I'm going to live?"

Last fall, I enrolled through the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP) to be his minion, I mean, assistant, along with two others, Martin and Jini (aka Dewey and Louis). We worked long and hard, (mostly long) on making a promotional video for the New Nemean Games in 2004. Now this summer, I get a free trip to Greece to see for myself what we've been trying to sell in a video clip for the past semester and a half! At this point I have a week before I leave and despite all the grown-up details that I have to take care of before I go, I feel as excited for this trip as my nerdy-kid self used to be for those books that told me fantastic stories. Now I get to be one step closer to those stories that helped shape my childhood.

— Katherine Chou


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