Friday, September 27, 2019

The Central Achaia Phthiotis Survey (CAPS): the 2019 pilot year

1. The landscape South-East of the Kastro at Kallithea with the Enipeas valley. Below, the Enipeas River.

The Central Achaia Phthiotis Survey (CAPS) is a new project that developed out of the previous Kastro Kallithea Archaeological Project (KKAP) which finished its fieldwork in 2013. This innovative landscape project, which had a pilot fieldwork season in July and August 2019, is co-directed by Sophia Karapanou of the Ephorate of Antiquities in Larissa and Dr. Margriet Haagsma of the University of Alberta. Dr. Lana Radloff of Bishop’s University is assistant director and staff members and specialists are coming from a variety of Greek, Canadian and Dutch Universities. Students from the University of Alberta and Bishop’s University participated in the archaeological field school. The project is supported by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant.

2. The CAPS team surveying field 999.

CAPS explores the landscape around the site of the Kastro at Kallithea in the region of Achaia Phthiotis, lying on the western end of the plain of Almiros, with the goal to increase our understanding of the interplay between environmental, geopolitical, cultural and social factors for the community/ies living in this region through time. Often labelled a ‘marginal’ landscape, this largely uncharted region forms an important node in inter- and intra-regional spatial networks; it sits at the crossroads between northern and southern Greece, is located between plains and mountains and connects territories near the sea with areas further inland. The landscape is characterized by fertile plains and rolling hills intersected by the Enipeas river and the Kotsiloremma running eastward from Aghios Antonios. The pilot year of CAPS focused on intensive survey of cultivated fields in the Kampos area, north of the Kastro, an area known as Arabises near Aghios Antonios and the mapping and study of Early Iron Age tholos tombs at the Kastro’s eastern and southern sides. Based on the results, we are busy developing a five year plan with subsequent field seasons starting in 2020.

3. Lana Radloff and Edward Middleton setting up the DGPS base station.

Access to this landscape is not always easy, but we received help from the municipality in the person of Vasilis who graded the most difficult roads for us. Every morning two survey teams set out, telephone in hand, to systematically survey parcels of about 0.5 hectares that were previously set out with the DGPS. The teams used two documentation strategies: paper forms and a digitized form accessible via an app, Survey 123, that is connected to our mapping software and which can be filled out on a mobile phone. All 12,000+ and 550 kilograms of pottery sherds and hundreds of additional artefacts, such as lithics and glass, have been counted, weighed and dated by the apothiki team. The integration of digitized survey documentation, mapping and apothiki work has already shown great advantages; Dr. Lana Radloff, who is the project’s GIS expert, has been able to start right away with visualizing the spatial dimensions of artefact density and dates. We determined that artifact densities diminish as distance increases from the Kastro, producing a halo around the base of the hill. Yet, recovered materials include a broad range of diagnostics, from Neolithic to modern; their relative quantity and composition pointing to specific areas of human activity, especially near Arabises which yielded Mycenaean, LHIIIC, EIA and Archaic/Classical material.

4. The excavation of Tholos 7 with the Kastro of Kallithea in the background.

A brief article, published in 1964, reported four looted tholos tombs dating to the Early Iron Age in the vicinity of the Kastro. These tombs had been mapped in previous years, but this summer CAPS added no less than 13 additional ones, bringing the total number of tholos tombs in the vicinity of the site up to 17. Not only is this a spectacular number; the location and positioning of these tombs in combination with evidence from the survey can tell us a lot about the transitional period between the Mycenaean periods and the Early Iron Age in this region. This summer, the team excavated one tomb. Despite the looting, the architecture and stratigraphy augmented by work of our osteoarchaeologist, Dr. Sandra Garvie-Lok, revealed that this tomb included the internment of two individuals in possibly two phases. The sparse ceramic evidence points to a protogeometric date, and we will send off the osteological material for C14 dating. We found evidence for commemorative activity near the stomion of the tomb in the form of a sacrifice and an incense burner.

 5. Aerial of Tholos 7

6. Professor Konstantinos Vouvalidis standing near an exposed layer of Flysch at the Enipeas riverbed.

The project’s geologist, Dr. Markos Vaxevanopoulos, University of Lyon, and geomorphologist Prof. Konstantinos Vouvalidis of the Aristoteles University of Thessaloniki, have made a start with creating detailed geological and geomorphological maps of the designated survey area, a process that will be finalized later this year.

7. The Kastro Kallithea Guide Book

Last but not least, this summer saw the publication of the archaeological guide to the Kastro of Kallithea (available in English and Greek). A big thank you goes to the Municipality of Farsala for their important help in this endeavour. We are especially indebted to departing mayor Aris Karachalios and municipal archaeologist Vasso Noula for their support and friendship over the past ten years.

8. Part of the CAPS team with departing mayor Aris Karachalios, co-director Sophia Karapanou and municipal archaeologist Vasso Noula. Below: the full team.

The year 2019 saw a very successful beginning of CAPS. We would like to thank all who participated and aided this project and we are looking forward to our future seasons!

Margriet J. Haagsma
University of Alberta, Co-Director of the Central Achaia Phthiotis Survey

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Friday, September 20, 2019

Welcome, Justin, Hilary and Emily!

The 2019-2020 academic year has begun at the Institute, and I will shortly be announcing our programme of events for this autumn. This year we welcome the Institute’s 2019-20 Neda and Franz Leipen Fellow, Justin Dwyer, and interns From McGill and Brock Universities, Hilary Jay and Emily Jackson, who will be with us in Athens until December.

Justin Dwyer is a PhD candidate in Classics at the University of British Columbia completing a dissertation titled “Apollodoros of Karystos and the Tradition of New Comedy.” Apollodoros, working in the first half of the third century BCE, was the most renowned comic poet to follow Menander, but he has been conspicuously overlooked in discussions on the fragmentary poets. Taking an integrative approach, Justin’s dissertation introduces Apollodoros’ fragments into these discussions, relying on formal, contextual, comparative, and historical analyses to better define his impact on the genre of New Comedy.

The dissertation argues that Apollodoros challenges many of the current assumptions about Athenian comedy in the Hellenistic period, but to properly contextualize Apollodoros and verify these claims, it is imperative to consider how the Euboean theatrical tradition might have shaped his dramatic works. No Euboean dramatic texts survive, but the epigraphic and coroplastic evidence attest to a distinct theatrical identity in Southern Euboea. This tradition represents an important alternative to Athenian drama, and its influence must be taken into account in any close study of Apollodoros’ work. A knowledge of the Euboean tradition would provide a useful new lens for interpreting individual fragments and also help identify any uniquely Euboean elements Apollodoros brought to the genre of Athenian comedy.

With the generous support of the Neda and Franz Leipen Fellowship and the Canadian Institute in Greece, Justin seeks to build a diachronic model of the Euboean dramatic tradition. An interdisciplinary on-location study of the rich material record for Hellenistic theatre in Euboea will provide much-needed support to the textual evidence already assembled. The analysis will focus on small-scale terracotta sculpture and consider both figurines and masks from collections in Karystos, Eretria, Chalkis, and Athens. Figurines capture an otherwise fleeting spectator experience and are particularly helpful in gauging the popularity of specific dramatic tropes, gestures, costuming, stock character types, and elements of stagecraft. The masks themselves suggest more nuanced details of characterization and human psychology. Analysis of the terracotta sculptures will be enhanced by consideration of the epigraphic record for local theatrical production and the early phases of the theatre at Eretria. With its deep roots in the archaeological study of southern Euboea, the Canadian Institute in Greece is an ideal support system in guiding and enriching the project.

Hilary Jay is a graduate of McGill University in Montreal where she majored in philosophy and art history. She is planning to study aesthetics at a graduate level in the future. Over the course of her undergraduate studies Hilary took interest in courses in the classics department and developed a sense of curiosity about the ancient world. Contemporary European philosophy is often engaged with ancient texts, and Hilary is particularly interested in phenomenological approaches to art and its history. She is interested in the changes in perception over time and the necessity of approaching artworks in an open and non-prescriptive way.

While in Greece, Hilary plans to visit artistic and archaeological sites to enrich her understanding of the significant role that historical works of art and philosophy play in the contemporary world. Working at the Canadian institute will be an excellent opportunity to gain experience in this field and will help to direct the course of further studies.

Emily Jackson is a third-year undergraduate student at Brock University, Ontario. She is majoring in Classics, specializing in the Art and Archaeology stream. Emily first discovered an interest in Greek mythology when reading a myth about Achilles in elementary school. Since then, she has found a greater interest in ancient Greek history, art and architecture, language, and philosophy at her university. In the future she hopes to further her education and learn more about other ancient civilizations as well.

While in Greece, Emily plans to obtain a greater understanding of Greek culture (both ancient and modern). She also plans to learn more about archaeological excavations, field studies and archaeology as a profession. Of course, she hopes traveling around Greece and interning at the institute will assist with both.

Jonathan Tomlinson
Assistant Director

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Fred Winter Collection

Mt. Gravari pass, temple of Athena and Poseidon, view from S by E (Professor Fred Winter, 1986)

Friday, September 13, 2019

Finishing Cycle #1: The 2019 season of the Stelida Naxos Archaeological Project

Figure 1: The week six 2019 SNAP team, including 10 Canadian students from McMaster and Toronto universities (SNAP 2019).

Over six weeks in early summer 2019, the Stelida Naxos Archaeological Project [SNAP] conducted its fifth and final season of its current research cycle, the work co-directed by Dr. Tristan Carter (Associate Professor, McMaster University), and Dr. Demetris Athanasoulis (Director, Cycladic Ephorate of Antiquities). The season was dedicated primarily to studying the thousands of artefacts generated by our previous work at this early prehistoric stone tool manufacturing site and chert source, with only a limited amount of on-site fieldwork. With the emphasis now firmly shifted from field, to apotheke­-based study, this was the smallest team since we completed our survey in 2014, never more than 25 personnel at any one time, including a core of long-term project members, a not-inconsiderable group of undergraduates (including a few returnees), and a number of visiting specialists. As before, SNAP prides itself on enabling space for students and junior scholars to help their field training, and to get a basic overview on the Aegean Palaeolithic and its material culture. This season we had a number of undergraduates from Canada (McMaster), Greece (Athens and Ioannina), plus doctoral students from Canada (Toronto), France (Bordeaux), Serbia (Belgrade), and the US (Boston, Missouri), with other team members coming variously from Cyprus and the UK (Figure 1).

This year our on-site fieldwork was relatively modest in scale, our primary aims being to complete four sondages initiated in previous seasons, together with the taking of supplementary phytolith samples, and to retrieve dosimeters relating to our absolute dating programme. We thus began with four small excavation teams working on the hill’s upper reaches, in trenches 3, 26, 40 and 42, i.e. two on the eastern flanks, and two on the west (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Plan of Stelida’s upper slopes, including active trenches in 2019 (Yorgan Pitt).

We are somewhat proud of Trench 3, a sondage initiated in 2015 – and excavated by McMaster/Toronto alum Shannon Crewson every year – that has eight clearly defined lithostratigraphic units spanning a depth of some 4.5m (!), its OSL dates pushing back its archaeology to the Middle Pleistocene, and still not quite finished by the end of 2019 (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Shannon Crewson excavating the >4m deep trench DG-A/003 (SNAP 2019).

The other deep sondage that was active in 2019 lay on the north-east flanks of the hill, trench 26 being excavated through a thick deposit of wind-blown (aeolian) sand that was probably part-deposited on Stelida’s flanks during the Late Glacial Maximum. This trench was initiated in 2016, and once again, while seemingly close to completion, had yet to reach natural by the close of our 2019 campaign. Alas our work was significantly hampered in Trench 26 due to the damage it had suffered over the close-season; despite our diligent temporary back-filling of the sondages with wooden pallets, sandbags and tarpaulin coverings, the heavy rains of winter/spring led to some major collapse, the sandy-nature of the deposit making the sections particularly susceptible to slumping (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Trench SH/026 in disrepair at the start of the 2019 season (Nat Jackson).

Happily we managed to achieve our aims and complete the excavation of Trench 40 within the first two weeks. This sondage had produced not insignificant quantities of diagnostic Middle Palaeolithic material last year, its stratigraphic sequence largely replicating that of Trench 21, a few metres upslope. The last half metre was unbelievably tough going due to the dominance of compact red clay-based deposits.

Trench 42, just beside and upslope of Rock Shelter A on the eastern side of the hill, had similarly been initiated the previous season because of the very high quality early Upper Palaeolithic blade industries and Middle Palaeolithic discoidal core and Levallois tradition products. In this instance we arbitrarily stopped the excavation after >2m, as the stratigraphic sequence was believe to largely repeat that viewed in neighbouring Trenches 24 and 27, while the higher-than-usual water table made further progress without a water pump nigh impossible.

Figure 5: Trench DG-A/001 almost completely backfilled (Ermioni Vereketi).

Once fully completed, it has always been our aim – following the desires of both landowners and the Ministry of Culture – that the trenches be completely backfilled, so as to minimise our impact on the landscape. Happily we were able to finally backfill our 3.5m Trench 1 this year (Figure 5), along with trenches 21, 24, 40, and 42, with only Trenches 3, 25, and 26 temporarily filled as these have dosimeters to be collected next year.

With trenches 40 and 42 finished, this allowed us to excavate a few quick 1×1m trenches along the spine of the hill to (a) look for potentially in situ deposits on the highest/flattest parts of the site, and (b) test theories as to the up-slope origins of certain deposits revealed on the hill’s flanks. Central to both the above research questions is the issue of erosion. As detailed in the 2018 blog, we have long been aware that Stelida comprises a highly dynamic landscape, with various erosional processes leading to a huge amount of downslope redeposition of artefacts over the past >200,000 years. While MSc student Yorgan Pitt has been employing a 5cm resolution digital elevation model in concert with GIS approaches and statistics to model site formation processes, it made sense to ground truth some of these claims via excavation. For the most part these trenches were very unproductive, often hitting bedrock after a few centimetres, any original soil and knapping debris having long moved downslope through a combination of wind, rain and gravity. This work did however produce one very exciting and somewhat unexpected discovery on one of the flatter, natural terraces, with the recovery of not only Middle and Upper Palaeolithic material, but also an array of much later finds – including pottery – that seem to relate to Bronze Age ritual activity (Figure 6). We ultimately took the decision to stop excavating these deposits after a few days as we felt ill-prepared to maximise the intellectual potential of such patently important material. With clear evidence for burning (phytolith and carbon samples were collected, while 100% of the soil was wet-sieved), plus our first recovery of animal bones, there is obviously a great opportunity here for functional studies via starch and lipid analyses, something we were simply not equipped to deal with this season. This new area takes our research in an exciting new direction. With non-local pebbles forming part of these deposits, there are clear parallels to the Early Bronze Age rituals atop Dhaskalio on neighbouring Keros, while other aspects of the activities documented here are reminiscent of practices detailed at Mikre Vigla, a kilometer to the south of Stelida.

Figure 6: Kristine Mallinson celebrates the establishment of one of our more productive hill-spine trenches (Marie N. Pareja).

Much of our work this season occurred in the apotheke in Chora; indeed there were many days when more of the team was working here, than on-site. Here we continue our analyses of the lithics, with various studies running in parallel. Our major work on our 3.5m deep sondage DG-A/001 was completed last season, with our first significant paper melding absolute dates, material culture and stratigraphy has been accepted to a high profile open-access journal, and should be published this autumn, while a second paper discussing the lithics from this trench in more detail is also being prepared. This summer Carter and Dragosavac focused on our main Middle Palaeolithic assemblages, with over 500 artefacts illustrated, and two entire deep trench sequences completed. In tandem, Dr Dora Moutsiou – working with McMaster integrated science student Natasha Singh – completed the integration of her raw materials’ studies (see 2018 blog) with the previous work on chronology, technology and typology of the survey diagnostics (9000+ artefacts), ready for our publication of the 2013-14 seasons’ work.

Alongside the excavation and lithics’ analyses, Dr Charlotte Diffey (Reading University) continued her analyses of the archaeobotanical remains, while Ninon Taffin (just accepted into a fully-funded PhD programme at Bordeaux Michel Montaigne to work on Stelida), collected further samples for Optically Stimulated Luminescence dating. Dr Georgia Tsartsidou (Ephorate of Palaeoanthropology and Speleology) returned to take more phytolith samples, focusing on the Bronze Age deposits, while Zack Batist (PhD candidate, Toronto), and Ciara Zogheib (integrated science student, McMaster) continued to develop our database and the analyses of both survey and excavation assemblages. We also benefitted enormously from a series of visitors to the project who brought with them a range of specialist skills and enthusiasm that they kindly shared with us. This included the geo-archaeologist Prof. Scott Pike (Willamette University, US), Dr Christina Papoulia, a recent graduate in the Palaeolithic of the Aegean (Rethymnon University, Greece), Dr Alex Knodell (Carleton College, US) who has just initiated the exciting Small Cycladic Island Project [SCIP], and our own Assistant Director of CIG, Dr Jonathan Tomlinson.

While the 2015-19 seasons of excavation and study at Stelida have now drawn to a close, our hugely significant Middle Pleistocene discoveries in trenches 1 and 3, together with the exciting discovery of Bronze Age ritual activity, should provide the  impetus, and new funding opportunities, to propel us into our second five-year cycle of fieldwork and research. Watch this space!

Tristan Carter
McMaster University; co-director, SNAP

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Fred Winter Collection

Troizen, sanctuary of Hippolytos (?) remains of the temple (Professor Fred Winter, 1986)

Friday, September 6, 2019

Got no time, but we got Pateks HMTs: the Western Argolid Archaeological Survey, 2019

A seaside café in Nafplio

For the past few years, I’ve somehow convinced myself that this year things will be different: this year’s study season will be more relaxed, with more time for contemplation, afternoon swims, and evening drinks at trendy cafés in Nafplio. Instead, each year becomes busier and more hectic as we all realize the enormity of the task before us. This six-week study season was different, however, in that it was much less uniform, with most of the team coming and going for short spells in between other fieldwork commitments. We were a smaller group, with only two to six researchers working at any one time. Our goals were to make significant progress on two major articles – a preliminary report on the 2014-2016 field seasons and a pretty comprehensive report on the 2017 field season – and to ensure that we were in good shape moving forward towards final publication.

Bill Caraher sweeping our dusty laboratory

We spent three weeks in our laboratory and storage facility in Argos, refining our analyses of the catalogued artifacts that we collected over four years (2014-2017), and correcting small mistakes and oversights: photographing some artifacts, correcting confusing catalogue entries, improving our macroscopic fabric groups, honing our understanding of specific artifact classes, and so on. Guy Sanders graciously came down from Corinth to help Scott Gallimore with fabrics and early modern materials, and Anna Philippa-Touchais looked at some possible Middle Bronze Age material in our collection.

Grace Erny correcting a plan of ancient Orneai

We tried to keep work in the field to a minimum, and here again we focused on targeted tasks. For example, Grace Erny and I checked our stone-by-stone top plan of the fortifications of ancient Orneai that we had generated in past field seasons. Bill Caraher and I double-checked the position of some sections of fortification walls that had gone unnoticed. Sarah Murray (University of Toronto) graciously came into the field for two days to help us produce high-resolution photogrammetric models of standing architecture in our survey area. Much of our time was spent staring at computer screens: writing, doing GIS, cleaning up our databases, making queries, and running Agisoft Metashape more or less non stop.

The church of Ayios Dimitrios, overlooking the western Argolid

Despite being pressed for time and overwhelmed by the data avalanche that we imposed on ourselves, we did spend some time in our survey area thinking about landscape. Afternoons were a good time to get up to some new places that provided views over our survey area and helped us to understand its broader context. This was especially important for our work on the fortifications of the western Argolid, whose function was (at least in part) to control movement through the terrestrial routes that crisscrossed the northeastern Peloponnese. Overall, we did manage to accomplish a lot this study season; and as a result we’re in a good position to finish writing three major articles about our survey this fall, and to continue our work on the final publication of the survey.

Dimitri Nakassis
University of Colorado Boulder; co-director, Western Argolid Survey project

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Fred Winter Collection

Athens: Acropolis: wide-angle view from Philopappos Monument (Professor Fred Winter, 1984)