In her research trips to the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, Nancy Klein, associate professor of architecture, is seeking to answer questions about the historic complex’s relationship to Greek social history and religious practice.
“Thinking about these questions pushes us to reexamine what we think we understand about social history,” Klein said in an article about her work published by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, a research collaborator since the 1980s.
“For example, who paid for the buildings’ construction? Was it a tyrant such as Peisistratos or his family?” she asked. “Moreover, how does architecture give a visible, tangible expression of faith, identity and social history in Athens?”
To answer these questions, Klein, who specializes in the art and architecture of ancient Greece and Rome, is examining blocks in an Acropolis storeroom that date from the site’s construction in the 5th and 6th centuries. She searches the blocks for tool marks and construction details and then measures, photographs, and draws each block.
Early 20th century publications gave a representative sample of the blocks and beautiful reconstructions of the buildings’ facades, said Klein, who returns to Greece almost every year for her research.
“But now, from an archaeological viewpoint, you realize the evidence is more elusive,” she said. “In using excavation to find architecture and presenting a catalogue of blocks, I can talk about the specifics. For example, how many buildings there were, how big they were, and what are their distinctive characteristics.”
Klein is a research fellow at the Texas A&M Center for Heritage Conservation, a professional center for interdisciplinary research and service projects on all aspects of built and natural heritage.