This summer, the Krateros Project was lucky to be joined by a small crew of student staff members, many from The Lawrenceville School, and others from the IAS community more widely. Each new addition to the team made a big impact on the Project, as they helped with everything from cataloguing our squeezes and the contents of our photograph cabinets to 2D scanning and Photoshopping – key elements of our digitization process. In this post, we introduce two of our summer crew members: Jeb and Christabelle.
Tell us about yourself!
Jeb: “I’m Jeb, I am 18 years old, and I enjoy History and Latin. My favorite historical figure is Teddy Roosevelt. A fun fact about me is that I am a cashier at the Acme in Devon, PA.”
Christabelle: “My name is Christabelle, and I’m a high school senior at The Lawrenceville School who loves studying Classics. When not engaged in my studies, you’ll usually find me playing tennis on the courts or rowing on Mercer Lake. My favorite historical figure would be Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose Little House on the Prairie series held a special place in little Christabelle’s heart. Another great author who inspires me is Charlotte Bronte for her clever Jane Eyre novel. A quirky fun fact about me is I’m dying to be a contestant on the show Survivor! Ever since I was little, Survivor watching has always been a family event, and the six of us analyze every bit of the strategy going into the fierce competition.”
What is the most interesting thing you’ve seen, learned or discovered while working at the Krateros Project?
Christabelle: “Certain treasures are hidden among the 30,000 squeezes within the IAS collection. My delight has been discovering these gems (you know one when you see one). A good find can have a compelling image (I once found a squeeze embellished with a grand eagle placed over oak garland – both are symbols of Jupiter!), or the squeeze can be notable for its ‘jumbo’ size (which does take a lot of effort to scan). Although each squeeze is a living piece of history and is therefore interesting, finding treasures like these adds to our appreciation of ancient Greek culture and art.”
Jeb: “The actual text on the squeezes is obviously of utmost importance, but I am also drawn to the art featured on certain squeezes. Whether it is a detailed flower or two feet side by side, ancient drawings have really captured my interest.”
Have you developed any new skills while working on the Project?
Jeb: “A big component of the internship is organizing; as I have dealt with hundreds of squeezes I think I have had a great opportunity to hone my organizational skills, as well as my ability to focus.”
Christabelle: “In particular, one element of the squeezes which piqued my curiosity was the variety in the styles of lettering and handwriting the Ancient Greek carvers employed. Characteristics of these fonts can determine not only the location of the squeeze’s stone but also what time period the text originated in. As the summer progressed, I gained an eye for noticing these styles – from the curvy Athenian letters to handwriting common to Aegean islands and Asia Minor. Also, as a quite unexpected talent, I can now decipher 20th century French cursive handwriting! This was a necessary component of working with the Robert collection of squeezes, which were produced by eminent French epigrapher Louis Robert. The skill of reading near-illegible writing may prove to be quite useful!”
Why do you think studying ancient languages is interesting or important?
Christabelle: “Every once in a while, when I came across a name on I squeeze, I always paused. I was acutely aware of how this squeeze contained the name of a real person, and I’d wonder what his or her life was like thousands of years ago. And here I am in the 21st century looking at a name, a piece of the identity of a once living and breathing human being. It makes you wonder who will know our name thousands of years later. What kind of legacy will we leave?”
Jeb: “Studying ancient languages allows you to communicate with worlds with which you would otherwise have zero contact. As I translate in Latin classes, and handle never-before translated squeezes, I am beginning to understand a world both geographically and temporally foreign. This rare opportunity to ‘communicate’ with people from 2000-3000 years ago is especially interesting to me, and continues to attract me to the Classics.”
What is your favorite ancient text to read and why?
Jeb: “This spring at school, we read Martial’s Epigrams. These short and often humorous texts allowed me to grapple with the more casual side of ancient life. I saw a different picture of the ancient world than that painted in De Bello Gallico and the Aeneid.”
Christabelle: “Out of all the texts I’ve read for my Latin class, I would say that my favorite has been Vergil’s Aeneid. ‘Singing’ the text by reciting it in dactylic hexameter could have possibly been my favorite Latin challenge to take on yet. Another favorite (because it’s so hard to choose!) is the English translation of Plato’s Symposium. It’s a great read concerning Plato’s contemplation of the meaning of love.”
A big Krateros Project thank you goes out to Christabelle, Jeb, and the rest of our summer crew for sharing their time, hard work, and enthusiasm with us!