Home > Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project > Another Abstract for a Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project Talk

Another Abstract for a Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project Talk

I’ve been invited to give a talk in the Dean of the Graduate School’s Lecture Series.  The talk is on March 11th during the The Graduate School Scholarly Forum (an annual conference highlighting the research of UND faculty and students).  It’s always fun to give a talk to my peers here at the University and a broader non-scholarly audience. 

I’ve given quite a few PKAP talks over the last few years, and each time I present, I try to develop my ideas a bit more and show another aspect of our research.  For the talk this spring, I am going to juxtapose our efforts to answer particular questions regarding the site’s place within the Mediterranean economy and local settlement structure with our efforts to capture the performative aspects of archaeological fieldwork and to produce a reflexive atmosphere of archaeological decision making.  The goal is to show not only how these aspects of the project “work together” to produce unified and empirically significant conclusions, but also to show how they challenge one another by providing space for the kind of intellectual dissonance and counter-narratives that makes our work (that is the process of archaeology) vital and self-aware.

Five Years at an Ancient Harbor in Cyprus
New Perspectives on an Ancient Landscape

The Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project (PKAP) began work in the coastal zone of Pyla in Cyprus in 2003.  Our initial exploration of the area revealed a massive coastal site extending for over 1 km along the coastal plain.  We quickly recognized that this site was remarkable both on account of its coastal position and its size and complexity.  Moreover, we became aware that the previous archaeological work in the area had only reveal small and isolated sections of the diverse array of archaeological remains present.  Consequently, beginning in 2004, the PKAP initiated a systematic, multi-tiered investigation of the microregion designed to understand the historical development of the in its political, economic, and cultural context.  Using the tools of intensive pedestrian survey, remote sensing of various kinds, and targeted excavation, we produced a robust assemblage of material capable of answering numerous questions about the history, function, and chronology of the site.

This fieldwork confirmed that people occupied our corner of Cyprus from at least as early as the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1200 BC) and fortified parts of the site during the Archaic to Hellenistic period (700 BC-BC 300).  The site, however, flourished during Late Antiquity (AD400-600) when it reached its greatest extent and included monumental religious architecture, fine imported ceramics, and a significant functional diversity across.  At this time, sprawled for over a kilometer along the Cypriot coast producing a scatter of material considerably larger than a villa, hamlet or rural village yet smaller than a urbanized polis or city center.  Scholars have generally overlooked such “mid-sized” sites in the Eastern Mediterranean and, consequently, must of our research has focused on the key role that such sites played in both the regional and local economy and within the local settlement structure.

Alongside these traditional components of archaeological research, PKAP has sought to document the performative, narrative, and reflexive components of the archaeological experience.  By drawing extensively on new media technologies and applications we have worked to record the experience of archaeology and project it beyond the limits of the field.  Such programs are more than simply ancillary components to the overall aims of the project, but complement the main lines of research by emphasizing the multiple narratives present within the same body of research.  This practice not only remind project members of the dense web of assumptions, methods, and procedures required to produce archaeological knowledge, but also reinforces the ambivalence and ambiguity central to all humanistic inquiry.

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