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Nik Schulte

Final Reflection
Greek Odyssey
Dr. Smith

The experience of traveling to Greece and exploring various regions of the country
including museums and historical sites has greatly impacted me and resulted in a better
understanding of the ancient Greeks. I think that there was no single time or event that can really
define Greek culture through history but that it is the interconnected result of hundreds and even
thousands of years of rich history that have come to light that defines what it means to be Greek.
It has been through the archaeological remains, traditional oral stories, and written documents
that we have been able to learn more about the culture and way of life during ancient times.
However, it is also through these sources that have sparked my curiosity into what lies unseen,
waiting to be discovered further into the future.
Due to the fact that archaeological remains are tangible evidence of the culture of the
ancient times, it is easy to gather evidence from them. The remains can come in many different
ways such as buildings, pottery, paintings, figurines, sculptures, and monuments that can
physically prove the accomplishments and abilities these ancient peoples had. In terms of my
own understanding of the culture and lifestyles of the ancient Greeks through these
archaeological remains, I felt I was able to gain a greater appreciation upon seeing these artifacts
from more than pictures on the Internet or in a textbook. Being that I am an engineering major
and I have a strong appreciation for anything that required great skills in math and science, I
gravitated towards the building accomplishments the Greeks had. I found it incredible of the
immense size of the temples and structures that we were able to visit. I knew that the size of

temples was big but I had no idea the true size of them. I had the preconceived notions that
Greeks believed in their deities from Mount Olympus and the associated mythology but I now
understand that their religion was a huge part of life. Sacrifices were common, offerings great,
and belief was rooted deep in their culture. Therefore, I understand how important such large
temples seemed necessary to prove to the Gods their devotement and meant to stand above the
city as important and sacred places.
I also was able to see a lot of pottery, coins, military weapons, and burial items. The
techniques, images, and overall appearances of these items changed through time but each
provided its own unique effect on history. I never really understood why pottery and little items
of value were always found at sites when I thought they would be used until they couldnt be, but
after traveling I was able to learn that it was part of the culture to decorate pottery and build
figurines and place items of value (even pure gold) into burial tombs and graves and that is
where we have found most of them. Although these practices were for those of wealth and/or
power, it was important for their culture to provide items of significance into the graves to
accompany the person to the afterlife, provide safe passage, and give them items to use there. It
is interesting because although it was found to have been done several centuries and millennia
ago in ancient cultures, it is still very much active with burial practices in our contemporary
society. These remains are very helpful for archaeologists as they try to learn about the daily
activities and culture from these times and they wouldnt be very far had the culture not left
images and gifts as evidence.
The traditional, oral stories of Greek culture also served as an important part of society
and helped me gain a better understanding into why the ancient Greeks had the lifestyles they
did. Most of the oral stories seemed to have had to do with the religion and mythology they

believed in. However, because the religion changed such as from the female snake goddess to the
Gods of Mount Olympus, the stories were adapted to fit the ideology and expanded as to help
explain every day phenomenon. I both learned and found it very interesting how the Greeks were
able to explain natural phenomenon they experienced or things they could not understand by
connecting it with the work of the Gods. Some of their beliefs may seem primitive today as we
have some scientific answers, however, it seems that even today about all societies point to
metaphysical interaction for what cant be explained.
Written documents serve as a primary source directly into the culture of ancient times.
Although so few are able to survive due to the times, what we do have sheds valuable light into
the lives of ancient Greeks. Written documents are able to divulge the type of language that was
used during the periods such as Linear A and B, and later a much more recognizable Greek
language similar to that of today. Since most of what survives is in stone or metal for public
knowledge or inscriptions, we are able to connect stories with actual historical events and people
that provides information that would have otherwise been lost had it been written in wood or
otherwise. I never knew that there was public knowledge of governmental activities such as costs
and quantities of products, buildings, and sculptures. I think transparent and truly representative
government (or democracy) really helped their culture to flourish by understanding and trying to
collectively work for the advancement of society. I think the best and most important written
documents were those by writers, historians, and philosophers that brightly colored ancient
Greek thought, events, mythology, and theater that are invaluable to understanding the culture, as
well as still providing entertainment and thought after all this time.
After touring Greece for some of its most important sites and history, I still believe that
the picture that is painted of the ancient world is far from accurate. I think we have a good

outline of the culture and the daily activities but there is just so much left to be explored and
discovered that could bring new ideas to ancient life. Even the written documents we have found
to date, explain of plays, sites, things yet to be discovered. The fact that stories were believed to
have been oral tales but later discovered to have been actual places that existed work as a
testament to what we have yet to learn and find. From the places and items I saw, I dont
discount what archaeologists think played out in Greek culture, but what I saw was so advanced
for the time, that surely there is more things left to learn and discover that paints an even clearer
and accurate picture than the one we have today.
Because we visited Greece in the modern day and were unable to travel back in time to
witness and understand ancient times firsthand, modern Greece had to make contributions to the
living conditions the ancient peoples had. The first, and probably most important thing I found,
was the fact that Athens (as well as most of the rest of Greece) seems so crowded and bustling
yet the Acropolis is usually able to stand out regardless of where you are in the city. I think this
connects well to the ideas of the past that there were day to day activities to live and prosper, but
that the Gods were always to be kept in mind and ultimately bestowed to. The food was almost
always fresh, filled with fruits, olives, cheeses, fish, and bread; concurrent with what most
Greeks experienced. Greeks were always friendly, welcoming, and proud of their history which I
think stands as a testament to everything their ancestors accomplished so many years ago in
terms of culture, politics, battle strategy, architecture, math, art, science, entertainment,
philosophy, etc. The culture is definitely something that transcends archaeological remains.
It is an odyssey I will cherish and never forget. I was able to gain so much knowledge,
understanding, and appreciation for what an ancient people were able to accomplish and what
they were able to leave behind that will continue to leave an impact for millenniums to come.