In the fertile plain at the foot of Mount Vermio, nestled among the towns of Kopanos, Lefkadia and Naoussa, excavations have brought to light the remains of an ancient city identified as Mieza.
Mieza was one of the major cities of the Macedonian kingdom during the period of its prosperity (4th-2nd century BC). Ancient authors and geographers refer to Mieza as lovely Emathia, the name used by Homer (Iliad, XIV, 226). Named after the daughter of Beres and sister of Olganos and Beroia from ancient mythology, the dispersed buildings uncovered so far provide a rough picture of the Hellenistic city. The architectural remains belong mainly to a number of public buildings. It is most likely that the nucleus of the ancient city, namely its agora, lay at the present rural site of Belovina at Kopanos. It is here where an ancient theater sits. The theater dates to the Late Hellenistic period, though its current form belongs to Roman times. It was built on a hillside with a panoramic view over the valley and its capacity is estimated at roughly 1500 spectators.
The total restoration of the monument aims to highlight its historical value and allow for its reuse so that the site becomes a key place for cultural activities in the region.
The prosperity of Mieza is reflected in the luxurious villas of the Hellenistic and Roman times. Among the best-preserved examples are the two Roman villas at Tsifliki of Lefkadia and Baltaneto of Naoussa, with splendid mosaic floors dated to the 2nd century AD.
One of the most important findings at the Archaeological Museum of Veroia is the marble bust of the river god Olganos, dated in the 3rd quarter of the 2nd c. AD. The bust was found in a field near the modern village of Kopanos (ancient Mieza). According to the 2nd century lexicographer Stephen of Byzantium, the river god Olganos was the son of Veris, mythical ancestor of the Macedonias and brother of Veroia and Mieza, who gave their names to two of the most important cities in ancient Imathia. This is the only known portrait of the river god in ancient Greek art. The idealized facial features betray both the influence of the imagery of Alexander the Great and the romanticism of the age of the Antonine emperors (2nd c. AD).
Outside the perimeter of the ancient city, along the contemporary rural road that leads from Kopanos to Naoussa, lies the idyllic site of Isvoria. The lush landscape with plentiful waters and natural caves characterize Dionysian scenery, an ideal place for worshipping the Nymphs in antiquity. The scattered architectural remains of a rock-hewn Ionic stoa, dated after the mid-4th century BC, were used to identify the site as the very school of Aristotle, where the young prince Alexander studied under the great philosopher along with young members of Macedonian aristocratic families. Philip the II of Macedon, hired Aristotle to teach his son, Alexander.
Aristotle was the most learned and celebrated philosopher during this time period. In return for instructing his son, Phillip the II rewarded Aristotle by restoring Aristotle’s hometown – the city of Stagira. The city had been razed in a previous conquest and its citizens sold into slavery. Phillip rebuilt the city and restored its citizens, who were in exile or slavery, to their habitations. As a place for the teaching of his son, Phillip II assigned the temple of the Nymphs, near Mieza to Aristotle. To this very day, Aristotle’s stone seats and the shady walks, which he was known to frequent remain.
The antiquities of the region were first mentioned in the middle of 19th century by foreign travellers, W. M. Leake and A. Delacoulonche. The first excavation was conducted by the Danish architect K.F.Kinch, who excavated the Macedonian tomb of Lyson and Kallikles.
The archaeological finds indicate that the region has a long history of habitation, which began around the second millennium BC and lasted until the end of antiquity. Discoveries during excavations gradually led to the image of a rural community that transformed into an urban center to become a prosperous and wealthy city during the Hellenistic period. The site has been untouched since the 1960’s.
Our team will collaborate with Greek archaeologists that are launching a project that is vital for the region. Mieza exists today as a collection of disparate monuments strewn across the landscape. This project aims to fully connect the monuments across the site including areas currently inaccessible to the public. The intent is to understand the site from a more complete historical context and allow for its protection. This work will not only ensure their survival, but will also lead to an influx of visitors to the area.
The goal for 2018 was to continue the excavation of the Roman baths and to investigate their connection with the rest of the villa and between the villa and the city. We will continue investigating Mieza early stages and excavating the construction excavated in the bedrock East of the site. We will also attempt the first steps to consolidate the mosaics discovered last summer.
Application & Reservation
To reserve a space, students must pay a $100 application fee (Included in the price of the program). Upon acceptance into the program, one half of the program fees will be required to be paid. The remainder of the fees will be due (minus the application fee) by May 15. Application fees will not be refunded if the applicant is not selected.
Applications will be accepted until all spaces are filled. Participants will be notified of their acceptance within two weeks of the submission of their application and will receive an information packet shortly thereafter with further details.
Cancellation and Refund Policy
Before May 15: All payments, except for the $100 application fee, are refundable.
After May 15: All payments are non-refundable unless your application is rejected by the program director.
Right of Refusal
AFAR reserves the right to refuse an applicant’s selection. This is a rare occurrence and is most likely due to a person’s inability to meet health requirements or in the interest of group compatibility. Once in the field, the program directors and AFAR reserve the right to send a student away from the program should that person’s behavior compromise the safety, research objectives and general performance of the group, or violate Greek laws, regulations or customs.
Expectations of Students
Working on an archaeological site is hard work. Students need to be in good health and capable of using picks, shovels, trowels, and detailed instruments to excavate in a hot environment. Students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner, be eager to learn, and capable of taking direction.
First & Second Session Program Itinerary
June 28 — Fly from Charlotte (CLT) to Athens (AIA). Overnight flight.
June 29 — Arrive to Athens (AIA). Bus to Athens city center. Visit Athens Highlights. Lunch in Athens. Bus to Delphi for overnight stay. Dinner in Delphi.
June 30 — Visit Delphi site and museum. Lunch in Delphi. Bus to Naoussa. Dinner in Naoussa. Briefing.
July 1 — Day 1 of Excavations We will shuttle to downtown Naoussa for lunch.Later in the day, the team will visit the Macedonians Tombs of Mieza.
July 2 — Day 2 of Excavations. We will continue studies at Mieza. Following lunch, the team will work with finds/ceramics at the facilities of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Hemathia.
July 3 — Day 3 Excavations
July 4 - Day 4 Excavations
July 5 - Day 5 Excavations
July 6 — Following breakfast at the hotel, we will take a charter bus to hike Mt. Olympus. We will take the bus back to the Villa Anthemia in time to be home for dinner.
July 7 — Following breakfast at the hotel, we will take a charter bus to the ancient site of Aegae, which is located in the modern village of Vergina. Here our team will get a behind-the-scenes tour of the Ancient Cemetery of Aegai, which includes the royal tombs of Phillip the Second and Alexander the Fourth. We will have lunch in Vergina and then take a charter bus back to the Villa Anthemia hotel in the evening. Dinner will be provided at the hotel.
July 8 — Day 6 of Excavations
July 9 — Day 7 of Excavations
July 10 — Day 8 of Excavations
July 11 — Final days of investigation at Mieza. After breakfast at the Villa Anthemia Hotel, we will take a shuttle to the site. We will shuttle back for lunch and after concluding our work at the site return for evening activities at the hotel. This will be the last day for the students to keep their journals at the site of Aristotle’s school. The day will conclude with a closing party.
Day 13 — We will wrap up our studies at Mieza for the week. We will start with breakfast at the Villa Anthemia Hotel and take a shuttle to Skála.
July 13 — Beach Day at Skála.
July 14 — Fly home from Athens (AIA) to Charlotte (CLT)
Daily Work Schedule
6:00 — Rise and eat breakfast
6:30 — Arrive at site and begin investigations at the direction of archaeologists
10:00 — Break for snack
1:00 — Wrap up at the site for the day, clean up before lunch
2:00 — Lunch
3:00-5:00 — Siesta/Rest
5:00 — Lecture/Class/Artifact Preservation
7:30 — Dinner and free time
10:30 — Bedtime
Accommodations & Meals
Students will be sharing rooms, each with en- suite bathrooms and air conditioning. Students will have access to a laundry machine. Towels are provided. The hotel includes a general room with a television and a dining area where meals will be served. Wifi is also available.
Meals will be eaten at the hotel, and an arrangement will be made to provide us with a mid- workday snack. Lunch in Greece is the main meal, with breakfast and dinner being lighter. Please let us know if you are a vegetarian or if you require a special diet so that we may discuss the best way to accommodate your needs.
While in Noussa, the students will stay at The Villa Anthemia Hotel – Naoussa, Greece. Depending on the session, the students will also have an overnight stay at:
Travel will be provided by a charter company for the majority of the trips throughout the program. Any trips without a charter company will be limited but will be provided by supervisors who will be pre-qualified through the AFAR International Travel Programs procedures.
For this program, the students will generally be at the archaeological site during the weekdays and on excursions during the weekend. On occasion, we may choose to deviate from the schedule in reaction to unforeseen circumstances and unique opportunities.
Workshops & Excursions
Every afternoon the program directors will prepare classroom sessions that will include seminars and workshops concerning the fieldwork and the Greek history.
Topics include the following:
History of Greece
Introduction into Archaeology including Stratigraphy, Artifact Collection and Archaeological Recording
Keeping an Archaeological Journal
Introduction to life in the time of Alexander the Great
An archaeologist’s work is incomplete unless he or she can sit back and reflect on the day’s excavation. Therefore, the group will take time to experience Greece away from the shovels and wheelbarrows, either by relaxing at a café or by visiting nearby sites.
We believe that visiting the region’s historical sites is essential to understanding the context of the archaeological work at Mieza. Excursions may change depending on the excavation schedule and unforeseen events. Probable excursions include the following:
Aigai is the first city and cradle of the ancient kingdom of Macedon, located at the moder village of Vergina, roughly 30 minutes away from the hotel. It was here in 336 BC where Philip II was assassinated at the theatre and Alexander the Great was proclaimed king and started his campaign to the East.
The site became internationally famous in 1977, when the Greek archaeologist, prof. Manolis Andronikos, excavated the so-called ‘’Great Tumulus’’ and unearthed the burial cluster of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, and his family, containing the tomb of Alexander IV, the son of Alexander the Great and Roxanne. Both tombs were un-plundered. The looted tomb of a queen, belonging probably to one of Phlilp’s wife, Nicessipolis, contain the extraordinary mural painting of the Rape of Persephone, one of the most exquisite painted works from ancient Greece.
The remains of another Macedonian tomb, and a building dedicated to the cult of the hero kings were also under the ‘’Great Tumulus’’. Philip’s burial cluster in now protected under a tumulus shaped shelter, which exhibits the finds of this legendary excavation.
Since now two other royal burial clusters have been unearthed, the so-called Temenids’ burial cluster and the Queens’ cluster, containing the tomb of Eurudice, the mother of Philip II. The palace built by Philip II is the most prominent and extensive public building in classical Greece.
A new museum is being constructed and its new exhibitions are under preparation. The archaeological site of Aigai is since 1996 a Unesco Monument of Extraordinary Universal Significance and the most visited site in northern Greece.
Mount Olympus Excursion
Greece Team Leaders
In addition to the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports (for the Greece Project) supervisors that will oversee the excavations, there will be numerous staff members supporting the archaeological team.