Our excavation at ancient Eleon, in the village of Arma, in eastern Boeotia has just concluded its first season of digging and, by all accounts, it was a great success. Daily operations were led by myself and two North American colleagues, Dr Bryan Burns of Wellesley College and Dr Susan Lupack of University College, London, co-directors of the Eastern Boeotia Archaeological Project (EBAP). We are sincerely grateful to our Greek colleagues based at the Thebes Museum, Dr Vasilios Aravantinos, and Dr Yannis Fappas, who collaborated with us and facilitated this research. We are also very grateful for the administrative help and support from the Canadian Institute office in Athens, by Dr Jonathan Tomlinson and Dr David Rupp.
With a very focused and dedicated crew of about 12 (made up of undergraduates, graduate students, and staff from Canada, the US, the UK, and Australia), we started a new phase of research for EBAP by conducting trial excavations. Beginning in 2007 we had conducted a survey around Arma village and the areas of Tanagra and Eleona, so we did have some idea of what to expect. Our survey, however, also provided us with research questions: for example, why was there so much Mycenaean and earlier Bronze Age pottery on the surface of the acropolis site at Arma village, when the most prominent architectural feature – a massive wall of polygonal masonry – was obviously of Classical date? Following other scholars we identify this site with the ancient site of Eleon, which appears in Linear B tablets from Thebes and in the Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad. The important dates and the role of Eleon in eastern Boeotia will be further investigated in the coming years. For this blog, however, I’d like to highlight what was accomplished over four short weeks of dedicated work in June at the site.
By the second week we had worked out a fairly efficient system of sharing duties - students and project directors alike (!) took turns picking, shovelling, and wheel barrowing. Careful record keeping and observation were of course a priority, as was photography and drawing various features. The material we found was primarily Mycenaean, and included decorated pottery, figurines, antlers and horns, and tools for cloth production. We organized the recording of our excavation around a locus and lot system, which maintains that a ‘locus’ is any stratigraphic deposit (trash lens, pit, wall, floor, etc.), while a ‘lot’ is a relatively arbitrary number which is used to map the actual excavation of any locus.
University of Victoria