February 03, 2009

Meeting offers details on trips to Egypt, Greece

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Nothing makes a trip to Egypt memorable like participating in a mummification ritual.

For those traveling with Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Robert Hahn, philosophy professor and director of the Ancient Legacies program, it’s a matter of “when in ancient Greece or ancient Egypt, do as the ancients did…” to paraphrase a famous expression.

So, what does that mean, exactly? Those who’d like to travel back in time as well as overseas may attend an Ancient Legacies program meeting on Thursday, Feb. 5, beginning at 7 p.m. in Lawson Hall, Room 131. The meeting sets forth in detail the advantages of the “Intellectual Adventures” Ancient Legacies program. As Hahn describes it, that means getting a chance to try out some ancient practices, to walk (or run) in the footsteps of history, during a week-long trip that combines unusual educational opportunities with plenty of chances for leisure and recreation.

This year, Hahn plans three Egyptian trips and two trips to Greece. This is the 27th year for Ancient Legacies at SIUC.

The Greek adventures include Athens, Delphi, the islands of Samos and Kos, and the west coast of Turkey for the first trip. The second trip includes Mycenae, Crete, Santorini, Mykonos and Athens. Some of the hands-on activities include making terracotta vessels in the black figure and red figure techniques, making a mask, playing a role in a Greek play and running a short footrace in the Coliseum.

The Egyptian expeditions include Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, a Nile cruise and side visits to Alexandria and Sharm el-Sheikh. Students participate in a sacred mummification ritual (well, part of one, anyway), create hieroglyphic tablets and ride camels in the Sahara Desert.

Hahn said participation in these programs obviously enhances the experience for travelers, but it also makes real for students some of the issues these ancient peoples considered that bridge the gap of the centuries.

“For example, consider questions about death and burial,” Hahn said. “What happens, in a temporal sense, after we die? What words are said over us? Do we know? Does it matter? If it does matter and we don’t know, why don’t we know? The ancient Egyptians, of a certain class and background, knew and knew exactly. What did they know? And how did that shape their view of the rest of their lives, the rest of their world?”

Hahn pointed out that his background as a philosopher makes for a different educational experience overseas than a student might find during an archaeological or historical-based trip. Certainly, it is different from a “touristy” view of the ancient sites.

Attending the meeting does not obligate anyone to sign up for the program (though Hahn warns many might want to after seeing the presentation). The presentation itself is free, full of travel anecdotes and inspiration.

For more information on the presentation, or on the program if you can’t make it to the presentation, contact Robert Hahn at hahnr@siu.edu or 618/536-6641 or Thomas Saville, associate director of the Study Abroad program, at tsaville@siu.edu or 618/453-7670.