The site of Khavania, from the north (photograph by R.D. Fitzsimons).
After a year’s absence as a result of the pandemic, we returned to
Khavania in 2021. The site, which is located on the northern side of
Ayios Nikolaos in the Lasithi prefecture of East Crete, sits on a small
peninsula with natural harbours on its northern and southern sides.
Today, the shores on either side of the peninsula are popular
destinations for beachgoers, while a number of luxury hotels line the
coastal road. Indeed, Khavania’s environs are prime real estate today,
just as they must have been in antiquity! More broadly, Khavania
occupies a location on the western shores of the Bay of Mirabello, which
has seen little in the way of archaeological research other than a
series of rescue excavations over the past thirty or so years.
Conversely, the eastern and southern shores of the Mirabello region have
been the subject of intensive archaeological research since the turn of
the 20th century, with several notable sites such as
Mochlos, Pseira, Gournia, and Priniatikos Pyrgos having been excavated,
not to mention the three contiguous intensive survey projects, the
Kavousi, Gournia, and Vrokastro surveys. With its nice harbours and
location on an overland route, which connected the site to other coastal
settlements, not to mention the elevated inland area of the Lasithi
plateau, we believe that Khavania was a vital node in both inter- and
intra-island interaction networks at various times in antiquity. As a
result, our overall goal of research at Khavania is to study the
development of the site, especially in terms of its local, East Cretan,
and broader island-wide socio-political, economic, and ideological
relationships. In other words, we hope to provide context to an
important settlement in a little investigated area of East Crete.
The Khavania Archaeological Project ran for fifteen sweltering days this summer, between July 19th and August 6th.
Our original goals for the 2020 field season, which we had cancel
because of the COVID-19 pandemic, were fivefold: 1) to develop an
understanding of the history of settlement and land use in the
hinterland of Khavania through intensive survey; 2) to augment our
existing architectural plan of the site itself through further
documentation of newly-exposed anthropogenic features; 3) to produce a
geomorphological study of the peninsula; 4) to develop an understanding
of social, political, and economic development in and around Khavania
through study of the portable material collected during survey; and 5)
to lay the groundwork for future archaeological work at the site.
Sophianna Drakaki (photograph by R.D. Fitzsimons).
Owing to continued limitations, namely restrictions placed on travel and
student participation, we had to alter the scope of our intended
research plan, concentrating on the peninsula itself. Thankfully, we
were able to put together a crack team of highly-skilled and
lighthearted individuals consisting of Rafał Bieńkowski (PhD student,
Polish Academy of Sciences), Dr. Lily Bonga, Alice Crowe (PhD student,
University of Cincinnati), Sara Hilker (PhD student, University of North
Carolina, Chapel Hill), and Charles Sturge (PhD student, University of
Cincinnati). Sophianna Drakaki served as our Epoptria. It was
truly a pleasure working with each and every one of these individuals
and we thank them for their expertise and good humour during some
beastly days in the field. Seriously, what’s with consistent days of
Rafał Bieńkowski manning the UAV (photograph by R.D. Fitzsimons).
There were three components of research for the summer 2021 season: 1)
documentation and cleaning of visible architectural features on the
peninsula; 2) intensive pedestrian survey of the peninsula; and 3)
study of material remains collected during the 2019 field season. As the
site had been thoroughly cleaned of vegetation since we had last been
there (summer 2019), we began our season by systematically walking it to
document newly revealed architectural features. In addition, we
employed a UAV (drone) to take aerial images to assist us in this
endeavor. When we identified new features, we provided them with a
proper designation in accordance with the system we had created in 2019.
These were then incorporated into our site plan, using a total station,
generously loaned to us by the INSTAP Study Center for East Crete. In
addition to documenting and cleaning new features, we also cleaned
several that we identified in 2019. Our decision to clean certain walls
was based on one or a combination of the following objectives: to reveal
stretches of walls that potentially communicated with others, to
determine the type of features, to reveal inside/outside faces, to
correct or adjust drawings, and/or to provide more general information.
Once walls were cleaned, we began the documentation process, which
consisted of drawing, photographing (including high resolution
photography for photogrammetric modeling), measuring, and describing
features on standardized field forms. During the last two days of the
project, after all walls had been cleaned, we conducted a series of
drone flights to acquire aerial photographs for the purpose of creating
new, accurate orthophotos and photogrammetric three-dimensional models
of the site.
Sarah Hilker cleaning Wall 8 (photograph by R.D. Fitzsimons).
Despite our limitations, we had an incredibly productive summer. We
discovered 24 new architectural features at the site, all of which were
fragments of ancient walls. Several additional possible features were
left unrecorded because they consisted of single stones or were only
minimally visible. Excavation is required in order to determine their
true nature. We cleaned 24 architectural features: 19
previously-identified features and 5 newly-identified ones. These were
all drawn, photographed, and integrated into our overall site plan. To
date, 77 architectural features, including a quarry, have been
identified and fully documented on the Khavania peninsula. Most extent
features were identified on the western and northwestern slopes, while
several others can be found on the southeastern slope. Few remains were
found on the summit of the peninsula, since it is heavily eroded.
Alice Crowe cleaning Wall 12 (photograph by R.D. Fitzsimons).
Partial outlines of at least three independent buildings have been
identified on the Khavania peninsula. The remains of one large structure
(ca. 100m2 measurable extant area) can be seen on the
northern slope of the peninsula. The northern façade of this structure
(W17) is impressive with a maximum width of ca. 1.80m (average width is
1.40m). Walls 17–19 are well-bonded, clearly indicating that this part
of the building was built in one phase. In addition, W17 sits on a
projecting plinth course. This is a sophisticated architectural
technique used to stabilize buildings. Finally, as W15 abuts W17 it is
clear that later additions were made to this edifice. Another building
comprised of walls W8–12, 38, and 42 (ca. 116m2 measurable
extant area) appears just below the summit of the promontory on the
north side. This building appears to have been constructed in two
phases. Finally, a third building comprised of walls W3–6 and 35 can be
seen to the west of the site’s summit (ca. 143m2 measurable
extant area). Like our second building, this one is also multi-phased.
The architectural remains at Khavania attest to the presence of several
monumental buildings, perhaps official buildings. Unfortunately, at
present without proper systematic excavations, we cannot determine
whether the buildings at the site are all contemporary. The difference
in orientation between some buildings and individual architectural
features suggests that this is not the case.
The Khavania team surveying the north slope of the peninsula (photograph by R.D. Fitzsimons).
The second component of our research program involved intensive
pedestrian survey of the peninsula. The survey was conducted with a view
toward determining the general settlement history of the site, to
determine spatial patterning, specifically as it pertains to defining
the site boundaries for each period of use, and to establish a
comprehensive ceramic profile and sequence. To complete this goal, team
members walked transects within predetermined areas, side-by-side, and
spaced at equal distances apart. As they were walking, they scanned the
ground for artifacts and picked up all identifiable ones and bagged
them. At the end of each day, the artifacts were brought to the Ayios
Nikolaos Museum for storage and future study. This survey produced more
than 1,500 ceramic sherds, as well as fragments of mudbricks, roof
tiles, ground stone tools, and chipped stone artifacts, as well as one
(exploded) fragment of a WWII era mortar shell. Although the pottery has
yet to be cleaned and studied, our ceramicist is happy to report that
Late Minoan II materials are present at the site. This is an interesting
development, since Late Minoan II ceramics rarely appear in East Cretan
Matt Buell, Sophianna Drakaki, and
Charles Sturge examining some of the survey pottery in the Ayios
Nikolaos Museum (photograph by R.D. Fitzsimons).
Finally, all materials collected from our 2019 season were washed in the Ayios Nikolaos apothiki.
The prehistoric pottery was studied by Charles Sturge this summer,
while Jane Francis (Concordia University) will conduct the analysis of
historical materials over the winter break. Lily Bonga will photograph
and draw our material. The prehistoric ceramic assemblage consists of
all fabrics (coarse, medium, cooking, fine). Identifiable shapes include
amphorae, basins, bowls, cooking pots, cooking trays, cups, dishes,
gutters, jars, jugs, loomweights, and pithoi. The prehistoric periods
represented include Early Minoan II, Middle Minoan II, Middle Minoan
III, Late Minoan IA and IB, Late Minoan II, and Late Minoan IIIA-C. The
majority of the identifiable pottery can be attributed to the Late
Minoan I period, though Prepalatial and Late Minoan III remains are
Plan of the site of Khavania (digital image by D.M. Buell and R. Bieńkowski).
In terms of future work at the site, the pottery that we collected
this summer still needs to be washed and studied. We hope to complete
this goal during the Winter of 2022. It is our hope to initiate a
two-year, multinational, and interdisciplinary excavation project soon.
Finally, we would like to express our thanks to all of those who helped
and supported us this summer, including Jonathan Tomlinson, Jacques
Perreault, and Brendan Burke at the Canadian Institute in Greece, Tom
Brogan and Eleanor Huffman at the INSTAP East Crete Study Center, and
Vance Watrous. We also thank the Bagnani Trust and the Institute for the
Study of Aegean Prehistory for their generous financial support.
D. Matthew Buell & Rodney D. Fitzsimons
Concordia University & Trent University; co-directors of KAP