Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Of Sandwiches and Lions...

[written Tuesday 13 December 2011]

Wow the past three months have gone by so quickly I can’t believe I leave for Canada in two days! As the CIG’s fall intern and the first of what I am sure will be many great Wilfrid Laurier University interns to come, I have had an amazing experience the past three months. As a Classical Archaeology student at Laurier the availability of this internship was a dream come true. Not only did I get to experience life at CIG but I was also able to attend numerous lectures, study in the library of the British School at Athens and visit sites and museums. It was rewarding to visit the sites and see the remains of the material I have spent numerous hours slaving away on for research papers in the past three years.

My work at CIG has revolved around the library and accessioning and cataloguing of donation books and creating an inventory for CIG’s upcoming book sale. In addition to my library duties I had the pleasure of being caterer and hostess at the four fall events held at CIG. Thanks to these events I now have insurmountable knowledge in egg salad sandwich making, and do I ever make a good sandwich!

During my stay here I have done a lot more than sit in the library all day. I have attended a number of fascinating lectures (and some less fascinating), celebrated my 21st birthday, attended Modern Greek classes, played darts at the Red Lion and of course eaten a lot of pita gyros. Needless to say, an archaeology student could never come to Greece without visiting a site or two as well! My interest in Classical Archaeology lies in the Bronze Age and the Mycenaeans and therefore I set of one day on the most epic journey and day of my life. My trip to Mycenae was spectacular! Going at the end of November meant very few tourists and almost no whistle blowing employees. This allowed me the freedom to wander, climb, run, and jump across the citadel and surrounding area. The most exciting moments were sitting atop the relieving triangle of the Treasury of Atreus and adventuring into some random chamber tombs Indiana Jones style.

In the past three months I have made so many great friends and did not expect to be so sad to leave them all behind. Luckily for them I doubt this will be the last time they see my smiling face. I can’t wait to return to dig some more holes soon and am now off to my last darts night at the Red Lion for a while.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night,

Haley MacEachern
Wilfrid Laurier University intern

Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Recess, Farewell Haley and Investigating Neolithic Middens in Turkey

While it is not so far looking like Christmas here in Athens, in terms of the weather at least, the holidays are upon us. That means that the Institute will close for a two week recess starting Friday afternoon, the 16th. Jonathan is heading back to his family hearth in Yorkshire and I, along with my family, are heading to the United States to attend the AIA meetings in Philadelphia. We’ll resume operation on Monday, January 2nd. So Kales Yiortes apo mas!!!

Farewell and Thank You lunch: with Chris Stewart, Haley MacEachern, David Rupp, Jonathan Tomlinson
All good things have to come to an end. And for Haley MacEachern, our undergraduate intern this fall from Wilfrid Laurier University her three month sojourn in Athens at the Institute ended yesterday. It was great having her with us. She accomplished many things in our Library and for the preparations for our second much anticipated book sale which will start in January. The next issue of this blog will feature her as the guest blogger! There you will learn all about her experiences and impressions. S’efkharisto para poli Haley!!!

Book of the Blog
A number of the books and monographs featured in my mini-reviews have discussed in some fashion the collection of different kinds of ecofactual remains from the archaeological record as well as the anthropogenic and natural formation processes that created them. The purpose of archaeological research is not simply to have data sets. One of the primary goals is the reconstruction of the human activities which utilized the organic and inorganic remains as well as the discard practices that created middens by the deposition of these residues. Middens are frequently a treasure-trove of ash, charred seeds and fruit pips, phytoliths, animal bones, animal dung and human coprolites. These materials inform us on plant resource use, diet, subsistence practices, fuel use and environmental conditions with high temporal resolution.

The excavations in the 1990s at the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in southern Turkey, under the general direction of Ian Hodder, have approached the data recovery processes and data analyses from many innovative approaches. In her monograph, DailyActivities, Diet and Resource Use at Neolithic Çatalhöyük. Microstratigraphic and biomolecular evidence from middens (BAR International Series 2232, Oxford, 2011), Lisa-Marie Shillito presents what a very-fine grained examination of the thin stratigraphic layers and the features of a midden in situ or as blocks removed from the matrix can reveal. Normal recovery techniques focused on the recovery of macro-remains destroy the matrix in the process and then mixes the materials from the different layers during sieving and flotation.

Before proceding with the case study based on selected middens at Çatalhöyük she contextualized her work in terms of the overall study of middens, the potential information such investigations might reveal, the methods of inquiry and analytical techniques utilized and the research questions that she will address.

Samples were taken from the micromorphology of the midden deposits and thin sections were made. A careful examination of these provided evidence of organic and inorganic inclusions, phytoliths, internal structure and post-depositional alterations. The biomolecular analysis of the organic residues focused on plant sterols and bile acids as faecal biomarkers from the coprolites. These investigations used Fourier Transform Infra-Red Spectroscopy (FT-IR), SRS Micro X-Ray Detraction (XRD) and Scanning Electron Microscopy and Energy Dispersive X-Ray (SEM-EDX) analysis. These presentations with their illustrative materials require a basic knowledge of organic chemistry and the analytical approaches used.

In the Discussion section Shillito pulls it all together. She reconstructs how middens were formed from the debris, discards and residues of various activities, mainly food processing, preparation and cooking, fuel use, dwelling cleaning and craft activities. Animals defecated on them and human excrement (revealing food consumption) was dumped there. The cyclical and/or seasonal nature of these activities can also be inferred. From this one can deduce subsistence strategies, diet and resource exploitation practices. She concludes with the limitations of the present state of such research and comments on what improvements there could be in future investigations of similar material.

The extensive graphs, tables, charts, diagrams, flowcharts, and section drawings are essential for the understanding of her discussions. While the B/W photographs vary in quality and intelligibility the numerous color images of the stratification details and the thin sections are excellent. The Bibliography is adequate for the discussions.

If you are what you eat, then middens and latrines are where archaeologists will discover the unvarnished details of this. This thin but fascinating case study is an excellent way to learn how investigations such as these can expand your understanding of the foodways of a population beyond what the material culture and architectural remains suggest.

Eftyxismenes o Kainourios Xronos!
David Rupp

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Christmas Bazaar and the Ethnicity of the Sea Peoples

Living in Athens provides for many opportunities to pursue various archaeological and related topics. One of the many roles I have taken on as a result is to serve as the President of the Friends of the Historical Archive of the Hellenic Archaeological Service. This Syllogos was founded at the beginning of the year to allow individuals interested in archaeology, archival research, philanthropy and meeting like-minded people to get together for fellowship and to help support the activities and needs of the National Archive.

The National Archive is located in a restored industrial building at Psaramylingou 22, a short street parallel to Peiraios, in the Kerameikos area. It contains the Archives of the Hellenic Archaeological Service since its inception in 1834. Besides the spacious archive storage area, there is a paper, drawing and photograph conservation laboratory, offices, a large display space for exhibitions of the documents, photographs and plans as well as a small lecture area.

On Friday, December 16th (19:30-22:30) and Saturday, 17th (10:00-16:00) the Friends will hold their first Christmas Bazaar for the Archive. At Psaramylingou 22 there will be a book sale (Greek and English, fiction, thrillers/mysteries, archaeological), baked goods, raffles, interesting items and knitted scarves, caps and wrist warmers by my wife Metaxia Tsipopoulou (Director Emerita, National Archive of Monuments). In honour of the occasion she will have a retrospective exhibition of her many knitting talents over the past 30 years.

One of the Friends’ fund raising efforts is a 2012 calendar that honours the first 100 years of the Archive. The images on the calendar are significant documents related to the advance of the archaeology of Greece between 1834 and 1934 with the signatures of famous archaeologists and politicians. This will be on sale at the Bazaar too! Truly a collector’s item!!!

I look forward to seeing you on the 16th or the 17th, so save the dates!!! All of the proceeds from the Bazaar will go to the Friends' ongoing support of the Archive and its needs. You can also sign up as a member of the Friends.

Book of the Blog
Ethnicity, like gender and social personae, is constructed by individuals and groups within the context of a given society at a given point in time. Generally this is done in reaction to the activities of other individual and groups. It is not immutable and its indiciae vary over time. The fluidity of ethnicity makes its delineation in the past a difficult, moving target. Even with available historical source materials this is not easy. In the protohistoric and prehistoric periods the challenges of determining the ethnicity of a particular population based primarily on material culture assemblages are nearly insurmountable.

A Dutch cultural anthropologist specializing in ethnicity in the Mediterranean Bronze Age, Wim M.J. van Binsbergen, and his doctoral candidate historian who studied the Sea Peoples, Fred C. Woudhuizen, have co-authored a synthetic work entitled, Ethnicity in Mediterranean Protohistory (BAR International Series 2256, Oxford, 2011). Their aim is to identify the ethnicity of the so-called Sea Peoples from an interdisciplinary approach. All possible sources of evidence are marshalled together to probe and to attack the breadth and depth of this perennial topic. These include myth, literary texts, historical sources, all manner of inscriptions, linguistics, settlement patterns, artifact distribution patterns, art, nautical design and religion.

Van Binsbergen attempts to provide in Part I a usable methodological approach for this study as well as a theory of ethnicity applicable to the Late Bronze Age Mediterranean basin. The latter, he claims, has been resisted by other scholars who prefer a “common-sense approach”. Thus, these scholars arbitrarily impose their abstract ideas on the material that they analyze. In contrast to this “etic” approach he argues in favour of “constructs [that] largely reflect (‘emically’) the concepts and interpretations which the historical actors themselves utilized in their time and place” (p. 61).

In Part II Woudhuizen presents his case study on the ethnicity of the Sea Peoples based on wide-ranging historical, archaeological and linguistic evidence. For him the ethnonyms of the Sea Peoples lie at the heart of the discussion. Van Binsbergen replies in Part III with his own shorter case study on the same topic with some different conclusions. In the final Part IV the two authors attempt to resolve their differences (which they cannot in many respects) and to counter assumed criticisms and alternative interpretations that will be put forward by other scholars. As to the ethnic origins of the various Sea People cohorts Woudhuizen sees them coming from nine different small core areas stretching from Sardinia to the southern Levant. Van Binsbergen, on the other hand, postulates two large core areas (with larger peripheries), one centered in the Nile valley, the Sinai and the southern Levant and the other in Anatolia. These correspond to the “core statial area of Egypt and Hatti”. In this way five of Woudhuizen’s provenances are covered by the two van Binsbergen areas.

Any ambitious far ranging synthesis inevitably leaves out material (in this case the detailed archaeological evidence for the movements and the settlement attempts of the Sea Peoples) and emphasizes aspects that reflect the author’s primary research interests (in this case theoretical discussions as well as myth and linguistic evidence). Many aspects of this volume are stimulating and/or provocative. Others are irrelevant and misleading. The extensive bibliography reflects these points. The numerous greyscale maps, drawings, charts, tables and reconstructions help the reader to visualize and to organize the myriad of datasets presented.

If you are interested in the question of ethnicity in the area of the Mediterranean basin between the 14th and the 10th centuries BC, regardless of your interest or not in the Sea Peoples, you should delve into this complex volume.

David W. Rupp

Friday, December 2, 2011

An Art Exhibition Opening plus the new Canadian Ambassador in Person and G.I.S.ing Boeotian Landscapes

"Sad Lawyer" by Chris Stewart
This coming Wednesday evening starting at 7:30 pm, our annual event for the Athens Association of Friends of CIG to start the holiday season has evolved into something very special. Our hardworking volunteer, Chris Stewart, is an artist and a photographer in his real day job. For our event he has mounted in the Library an exhibition of his work entitled, “Senses”. To open the exhibition he will speak on his artistic vision.

HE Robert Peck with longtime CIG supporter Ian Vorres
Not stopping at that, the new Ambassador of Canada to the Hellenic Republic, Robert Peck, will be present to meet fellow Canadians and to listen to your ideas on how he can work to improve Hellenic-Canadian relations, both here in Greece and back in the True White North!

With all of these exciting extras, do not fear that the traditional elements of this gathering will be forgotten! Yes, Virginia, Jonathan’s mulled wine and ample amounts of kourambiedes and melomakarona will be there too. So please join us for good companionship and cheer, to put aside for a moment the bleak financial situation that has engulfed us.

Book of the Blog
With John Fossey’s generous donation of books and monographs to the Library earlier this year, many of them related to his long-standing research interests in Boeotia, we added Boeotian Studies as one of the areas of specialization for the Library. To augment that collection, one of our most recent purchases focuses not simply on Boeotia but also on GIS-based analyses, another one of the Library’s specialties.

The volume in question is by Emeri Farinetti and it is entitled, Boeotian Landscapes. A GIS-based study for the reconstruction and interpretation of the archaeological datasets of ancient Boeotia (BAR International Series 2195, Oxford, 2011). Dr. Farinetti has turned her doctoral dissertation for the University of Leiden, under the supervision of Prof. John Bintliff, into a stimulating exploration of how GIS can serve both as a platform for storing and organizing geographical based datasets and the analysis, reconstruction and interpretation of them. For those not familiar with the purpose, the potential and the power of using GIS to examine settlement patterns and resource exploitation at the regional level Chapter I and Concluding Remarks is an excellent way to start. Chapter II.1-2 presents succinctly the physical landscape of Boeotia and the state of archaeological research there. It should be added here that this region has been surveyed in the past twenty years by a number of sophisticated pedestrian surveys, including CIG’s Eastern Boeotia Archaeological Project. Using the concept of chora or the territory of an ancient polis the remainder of the chapter is divided into 14 separate sub-regions, most corresponding to ancient poleis. The topographical setting, boundaries, physical land units, resources and the archaeological record of each are summarized with ample maps, tables and graphs. Of particular interest is the relationship of known archaeological and historical sites to the modern road network as a discovery factor. She then proceeds to analyzing these datasets in terms of settlements, burial areas, cult places/religious areas, forts and fortifications and other unspecified activities. For each territory she has created a multicolored classified surface map representing the cost-weighted distances (30 minutes and longer walking ranges) for the known 1st and 2nd order settlements from the Geometric through Ottoman periods.

In Chapter II.4 Farinetti pulls together all of these disparate analyses of the landscape as viewed from a revised settlement chamber (or chora) approach, the German Landeskunde tradition, the Community area theory and the taskscape concept. Here she discusses the settlement patterns of ancient Boeotia from the perspective of the 1st order settlements, most of which were the location of a polis and settlement over as long period. The second order settlements, towns and larger villages, were occupied for shorter periods. Again these presentations come with ample maps, charts, and tables subdivided by chronological periods and themes. Appendix I, organized by the 14 sub-regions, contains summaries of the archaeological evidence on which her analyses are based. A CD-ROM contains two more appendices – one (II) with the geographical sub-regions of Boeotia and the other (III) is a list of units of archaeological evidence. The Bibliography is extensive and up-to-date.

Such an approach could and should be used for the other regions of the Aegean basin. Our Library has more GIS-based case studies from the Mediterranean basin as well as the methods of archaeological survey and the results for perusal.

David Rupp

Friday, November 25, 2011

More Collateral Damage in Greece from the Economic Crisis and Religion and Society in Roman Corinth

For the past two years Greece has been enduring the ever worsening effects of the “Economic Crisis”. The desperate need of the government to reduce the size and the cost of its operations in order to reduce its huge annual deficits affects every aspect of Greek life. All manner of taxes are rising, especially related to property and consumption items. The drastic reduction in consumer spending due to less liquidity and general pessimism has driven the high rate of small and medium business closures and fast rising unemployment. For example the mini-market across the street from the Institute closed in September.

In this rush to create a more manageable, less costly and ultimately sustainable state there has been significant collateral damage to core institutions, such as IGME (Greek Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration) and ERT (Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation). A law passed on October 27th – 4024/2011 – by the Papandreou government said that 30,000 older public servants with many years of service would either be forced immediately into unpaid pre-retirement or placed on “labor reserve” on reduced salary for two years before automatic pre-retirement.

Given the demographics of the Greek Archaeological Service and its pattern of irregular intake of archaeologists for permanent positions this law has hit it very hard. For many of our Greek colleagues I am disappointed to say, today, November 25th, is their last day of employment whether they were qualified for normal retirement or not. Our loyal collaborators Vasilios Arvantinos of the 9th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Zisis Bonias of the 37th Ephorate, and Olga Philanioutou of the 20th Ephorate are included in this most unfortunate and abrupt loss of talent and experience. My wife, Metaxia Tsipopoulou, Director of the National Archive of Monuments, joins them too, alas. As this law will engulf more employees next year, other members of the Service have taken premature retirement this fall. Thus, on Monday the Service will be a shell of its former self. The Greek public and media are mostly unaware of this development.

It is clear that the departure of so many senior archaeologists will allow the government to downsize further and to re-organize radically the Service. In 2012 we will learn how the Greek state plans in this new reality to fulfill its vital mission and to meet its obligations as the steward of the rich and diverse cultural heritages of this country.

In closing, on behalf of the Institute, its staff and its members I wish to extend to our Greek colleagues who are setting out tomorrow on a new path in their lives our deepest appreciation for their invaluable assistance in our research over the years and for the firm friendships forged. You are always welcome to use the Institute and its Library. We look forward to your participation in our lecture series to present the results of your research.

Books of the Blog
The Institute’s Library is growing from purchases, exchanges and donations. Among our many loyal supporters with regular financial contributions and donations of books are Mary and Michael Walbank. Recently they enriched our holdings with two volumes dealing with religion and society in Ancient Corinth from the Late Hellenistic through Early Byzantine eras.

The first volume, Urban Religion in Roman Corinth. Interdisciplinary Approaches (Harvard Theological Studies 53, Cambridge, MA, 2005) is edited by D.N. Schowalter and S.J. Friesen. Using a plethora of sources – archaeological and architectural remains, funerary assemblages, art, inscriptions, literary texts and apostolic letters – the 16 contributors plumb the depths of the polytheistic and Christian religions of Corinth across seven centuries. The broader urban and regional context of this religious observance is surveyed first by G. Sanders and D. Romano. Mary Walbank’s contribution examines the grave goods and practices from cemetery to the north of the city where ordinary people were buried from the early colony through the 6th century CE. The references cited in the volume cover almost 40 pages! The maps, plans, drawings and images supply sufficient visual documentation to support the various lines of argument and the many comparisons.

The second, again with Friesen and Schowalter as editors along with J.C. Walters is entitled, Corinth in Context. Comparative Studies on Religion and Society (Supplements to Novum Testamentum 134, Leiden, 2010). This collection of contributions takes a broader perspective, both in the timeframe, the geographic scope and the thematic issues. There is more emphasis on the period before the establishment of the Roman colony, on the polytheistic religions, and the Corinthia as a whole as revealed by pedestrian survey. Six of the 13 authors participated in the previously mentioned volume. Mary Walbank presents the coinage of Roman Corinth from an iconographic perspective. She discusses the depiction of religious monuments and buildings as well as statuary in the city and the Sanctuary of Poseidon. Michael Walbank , using grave inscriptions dating from the 4th through 7th centuries CE, identifies 390 names and 107 occupations from a prosperous subset of Christian Corinth. Again there is an extensive up-to-date bibliography and numerous useful illustrations. The two volumes taken together form the starting point for many discussions not just on the religious life and practices of the city spanning over 800 years but also on the character of the society in the urban core and in its rural hinterland.

David Rupp

Friday, November 18, 2011

Another Donation of Books to the Library and Computer Applications in Archaeology

The generosity of the Institute’s friends continues, I am proud to report! This morning we received six large boxes of books which are donations to our Library by Beryl L. Anderson. A former librarian from Ottawa, over the years she has been a regular donor of books to the Library. Beryl is a published author herself, writing on plant dyeing, hand spinning and weaving of wool.

The several hundred books focus on Aegean Prehistory (especially Crete), Classical Archaeology and Greek History, and include also site guides and reference works. Slowly but surely we are filling in the gaps in our Library and expanding its coverage. Who will be the next individual to donate their personal library to the Institute???

Book of the Blog
It is difficult to keep up with the ongoing research, the new applications and innovative ideas associated with the ever expanding use of digital technologies and software in the cloud or resident on ever faster and ever lighter laptops. One needs to be very imaginative to discern if any of this can assist you in your fieldwork, analyses, reconstructions and interpretations.

One way to keep abreast of these developments is to read the succinct case studies that are published in the proceedings of workshops, colloquia, meetings and conferences that are devoted to computer applications in archaeology. One such volume is UK Chapter of Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology. Proceedings of the CAA UK Chapter Meeting, University of Liverpool, 6th and 7th February 2009 (BAR International Series 2182, Oxford, 2010) edited by Andrew T. Wilson. The nine contributions run the gamut of what our colleagues are doing at the moment in this vast realm.

The ambitious project to put the online the British Museum’s Collections is presented along with its inherent limitations, many challenges and potential users. The importance of tagging properly digital imagery with metadata is stressed in another contribution. The possibilities of podcasting in archaeological research and communication are outlined. Various methods for modeling the past are presented in two papers. One is focused on subsistence strategies in the EB southern Levant. The other deals with the reconstruction of the interior spaces of PPN houses in the Near East. The spatial distribution of anthropogenic materials deposited inside Scottish longhouses of different periods is compared against a periodized “Cognitive Model” using an application of relativity in GIS. Spatial theory in archaeology can be taught by utilizing the 3-D multi-user virtual environment of “Second Life”. Konstantinos Papadopoulos explores the possibilities of visualizing the interior illumination of Minoan tholos tombs in the Phourni cemetery with natural and artificial light. Lucy Goodison has investigated this issue from the perspective of natural light at specific times of the year. And finally, there is Canadian Content as well!!! Nicolas Beaudry (Université du Québec à Rimouski) and Ulla Rajala on the Canadian Archaeological Project at Ras el Bassit in Syria went from a digital topographic survey of an Early Byzantine basilica, to the partial excavation of the church, to the creation of a 2-D plan of it, to the construction of a 3-D model visualizing the existing remains of the superstructure.

There are many archaeological projects in Greece, not to mention the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s efforts for Europeana, which could adopt some of these approaches to their research with positive effect. The references cited in the contributions are doorways to more detailed explanations of the approaches used. The Institute’s Library has other volumes like this with case studies such as these which can stimulate and inspire an archaeologist. Shouldn’t more Greek projects be represented in future volumes?

David Rupp

Friday, November 11, 2011

What Human Skeletal Remains Can Tell Us About Health and Artifact Classification

The second lecture in the Institute’s Fall 2011 Lecture Program is on Wednesday, November 16th at 7:30 pm. The talk, by Dr. Sherry C. Fox (Director, The Wiener Laboratory, American School of Classical Studies at Athens), is entitled “The Surgeon’s Tomb from Paphos and Evidence for Health in Roman Cyprus”.

During the extensive development of touristic facilities from the 1970s to the 1990s in the area outside the city walls of ancient Nea Paphos (modern Kato Paphos) in southwestern Cyprus numerous tombs were encountered and excavated by archaeologists from the Department of Antiquities of the Republic of Cyprus. There were many Roman Imperial period tombs with well-preserved human skeletal remains in the large cemetery immediately to the east of the city. One of them, the so-called “Surgeon’s Tomb”, presents an excellent opportunity to discuss the health status of the Roman population of Cyprus from the paleopathological study of the skeletal remains. Additionally, medical practice can be discerned through the deceased doctor’s medicaments and instrumentarium recovered from within the “Surgeon’s Tomb”, along with its proximity to an Asklepieion, one of the main healing centers of the period. To contextualize these remains, comparisons of health status will be made between populations from Roman Corinth and from Late Roman Cyprus. While a little late for Halloween, the lecture certainly will demonstrate the possibilities and the challenges of reconstructing health status for ancient populations from their skeletal remains.

Book of the Blog
The material culture remains found in the archaeological record are the primary means to for an archaeologist to date a recovery context and to infer the human behaviors that created the artifacts and the context. To do this artifact specialists, in particular those responsible for the ceramic and for the lithic remains, classify the artifacts as to material, form, dimensions, color and other attributes in order to delineate types believed to have chronological and interpretive value. The majority of such studies are intuitive, following long-established patterns of inquiry. The increasing use of basic descriptive statistics to determine the center and the spread of a sample permits the researcher to draw various inferences from the assemblage.

With the flourit of the “New Archaeology” in the 1960s through 1980s many archaeologists in North America and France attempted to put classification, types and typologies and the analysis of the spatial and temporal distribution of artifact types into a more comprehensive conceptual framework using both robust statistical analyses and mathematical modeling. The concurrent development of desktop computing and statistical software packages certainly facilitated this trend. Underlying these efforts are two ideas explicitly articulated by Robert Dunnell in Systematics in Prehistory (1971). They are, that “…artifacts are a manifestation of the ideational domain of shared concepts and the archaeologist’s access to that domain is through classification of artifact materials” (Read 2007, p. 23).

A certain component of this way of looking at artifacts and their analysis was adopted by a number of artifact researchers working in Greece and the eastern Mediterranean. The detailed excavation data that are required, the large number of qualitative and quantitative measurements needed, the sophisticated statistical analyses used and the anthropological orientation of this approach dissuaded, however, many from pursuing this avenue of investigation.

For those researchers who are seeking to go beyond intuition in order to make their “…typologies as a basis for making evident the dimensions that were relevant to the makers and users of the objects we recover and refer to as artifacts…” (p. 23) Dwight W. Read has written a book to address this interest.

In Artifact Classification. A Conceptual and Methodological Approach (Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2007) Read follows Dunnell and Irving Rouse when he asserts “…what we call a “type” must be based on properties and distinctions that the makers and users shared collectively as part of their cultural milieu-that is, on what [Rouse] called modes as opposed to attributes” (pp. 14-5). After setting the stage by discussing various underlying concepts and defining crucial terminology he provides a fascinating historical overview of recent approaches to classification and typologies.

A series of meaty, extensively-footnoted and well-illustrated chapters follow. They address: “Pottery Typologies”, “From Intuitive to Objective Classifications”, “Objective Classification: Goals and Problems”, “Artifact Measurement”, “Production and Categorization Sequences”, “Quantitative Classification: Methodology”, “Patterning Based on Type Frequency Counts”, and “Style, Function, Neutral Traits, Evolution, and Classification”. The references cited are copious covering all aspects of this intellectual endeavor. It is worthy of noting that from “our circle of friends” only A.J. Ammerman and I. Hodder are represented there.

In the concluding chapter Read takes one beyond practical typologies through raw material and intentionality in the discussion of types to types of patterning and type definitions. The goal is the discovery of culture types, that is, distinguishable groups of artifacts that have cultural salience, not simply an empirical relationship. Read maintains that “types are real when they are formed in accordance with the patterning found by methods sensitive to the processes that are responsible for the structure we discern in the data we bring forward for study” (p. 304).

If you are interested in polishing your classification game or, even more so, in kicking it up to a much higher plane, then you should read at least Chapters 1, 2 and 11 of this dense book. There are other books and monographs as well in our Library on similar topics awaiting your perusal.

David Rupp

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Radical Approach to Byzantine “Things” and Archaeological Survey

The first event of the fall for the Athens Association of Friends of CIG will take place at the Institute on Wednesday, November 9th at 7:30 pm. Professor Glenn Peers (Department of Art History, University of Texas at Austin) will present a radical approach to the exhibition of Byzantine “art”. Taking the opportunity of mounting a new display of Byzantine objects in the Menil Collection (Houston, TX) he is organizing the exhibit in order that the so-called “art” will be demystified and contextualized so that viewers will see these “things” as the active agents they were in the construction of the everyday world by Christians in the Mediterranean area during the Byzantine period. He sees the attitudes of the members of this society towards their material culture as contingent, relational and animist. Prof. Peers will surely challenge your preconceived aesthetic and cultural notions on this subject. So come, and take a walk on the wild side!

Book of the Blog
The recovery of the material culture remains and associated data from past cultures is thought by many archaeologists as the sole realm of excavation. In doing so the archaeological record is destroyed systematically at the same time it is investigated. There is another, mostly non-destructive data recovery technique, namely, archaeological survey. As this other approach is not as common in the Mediterranean region as compared to excavation and it is not normally taught in the undergraduate and graduate curricula of classical archaeology it retains a certain mystery. In addition, there is reluctance by some to accept the validity of its results.

This situation is certainly unfortunate and unnecessary given the rising cost of excavations and the relentless destruction of the archaeological record by various agents of development. Archaeological survey plays – and can play – an important role in our investigation of the past. Many questions remain, however, such as how does one go about conducting an effective survey? And how can one evaluate the plausibility of survey results?

Ted Banning (Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto) has come to our rescue. In his compact, but dense contribution to the Manuals in Archaeological Method, Theory and Technique series, Archaeological Survey (New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2002) he systematically reveals all, and more. He sees his audience as professional archaeologists and students of archaeology with a familiarity with archaeological theory and method. For those with a thinner background in archaeology he suggests how they might still benefit from the book. To assist in this Banning starts with a historical overview and explains survey’s unique contribution to archaeological research.

The book is organized to reflect “that good archaeological survey design must both anticipate the detectability of archaeological materials and facilitate the survey’s objectives” (p. vi). Thus, “the main chapters…follow on the influences on detectability and on three classes of survey that reflect…the main goals that surveyors attempt to achieve” which are “ prospection, estimation and detection of spatial pattern” (p. vi). His many survey experiences, his broad knowledge of the literature as well as his experiments with his students provide an unique insight into the breadth and depth of this data acquisition technique. Banning takes the reader, step by step, through the intellectual exercise that a productive survey is based on. Among them are, the potential goals of a survey, the factors that affect archaeological detection, estimating discovery possibilities, the post-depositional factors that affect spatial pattern, the boundaries of a research zone, types and shapes of collection units, scale effects, how to survey sites and landscapes, surveying for spatial structure and the use of geophysical remote sensing.

While Banning’s observations and recommendations may seem “too theoretical, too counter-intuitive or too much of a departure from years of practical experience” (p. vii) he argues that intuition and experience can benefit significantly from his insights. The illustrative materials are adequate to make his central points, but many require patience to understand the mathematics and statistics behind them. The practical advice and technical information are succinct. The book’s bibliography is extensive up to when it was published.

For those of you who have never participated in an archaeological survey yet must digest the results of surveys, this is the place to start your steep learning curve. For those of you who are contemplating conducting a survey, this book will provide you with a crash course on how to proceed and why. There are other books and case studies in the Institute’s Library that will enlighten you further on archaeological survey, particularly in the eastern Mediterranean.

David Rupp

Friday, October 28, 2011

Library Specializations and Opening Hours

Since 2009 we have been augmenting our Library on a regular basis with books and monographs relating to the following areas of specialization:

  • Archaeological theory, method and practice
  • Survey archaeology
  • Remote sensing
  • Environmental archaeology
  • Ecofactual studies
  • Computer applications in archaeology
  • Artifact and site conservation
  • Cultural heritage management
  • Boeotian studies

To facilitate the use of our Library, starting November 1st we have extended hours. The new hours are:
Monday: 09:00 – 13:00
Tuesday: 09:00 – 18:00
Wednesday: 09:00 – 13:00
Thursday: 09:00 – 18:00
Friday: 09:00 – 13:00

In closing, I extend a cordial invitation to you all to attend our lectures and events as well as to make use of the materials we have in our Library.

David Rupp.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Welcome Ambassador Robert Peck and Congratulations Laura Surtees!!!

The new Canadian Ambassador to the Hellenic Republic, Robert Peck, presented his credentials on Tuesday to President Papoulias. One of his first official duties was to visit the Institute on Wednesday. Ambassador Peck knows Athens and the Institute very well as he served as the Political Counselor at the Embassy from 1995 to1998. He helped tirelessly the Canadian Institute to deal with the many challenges and difficulties it was confronting in the mid to late 1990s.

After meeting our Neda and Franz Leipen Fellow, Chris Wallace, our Wilfrid Laurier University Intern, Haley MacEachern, and our volunteer, Chris Stewart, we discussed over coffee the present state of affairs and the long-term aspirations of the Institute. It is clear that Ambassador is a man of ideas and energy and seeks to find productive synergies between CIG and the Embassy. We look forward to working with him and his able staff in making Canada and the Institute more prominent in Athens and in Greece. He was given the full tour of the Library, the Offices and the Hostel. When he was last stationed in Athens all of these components were situated in a single apartment on the third floor. We’ve come a long way, baby, eh?!

Welcome Ambassador Peck!!!

Great News!
The Institute through its undergraduate internships and its graduate fellowships provide hands-on practical learning experiences for young Canadians aspiring to an academic career. In addition, they have ample opportunities to learn more about Greece – ancient and modern – and to meet others like them at the other Foreign Archaeological Schools and Institutes who are on the long road that forms a life’s work.

In 2001/2 Laura Surtees was a Canadian Museums Association Intern at the Canadian Institute through the Youth International Internship program funded by the Canadian government. Laura’s star continues to rise as a Ph.D. candidate in Archaeology at Bryn Mawr College. On Tuesday she was officially awarded one of the three, prestigious Whiting Fellowships at Bryn Mawr for this academic year. These are given by the Mrs Giles Whiting Foundation. This Fellowship will enable her to finish in 2012 her doctoral dissertation, which is entitled, "A Thessalian City: The Urban Survey of Kastro Kallithea". Congratulations Laura!!! Bravo sou!!!

David W. Rupp

Friday, October 14, 2011

Environmental Archaeology Lecture and the Politics of Archaeology and Identity

This coming Wednesday, the 19th, at 7:30 pm, is the first Institute lecture for the 2011/12 season. The speaker will be Dr China P. Shelton (Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Framingham State University) who this fall is doing research at the Wiener Laboratory of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. The title of her lecture is, "A Holistic Approach to Environmental Archaeology: Plants, People, and Landscape in the Italic Iron Age".

Dr Shelton’s lecture will focus on Environmental Archaeology as a category of study that helps to put people in context - but needs itself to be contextualized using input from other disciplines. We do not simply use science to reconstruct the environment and subsistence practices as ends in and of themselves. Rather, we also want to know what people in the past thought about different environments, and how they used those environments to define themselves and others. In order to reach these more intangible aspects of the human experience, it is necessary to take a multidisciplinary approach, incorporating ideas and information from Anthropology and Classics to flesh out the archaeological data. She will present one example of this kind of approach, drawn from recent paleoethnobotanical research in the Sangro River Valley, Abruzzo, Italy, which investigated consumption practices and environment as a potential basis for identity construction during the Iron Age (6th - 5th centuries BC).

Book of the Blog
Gone are the simpler, more innocent days of the “archaeology” of some particular part of the past. One now talks of the “archaeologies” of a particular culture. Even in taking this approach, that is that there is no “privileged” interpretation, but the possibility of many views of the past, the terrain in frequently contested, with competing claims to priority and authority. All points of the intellectual, political, social and cultural compasses are represented in these fierce debates. The globalized, post-modern world we live in is a warm and moist greenhouse for such developments. With the addition of nationalism to this potent brew, the objectives and practice of archaeological research as well as the use and interpretation of ancient monuments and archaeological discoveries, this contemporary discourse is no longer the protected preserve of the Western elites.

For the 1999 Archaeological Institute of America meeting in Dallas, TX, Prof. Susan Kane organized a Presidential Forum on two aspects of this growing debate. As editor, she has published the original six papers along with two more for added coverage in, The Politics of Archaeology and Identity in a Global Context (Boston: Archaeological Institute of America, Colloquia and Conference Papers 7, 2003).

Kane’s Introduction explores succinctly the background and trends in how archaeology, politics and identity are contested, by whom and for what purposes in contemporary societies across the global. The central role of archaeology in creating and shaping culture history lends itself to manipulation and polyvalency by the owners and the consumers of the past, the archaeologists themselves, the local and national communities where this research take place and the global community of consumers.

The collection of papers spans interwar Italy and Albania (O. Gilkes), 20th century Central (R.A. Joyce) and 19th-20th century North America (F.P. McManamon), 19th-20th century Egypt (L. Meskell), 19th- 20th century Greece (Y. Hamilakis), Late Hellenistic Palestine (S. Herbert), 19th-20th century Japan (W. Edwards) and 20th century Turkey (I. Hodder). Conflicting political and intellectual agendas and/or the construction of cultural identity in the face of real or perceived external threats permeate these fascinating discussions. This can involve not simply the question of “Who owns the past?” but also of “What constitutes the archaeological record?” The fabrication of culture history from consciously chosen subsets of the archaeological record to support an a priori nationalistic agenda as well as to craft a cultural identity with the requisite patina and pedigree of a glorious but fictive past occurs as well.

The contributions to the volume each in their own way prod archaeologists and fellow travellers to think hard on how they relate as researchers to the contemporary world and to the political and social systems in which they work. The growing demand for cultural pluralism, multivocality, shared use and ownership as well as non-colonialist attitudes and practices is forcing archaeologists to negotiate with the local and the national communities they work in for a balanced custodianship and vision of the past. Who ever said doing archaeology was easy?

In closing, the paper by Yannis Hamilakis is a short prequel to the lengthier and broader discussion that finally appeared after being rehearsed in earlier publications as The Nation and Its Ruins. Antiquity, Archaeology and National Imagination in Greece (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). This too is in our Library. Come and delve into the ever changing ways of constructing cultural identities using the archaeological record.

David Rupp

Friday, October 7, 2011

Harvest Moon (almost) for an (almost) Fresh Crop of Links

Hello All,

My name is Chris and I am the new Leipen Fellow at the CIG in Athens. This is my first blog entry for this site (or anywhere else). I'm not a fan of long introductions, so let's get down to it.

The hit-stats for our blog say that a good number of you are reading this from some place other than Greece. For my first post I thought I would offer up a short list of fun events for those lucky enough to be in Canada this October:

Starting in the west, in Vancouver, Hector Williams will be giving a talk on “Lemnos: the Archaeology of a Greek Island” on October 24.

In Edmonton, Jennifer Niels will be talking about “The Parthenon and Periklean Politics” on October 6.

In Winnipeg, you can spend All Hallows Eve with Victoria Wohl and her lecture on “Living the Law in Democratic Athens.”

Christopher Smith, Director of the British School at Rome will be making his way across Ontario on an AIA sponsored lecture tour. You can catch him in Ottawa on the 18th and 19th, London on the 24th, and Toronto on the 28th.

Those in Toronto to see Christopher Smith might also consider walking across the street to the Royal Ontario Museusm, which has recently opened three new galleries focused on classical Rome and the Greek East:

Dans la belle province, on peut voir Robert Vergnieux à la 5 octobre ou Jacques Perrault à la 24:

And on the east coast, the big news is the annual meeting of the Atlantic Classical Association, happening on October 14th and 15th on the lovely campus of Memorial University.

There are, no doubt, many fine public lectures and events that I have missed. The most important one of all is coming up this Monday, when people all over Canada are invited to have an extra helping of turkey for me!

To put you in the Thanksgiving spirit, the first person to send me an email naming this body of water, or the park it runs through, wins a fresh rutabaga. (Delivery not included; you have to dig it up yourself.)

Christopher Wallace
Ph.D. Candidate (Classics), University of Toronto
Neda and Franz Leipen Fellow, Canadian Institute in Greece

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Institute’s Autumn Calendar of Events and Microarchaeology

The Athenian archaeological community’s full lecture and events schedule for 2011/12 is now underway. As the Institute’s contribution to the fall program, which is open to the public, we will sponsor two lectures. The program of the Athens Association of Friends of CIG will include a lecture and the opening of a photographic exhibition.

To assist our members and friends in remembering the dates and topics of our program we have created a brochure with the help of Chris Stewart. This will be available at the Institute as a hardcopy supplement to our email, blog, facebook and twitter announcements. So, now’s the time to put these four dates on your dance card!

We look forward to seeing you again at the Institute on Wednesday evening October 19th at 7:30 pm for Dr China P. Shelton’s lecture on Environmental Archaeology.

Book of the Blog
The archaeological record is seen only at the visual level by many archaeologists. There exists, however, an equally important microscopic record, of which pollen, phytoliths, and diatoms comprise only a small part. The study of the microscopic biological remains and residues, geological sediments and chemical compounds introduced into the archaeological record by past human behavior is called “microarchaeology”.

For field archaeologists trained solely in the humanities and/or social sciences it is a daunting challenge to understand this microscopic record and to integrate its recovery and analysis in archaeological discussions and interpretations. Normally, an archaeologist interested in such data sets to assist in answering their research questions would seek out the expertise and services of “tame” natural and earth scientists to undertake this research. One of the problems with this approach is whether or not the scientist co-researcher really understands what the archaeologist is seeking and so to produce relevant data and analyses. Another is whether or not the archaeologist can truly understand the results of these investigations and effectively integrate it into the evidence from the macroscopic record.

What is an archaeologist to do? Become an informed consumer of these data sets and analyses at the very least, and formally educated if the time and circumstances permit. One immediate means to begin this educational journey to understand the breadth and depth of such research is to read Stephen Weiner’s book, Microarchaeology. Beyond the Visible Archaeological Record (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). In a systematic, careful and detailed fashion he provides a succinct overview of this sub-discipline and then a comprehensive discussion of each of its major components or approaches. The types of information that can be recovered from the microscopic record are given. The most common materials embedded in the archaeological matrix are reviewed, namely, geogenic, biogenic and pyrogenic materials, as well as their potential for alteration by taphnonomic agency. Weiner discusses how one can assess whether the material preservation conditions are conducive to producing the data sought. Biological molecules, macromolecules as well as materials for dating are stressed here. The potential for using ethnoarchaeological approaches to the microscopic record are also explored. He advocates having an on-site analytical laboratory to improve the quality of the data recovered and to assist in making informed decisions on where, what and how to excavate next. As he believes that infrared spectroscopy is one of the most powerful analytical tools for these investigations he treats it more detail.

This book is a treasure of information, approaches, mini-case studies and ideas on how we can investigate and interpret more effectively the complete archaeological record. There are ample illustrative materials to support the text in the form of charts, graphs, tables, figures, b/w and color photographs and reconstructions. The references cited are extensive.

This is not an “easy read”, but the effort made will be amply rewarded. So the offer still stands! “You’re invited to visit the Institute’s Library to peruse this book and others like it”. What are you waiting for, eh?

David Rupp

Friday, September 23, 2011

In Memoriam: Frederick E. Winter and Environmental Archaeology

Dr Sheila Campbell, CIG Board of Directors, sadly informed us that Professor Frederick E. Winter died on Saturday evening, September 17, from complications following successful heart surgery. He was just a few weeks short of his eighty-ninth birthday. The funeral will take place on Saturday September 24, and a memorial service will be organized at the University of Toronto sometime in the future, date to be determined.

The Institute was in the process of organizing a colloquium here in Athens at the end of June 2012 to honor Professor Winter and his research in Greek architecture. Now it will be held in his memory with at least 17 Canadian researchers and professors presenting papers on a broad range of architectural topics ranging from the prehistoric period in the Aegean basin through Frankish Greece. More details and the program will be presented in the near future in this blog and on the Institute’s website.

Book of the Blog
In my last mini-review I examined a book dealing with archaeological sediments. This is, of course, but one component of the biological and geological material observed in and recovered from an archaeological excavation or documented on the surface or seen in an exposure on a pedestrian survey. The sub-discipline that encompasses all of this and more is called environmental archaeology. This is a clear extension of the biological and earth sciences. It deals with ecofacts (i.e. flora, fauna and insect remains), with geomorphology, with subsistence patterns, with palaeoenvironmental studies and with palaeoeconomic studies.

For many archaeologists without a background in the natural sciences and for other researchers using data obtained in one way or the other by archaeological fieldwork, “environmental archaeology” in general, and the data sets produced from this research as well as the specialist reports written about the findings are ill-defined territories of knowledge and esoteric scientific genres. Keith Wilkinson and Chris Stevens have written a book to dispel this ignorance. It is entitled, Environmental Archaeology. Approaches, Techniques & Applications (Stroud: The History Press, revised edition 2008). Their aims are broad and comprehensive. They start with first principles and then take “…the reader step-by-step through approaches, methods, theory and in particular, interpretation” (p. 9). Whenever possible the use the case study approach to explain and to illustrate particular points. The wide-ranging case studies cover Britain, Europe, Greece and the Near East with an emphasis on the prehistoric period and the Iron Age.

The first section addresses the various approaches to environmental archaeology. The next sections deal with archaeological landscapes as palaeoenvironments, the reconstruction of the palaeoeconomy, the role of ideology, and the use of theory in environmental archaeology. The final section surveys how one goes about doing this research as well as the collection, analysis and interpretation of the resulting data sets. The basic issues involved in writing about the findings of this research and publishing are commented on too.

If you do not know that environmental archaeology is divided into two major divisions, bioarchaeology and geoarchaeology, and have difficulty understanding discussions where technical terms are used such as mircofossils, palaeosol, ecotone, chaîne opératoire, transgressions, indicator species, and C-transforms, this book is what you need! The language is very accessible to the non-specialist and the terms used are defined. The illustrative materials (tables, charts, maps, 2-D and 3-D reconstructions, drawings, B/W photographs and visualizations) are excellent. Each section has a useful bibliography for further in depth reading. Don’t wait any longer to read it along with other related books in our Library!!!

David Rupp

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Institute Reopens, New Faces and Archaeological Sediments

Kalo Xeimona!

The Institute reopened last Thursday after our annual summer recess. Jonathan divided the period between Kos, Turkey and the UK. I sojourned in Crete and travelled to Copenhagen. We are now in the process of organizing the Institute’s Fall and Winter/Spring lecture programs as well as the events for our Friends’ Association. As always these will be diverse and interesting. We hope to see you at them!

Chris Wallace and Haley MacEachern
We wish to welcome to CIG two individuals. The Institute’s first Neda and Franz Leipen Fellow, Christopher (Chris) Wallace, is a Ph.D. candidate in the Collaborative Program in Ancient History at the University of Toronto. During the year he aims to complete his doctoral dissertation entitled, “The Evolution of the Hellenistic Polis”. This is a nuanced “cultural” history of the Greek city-state during the Hellenistic period which focuses on several key civic institutions and practices, looking at how they evolved in different cities under differing circumstances, how they were imagined, and how they were deployed in service of the community. Chris is no stranger to Athens, as he participated in 2008 on the American School of Classical Studies at Athens’ Summer Session program. His work for the Institute will be in the Institute's Library and Archives.

Another first for CIG is the new Wilfrid Laurier University Internship. Haley MacEachern will be the first person to hold this position, for three months this fall. Haley is a major in Near Eastern and Classical Archaeology at WLU. In 2008 she participated in the Institute’s survey in eastern Boeotia, and in 2009 in our excavation at Kastro Kallithea in Thessaly. She will be working in the Library.

You will be able to meet both of them at our first lecture in October.

Book of the Blog
As you can see, this feature of my blog is back. For the next ten months I will be offering you out there in cyberspace mini-reviews of selected books, monographs and edited volumes that are recent acquisitions to our Library. The focus of these reviews are items that highlight the specializations of the Library. In brief, they are, archaeological theory, method and practice, survey archaeology, environmental archaeology, geoarchaeology, ecofactual studies, site and artifact conservation, computer applications in archaeology, cultural/heritage management and Boeotian studies. We invite you to visit our Library and peruse the holdings in these areas. We will be adding new titles during the year.

In archaeological research, knowing the “context” of an artifact or an assemblage is the sine qua non for its accurate dating and plausible interpretation. Thus, objects found in situ have a primacy over those lacking a specific provenience. However, to know an artifact’s depositional context, to understand the physical and chemical characteristics of this sedimentary matrix and how it was formed are other matters altogether.

Sedimentary matrices are more than simply the “dirt” or “soil” at an archaeological site. Formal sedimentary analysis allows one to describe and to analyze systematically the matrix particles that encase the artifacts and ecofacts. This specialized branch of sedimentology is introduced and surveyed in the book edited by Julia K. Stein and William R. Farrands, entitled Sediments in Archaeological Contexts (Salt Lake City, UT, 2001). The seven contributors discuss sediments encountered by archaeologists in seven different types of environments. The four contributions that focus on cultural environments (J.K. Stein), rock shelters and caves (W.R. Farrand), dry alluvial environments (G. Huckleberry) and coastal environments (L.E. Wells) are the most germane to the Mediterranean reality. As the depositional environment shapes the sediments (natural and anthropogenic) that make up the archaeological matrix it is critical for archaeologists to understand the formational and depositional processes involved. The preservation of the artifacts and the ecofacts are also affected by these processes and the makeup of the matrix. Each contribution is well-illustrated with charts, graphs, tables, plans and b/w photographs. The references cited form a clear pathway to more detailed studies and related topics.

This thin book, and others dealing with geoarchaeology and environmental archaeology in the Institute’s Library, forms an excellent starting point for the education and the research activities of field archaeologists.

David Rupp

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Leukos Survey Project, Karpathos, 2011

While I was researching the papers of the late Prof Gilbert Bagnani, now in the archives of Trent University and the Art Gallery of Ontario, I discovered his unpublished account of an excursion he and his fellow students at the Italian School of Archaeology in Athens took around the island of Karpathos in June 1923. For three weeks they traveled around the road-less island by ship and by donkey. Their main excavation was a magnificent mosaic floor laid over another mosaic floor belonging to two superimposed paleo-Christian basilicas at Arkasa. But it was Gilbert’s description of the extensive finds around Leukos and the offshore islet of Sokastro that drew my attention to this site. The many enormous rock quarries, an underground pillared cistern, and pedimental blocks possibly from a temple led him to identify the site with ancient Nisyros, which Strabo wrote was on Karpathos but which had never been located archaeologically. The beaches sheltered from the prevailing north winds by Sokastro form the biggest such harbour on the west coast of Karpathos, a major sailing route throughout the ages. My own research tentatively suggests that its name on medieval maps was “Fianti” and Sokastro was called “Zorzadori,” both yet to be explained.

After I rediscovered the various sites he described around Karpathos, I asked Dr Michael Nelson, now of Queen’s College New York, if he would be willing to conduct a survey of the site at Leukos, and he suggested that I invite Dr Todd Brenningmeyer of Maryvale College in St. Louis to join us. The staff of the Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities in Rhodes could not have been kinder to our research proposal, and in 2009 the Canadian Institute received formal approval from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture to begin a survey. (The first ever permit to a foreign institution to conduct archaeological work in the Dodecanese islands.) Michael as Field Director was responsible for architecture, and Todd for the geophysical survey. Dr Amanda Kelly of the National University of Ireland, Galway agreed to look after the ceramics. The survey also benefitted greatly from the various rescue digs at Leukos conducted by the Greek Archaeological Service at Kato Leukos, whose data they have shared with us.

The survey results are still preliminary, of course, pending a study season. In brief, the beaches at Kato Leukos once served as harbours in the Early Byzantine period, with evidence for a seaside bathing establishment as well as small scale industrial activities. There were at least two paleo-Christian basilicas, one now along the water-line because of local subsidence of the land. On top of the offshore islet of Sokastro, a fortification wall protected an elaborate complex of many barrel-vaulted cisterns and at least one church; the date for construction is not yet ascertained but the sherd cover dates to the 11th, mostly 12th, and 13th centuries. It will take some time to analyze the field data, including over 2,000 aerial images of Sokastro alone.

After a final study season, the future of Canadian research activity at Leukos is not certain, although not for any lack of potential. Years ago the Greek Service had the foresight to acquire a large tract of land along the shore to protect it from development and so it shelters an undisturbed Early Byzantine harbour town. In contrast to ancient written sources, there is recent and accumulating archaeological evidence throughout the Dodecanese for widespread prosperity in the Late Antique/Early Byzantine period, primarily dozens of paleo-Christian basilicas, and Kato Leukos offers a window into the secular and naval life on which that prosperity was based; we do know that around 410 a Karpathian fleet regularly brought grain from Alexandria to Constantinople. At least a few of the structures clearly extend down into the water because of local subsidence, and so a synergasia with the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities would also be informative to complete the picture. Incidentally, the region is right on the edge of seismic activity caught between the Anatolian and African plates which are pushing up the Aegean sea bed as well as an active volcanic arc, and deserves serious geological analysis as well. Finally, the uniquely preserved complex of cisterns on top of Sokastro may well exemplify a naval base where ships of someone’s fleet could be resupplied with water, etc., and so determining who built it and when would have obvious ramifications for our meager knowledge of the naval history of the Aegean in the Middle Byzantine period, when Crusaders from the West were encountering Arabs from the East.

There are many people to thank for their support of this survey. At the Rhodian Ephoreia, Drs Maria Michaeilidou, Eleni Papavassileiou, Angeliki Katsioti, and Vassili Karabatsos have been very helpful in many ways. My international colleagues Drs Nelson, Brenningmeyer and Kelly, are grateful to their respective institutions for funding, as am I to the Bagnani Trustees. The students (Stacey Larson and Bethany Nobbe from Maryvale College in 2010, Eoin O’Conor in 2010 and 2011 and Dylan Stuart in 2011, both from Ireland) have all worked cheerfully and unstintingly while learning much about surveying and life on the project. Finally, our hosts, the people of Leukos themselves, have been most warm and welcoming. It would be a fitting tribute to everyone’s faith in the project if future research based on their help both in the field and in archives were able to provide the ancient and medieval names for such an important harbour, as first suggested by Gilbert Bagnani nearly a century ago.

Ian Begg
Trent University

Friday, August 26, 2011

Campagne d’étude 2011 à Argilos

Pendant 4 semaines, du 20 juin au 16 juillet, près d’une trentaine d’étudiants ont participé à la campagne d’étude d’Argilos. Encadrés par des archéologues, dessinateurs et architectes d’expérience, ces étudiants provenant de plusieurs universités canadiennes, américaines et australiennes ont pu développer leurs connaissances en céramique et en architecture grecques et apprendre diverses techniques de terrain.

Cette campagne d’étude avait deux principaux objectifs. D’abord, il fallait nettoyer les vestiges architecturaux fouillés en 1993 le long du bord de mer et qui avaient été peu à peu recouverts de terre provenant de l’écroulement de certaines des parois qui limitaient les tranchées de fouille. Le nettoyage de ces vestiges nous a permis d’en compléter le plan et de vérifier les différentes phases de construction. Pour les étudiants, c’était une excellente occasion pour apprendre à différencier différents types d’architecture, distinguer les modifications apportées à un bâtiment au cours de son utilisation et maîtriser les techniques de dessins d’architecture.

Au musée, notre étude du mobilier archéologique s’est poursuivie par l’analyse des contextes archéologiques découverts dans le secteur Sud-Est. Ici aussi, la participation des étudiants nous a grandement aidée et ceux-ci en ont également largement profité, car ils ont appris à reconnaître les différents types de céramique attestés à Argilos et à dessiner des profils de vases.

Comme par les années passées, nous avons bénéficié de l’assistance énergique et efficace du personnel du musée d’Amphipolis et de la direction de l’Éphorie des Antiquités Préhistoriques et Classiques de Serres. Nous nous préparons maintenant pour l’été 2012 et la reprise des fouilles sur le terrain.

Jacques Perreault
Université de Montréal

Friday, August 19, 2011

Excavations at Ancient Eleon 2011

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.
As we returned to Athens on June 29, we could still see lingering clouds of tear gas over parts of the downtown core, residual traces of the political and economic turmoil Greece is experiencing. It was a shocking return after what was for us a rather idyllic summer in the plains of eastern Boeotia, covering an important corridor between Thebes and the Euboean Gulf. This fertile area of Greece, with vineyards, olive groves, and fields of ripening wheat, has a multi-coloured landscape of brown, green and gold.

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.
Breaking ground with the first trenches ever excavated at a site is a thrilling privilege, but conquering terra nova does present many challenges. After tackling the legal and administrative hurdles of acquiring the land for excavation from the local landowners (no easy task!), we then had to establish a workable grid over the site. We established a ten by ten grid which can be built on in the coming years. Then we began the process of clearing the very tall green grasses and thistles that blanketed the site over the wet cool winter and spring. The very first day we met a strong minded and swift-of-foot goat-herdess, 77 years young, who initially feared we’d be clearing the area of all edible greens, starving her animals! She soon saw that our aims (and resources) were not so grandiose, and by the end of the first week we all looked forward to our daily meeting with her and her 40 sheep and goats. Other, less regular visitors to the site included our closest neighbour, Giorgios the bee-keeper and his father and wife, and we often saw some old friends from our survey, Mr. Akrivakis and his son Kostas.
In the first week, using primarily gloves and one scythe we successfully cleared about 30 square meters of tall grass allowing us to begin laying out our trenches. Equipped with a Leica TPS400 Total Station we mapped out two 5 by 5 m trenches, one on the highest part of the citadel, and the other 20 meters to the south. These may not seem very large but we wanted our first season to focus on getting a stratigraphic sequence which requires depth of coverage rather than opening a broad area.

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.
Most days would begin with our arrival in the field before 7 am and work would continue until about 2, with a snack break on site. We’d return home for lunch, a short rest period and then we’d begin washing and studying material until nearly sunset. Our material was washed, sorted, and studied back at our work space in Dilesi. Our living and work arrangements there are overseen by Mrs Ino Mamoni and her family at their beautiful home by the sea, and we gratefully acknowledge their hospitality and innumerable kindnesses. Dinners were a shared and pleasant experience, at a taverna on the Euboean gulf, facing the famous sites of Eretria and Lefkandi. Most of the crew was in bed by 10 pm each night. Some effort was made for card playing and after-dinner drinks in the first week, but I think we all soon realized that our time was better spent resting up for the next day’s discoveries. As a multi-partnered project, the first year of excavation at ancient Eleon was a great experience and we very much look forward to many more years of fruitful collaboration. We are proud to be the next generation of Canadian researchers in this part of Greece and hope that Boeotia continues to be an area of particular research interest for students and scholars from Canada.

Brendan Burke
University of Victoria