Prior to my semester abroad, I took an art history class with the only intention of fulfilling an art requirement, and ended up finding myself very curious about the section of the class dedicated to sculptures from Ancient Greece. For my semester abroad, I traveled to Amman, Jordan which has some examples of similar art styles. For my travel grant, I wanted to travel to Greece to see these pieces of art that I learned about in the classroom in person and compare them to the art I would be seeing in Jordan.
For my spring break in Jordan, I travelled to Athens Greece to see as much of the art as possible. I was able to see the Acropolis, Parthenon, Erechtheion, Temple of Athena Nike, and the Temple of Olympia Zeus. Although I had not planned on it in my original proposal, a fellow St. Lawrence Student travelled with me to Athens to see these sights. We stayed in a cheaper hotel on the outskirts of Athens. While the location was not ideal, we were able to see a large part of the city by walking it. We walked to every sight, which allowed us to see unique sights that we would have missed otherwise. We also saw Hadrian’s Gate and the Roman and Greek Agora. Seeing the sights I saw in a classroom in front of me was an experience like no other.
While in Jordan, I visited one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Petra, and the ancient city of Jerash. Both of these trips were sponsored by my program and allowed for points of comparison with the sights in Athens. The Treasury at Petra was a prosperous community in its time. It is built into the rocks in the mountainous area that is found after walking through a gorge about a mile long. Carved into the treasury are the gods and goddesses worshiped at the time. Petra gives insight into the people of a different time and shows their beliefs through art. Jerash was an unexpected addition to my comparison between Jordan and Athens. The entrance to Jerash is Hadrian’s Arch, the same Hadrian whose gate I visited in Athens. The city had dedications to Zeus and Artemis, both Greek gods that I saw represented in Athens. I was able to also draw an interesting comparison between the amphitheaters in both Jerash and Athens.
The similarities I found between Athens and Jordan were more than I had expected. Jerash and Athens have some of the same influences and worship many of the same gods. However, I was able to draw similarities in the worship of gods through art at Petra and in Athens. While the gods were different, the traditions were the same and provided people with a higher power and sense of reason within their lives in both places. Without this grant, I would have been unable to take my experiences within the classroom and apply them in two other countries. The role of religion in communities is something I continue to study this semester and now a lens that I use to look at the world in a different way. In Athens, Petra, and Jerash, I was also able to witness the implications of colonialism and their lasting effects on these communities. This grant allowed me to learn much more than I had anticipated and provided me with experiences I could not have had on my own, and for that I am extremely grateful.