Friday, September 7, 2018

Eastern Boeotia Archaeological Project - Excavations at Ancient Eleon 2018

EBAP concluded its final excavation season at the site of ancient Eleon in the village of Arma on July 8, 2018 before a period of study and publication. This project is a synergasia between the CIG and Ephorate of Antiquities of Boeotia, under the direction of Dr. Alexandra Charami (Ephorate of Antiquities of Boeotia) and co-direction of Drs. Brendan Burke (University of Victoria) and Bryan Burns (Wellesley College). Dr. Kiriaki Kalliga is also a key partner in our research project. We are very grateful for the research funding we received in 2018 from an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences Humanities Research Council of Canada (#435 2018 0773), the Institute for Aegean Prehistory, and the University of Victoria and Wellesley College. The Canadian Institute in Greece has facilitated and supported the permit process each year and we are grateful to the scholars, students and volunteers who made our work possible.

Our season started off in late May and the weather was surprisingly cool and rainy. The site had been covered by a tarp all winter which prevented any serious damage and erosion. (Slide 1) On the few rainy workdays we had, the team visited the apothiki and learned about pottery sorting, processing and conservation. (Slide 2) We were also able to visit the amazing archaeological museum at Thebes. Once the sun came out by mid-June, the weather became very hot! With our team of about 20 student volunteers, we were able to remove the tarps (Slide3) and work was focused on the impressive Blue Stone Structure, an Early Mycenaean burial complex dating to about 1700 BCE (Slide 4).

With the hot weather (Slide 5) we made every effort we could to stay cool and in the shade, using umbrellas donated to our project by Café Contigo in Dilesi! (Slide 6) Work this year on site progressed very well. We made great progress in understanding the full extent of the Blue Stone Structure and recovered more burial remains. In the apothiki our team of conservators, illustrators, ceramicists and specialists made great progress on our finds. We had an active program of digitization, where 3D scans were made of certain vessels and small finds.

Every year our team of students and researchers have to live and work together for six weeks and we have been very fortunate over the years to get some truly excellent people on our team. (slide 7) We have a range of students, most from the University of Victoria and Wellesley College, but also students from Wilfrid Laurier, Carleton College, McGill University, University of Cincinnati, Rutgers University, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and Texas State University participated this year. (slide 8) We believe students enjoy the opportunities to share what their university experiences are like in Canada and the US. The work is challenging, with early morning sunrises, wild animals and mandatory social gatherings (Slide 9).

This year we were also able to participate in some very fun and rewarding community activities.  The local school children of the Tanagra area had an exhibition focused on the archaeology of the region – called the Tanagra Express (Slide 10) and they kindly invited us to participate. We in turn were also able to host a group from the town of Arma, where our project is based. (slide 11) We had nearly 100 people come to our Open House in July and were able to share our research results with the community (slide 12).

Brendan Burke
Associate Professor, University of Victoria; co-director, Eastern Boeotia Archaeological Project

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