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Picturing Landscapes

I just finished reading Matthew Johnson’s Ideas of Landscape(Blackwell 2006).  In it, he argued that maps, air photos, and archaeological hachured plans formed the foundation of landscape archaeology in Great Britain (and, I’d contend, elsewhere).  Landscape archaeology in the Mediterranean has certainly benefited from maps and air (and increasingly satellite) photos which represent the first step, typically, in data gathering for an archaeological project. The first aerial photographs that we acquired in the study of our site of Pyla-Koutsopetria were the 1963 and 1993 series produced by the Cypriot Department of Maps and Surveys.

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 A93256KoutsopetriaCropped

Since then, we were lucky enough to have a series of oblique, relatively low altitude air photos taken from an RAF helicopter in 2007.  These photos provide more detail, but the oblique angles make them more difficult to use for producing accurate maps. 

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Picture 047

This past summer, we took even more low altitude and far more oblique air photographs using the infamous helikite (half helium blimp and half kite).  We only had enough helium for a limited number of flights and this tempted us to take the airship up in, let’s say, unfavorable conditions.  The results were blurry, but we were able to salvage some good quality aerial photographs from the set.  The camera was rocking furiously beneath the wind-buffeted helikite so the photos lack a good representation of the horizontal.  More disappointing is that the strong breeze from the sea made it difficult to photograph the fields closest to the busy Larnaka-Dhekelia road.  The 1963 and 1993 aerial photographs showed some feature near the intersection of the main road and the northeast running road that now leads to the water treatment facility.  While the feature does not stand out in the 2007 RAF photographs, they were taken after a particularly wet early summer which caused green wheat to be left in the field.  The nicely ploughed fields of summer 2010 may have provided a different image.

 

One of my jobs for this summer is labeling these photographs and moving them to Omeka.  For now, enjoy a different perspective on the site of Pyla-Koutsopetria.

Preliminary Analysis of Pyla-Koustopetria Archaeological Data or Thinking Out Loud 4

March 15, 2010 1 comment

In September, I began a series of posts in which I thought out loud about the survey data from the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project.  The posts mainly focused on overall ceramic densities across the entire study area.  Over the last two or three weeks, I’ve begun working on the final analysis of the period data from the survey.  To do this, I take the finds data produced by R. Scott Moore and Mara Horowitz and plot is against the survey maps produced in the field by David Pettegrew and myself.  In most cases, this work has confirmed our long held (and argued) perspectives on the distribution of material at our site, but sometimes, bringing finds data together with our survey maps shows patterns that were not entirely apparent on the ground.

While we have dedicated much of our attention to activities along the Pyla-Koutsopetria coastal plain or in the area of the known Bronze Age site of Kokkinokremos, it may be that some important activity is taking place on the coastal ridge running north of the Koutsopetria plain and the very prominent coast height of Vigla.  The main concentration of activity in what we call Zone 4 sits along its southern edge.  The site in this area first appears during the Iron Age.

ArchaictoClassical 

This image shows the site from the Iron Age to the Hellenistic period.  The blue dots are Iron Age material (1050-475 BC).  The assemblage in the red circle included everything from Classical era terracota figurines to fine wares and kitchen wares and utility wares (amphoras, medium coarse and coarse wares).  The material is highly localized in an area of 25 units or so and does not appear to extend further north. The assemblage from these periods on Vigla (the concentration of material to the southwest of the red circle) is contemporary, but far less robust and diverse.  The activity at this area appears to persist into the later Hellenistic and Early Roman period as well.

EarlyRomantoRoman

In this map, the triangles are Early Roman material, the pentagons are Hellenistic-Early Roman material and the green dots date to the more generic Roman period.  While there is evidence that the activities at the site begin to extend further to the north along the plateau, the main concentration of material is still in the southern most units of along our north to south transect.  Like for earlier periods, the assemblage is reasonably diverse including fine wares, lamp fragments, and a full range of utility wares. 

The most remarkable thing about the site is that it suddenly, within the limits of our chronological resolutions, stops in the Late Roman period.

LateRoman

In this map, the different colored dots are all Late Roman material and, as you can see, there is not much Late Roman activity in the area of the earlier site.  So, the question is what kind of site of sees consistent activity for close to 1200 years and then is suddenly abandoned.  To my mind, there are three options.  First, Late Roman activity does not decline over the study area as a whole.  In fact, the coastal plain becomes the center of unprecedented activity during this period. It may be that the center of settlement shifted from the more protected top of the coastal plateau to the more convenient coastal plain during the relatively peace epoch of Late Antiquity.  Second, the area on the plateau could be a religious sanctuary of some description.  The scholar of Late Antique Christianity in me is drawn to the idea that the site is a long-standing pagan sanctuary abandoned with the growing prominence of Christianity on the island.  Perhaps the very fabric of the sanctuary was quarried for the building of the excavated Early Christian basilica on the plain below.  Finally, it may be that this coastal height served as the local cemetery.  While the diversity of the assemblage at the site hints at habitation or even religious uses (which could include the same material signature as domestic activity), it may be that the main settlement was on the fortified height of Vigla (as our excavations at least hints) and they buried their dead outside the city walls to the north.  The abandonment of burial in this area occurred in Late Antiquity where (I can’t resist) Christian conventions gently resisted burial among pagan ancestors.  At the same time, the persistent sanctity of the long-standing burial ground made it impolitic or even impious to use the space for more mundane activities.  As a result, the area was largely abandoned even as activity along the northern part of the plateau continued.

We do not have any definitive evidence for any of these hypothesis, although ground-penetrating radar transects recorded in 2009 might provide us with some hints once they are analyzed.  At the same time, the clear shift in activity away from this site stands out as one of the most definitive changes in the distribution of material across our site.

Walking Home and the Phenomenology of Landscape

March 8, 2010 2 comments

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In a recent article, by John Bintliff ("The Implications of a Phenomenology of Landscape," in E. Olshausen and V. Sauer, Die Landschaft und die Religion. (Stuttgart 2009), 27-45) offers (another) harsh critique of Christopher Tilley's efforts toward a phenomenology of ancient landscapes. Bintliff, in particular, takes issue with Tilley's efforts to produce an landscape rooted in its "emotional and symbolic significance" to the exclusion of a more holistic view that includes an emphasis on the landscape as economically productive space. He argues that Tilley's view of the landscape as "really just about feelings, and symbolic behaviors…" represents a distinctly British reaction to historical phenomenon of the last century or two: namely the gradual abandonment of the countryside by a large part of the population who moved to cities and the consequent inability of most of the population to understand the countryside as productive space. Instead, the countryside has become a kind of "enormous themepark for the urban millions".

Reading this and contemplating my own walks home made me question the authenticity of my own experience. After all, I don't need to walk home or even be outside in the cold. I don't walk home for environmental reasons – my wife happily drives to and from campus in the relative warmth of our relatively inefficient little Honda. I do not even do it for convenience, bowing to our more than hectic schedules my wife and I indulged in the ultimate symbol of middle class affluence, when we purchases a second car. I always thought that I walked home because the outdoors offered an experience that was common not only to members of my community today, but also to historical members of this community who would braved the brisk walks across the exposed prairie for over a century. In short, I was imitating, in my own hopelessly local way, Tilley's call for phenomenological approach to the local landscape.

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At the end of the day, I suppose my walks home did lack the kind of authenticity necessary to allow me to engage with the past in anything but the most superficial way. The cold, bracing, North Dakota evenings existed only in contrast to the forced-air warmth of my home and office. Our knowledge of space and place can only ever be relative to our historical engagement. Bintliff's holistic view of the past, of course, is just as easily subsumed into this paradigm. His call for a holistic view of the landscape is clearly fed by the modern roots of archaeological practice and the political drive to document exhaustively the natural, cultural, social, political, and economic resources of a place. So, if the critique of Tilley's methods for understanding the landscape derives exclusively from its unabashedly urban, 20th century, bourgeois position, then Bintliff's calls for a holistic view of the landscape must certainly have roots in the modern or even colonial dream of documenting the entire world.  

Old School Computer Generated Maps

When tracking down a few footnotes, I stumbled upon an article J. M. Adovasio, G.F. Fry, J.D. Gunn, and R.F. Maslowski, “Prehistoric and historic settlement patterns in western Cyprus (with a discussion of Cypriot Neolithic stone tool technology),” World Archaeology 6 (1975), 339-364. This team conducted an extensive style survey “reconnaissance survey” of the Khrysokhou drainage in Western Cyprus not far from the site of Polis. I was mostly interested in their documentation of a “large settlement of the Cypro-Archaic Age (600-400 BC) and “very large Hellenistic town” (325-50 BC) thinking that I might find some useful parallels between these sites and our site at Pyla-Koutsopetria.  The description of the sites are pretty superficial, although the observation that the settlement are in defensively advantageous positions is vaguely useful.  That being said, the effort of the survey team to document sites systematically with an eye toward computer analysis must represent one of the earlier efforts along these lines in the Eastern Mediterranean (the field work was conducted in 1972).  They also were explicitly diachronic in their approach and mapped not the location of Ancient material but the location of Medieval/Byzantine material and even modern settlement.

What really caught my eye were the fantastic, old school computer generated maps of the area.

Here’s the map of the Cypro-Geometric to Hellenistic components of their survey area:

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Here are maps showing a slightly larger area and including the Roman and Medieval and Byzantine sites.

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The project used Harvard’s SYMAP software (check out this cool little movie talking a bit about the history of SYMAP) run on the University of Pittsburgh mainframe to produce these images.  The images themselves include both elevation data (zone data) and archaeological data. While I’ll concede that these maps are not immediately legible, they do reflect a very early effort on Cyprus to take data from the field, process it by a computer, and present this analyzed data in a relatively transparent way (that is in a way that does not hide the computer produced character of the analyses).  At the same time, there is something aesthetically pleasing about these maps which, after all, were basically contemporary with the first generation of computer generated art.

Suppressing Archaeological Data

March 3, 2010 3 comments

This last week, I've heard a story from a colleague about an archaeological project in the Eastern Mediterranean who has been denied permission to study unpublished finds from their own excavation and survey. It seems like a strange story, but from the various accounts, it seems to be legitimate. The project apparently violated some political etiquette in host country and, in response to the ensuing political tumult has been asked not to ask for permission to study a group of finds.

When I first heard this, I was pretty outraged. After all, the project and its directors, participants, and resources had gone to some length to produce this material in an archaeologically responsible way, and now, from what I understood, they were being asked to do something that was pretty irresponsible — namely leave this material unstudied and unpublished. On the other hand, I recognized the right (let's say) and, more importantly, the responsibility of the home country to manage its archaeological resources in a way that made sense to the host country. And while the recent volume on Archaeological Ethnographies tended to portray archaeologists as having a certain advantageous position in respect to the local communities where they do their work, I also recognized that the archaeological establishing (government agencies with their political entanglements) exert a tremendous influence on how both foreign and local archaeologists conduct their work. After all, we've read enough of Y. Hamilakis other work to understand that many Mediterranean countries see archaeology as a discipline and a practice as having important nationalist goals. So, asking a project to suppress a particular body of archaeological data in order to maintain political peace or to ensure the continued vitality of a particular nationalistic argument is well within the rights of an archaeological bureaucracy in the host country.

After all, archaeological politics and practice always involve, to some extent, the suppression of archaeological data. Any foreign project in the eastern Mediterranean has limitations imposed on their work. No project, for example, can ask to survey as much of the landscape as they need until they have satisfied their research questions. Most project have to work in a designated survey area, established before the beginning of archaeological fieldwork, and independent, at least to some extent, from the results of the fieldwork. Excavations this is even more obvious. The politics of acquiring land, the responsibilities and resources for curation, and the limited number of field permits always shape the design of the project. In most cases, then, archaeological data is shaped by practical and political concerns and negotiated between the foreign project and the home country.

At the same time, projects regularly suppress certain results from their fieldwork. I know of several survey projects, for example, that have limited their collection to material from certain chronological periods. The results, from what I understand about survey, is not that no material from the later or earlier periods is collected — it would be impossible to only collect material from a particular period — but that artifacts from earlier or later periods are simply not studied. In the context of excavation, the practice of suppressing material from certain periods is even more common. A project will often choose to publish certain layers, deposits, buildings, or features in great detail and not necessary publish other parts of the projects. In "the bad old days," this accounted for the practice of digging through the Modern, Byzantine, and sometimes even Late Roman levels. Even now, all multi-period projects have to establish priorities as to what they publish.

I suppose my initial, shocked response speaks to how deeply an adherence to a mythical scientific archaeology still runs within me. At the same time, I still think that publishing archaeological material promptly is important. And I'd argue that it is even more important to publish completely when sites are damaged or destroyed as a result of excavation or intensive survey. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the mechanics and politics of archaeological investigation dictate the extent to which it is possible or even desirable to adhere to these ideals in practice. This is even more evident when working in a foreign country with an archaeological establishment who understand the goals, procedures, and responsibilities of archaeological work in a very different light. The intersection of such "indigenous practices" of archaeological work — manifest in the goals of the nation building, the contingencies of local politics, and realities of curating sites long after foreign projects depart — and an outsider's view of archaeological expectations throw into relief how much the discipline of archaeology is really embedded within social practice.

AIA Panel 2010: First Out: Late Levels of Early Sites

January 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Once again the Medieval and Post-Medieval Archaeology in Greece Interest Group of the Archaeological Institute of America is sponsoring a panel at the AIA Annual Meeting.  While I won’t be at the meeting, I will be giving a paper with Timothy Gregory.  If you’re going to be in Anaheim be sure to check out what I’m sure will be a brilliant panel!  I hope that we’ll have podcasts of these talks as well!

On Thursday:

SESSION 1C: Colloquium Platinum Ballroom 6

First Out: Late Levels of Early Sites

Sponsored by the Medieval and Post-Medieval Archaeology in Greece Interest Group

8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
ORGANIZERS: Sharon E.J. Gerstel, University of California, Los Angeles and
Kostis Kourelis, Franklin & Marshall College

8:30 I Introduction: Sharon E.J. Gerstel, University of California, Los Angeles and Kostis Kourelis, Franklin & Marshall College (10 min.)

8:40 P Prioritizing Prehistory? A Byzantine Deposit from the Palace of Nestor at Englianos
Jack L. Davis, University of Cincinnati and American School of Classical Studies at Athens, and Sharon R. Stocker, University of Cincinnati and American School of Classical Studies at Athens (20 min.)

9:05 D Drowned in the Depths of Obscurity: How Archaeology both Marginalized and Revitalized Our Understanding of Late Byzantine Troy
Kathleen M. Quinn, Northern Kentucky University (20 min.)

9:30 A A Middle Byzantine Neighborhood in Athens: Recent Excavations in the Agora
Anne McCabe, Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents, Oxford (20 min.)

10:05 F First but Not Out: The Byzantine Levels at Chersonesos in Historical and Archaeological Context
Adam Rabinowitz, University of Texas at Austin, and Larissa Sedikova, National Preserve of Tauric Chersonesos, Ukraine (20 min.)

10:30 N New Views on Old Data: Reinterpreting Intensive Survey Results after 30 Years
William R. Caraher, University of North Dakota, and Timothy E. Gregory, Ohio State University (20 min.)

10:55 L Late Ottoman and Early Modern Levels from New Excavations in Ancient Corinth
Guy D. R. Sanders, American School of Classical Studies at Athens (20 min.)

Some other notables from the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project

On Friday:

SESSION 6F Grand Ballroom J & K
Archaeological Methodology
4:30 P Painting Practices in Roman Corinth: Contextualizing Analytical Analyses
on Wall Paintings from Panaghia Field and the Area East of the Theater
Sarah Lepinski, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, and Hariclia Brecoulaki, Institute of Greek and Roman Antiquity, The National Hellenic Research Foundation (20 min.)

SESSION 6G Platinum Ballroom 7
Archaeology of Ancient Warfare
3:35 T The Inscribed Sling-Bullets of Perusia as a Unique Discourse
Brandon R. Olson, Penn State University (20 min.)

For Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey types:

On Friday:

SESSION 4A Grand Ballroom Salon E
Excavation and Survey in Bronze Age Greece
9:20 T The Saronic Harbors Archaeological Research Project (SHARP): The Bronze Age Worlds of Kalamianos
Daniel J. Pullen, The Florida State University, and Thomas F. Tartaron,
The University of Pennsylvania (20 min.)

New Views on Old Data: Reinterpreting Intensive Survey Results After 30 Years

January 4, 2010 2 comments

For those of you who will miss the 2010 Archaeological Institute of America Annual Meeting next week, here’s a draft of our paper.  Regular readers of my blog will recognize this as the continued development of my analysis of the data from the Ohio Boeotia Expedition.

New Views on Old Data: Reinterpreting Intensive Survey Results After 30 Years

William R. Caraher, University of North Dakota
Timothy E. Gregory, Ohio State University
[draft]

It seems natural to include a paper on survey archaeology on a panel entitled “First Out”.  After all, the surface assemblage is, by necessity, the first out for any excavation.  At the same time, the study of surface assemblages has fit into the definition of “First out” intended by the organizers of this panel by contributing significantly to our understanding of post-Classical periods in Greece over the past four decades.  In fact, the ground breaking work of many of the participants on this panel has made clear that the rigorous documentation and analysis of surface finds has expanded our notion of what constitutes an archaeological site to well beyond the built-up centers of ancient poleis and across every century from the end of antiquity to the modern era.  Intensive surveys in Boeotia, Laconia, Messenia, and the Corinthia are rewriting both the ancient and post-Classical landscapes of these well-studied regions. 

If we can continue to play with the idea of “first out”, it is also clear that this phrase could apply to the first generation of intensive, pedestrian “siteless” surveys in another way.  Like the first phase of excavation at major sites across the Mediterranean, the first efforts at intensive survey often relied upon assumptions and methods that were unrefined or unsophisticated in comparison with more recent work.  While the methodological concerns associated with revisiting early “second wave” survey data prose problems, these data nevertheless preserve evidence for the ephemeral surface record in Greece.  Both ever-expanding development of the Greek countryside and the irregular patterns of surface visibility, agricultural practices, and erosion patterns obscure and threaten the surface record. 

This paper will use the data collected from the Ohio Boeotia Expedition between 1979 and 1982 from the (modern village and) Boeotian polis of Thisvi.  The results of this survey were published in a series of short articles between 1980 and 1992.  While these articles provided for a broad discussion of method and a basic report on the project’s findings, they did not publish finds or quantitative data extensively. Our goal with this paper is to take the first step in re-introducing data from the OBE into the broader conversation about settlement and survey data in both in Boeotia and across Greece more broadly.  To do this, we would like first to discuss briefly the process of curating the survey data produced by the OBE and then go on to analyze this data in the context of some recently published survey work from Greece.

The first step in preparing the OBE data for analysis was the keying of records preserved in a series of notebooks and binder pages into a relational database.  At the same time as we keyed data from notebooks and binder pages, we also sought to remap the location of the transects using GIS software.  It should be noted that in the mid-1980s the artifact counts and location of transects were entered into the Surface II software program and this produced a contour map of the artifact densities across the Thivi basin.  This, in itself was a significant attempt to examine the survey evidence across the landscape, and to make use of a siteless survey approach in the context of Mediterranean archaeology at a relatively early time.  While versions of these maps were published, the data behind these maps appears to be lost. In part this was the result of the necessity of using mainframe computers and punchcard data-entry techniques, coupled with the difficulty of maintaining this information in the context of funding for humanities projects at that time.  We have hopes that some of these data may yet be recovered but, unfortunately, at present the disappearance of this spatial data has made it difficult o place the western-most transects on the ground.  The written description of the locations of the western transects relies upon points of reference that are not visible on the Greek Army Mapping Service 1:5000 maps and have been destroyed on the ground as a result of the construction of a massive pipemaking factory.  There is hope that we can find the location of these transects from older aerial photographs of the area.

The final step in the production of this data is recording comprehensive metadata for all the information that we entered.  Once the keying of the data and metadata is complete we plan to make all this available to the public via the internet.  This step is especially important for small projects because the distribution of digital data expands the curation process from the purview of the creator of the data to the community of users who want to make use of the data.  By disseminating the data to end users, with the proper metadata, we make it possible for others to use our material and make it far more likely they will be kept compatible with changes in technology.

_____

There have been significant changes in our understanding of the post-Classical countryside since the Ohio Boeotia Expedition published their results in the 1980s.  The work of both excavations and survey in Boeotia and elsewhere in Greece alone has produced a foundation for the reinterpretation of our survey data.  Recent work by Archie Dunn and a team from the University of Birmingham has begun to document the post-Classical finds at Thisvi itself and Jonita Vroom’s study of the post-Classical ceramics from the Cambridge-Bradford Boeotia Project has shed important light on the relationship between post-ancient ceramics and settlement patterns across Boeotia.  Our work on the older material from Thisvi needs to be put into the context of these newer initiatives.

The OBE team produced the current dataset through a number of different methods.  The diversity of methods reflected the early stage in the development of field procedures and an avowedly experimental approach to documenting the landscape.  The area closest to the city walls, Area A, was surveyed using a series of 11, randomly placed, 30 m radius circular survey areas from which samples were taken.  The team surveyed the plain itself using a series of long transects (Areas, C, D, and E) from which they typically took 1 sq meter samples, at regular intervals, for density and diagnostic artifacts.  Finally, the teams also collected samples for areas of particularly high density which they designated sites.  They surveyed these areas using  flexible methods best suited for documenting the extent, chronology, and function of the material on the ground.  In addition to these survey areas, the OBE team also conducted intensive survey on two nearby islands in the Gulf of Corinth, Kouveli and Makronisos, which we have not included in the aggregated totals produced in the analysis below.  In toto the survey of the mainland counted over 8700 artifacts and documented over 1700 batches of unique artifacts from the four areas investigated. 

The artifact density data from the OBE shows that the number of artifacts declined across the central part of the Thisvi basin.  This pattern, noted in the original publication of the survey, may be at least in part a product of the geomorphological patterns.  In antiquity, an ancient barrage, described by Pausanias, controlled the flow of water and sediment into the basin.  The periodic introduction of water-born sediments into the basin, whether controlled by this barrage or not, may have obscured sites of past
activity or discouraged habitation at various times.  The density of artifacts, however, clearly increases once again on the gently sloping, stony ground the along the south side of the basin. 

Against the backdrop of overall artifact density we can show the distribution of post-Classical material across the survey area.  In general, the survey area is dominated by artifacts from the Classical to Hellenistic and Roman periods which accounted for over 2/3rd of the datable ceramics.  In contrast, the far more localized concentrations of both Late Roman and Byzantine to Medieval pottery represented only about 10% of the overall assemblage of datable material collected from survey.  Modern material and a thin and rather diffused scatter of pre-Classical artifacts accounted for the other 20% or so of material from the survey.

For the post-Classical period, area A encompassed the highest density areas immediately south of the plateau upon which the ancient city and the modern village stand.  The post-ancient material from this area was more focused than material from earlier periods with most of post-classical artifacts deriving from three units: A2, A5, and A8.  The transects  immediately to the south of the urban center of Thisvi, Area D and C, show that post-Classical material declined at a much steeper rate than Classical-Hellensitic material with distance from the presumed center of post-Classical habitation.  The most significant variation between Area D and C was the rich assemblage of Late Roman material collected from the habor at Vathy which fell within Area C.  The harbor area at Vathy has been completely destroyed by an industrial harbor serving that factory, but a rock-cut road ran between the harbor and the Thisvi plain and that there were significant stone-built harbor facilities along the water’s edge, all of them apparently dating to the post-classical period.  Area E to the east of the ancient city tells a similar story to areas C and D except for a significant post-Classical site situated along the southern edge of the basin and designated E1.

Since the most significant quantity of post-ancient pottery from the Thisvi basin can be dated to Late Antiquity, it is perhaps most useful in this short paper to explore how we can reinterpret this distribution of Late Antique material in the countryside in light of the significant new analyses of material from this period in Boeotia and across Greece and with the help of a more easily manipulated dataset.  It is significant, on first glance, that the distribution of material around Thisvi is similar to that recently published around the city of Thespiai to the east.  The team from the Cambridge-Bradford Boeotia Project argued that the overall population of the city of Thespiai declined during Late Antiquity and, as a result, the residents of the city progressively abandoned the immediate hinterland of the city to intensive cultivation.  In particular, this meant that the residents of Thespiai stopped the practice of regular manuring the fields near the city which, Bintliff and others argued, deposited ceramic material in a tell-tale halo around the urban core.  In place of manuring, Late Roman farmers adopted less intensive agricultural practices and, at the same time, large tracts of land previously dedicated to feeding a urban population became part extra-urban agglomerations ranging from agricultural villas to self-sufficient hamlets. 

The decline in artifact density visible for the Late Roman period in the Thisvi basin would fit well with this hypothesis as Late Roman (and more generally post-Classical) densities declining away from the city itself not simply as evidence for contracted habitation, but as the relationship between contracting populations and changing land-use patterns.

The work of the CBBP also revealed large extramural concentration of Late Roman material like those at the southeastern corner of the of the survey area, E1.  This site coincides particularly well with kinds of site interpreted by the Cambridge Boeotia Survey as villas.  The assemblage from the site contained storage vessels consistent with some kind of agricultural installation as well as beehive sherds so common at Late Roman agricultural sites around Thespiai.  Moreover, the site was outside the densest areas of ceramics around Thisvi even at its Classical-Hellenistic peek, and this too paralleled the findings of the work at Thespiai. 

The second major concentration of Late Roman at the harbor at Vathy represents a more complex phenomenon.  The material at this site was more diverse than a simple agricultural installation and included some of the few example of Late Roman fineware from the survey area, in addition to a significant complement of transport vessels which would be expected at a coastal site (except probably not in the Bintliff scenario).  Vathy resembles more closely the assemblages present on the islands of Kouveli and Makronisos than the material present inland in the Thisvi basin or even neighboring Thespiai, which lacked significant quantities of Late Roman finewares: fewer than 10 sherds of imported finewares were identified on CBBP sites and this amounted to far less than 3% of the total assemblage of potentially Late Roman material.  In contrast, at the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey in the immediate hinterland of the important Late Roman city of Corinth, fineware made up almost 10% of the total assemblage of Late Roman artifacts, despite a collection strategy that would tend to under represent the proportion of fine ware to coarse ware.

Our ability to compare the material at Thisvi in quantitative and spatial ways to the results of more recent survey projects makes a return to this material particularly profitable.  When first documented and published in the mid-1980s, the presence of Late Roman and post-Classical material in the countryside of Thisvi was worthy of remark in its own right. Now as “the busy countryside” of Late Antique Greece comes into sharper focus, the functional and non-cosmopolitan character of Late Roman pottery from the Thisvi basin gives pause.  There is no question that southeastern Boeotian countryside continued to see investment in post-antique period with Late Antique fortifications extant at Thisvi, Thespiai, Khostia and on Mavrovouni.  On the other hand, the lack of imported fine ware in the basin itself during the Late Antique period suggests a particular kind of investment in the countryside.  The countryside around both Thisvi and Thespiai during Late Antiquity would appear to have received a less substantial investment in the kind of prestige habitation that is often associated with the concomitant decline in the urban core of the ancient world elsewhere.  In contrast, the concentration of imported finewares, as well as the transport vessels, at the harbor site of Vathy along with the islands of Kouveli and Makronisos, indicates that finewares were entering the area, but apparently did not find their way into the local rural assemblages.  Perhaps the sites in the gulf of Domvrena were transshipment points for goods destined to more economically prosperous elites around the city of Thebes in the Boeotian interior.

The title of today’s panel was “First Out” and we hope that our paper today extended the potential meaning of that phrase to include the post-Classical material from the first generation intensive pedestrian survey.  Our paper today represents a point of departure for further study of both the material produced by the OBE across the Thisvi basin and the growing body of “second wave” survey material from Greece.  While much second wave survey material has seen initial publication and has contributed to the present body of knowledge regarding the post-Classical landscape, we have shown the potential in returning to this material.  For the Late Roman period, in particular, we think that returning to this material will
allow us to move beyond the juxtaposition of rural prosperity to abandonment (a version of the old continuity or change question) and tease out indications of regional difference present in across the Late Roman landscape of Greece.  The potential present in returning to the first sherds collected from the Greek landscape in an intensive and systematic way demands that we make the results of these early intensive surveys available in flexible digital formats.  A return to these survey projects will not only contribute to the curation of survey data and, in the processes, confirm the continued value of “first out”.

New Views on Old Data: First Draft

December 2, 2009 Leave a comment

Find below my first effort at an AIA paper that I will be co-writing with Tim Gregory.  It’s rough around the edges, but I think on the right track.

For more on this research:
Reclaiming Thisve Data
Thisve Basin, Archaeological Visualization, and Curating Digital Data
First Out: A First Draft of An Intro for New Views on Old Data
Survey Archaeology Finds as Data
More on Thisvi in Boeotia
Fine ware and Function at Boeotia Thisvi

New Views on Old Data: Reinterpreting Intensive Survey Results After 30 Years

William R. Caraher, University of North Dakota
[first draft]

It seems natural to include a paper on survey archaeology on a panel entitled “First Out”. After all, the surface assemblage is, by necessity, the first out for any excavation. At the same time, the study of surface assemblages has fit into the definition of “First out” intended by the organizers of this panel by contributing significantly to our understanding of post-Classical periods in Greece over the past four decades. In fact, the ground breaking work of many of the participants on this panel has made clear that the rigorous documentation and analysis of surface finds has expanded our notion of what constitutes an archaeological site to well beyond the built up centers of ancient polis and across every century from the end of antiquity to the modern era. Intensive surveys in Boeotia, Laconia, Messenia, and the Corinthia are rewriting both the ancient and post-Classical landscapes of these well-studied regions.

If I can continue to play with the idea of “first out”, it is also clear that this phrase could apply to the first generation of intensive, pedestrian “siteless” surveys in another way. Like the first phase of excavation at major sites across the Mediterranean, the first efforts at intensive survey often relied upon assumptions and methods that were unrefined or unsophisticated in comparison with more recent work. In fact, the constant refinement of survey techniques and the ever more robust datasets that they produce often include explicit and implicit critiques of earlier survey methods. This continuous critique has not only weakened the status of survey among a sometimes skeptical archaeological establishment, but also served as a tacit justification for neglecting the results of earlier surveys. Technological barriers, irregular recording practices, and the incomplete publication of data sets have further impaired archaeologists’ ability to redeploy data collected from the first wave of surveys for newly formed hypothesis.

While the methodological concerns associated with revisiting early “second wave” survey data prose problems, this data nevertheless preserves evidence for the ephemeral surface record in Greece. Both ever-expanding development of the Greek countryside and the irregular patterns of surface visibility, agricultural practices, and erosion patterns obscure and threaten the surface record. As Albert Ammerman famously observed based on the results of several seasons of the systematic resurvey in Italy, sites tend to blink on and off in the landscape like traffic lights. What a project documents one season may not be there the next. Consequently, intensive survey data often captures a single distinct and unique view of the landscape which is not susceptible to reproduction even using similar methods.

This paper will use the data collected from the Ohio Boeotia Expedition between 1979 and 1982 from the (modern village and) Boeotian polis of Thisvi. The results of this survey were published in a series of short articles between 1980 and 1992. While these articles provided for a broad discussion of method and a basic report on the project’s finding, they did not publish finds or quantitative data extensively. Our goal with this paper is to take the first step in re-introducing data from the OBE into the broader conversation about settlement and survey data in both in Boeotia and across Greece more broadly. To do this, we would like to first discussion briefly the process of curating the survey data produced by the OBE and then go on to analyze this data in the context of some recently published survey work from Greece.

The first step in preparing the OBE data for analysis was the keying of records preserved in a series of notebooks and binder pages. These records included counts of artifacts from survey units, which were generally 1 meter square total collection circles as well as from more robust collection procedures conducted at a number of sites across the survey area. We also keyed the finds data from both survey units and the sites into an access database. The finds tables were in turn normalized. Here it is interesting and perhaps valuable to recognize that the quality of data recorded over the course of original fieldwork was quite high, but it was hardly normalized and consequently unsuitable for systematic, quantitative analysis. The lack of normalization was perhaps, in part, the result of the novel character of desktop-level tools for quantitative analysis (e.g. SPSS-X and IBM’s iconic SQL-powered DB2 debuted the year after OBE competed its fieldwork – 1983; the Macintosh personal computer was introduced in 1984.). This is not to suggest that quantitative analysis of archaeological data did not occur prior to the early 1980s, but rather to point out that the creation of normalized practices of data-recording and well-defined hierarchies of object identification became a higher priority after desktop database and statistical tools became more common. By normalizing the robust data sets produced by intensive survey, the database became as important as the traditional artifact catalog for analyzing the chronology and function of sites across the landscape.

At the same time as we keyed data from notebooks and binder pages, we also sought to remap the location of the transects using GIS software. At some point in the 1980s [some additional historical clarity here would be helpful], the artifact counts and location of transects was entered into the Surface II software program which produced a contour map of the artifact densities across the Thivi basin. While versions of these maps were published, the data behind these maps appears to be lost. Unfortunately, at present the disappearance of this spatial data has made it difficult at this point to place the western-most transects on the ground. The written description of the locations of the western transects relies upon points of reference that are not visible on the Greek Army Mapping Service 1:5000 maps and have been destroyed on the ground as a result of the construction of a massive pipemaking factory. There is hope that we can find the location of these transects from older aerial photographs of the area.

The final step in the production of this data is recording comprehensive metadata for the all of the data that we entered. Once the keying of the data and metadata is complete we plan to make this data available to the public via the internet. This step is especially important for small projects because it distributes of digital data expands the curation process from the purview of the creator of the data to the community of users who want to make use of the data. Dissemin
ating the data to end users, with the proper metadata, we make it possible for others to use our material and make it far more likely to be kept compatible with changes in technology.

_____

There have been significant changes in our understanding of post-Classical countryside since the Ohio Boeotia Expedition published their results in the 1980s. The work of both excavations and survey in Boeotia and elsewhere in Greece alone has produced a foundation for the reinterpretation of our survey data. Recent work by Archie Dunn and a team from the University of Birmingham has begun to document the post-Classical finds at Thisvi itself and Jonita Vroom’s study of the post-Classical ceramics from the Cambridge-Bradford Boeotia Project has shed important light on the relationship between post-ancient ceramics and settlement patterns across Boeotia.

The OBE team produced the current dataset through a number of different methods. The diversity of methods reflected the early stage in the development of field procedures and an avowedly experimental approach to documenting the landscape. The area closest to the city walls, Area A, were surveyed using a series of 11, randomly placed, 30 m radius circular survey areas from which samples were taken. The team surveyed the plain itself using a series of long transects (Areas, C, D, and E) from which they typically took 1 sq meter samples for density and diagnostic artifacts. Finally, the teams also collected samples for area of particularly high density which they designated sites. They surveyed these areas using a flexible methods best suited for documenting the extent, chronology, and function of the material on the ground. In addition to these survey areas, the OBE team also conducted intensive survey on two nearby islands in the Gulf of Corinth, Kouveli and Macronisos, which I have not included in the aggregated totals produced in the analysis below.

The survey of the mainland counted over 8700 artifacts and documented over 1700 batches of unique artifacts from the four areas of the survey.

The artifact density data from the OBE shows a decline in the number of artifacts from the units closest to the city across the central part of the Thisvi basin. This pattern, noted in the original publication of the survey, may be at least in part a product of the erosion patterns. In antiquity, an ancient barrage, described by Pausanias, controlled the flow of water and sediment into the basin. In more recent times, the lack of ability to control the flow of water may have either covered some of the sites or, at very least, discouraged habitation there. The density of artifacts, however, clearly increases on the gently sloping, stony ground the along the south side of the basin.

Against the backdrop of overall artifact density we can show the distribution of post-Classical material across the survey area. In general, the survey area is dominated by Classical to Hellenistic and Roman periods which accounted for 2/3 of the datable ceramics. There were, however, several concentrations of both Late Roman and Byzantine to Medieval pottery which represented about 10% of the overall assemblage of datable material collected from survey. Modern material and a thin scatter of pre-Classical material accounted for the other 20% or so of material from the survey.

Area A encompassed the highest density areas immediately south of the plateau upon which the ancient city and the modern village stand. The post-ancient material from this area were very focused with most of the material deriving from three units. Unit A2 contained an abundance of post-Classical material including Middle Byzantine material. It is situated immediately to the west of one of the Hellenistic fortification’s towers which appears to have undergone some modification in the post-Classical period. Units A5 and A8 produced significant quantities of Late Roman – Early Byzantine coarse wares including the ubiquitous combed ware.

The transects immediately to the south of the urban center of Thisvi, Area D, show diminishing quantities of post-Classical material with distance from the Hellenistic walls and the presumed center of post-Classical habitation. Overall only 12% of the material there was post-Classical as compared 77% of the datable material dating to the Classical-Hellenistic period. Area C, which extends south of the city walls to the west of area D, showed a similar distribution of Late Roman and post-Classical material. In fact, the only variation between Area D and C was the rich assemblage of Late Roman material collected from the habor at Vathy which fell within Area C. This collection of pottery pushed the total quantity of post-Classical material from Area C to close to 18%; without this material, the total percentage of Late Roman material was 13% or only slightly higher than found in the neighboring Area D. Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to place the some of the transects from area C. It is clear, however, that significant quantities of material came from the southern edge of the Thisvi plain where a large pipe factor stands today. The harbor area at Vathy has been completely destroyed by an industrial harbor serving that factory.

Area E to the east of the ancient city tells a similar story to areas C and D. It is notable that the overall assemblage produced by these units was smaller than either D or C (as was the overall area surveyed), and that Late Roman material accounted for close to 25% of all the material collected from this area and post-Classical material represented 27%. Much of this material, however, derived from substantial site situated along the southern edge of the basin and designated E1. Like Vathy, this single concentration of material exerted a substantial influence on the overall character of the assemblage from Area E. Without the material from this site, the overall percentage of post-Classical pottery declines to under 10%.

Since the most significant quantity of post-ancient pottery from the Thisvi basin can be dated to the Late Antiquity, it is perhaps most useful in this short paper to explore how we can reinterpret this distribution of Late Antique material in the countryside in light of the significant new analyses of material from this period in Boeotia and across Greece and with the help of more pliant dataset. It is significant, on first glance, that the distribution of material around Thisvi is similar to that recently published around the city of Thespiai to the east. The team from the Cambridge-Bradford Boeotia Project argued that the overall population of the city of Thespiai declined during Late Antiquity and, as a result, the residents of the city progressively abandoned the immediate hinterland of the city to intensive cultivation. In particular, this meant that the residents of Thespiai stopped the practice of regular manuring the fields near the city which, Bintliff and others argued, deposited ceramic material in a tell-tale halo around the urban core. In place of manuring, Late Roman farmers adopted less intensive agricultural practices and, at the same time, large tracts of land previously dedicated to feeding the urban population became part extra-urban agglomerations ranging from agricultural villas to self-sufficient hamlets.

The decline in artifact density visible for the Late Roman period in the Thisvi basin would fit well with this hypothesis as Late Roman (and more generally post-Classical) densities declining away from the city itself not simple as evidence for contracted habitation, but as the relationship between contracting populations and changing land-use patterns.

The work of the CBBP also revealed large extramural concentration of Late Roman material like those at the southeastern corner of the of the survey area, E1, and at the harbor at Vathy. The former coincides particularly well with kinds of developments documented by the Cambridge Boeotia Survey around Thespiai as villas. The assemblage from the site contained storage vessels consistent with some kind of agricultural installation as well as beehive sherds so common at Late Ro
man agricultural sites around Thespiai. Moreover, the site was outside the densest areas of ceramics around Thisvi even at its Classical-Hellenistic peek, and this too paralleled the findings of the work at Thespiai.

The harbor at Vathy was a more complex phenomenon. The material at this site was more diverse than a simple agricultural installation and included some of the few example of Late Roman fineware from the survey area in addition to a significant complement of transport vessels which would be expected at a coastal site. Vathy resembles more closely the assemblages present on the islands of Kouveli and Macronisos than the material present inland in the Thisvi basin or even neighboring Thespiai which likewise lacked significant quantities of Late Roman finewares. In contrast, at the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey in the immediate hinterland of the important Late Roman city of Corinth some xx km to the southeast, fineware made up almost 10% of the total assemblage of Late Roman artifacts, and this is despite a collection strategy that would tend to under represent the proportion of fine ware to coarse ware.

It is the comparative context that allows us to begin to make sense of assemblage presented around Thisvi. When first documented and published in the mid-1980s the presence of Late Roman and post-Classical material in the countryside of Thisvi was worthy of remark. Now as “the busy countryside” of Late Antique Greece comes into sharper focus, the dearth of pottery present in the Boeotia countryside and its decidedly functional and non-cosmopolitan character gives pause. There is no question that southeastern Boeotian countryside continued to see investment in post-antique period with Late Antique fortifications extant at Thisvi, Thespiai, Khostia and on Mavrovouni. On the other hand, the lack of imported fine ware for Late Antiquity suggests a particular kind of investment in the countryside. The countryside around both Thisvi and Thespiai during Late Antiquity would appear to be less substantially invested in the kind of prestige rural habitation that is often associated with the concomitant decline in the urban core of the ancient world.

The title of today’s panel was “First Out” and we hope that our paper today extended the potential meaning of that phrase to include the post-Classical material from the first generation intensive pedestrian survey. Our paper today represents a point of departure for further study of both the material produced by the OBE across the Thisvi basin and the growing body of “second wave” survey material from Greece. While much second wave survey material has seen initial publication and has contributed to the present body of knowledge regarding the post-Classical landscape, we have shown the potential in returning to this material. For the Late Roman period, in particular, with think that returning to this material will allow us to move beyond the juxtaposition of rural prosperity to abandonment (a version of the old continuity or change question) and tease out indications of regional difference present in across the Late Roman landscape of Greece. The potential present in returning to the first sherds collected from the Greek landscape in an intensive and systematic way demands that we make the results of these early intensive surveys available in flexible digital formats. It seems like that a return to these survey projects will put an end to any lingering skepticism regarding the long-term archaeological significance of survey data and, in the processes, confirm the continued value of “first out”.

Fine ware and Function at Boeotia Thisvi

November 25, 2009 Leave a comment

For those who are regular readers here, you know that I’ve been working on re-analyzing the data produced by the Ohio Boeotia Expedition around the site of Thisvi in southwestern Boeotia.  My focus has been on the post-antique material and the Late Roman material in particular.  This is both because the post-antique material is the focus of the panel for which I am preparing this paper and because there has been so much work done in on understanding the Late Antique landscape of Greece since the completion of the fieldwork component of the OBE in 1984.

One of the most interesting characteristics of the main assemblage produced by the OBE from the Thisvi basin is the dearth of Late Roman fine wares.  Both the transect survey and the site based survey of the Thisvi basin proper (this is the area immediately to the south of the city of Thisvi) produced virtually no fine ware.  Only at the harbor site of Vathy was any substantial concentration of fine ware found (and this area only produced a few sherds of Phocaean (LRC) Ware and a Late Roman lamp). 

The absence of any considerable quantity of Late Roman fine ware is more or less consistent with the finds of the Cambridge Boeotia Project to the east.  One of the absolutely fantastic things included in the publication of their survey around Thespiai were a series of data sets.  This data included the finds data from the sites discussed in the volume.  They easily imported into an Access database and could be queried and quantified.  The striking thing is that the villa sites around Thespiai (LSE 7, THS 2, 12, 13, 14 for those with a scorecard) likewise produced almost no imported fine wares.  Now it may be that these villas are “industrial” villas focused on agriculture rather than the luxurious rural estates often associated with the new class of Late Roman aristocrats who looked beyond participation in the local, urban unit to sources for provincial or even imperial prestige. 

The relative dearth of Late Roman fine wares from the countryside of Thisvi and Thespiai can also be compared to the conditions on the islands in the Gulf of Domvrena.  The finds from the islands of Kouveli and Macronisos produced far greater quantities of imported fine ware than the inland sites (for these see T. Gregory, DXAE 12 (1986), 287-304 and T. Gregory, BS/EB 2 (1986), 155-175).  This may well be credited to the status of these island sites as emporia or transshipment points for goods either being manufactured locally (presumably at the “industrial villas”) or being imported from abroad.  It is curious, however, to see so little evidence of for the fine ware in the local landscape. 

Another useful point of contrast is the distribution of fine wares across the Late Roman landscape in the Corinthia.  David Pettegrew’s recent analysis of this data (Pettegrew, Hesperia 76 (2007), 743-784) showed that close to 10% of all Late Roman material collected from the intensive survey was fine ware most of which was imported.  Likewise, Pettegrew’s summary of work at rural villas in the immediate hinterland of the city of Corinth revealed sites that we luxurious in appointment with private baths, colonnaded courtyards, and mosaic floors.  These were the types of buildings likely to produce assemblages including imported fine wares.  In fact, the villa at Akra Sophia suveyed by Gregory at essentially the same time as the sites in the Thisvi basin produce both proper Phocaean (LRC) wares as well as local imitations (T. Gregory, Hesperia 54 (1985), 411-428). 

Even if we must observe some caution in assigning function to a building based on surface assemblage alone, the dearth of fine ware in both the Thespiai and Thisvi assemblages suggests that the Late Roman landscape of southwestern Boeotia is considerably different from that of the Corinthia.  The results of survey and excavation over the last 20 years has not necessary produced a Boeotia countryside that is any less busy (for a nice summary see A. Dunn, in Byzantine Style, Religion and Civilization in Honour of Sir Steven Runciman. (Cambridge 2006), 38-71).  Fortifications, possible Early Christian architecture, rural and urban installations of various types, harbor works and the distribution of Late Roman in general across the countryside point to the continued habitation and, broadly speaking, “usefulness” of the region through the 5th and 6th centuries (if not later!).  At the same time, the absence of wide spread indication of imported fine wares — a typical and wide spread indicator of not only of prestige installations, but of domestic activities in general — make it hard to imagine that this area is a deeply connected to the bustling world of Late Roman commerce than even the “deserted” islands found immediately offshore in the Gulf of Domvrena, much less the cosmopolitan assemblages found at our coastal site on Cyprus or the villas of the Late Roman Corinthia. 

This reading of the Late Roman countryside of southwestern Boeotia is important because it represents a more qualified reading of the prosperity characteristic of the Late Roman world in general.  This is not meant to return to the outdated notions of the Late Antiquity as a time of poverty, dissolution, and decline, but rather to demonstrate that the hallmarks of Late Roman prosperity — namely trade, the wide distribution of prestige goods, and the continued investment in the architecture of display in domestic, urban, and ecclesiastical context — may have been distributed unevenly across the landscape of Late Roman Greece. 

For more on this research:
Reclaiming Thisve Data
Thisve Basin, Archaeological Visualization, and Curating Digital Data
First Out: A First Draft of An Intro for New Views on Old Data
Survey Archaeology Finds as Data
More on Thisvi in Boeotia

More on Thisvi in Boeotia

November 23, 2009 Leave a comment

The plan is to wrap up a draft of the Thisvi paper by the end of today, and it looks vaguely possible.  This weekend, I ran a bunch of queries on the finds data to attempt to determine the relationship between the ancient and post-ancient material on the site.  As our Archaeological Institute of America panel is supposed to focus on the post-Classical levels at well known sites, then it seemed better to focus on the post-Classical material from Thisvi (and ignore, mostly, the idea that surface material, no matter what the chronology is always “first out”). 

The first step to my chronological analysis was simply to look at the distribution map generated by plotting the artifacts by period across the sites and known transects.  I’ve put up versions of these maps  before in a slightly modified form.  The maps below include data from the more intensively collected sites (these are dots that do not appear in any survey transect) and in the circular collection units surveyed in the first year of fieldwork near the Hellenistic walls of Thisvi.  Each dot represents one artifact.  Their location within survey transect is arbitrary.

Thisvi2009ClassicalHellArtifacts
Thisvi2009LRArtifacts 
Thisvi2009ByzArtifacts 

The first map (blue dots) represents Classical-Hellenistic material, the second (red dots) Late Roman material, and the third (gold dots) Byzantine-Medieval material.  They clearly show that by the Late Roman period, a significant contraction in the distribution of material occurred around the city of Thisvi.  The southern slope of the basin which were quite a busy place in the Classical to Hellenistic period appear to be used far less intensively in subsequent periods.  This seems to represent an overall contraction in the intensive activity areas of the city of Thisvi and parallels to a certain extent the results of the survey at Thespiai to the east. 

Unfortunately, the maps which appear above are incomplete.  I have not yet been able to plot several of the transects from the western most area of the survey (Area C in the map below).

Thisvi2009SurveyAreas

While I think that there is a good chance that I’ll be able to place these survey transects in the future (with the help of aerial photographs), at present the best I could do for the purpose of analysis is to compare the distribution of material in each of these sections to determine whether the distributional maps show a contraction of activity or simply a shift in the main area of activity from one part of the region to another.  These charts are based on the almost convincing assumption that the total sample of each area is roughly equivalent and thus the proportions of various types of material is roughly comparable.

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A first glance it would appear that Area E and Area C produced substantial more post-ancient material than either Area A or Area D.  This is large due to two significant Late Roman sites in each of these areas.  In the case of area C, the significant concentration of Late Roman material at the beach at Vathy accounted for close to 7% of the overall percentage of Late Roman material from the area.  In Area E, the result was even more dramatic with a single site (E1) producing close to 20% of the Late Roman (and post-Classical material).  Eliminating these concentrations, however, produces a fairly even distribution of post-Classical material across the entire survey area ranging from 7% in Area A to just over 13% in Area E.  As a result, I feel comfortable stating that the distribution of what an earlier generation of survey archaeologists might call “off-site scatter” is relatively consistent across the entire survey area.  This is significant because at the site of Thespiai to the east, the survey team has argued that most of the material in the fields around Thespiai was deposited as the residents of the city spread manure (and broken bits of pottery discarded in trash piles) to fertilize crops.  Thus the distribution of “off-site material” could reflect the intensity of agricultural activity in the basin and the density of settlement at the central site of the survey area, Thisvi itself.

For more on this research:

Reclaiming Thisve Data
Thisve Basin, Archaeological Visualization, and Curating Digital Data
First Out: A First Draft of An Intro for New Views on Old Data
Survey Archaeology Finds as Data

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