The aftermath

It feels like the last two weeks of field work flew by -we were that busy. Following the excitement in Tract 45, we continued surveying Sectors F, E and I in the southern plateau. Having completed that part of the survey footprint, our teams split. Team blue circumnavigated the citadel to investigate the tracts along the southern, eastern and northern slopes in Sector B.Team orange launched an exploration of Sectors G and I to east and southeast of the citadel beyond the chapel of Agioi Saranta. Eventually the teams joined forces to complete Sector I, which wraps around Asprovouno to the east, and sample Sector H tracts closest to the citadel road. The latter was a lesser priority, as it had been an afterthought in the planning process, but we felt it necessary to explore at least the part where Curtius and Kaupert had noted a well-preserved building in the late 19th c. The decision to look in that area would prove very worthwhile and one of the highlights of the 2019 season (see below).

While Sectors B, E and F were fruitful, especially the latter two areas, Sector I looked less and less promising as we headed to the east. We noticed a major change in soil composition to match, from the rich red clayey soils of Sectors E and F to thin, white chalky soils emanating from erosive processes at Asprovouno (aptly dubbed then ‘the white mountain’). Whether the absence of finds, nearly complete at times, east of Asprovouno was to do with erosion or the lack of habitation remains an open question for the geomorphology study. Erosion, manifested in the form of deep runoffs on the slopes of Sector B, certainly appeared to be a factor in the reduced densities of finds along the west slopes of the citadel as well.

Following a few days of unproductive walking in the eastern part of the survey, however, we were rewarded by the discovery of a major site on the last hour of the last day of field operations (of course it had to be on the last day). Unsurprisingly, the site, associated with a large quantity of roofs tiles (some of which nearly intact), bricks and large quantities pottery, was situated immediately to the south of one of Curtius and Kaupert’s buildings. The building itself, however, was not seen and does not appear to have survived (although we shall return with geophysics). In the days prior we had also noted several more new sites in Sectors C, E and F, including a likely Classical site associated with much excavation-grade pottery recently exposed due to torrential rains. A further site was tentatively identified north of the citadel- this will be investigated more fully in 2020. In the meanwhile, we were briefly visited by John Bintliff, who offered great advice and ideas for the future.

The last few days of the 2019 season were dedicated to museum work: cleansing remaining finds from the last week of field work, storing them safely, and recording and photographing pottery and other diagnostic finds for the purposes of season reporting. Altogether we collected over 16,000 sherds dating from prehistory through the early modern era, and hundreds of stone, terracotta, metal and glass objects. We were able to ascertain local ceramic production, through waster sherds, kiln stands and other tell-tale finds. Excitingly, we also produced evidence on local metallurgy (iron), attested in the form of slag from several areas of the survey.

Both Steve and Anastasia were impressed by and grateful for our team members. All students were just delightful to be with. They meshed together well despite pressures of field work, were mature beyond their years and brought along a unique mixture of excellent work ethic, congeniality and diverse outlooks in life. Likewise, Aris, Michalis, Katerina and Eleni at the museum, under Eleni Andrikou’s leadership, were the best colleagues we could have possibly asked for, participating in the field work, ironing out operational kinks, working with us to configure space efficiently and even staying overtime to extend museum hours.

We look forward to sharing the results of the 2019 season with the public, starting with the Aerial Archaeology Research Group Annual Conference and the Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America. The WebGIS has been updated with new layers reflecting the 2019 season activities. Stay tuned and watch this space for the 2019 report.