Blog

Featured work (2018): Long Time, No See: Land reclamation and the cultural record of central-western Thessaly, central Greece (LTNS). Publication of the prehistoric surface and excavated ceramic assemblage

The multidisciplinary landscape project ‘Long Time, No See’ (2014-2018), carried out by a large, international research team under the auspices of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Karditsa (Hellenic Ministry of Culture & Sports), is revolutionising our understanding of the prehistoric to pre-modern cultural landscapes of the Kambos area in western Thessaly. Moving from regional to site-specific contexts, we have successfully integrated historical aerial photography and satellite imagery, extensive and intensive field survey, geoarchaeological, palaeoenvironmental, bioarchaeological and material culture studies and proved that the central-western Thessalian plain was a densely occupied and constructed landscape since the earliest phases of the Neolithic (mid-7th mil. BCE).

The western plain has been long considered the backwater of prehistoric and early historic Thessaly. Our innovative conceptual and methodological approach challenges traditional stereotypes and demonstrates that the scanty previous knowledge reflects heavy, localised alluvial burial of sites and catastrophic agricultural levelling in the early 1970’s. The discovery and documentation of an unprecedented number of prehistoric and early historic settlements, pathways and formal roads, field systems and funerary tombs and alignments changes our understanding of diachronic social use of space, settlement and communication patterns. Moreover, the systematic study of the surveyed and excavated pottery assemblages provides new fascinating insights into local technological traditions and prehistoric pottery production and circulation across the western Thessalian plain and beyond.

The generous grant provided by MAT was used for drawing (R. Exarchou, L. Tasiopoulou), photography (D. Panousis) and digital integration (R. Exarchou, A. Papagiannis) of all documentation, of 242 representative Neolithic, Bronze Age and Early Iron Age sherds, selected during the systematic macroscopic study of the LTNS pottery (Dr A. Dimoula, G. Papadias, N. Saridaki, E. Vliora). The ultimate aim of detailed documentation work is the final publication of the LTNS ceramic assemblages.

Location of the study area (Orengo et al. 2015: Fig. 1)
Illustrated examples of the Neolithic and Bronze Age LTNS ceramic assemblage (© LTNS, Ephorate of Antiquities of Karditsa)

For further information, please contact Dr Nancy Krahtopoulou (Ephrorate of Antiquities of Karditsa, Hellenic Ministry of Culture & Sports) at akrachtopoulou@culture.gr.

References:

Orengo, H.A., Krahtopoulou, A., Garcia-Molsosa, A., Palaiochoritis, K., Stamati, A. 2015. Photogrammetric discovery of the hidden long-term landscapes of western Thessaly, central Greece. Journal of Archaeological Science 65: 100-109. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2015.10.008

Krahtopoulou, A., Dimoula, A., Livarda, A., Saridaki, N. 2018. The discovery of the earliest specialised Middle Neolithic pottery workshop in western Thessaly, central Greece. Antiquity 92 362, e5: 1-7. https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2018.54

Dimoula, A., Saridaki, N., Vliora, E., Papadias, G. in press. The secrets of the Kambos – the study of the prehistoric pottery assemblage. AETHSE 6.

Krahtopoulou, A., Orengo, H.A., Dimoula, A., Garcia-Molsosa, A., Palaiochoritis, K., Saridaki, N. in press. The secrets of the Kambos – the Neolithic. AETHSE 6.

Featured work (2018): The North Cemetery area at Ayios Vasilios, Laconia: The pottery analysis and the history of an Early Mycenaean cemetery

The importance of Ayios Vasilios became immediately obvious with the recent discovery of a Linear B archive, a monumental complex and rich finds which prove that this is the palatial centre of Mycenaean Laconia. The excavation of the Early Mycenaean North Cemetery (c. 1700-1400 BC) provides a unique opportunity to study the period of the rise of Ayios Vasilios.

Ayios Vasilios differs from other Mycenaean palaces in some important respects: it shows considerable influence from the Minoan world and has been destroyed 50 to 70 years earlier. A better understanding of its history requires a detailed pottery study. The area of the North Cemetery currently offers the site’s most complete stratified ceramic sequence for the Mycenaean period (c. 1700-1200 BC). In addition, the pottery study allows valuable insights into technological aspects, consumption practices and contacts of the local community.

The generous funding by MAT in 2015, 2016 and 2018 enabled the full recording and drawing of the ceramics found in a large domestic dump of a rarely attested phase (c. 1650-1550 BC). The study includes also assemblages of later Mycenaean phases (c. 1450-1200 BC) which imply that the cemetery was still respected in this period. Results of these studies are in press or in preparation.

Plan of the Ayios Vasilios North Cemetery and locations of studied deposits (plan by Irene Koulogeorgiou and Gary Nobles)
Early Mycenaean vessel fragments from the North Cemetery area (drawing by Vasco Hachtmann)

For further information, please contact Sofia Voutsaki at https://rug.academia.edu/svoutsaki.

Featured work (2018): A deposit of obsidian nodules in the Middle Bronze Age Palace at Malia: Insights into raw material exchange between Melos, Gyali and Crete

The Minoan Palace at Malia was discovered and excavated by Greek and French archaeologists at the beginning of the 20th century. The second largest palace in Crete after the one excavated by Sir Arthur Evans at Knossos, the edifice was built around 1900 BCE and used until 1390 BCE, a long period marked by a series of destructions. A major catastrophic event around 1700 BCE thoroughly destroyed the First or Protopalatial Palace (ca. 1900-1700 BCE), after which the edifice was reconstructed in the Neopalatial period (ca. 1700-1450 BCE). Because of the extensive rebuilding of the Second Palace, little is known of the shape and function(s) of the Protopalatial edifice. A new architectural and stratigraphic study of the ruin under the aegis of the French School at Athens aims to fulfil this gap in our knowledge of one of the major edifices of Minoan Crete.

With the support of MAT, we were able in 2018 to focus on the study of a deposit of 173 obsidian unmodified blocks or ‘nodules’ found in a Protopalatial destruction layer in the North-West Area of the Palace. This constitutes the largest assemblage of raw obsidian nodules ever discovered in Minoan Crete and the wider Aegean. Five pieces originate from the Dodecanesian source of Gyali, while the bulk of the obsidian nodules has visual characteristics that indicate procurement from Melos in the Cyclades. The significance of this assemblage lies in it consisting primarily in raw material, i.e. nodules that were collected and transported to Malia before being used to manufacture delicate, razor-sharp blades.

The generous funding of MAT has made it possible to document and complete the full study of this impressive yet seldom published assemblage in order to prepare a publication that will consider it within the larger discussion on (a) the nature of obsidian consumption at Protopalatial Malia, (b) the role of the Palace in the procurement and disbursement of exotic commodities, and (c) the relationship of crafting to political power.

Plan of the Palace at Malia, based on E. Andersen (PELON 1980, plan 28) and M. Schmid and N. Rigopoulos (PELON 2002, pl. XXXII), and view of the excavations of room m in the North-West Area of the Palace, where the obsidian assemblage was discovered, CHAPOUTHIER & DEMARGNE 1942, pl. XXXVI 2 ©EFA
Nodules from the Obsidian North-West Deposit discovered in the Palace at Malia. Photograph by K. Papachrysanthou ©EFA, Malia Palace Project

For further information, please visit https://gerda-henkel-stiftung.academia.edu/MaudDevolder or contact Dr. Maud Devolder (AEGIS Research Group, CEMA/INCAL, UCLouvain) at maud.devolder@uclouvain.be.

Featured work (2018): The Early Bronze Age Ceramic Roofing Tiles from Zygouries, Greece

The aim of the project was to examine and document all 195 Early Helladic (EH) ceramic roofing tile fragments from Zygouries that were excavated in 1921 by Carl Blegen. The planned monograph presenting this work will be the first publication of a complete EH tile assemblage. It will also offer a re-analysis of the social organization and economy at this important EH site.

The ceramic tiled roof is an invention of EH mainland Greece. Although EH tiles have been recognized for nearly a century, a complete assemblage has yet to be published. Previously, site publications have typically presented the tiles as components of the building’s superstructure, rather than as important objects with interpretive value on their own.

Our work with this assemblage will demonstrate that the production of a single tiled roof at Zygouries required a massive investment of time, resources, and labour. Consequently, we will be able to offer a new perspective on the nature of rulership, craft, trade, and social organization in the Early Bronze Age.

The MAT funding was essential to bring this project to completion by sponsoring the final study season at Ancient Corinth and the hiring of an archaeological illustrator to draw 30 tiles.

Measurement of one of Zygouries’s EH II tiles (Photo: K. Jazwa)
A box of EH II tiles from House of the Snailshells (Zygouries). (Photo: K. Jazwa)

For further information, please contact Dr. Kyle Jazwa (Instructor of Classical Studies, Duke University) at kyle.jazwa@duke.edu, or check his profile at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kyle_Jazwa.

Featured work (2018): Food, space and ceramics in Early Bronze Age Sicily: an interdisciplinary study on the site of Coste di Santa Febronia

The hill site of Coste di Santa Febronia (Catania, Italy) includes the remains of an Early Bronze Age hut (ca. 2200-1450 BCE) that was found destroyed by a fire, leaving a sealed deposit with the artefacts in their last-use position. Domestic contexts with such architectural features and abundance of materials are rarely found in this phase in Sicily, and therefore this site is an ideal scenario for the reconstruction of the space organization in the Early Bronze Age.

This study aims at shedding light on the household organization by integrating a spatial study of the materials on a GIS platform, use-wear and organic residue analysis of ceramics materials. This interdisciplinary approach allowed the reconstruction of the living space inside the hut revealing in some cases a link between the location, the ceramic class and food consumed in it. In addition, the study posed some questions about the intended versus the actual use of some ceramic types of this phase in Sicily.

This study aims at setting the basis for and promote further work on prehistoric Sicily with an interdisciplinary perspective. This research started in 2010 and the MAT funds were crucial in allowing to complete and update the research pushing forward its final publication.

View of the rim, the external surface (at the top) and the internal surface (at the bottom) of a painted pedestal bowl. The arrows indicate the scratching marks on the interior surface; the rim is highly abraded. © Roberta Mentesana
Extracting the organic content from the ceramics at the Laboratory for Analysis for Cultural Heritage of the University of Salento (Lecce, Italy)

For further information please contact Dr Roberta Mentesana (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, Department of History and Archaeology, University of Barcelona) at rb.mentesana@gmail.com.

The analyses were performed at the Laboratory for Analysis for Cultural Heritage of the University of Salento (Lecce, Italy) directed by Prof. G. De Benedetto (https://www.unisalento.it/people/giuseppe.debenedetto).

Featured work (2018): The Middle Bronze Age at Zincirli Höyük (Turkey): Study and publication of the ceramic assemblage from Area 2

Zincirli Höyük is located in southeastern Turkey, in the Islahye Valley on the eastern slope of the Amanus mountains. It is one of the earliest excavations in the Near East, since the German expedition of the Orient-Comité revealed between 1888 and 1902 the imposing remains of the Iron Age capital of the Aramaean kingdom of ancient Sam’al. Since 2006 new excavations by the Universities of Chicago and Tübingen are reassessing the knowledge of the Iron Age settlement, opening for the first time a new perspective on the underlying Bronze Age city.

Excavations in Area 2 are revealing a complex of buildings dated to the Middle Bronze Age, with an extremely rich inventory of ceramics which remained in situ after a violent destruction. The excellent state of preservation of the materials offers a unique chance to investigate this period within a broader regional perspective. The ceramic assemblage is dated to the MB II (1800-1600 B.C) and is composed by fine and painted wares, as well as kitchen, simple and preservation wares. Some remarkable types of painted pottery such as globular flasks were probably related to wine transportation and consumption, showing how Zincirli in the first half of the 2nd millennium B.C. was part of the complex network of exchanges stretching between Mesopotamia, northern Syria, central Anatolia and the eastern Mediterranean coast.

MAT’s generous grant has been extremely significant to cover the expenses of the research team involved in documenting, drawing and studying the large amount of Middle Bronze Age pottery recovered from the excavations. The grant allowed the work of two specialists and an illustrator in Turkey, in order to prepare the documentation which is going to be published soon in a preliminary report on the Bulletin of American Schools of Oriental Research and later in the final publication of Area 2’s excavation.

View of Area 2 and the eastern summit of the mound from the south, 2017. Photograph by Lucas Stephens. (courtesy of the Chicago-Tübingen expedition).
Selection of complete vessels from Building II, from the 2018 season. Photograph by Roberto Ceccacci (courtesy of the Chicago-Tübingen expedition).

For further information, please contact Dr Sebastiano Soldi, Collections Registrar, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Firenze, at sebastiano.soldi@beniculturali.it.

He is also a Research Associate of the DFG-Project “Urban Landscape and State Formation at Iron Age Samal (Zincirli,Turkey)”. See his profile at https://metmuseum.academia.edu/SebastianoSoldi.

The project’s webpage is at https://zincirli.uchicago.edu/.

Featured work (2018): Staters and Obols on the Ionian Island Zakynthos – an overview of the most important coin collections

The island of Zakynthos has a rich and varied history, but is notoriously lacking in archaeological remains. This ‘scarcity of archaeology’ is primarily due to the extensive destruction of the ancient landscapes by earthquakes, intensive agriculture and building. The Zakynthos Archaeology Project (University of Amsterdam) is an interdisciplinary research project aiming to relate the distribution of archaeological finds to the dynamic landscape of the island.

For the final publication of the Zakynthos Archaeology Project , almost 375 Zakynthian Greek and Roman coins – some found on the island itself, but most elsewhere – have been studied and analyzed with respect to material, iconography, chronology and provenance. Our main question: what do these coins and their circulation – also compared to other sets of archaeological finds – tell us about the network in which Zakynthos participated and its development through time?

It is the first time that published and unpublished collections of important (coin) museums have been studied for this purpose, including:
• the Numismatic Museum in Athens;
• British Museum, London;
• Ashmolean Museum in Oxford;
• Numismatic Society in New York;
• Cabinet des Médailles in Paris;
• Bode-Museum (Staatliche Museums) in Berlin;
• Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

Support for the viewing of the collections in Berlin and Vienna has been generously provided by the MAT.

The result of this project will be a relevant, representative and general overview of the Zakynthian coins, which can also be used as a starting point for further (numismatic) research. Expected publication date: 2020.

Zakynthian drachme, ca. 500-456 BC. Obverse: volute krater, I-A; reverse: tripod in incuse square. Silver, 14 mm, 12 h, 3.95 g. Coin collection Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Bode-Museum). (Photo: A. Versloot)
Several Zakynthian coins, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. (Photo: A. Versloot)

For further information, please contact Anne Versloot at a.i.versloot@uva.nl.

Applications for 2019 MAT grants now open

The Mediterranean Archaeological Trust (MAT), set up in 1959 for the promotion of the study of archaeology, invites applications for grants, made on a competitive basis, for expenses in 2019-2020, in the preparation for final publication of material from archaeological excavation or fieldwork in the Mediterranean world.

To see how to apply, visit Applications.

Mask of Agamemnon
Mask of Agamemnon, created 1550–1500 B.C., Discovered 1876 at Mycenae, Greece by Heinrich Schliemann, Present location: National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mask_of_Agamemnon#/media/File:MaskOfAgamemnon.jpg

 

 

Featured work (2017): Foodways in ancient Olynthos: Agricultural Practices, Diet and Land Use in Classical Greece

The new excavation project at Olynthos uses inter and multidisciplinary approaches to interpret the domestic and social life of an urban centre of the Classical period and its chora. The project started in 2014 under the direction of the Greek Archaeological Service in collaboration with the Universities of Liverpool and Michigan and under the auspices of the British School at Athens. The archaeobotanical work is used as a proxy in order to document contextualised and situated activities of farming, food processing, production and disposal of food at Olynthos.

The archaeobotanical data from Olynthos, retrieved through a detailed sampling protocol, comes as an invaluable addition to the very limited archaeobotanical data deriving from the Classical period thus far, not only from Macedonia but the whole of Greece. This dataset will not only demonstrate the essential value of interpretative techniques such as archaeobotanical analysis in the study of archaeological contexts, but it will also emphasize that in the absence of such work, knowledge of significant aspects of daily life would have been permanently lost.

The work has focused on the range of cultivated and wild plants used at the site, detecting any variation in the species and dietary choices between the different buildings and identifying crop-processing procedures and husbandry regimes or the use of specific plants as fuel. The archaeobotanical work also aims to discuss the form and intensity of labour, the risks involved in agricultural production undertaken at Olynthos and whether the production of agricultural products aimed to self-sufficiency or was market oriented.

The support of the Mediterranean Archaeological Fund was used for the travel expenses for the work to be undertaken at the Fitch Laboratory of the British School at Athens, where the material is stored and there are all the necessary equipment and reference collection of the study of the material.

Margaritis 2
Taking soil samples from House B at Olynthos. Source: own photo.

Margaritis 1
Studying seeds under the microscope. Source: own photo.

For further information, please contact Dr Evi Margaritis (Assistant Professor in Archaeological Science, STARC, The Cyprus Institute) on evimargaritis@gmail.com.

 

Announcement of the 2018 grants by MAT

The Mediterranean Archaeological Trust (MAT) is pleased to announce that it awarded 22 grants to the following worthy projects in 2018:

  1. A Deposit of Obsidian Nodules in the Protopalatial Palace at Malia (Crete) – Lead Researcher: Dr Maud Devolder. For more information about the project, click here; for more information about the Lead Researcher, click here.
  2. Defining the Occupation at the hill of Sant’Ippolito (Sicily) during the Bronze Age; Integrating Archeometric Analyses with New Radiocarbon Dates – Lead Researcher: Mr Gianpiero Caso.
  3. Foodways in Ancient Olynthos: Agricultural Practices, Diet and Land Use in Classical Greece – Lead Researcher: Dr Evi Margaritis.
  4. Grinding Implements from the Earliest Farming Communities in Greece: The Assemblage of the Neolithic Site of Pontokomi-Souloukia – Lead Researcher: Dr Anna Stroulia.
  5. Knossos Neolithic Publication Project (KNPP) – Lead Researcher: Dr Valasia Isaakidou.
  6. Long Time, No See: Land Reclamation and the Cultural Record of Central-Western Thessaly, Central Greece (LTNS) – Lead Researcher: Dr Athanasia Krahtopoulou. For more information about the Lead Researcher, click here or here.
  7. Middle Stone Age Behavioural Diversity along the South-East Mediterranean Littoral: Evidence from Excavations at Haua Fteah Cave in Libya – Lead Researcher: Dr Sacha Claire Jones. For more information about the Lead Researcher, click here.
  8. Preparation of publication of ‘The National Archaeological Museum, Athens: Finds from the 1896 – 9 Excavations at Phylakopi, Melos, Cyclades, Greece’ – Lead Researcher: Dr Robin Barber.
  9. Revealing the Potters of Petsas House, Mycenae – Lead Researcher: Dr Lynne Kvapil.
  10. Socio-political Complexity in Sicilian Early Bronze Age: The Case Study of Castelluccio (3rd Millennium BC) – Lead Researcher: Ms Anita Crispino. For more information about the Lead Researcher, click here.
  11. Staters and Obols of Zakynthos – A General Overview of the Most Important Coin Collections – Lead Researcher: Ms Anne Versloot. For more information about the project, click here.
  12. The Archaic Cemetery of Motya. Vol. 1. Final Report of five excavation seasons (2013-17) undertaken by the University of Palermo expedition on the Island of San Pantaleo, Marsala (Sicily) – Lead Researcher: Dr Paola Sconzo. For more information about the project, click here; and for more information about the Lead Researcher, click here.
  13. The Cave of Euripides in Salamis: The Mycenaean Period – Lead Researcher: Dr Cristina Marabea. For more information about the Lead Researcher, click here.
  14. The Early Bronze Age Ceramic Roofing Tiles from Zygouries, Greece – Lead Researcher: Dr Kyle Jazwa. For more information about the Lead Researcher, click here.
  15. The Early Bronze Age Ground Stone Tool Assemblage of Mishmar Ha’emeq, Jeezrael Valley, Israel – Lead Researcher: Dr Danny Rosenberg.
  16. The First Mycenaeans in South Central Crete: Highlighting The Necropolis at Kalyvia Near Phaistos – Lead Researcher: Dr Santo Privitera.
  17. The Middle and Late Bronze Age Pottery from the Settlement and the Tombs on the Acropolis of Thorikos (Excavations of Jean Servais): Study and Final Publication of the Finds – Lead Researcher: Dr Margarita Nazou. For more information about the Lead Researcher, click here.
  18. The Middle Bronze Age at Zincirli Höyük (Turkey): Study and Publication of the Ceramic Assemblage from Area 2 – Lead Researcher: Dr Sebastiano Soldi. For more information about the project, click here, and for more information about the Lead Researcher, click here or here.
  19. The North Cemetery at Ayios Vasilios, Laconia: The History of an Early Mycenaean Cemetery – Lead Researcher: Dr Vasco Hachtmann.
  20. The Zooarchaeological Material of Thorikos Mine 3 – Lead Researcher: Dr Stefania Michalopoulou.
  21. Third Season of Study of the Wall Paintings from Mycenaean Thebes (1998 excavations) – Lead Researcher: Mr Nikos Sepetzoglou.
  22. Utilization of Living Space in Early Bronze Age Sicily: Results of an Interdisciplinary Study in Santa Febronia (Italy) – Lead Researcher: Dr Roberta Mentesana. For more information about the Lead Researcher, click here.

Congratulations to all our grantees.