Abstract for the Modern Greek Studies Association Annual Meeting

Over the last week, I’ve been working with Lita Tzortzopoulou-Gregory, Timothy Gregory, David Pettegrew to prepare an abstract for the Modern Greek Studies Association Annual Meeting next year in Vancouver on a panel coordinated by the Medieval and Post-Medieval Archaeology of the Mediterranean Interest Group of the Archaeological Institute of America.  The paper will focus on our work at the site of Lakka Skoutara and its environs in the southeastern Corinthia.  This is an area originally documented by the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey (2000-2008) and then by the Saronic Harbors Archaeological Research Project.

It’s always challenging to work on a research paper as a group, but in this case, the potential is remarkable.  David, Tim, Lita, and I all conceive of our research at this site in significantly different ways.  Lita is interested in the larger systems in which the site and the regions functions, Tim is an expert on ceramic evidence and the perspectives it can offer, David’s interest focus on archaeological methods and formation processes, and I am interested in embedding the site at the intersection of the archaeological and historical discourse.  Such productive tensions will undoubtedly enrich the work and our own understanding of the sites, the region, and the process of archaeology in Greece.

Here’s the abstract:

“Between sea and mountain: the archaeology of a 20th century “small world” in the upland basins of the southeastern Korinthia”  

Between the villages of Sophiko and Korphos in the southeastern Korinthia are a number of geographically well-defined and fertile upland basins or poljes, each one accompanied into modern times by a cluster of farmsteads and used for agriculture and pastoral activities. The heavily forested slopes adjacent to these basins were systematically exploited for resin production, a flourishing industry in the wider region especially after WWII, which is now in serious decline. Although physically isolated from major urban centers, these microecologies played a vital role in the 20th century in the subsistence of its local population, which originated primarily in the nearby mountainous village of Sophiko.  Placing these isolated, yet deeply interconnected places into their regional context provides another key case-study for the contingent character of the Greek countryside in the 19th and 20th century.

Between 2001 and 2009, the authors investigated these basins, with a primary focus on the largest, known locally as Lakka Skoutara, through two archaeological projects: the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey (2001-03) and the Saronic Harbors Archaeological Research Project (2008-09).  The former studied Lakka Skoutara as part of its emphasis on the archaeology of the modern period (19th-20th centuries), while the latter conducted archaeological investigations in several of these basins as part of a larger regional survey of the Saronic coastline.

Typical of the other basins, Lakka Skoutara presents a remarkably robust assemblage of material, including domestic and religious architecture, agricultural installations, and ceramics scatters.  This material reflects the dynamism of changing land use patterns in the Greek rural landscape as well as the formation processes and life cycles of use, reuse, and abandonment connected to domestic residence.  By combining archaeological survey with oral information obtained from local residents, we were able to reconstruct part of the landscape history of this small, low-density rural settlement and its relationship to the wider world. This micro-level analysis of the site complements the broader perspectives offered by regional level data collection, oral history, and comparative studies from elsewhere in Greece.  Lakka Skoutara and its neighboring poljes offer both snap shots of historical processes affecting the countryside over the last two centuries as well as the dynamic archaeological environments of semi-abandoned settlements recorded over the much narrower horizon of a decade of field work.

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