Home > Archaeology, Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project, Survey Archaeology > Stones that Speak and some other data from the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project

Stones that Speak and some other data from the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project

Over the last few weeks I’ve been running what will hopefully be the final set of unique queries on the data from the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project’s survey of the site of Pyla-Koutsopetria and its environs.  These queries are mostly following little hunches or the comments that my co-director David Pettegrew made in the margins.  It is re-assuring in some ways to find that I have not overlooked much (and I hope to circulate a working paper of my distributional analysis by the end of this calendar year), and its always fun to find little patterns.  So here are two small PKAP patterns.

For some reason on the edges of comprehension our ceramicist, Scott Moore, documented unworked stones collected in the bags of ceramics collected by our field teams.  Unworked stones collected from the fields are not traditionally regarded as archaeological material (except that their presence in a bag of ceramics has associated them with the archaeological method).  But Scott’s unworked stones do show a pattern. In the last few years, archaeologists have suggested that “background disturbance” or the presence of stones or other materials that look like ceramic objects has a clear correlation with our ability to recover artifacts from the field (the best discussion of this is in Knapp and Given, Sydney Cyprus Survey Project volume).  Presumably our field walker’s tendency to collect stones from the field might reflect a similar pattern. The map below shows the distribution of unworked stones.


And as you can see, a pattern does emerge. Most of our unworked stone comes from units with high or modern background disturbance and this suggests two things.  First, it confirms that the unworked stones are most likely unworked (in some cases Scott documented unworked stone because he was not entirely sure that they were unworked and wanted Nick Kardulias our lithics expert to check them out).  Next, it suggests that background disturbance does influence our field walkers ability to recognize artifacts. It is encouraging to note, albeit in a tentative way, that our field walkers collected objects that they thought might be ceramics and this might give us enough confidence to at least suggest that they did not overlook objects that might be stones.

The second little analysis I ran was on the distribution of faunal remains across the site.  David Reese examined the faunal remains from our excavations in 2008 and 2009 and at the same time looked over a small quantity of faunal remains collected from the survey.  I’ve added to the map the major roads in the area (rather inelegantly displayed unfortunately).  Most of the faunal remains are near the major roads suggesting that at least some of them – particularly the chicken bones – were discarded by passing traffic.  The remains of sheep or goat bones appear cluster in the lowest lying area of the Pyla-Koutsopetria plain.  This area is pretty marshy despite efforts to keep it drained and as a result not generally under cultivation.  This kind of marginal land seems likely to have served as pasture for local flocks.


The final analysis run over the last few days was on some very broad chronological periods into which we grouped material from the survey.  Among the broadest is the “Ancient Historic” period which stretches from around 750 BC to the end of antiquity in AD 749. The transparent dots on the map below show the distribution of artifacts datable only to this long period in the past. Their distribution more or less follows over all artifact densities (with the exception of Kokkinokremos where the ceramicist who read our Iron Age to Bronze Age material used a slightly different designation).  This suggests that artifacts grouped into this broad period are not likely to represent a single class of difficult to identify material, but rather a whole group of artifacts from multiple periods that remains outside of traditional ceramic typologies and chronologies. It is never heartening to see how much material from a survey goes unidentified (or identified in only the broadest possible way), but it is encouraging to see that it does not cluster in suggestive ways.


  1. Dimitri Nakassis
    October 12, 2010 at 7:44 am

    It’s also interesting that only one unworked stone was found at Kokkinokremos, when we had a team of experienced fieldwalkers doing the survey.

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