Monday, September 1, 2014

Good News: We’re Back! Significant Developments on Naxos

Kalo Mina!

As of today the Institute is open again for business with its normal hours of Monday through Friday from 09:00 to 13:00. Extended library hours will begin in October. We look forward to seeing you at CIG, using our Library and other resources. We add to the holdings on a regular basis throughout the year.

Prof. Carter introduced to the audience
The Director in Motion
With summer winding down, last week was an opportune time to visit the SNAP team on Naxos. My arrival was timed by chance to enable us to attend a public lecture in Chora given by Prof. Tristan (Stringy) Carter (McMaster University) last Monday night. Besides the Stelida-Naxos Archaeological Project’s crew and my wife and daughter, the local representative of the KA’ Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of the Ministry of Culture and Sport, Ms. Eirine Legaki, was in attendance. There were over forty locals and foreigners in the audience. They were treated to an excellent overview of the project and its research aims, its methods of research, the results from the 2013 and 2014 field seasons and the possible implications for our understanding of the exploitation of the natural and physical resources of the island and the Aegean basin from most likely 250,000 BP to 9000 BC. The artifacts collected this year suggest strongly that the area around Stelida was utilized for chert quarrying (as the high has two major outcroppings of very high quality chert), artifact production and other activities in the Lower, Middle and Upper Palaeolithic periods and on a larger scale in the earlier Mesolithic period. Besides Homo sapiens sapiens, the chert knappers would have been Homo neanderthalensis or Homo heidelbergensis and probably some form of Homo erectus. Recent studies of ancient sea levels in the Aegean basin over the past 300,000+ years indicate that that this area was often dry land with some scattered large lakes. Such a landscape would make the basin a corridor between Anatolia and the Balkan Peninsula and not a watery barrier. The mountain peak at Stelida and the much more imposing one of Zas on Naxos would have been in the center of this natural passageway. Important finds, bold interpretation, eh!

Homo erectus at Stelida?
The simulating lecture sparked many questions and opinions. This public outreach is an important feature of CIG projects throughout Greece. Without the full support of the ministry and its archaeologists as well as the local residents this research could not be conducted.

View of the western side of Stelida toward a rock shelter
On Wednesday Stringy showed my daughter Liza and me the western side of Stelida where they had surveyed this year. A path and the lack of a steep slope allowed the CIG Director to make it up to one of the two rock shelters that they have identified. Last year we climbed up the steep eastern side of the hill without the aid of a path! Everywhere we looked on the slope there were thick screes of worked chert and debitage from the Middle Paleolithic period mostly. The fact that they found artifacts made from emery obtained from elsewhere on the island indicates that the chert knappers were well versed in the resources that were available.

Chert artifacts and debitage on the surface
We finished out our visit by joining the team for a tasty dinner at their regular taverna on the port at Chora. While the crew and the co-researchers were exhausted from a demanding month of fieldwork and the processing and study of the chipped stone tools, they also were very proud of the fact that they were changing our understanding of the peopling of the Aegean basin. This field season was about to end but the next phase of the research which they hope to start next year promises to be even more thought provoking.

Tristan Carter in front of the rock shelter
I am very pleased to announce that Prof. Carter will give the Invited Lecture at the 2015 Annual Open Meeting of the Institute in May. In the meantime you can visit the SNAP website at: to learn more about their work. Stringy will provide the final guest blog of the “summer of 2014” later this month.

David Rupp

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