July 8, 2014 § 1 Comment
The most recent Hesperia has an interesting article on the ancient towers of the Paximadi Peninsula on Euboia. This is one of the best know groups of towers in Greece despite their poor state of preservation. Becky Seifried and Bill Parkinson begin their work with the catalogue of 25 towers prepared by Donald Keller in the 1980s and then expanded by Southern Euboia Exploration Project some ten years later.
The article presents a revised and expanded version of Keller’s catalogue and offer some significant insights into the function of these towers. Without going to too much detail, Seifried and Parkinson more or less agree with many of the observations that David Pettegrew, Sarah James, and I made about the fortifications at the site of Ano Vayia (.pdf). We argued that, at least for the Late Classical and Early Hellenistic period, many rural fortifications reflect local concerns rather than concerns of the polis or some kind of central authority.
(As an aside, I was really excited to see all the round towers of Classical date on the Paximadi peninsula. I tended to associate round structures with more sophisticated building practices and a more skilled workforce perhaps associated with regional level powers. This, then, confused me when we encountered a round tower at the relatively isolated site of Ano Vayia. The frequency of round towers on the Paximadi peninsula provided me with a nice body of comparanda for our fortification at Ano Vayia (below).)
Fortifications on Ano Vayia in the Corinthia
Our arguments, however, were limited by our focus on a single site with a unique location, Seifreid and Parkinson take our argument a step further by looking at a group. One of the more intriguing aspects of their argument is the possibility that the towers built during the Classical period served to protect the limited agricultural resources present on the peninsula. In fact, the towers may have been built by individual landowners to protect their farms and land. The high degree of inter visibility between the towers of Classical date suggests that landowners worked together to create a mutual defense network.
Lines of site between Classical period towers on the Paximadi Peninsula, Euboia
The relationship between the towers, then, is not the product of a central government, but rather the relationship between individual landowners who invested in a kind of social insurance based on the locating of towers in intervisible locations in the landscape. One might even see the locating of towers as part of a community of practice that recognized mutual defense in a threatening world was as much a priority for farmers as terraces, threshing floors, and access to water.
July 7, 2014 § Leave a comment
Every archaeological project experiences a crisis at some point. Fortunately, the Western Argolid Regional Project managed to avoid all serious crises until the very last week of intensive field work.
Over the last week or so a dog and her puppies has been hanging out at the church of Ay. Eleni and Konstantinos in our survey area. Apparently they were left in the care of the saints at some point in the last few weeks. A local woman was feeding the dogs and we provided them with some food and water. On the whole, it was not a very good situation, but one that was stable.
One of the puppies grew up and “went off to college,” but the other puppy seemed to be doing fairly well. This weekend, the mother decided that she had done her best and left to try her luck elsewhere leaving the puppy alone.
When we understood the situation, Dimitri Nakassis and I immediately panicked. We then called Sarah James. And I then called my wife. All the while Machal Gradoz was bonding with the puppy and decided to take it back to adopt it on the spot. We made a quick run to the vet in Argos and got some puppy supplies and puppy formula and the crisis has been averted.
The puppy’s name is Eleni after the saint who looked after her for the first few weeks of her life.
So for today, we are the Western Argolid Regional Puppy (project).
July 4, 2014 § Leave a comment
Now, I’m almost entirely sure that there is only one more week of full on field work. This past week was cooler and slightly less exhausting, but we still have two weeks to go before we wrap up the first season of the Western Argolid Regional Project.
This morning, I did some field walking for the first time this year. As we filled in a few units that the survey teams missed, Dimitri Nakassis and Stephanie Steinke check the GPS unit to make sure that we are in the right spot.
The sheep are out in the field first thing in the morning:
The day before I hiked up to the rock shelter fort for the last time this season to fill in a few points on our plans and finish one drawing. It was a cool opportunity to think about how archaeological field work shapes how we hold our bodies.
I continue to document the things Greeks hang from trees:
I’ve also been drawn to other agricultural equipment in the field. For example, I liked how these irrigation heads looked in a klouva and the alternative:
Sunrise over the survey area.
And some high-tension electrical wires:
The survey area from the north:
And a field selfie for kicks:
July 3, 2014 § Leave a comment
Archaeologists are scavengers. We collect objects that have been cast aside and reuse them as sources for reconstructing the past.
As a result archaeologists are pretty good at finding inventive ways to reuse whatever is at hand to serve their purposes. As part of my Pallet Project, my buddy Chris Cloke sent along some pallet pictures from Alex Knodell’s new Mazi Project in Attica, Greece. To pinch some pennies, the project acquired shipping pallets which after some cleaning and basic maintenance became project beds.
July 2, 2014 § Leave a comment
Bees! I hate bees. I’m partially convinced by the position of the environmentalist lobby that bees somehow contribute to the good of all humanity. That being said, we should recognize that pollination but like global warming, evolution, and gravity, is a THEORY meaning that it may or may not be true. Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, and all that.
At the same time, I’ve become interested in the use of marginal landscapes in the Western Argolid for bee keeping, and keep my eye out for evidence of these practices on the Western Argolid Regional Project.
On Monday, we encountered a bee keeping complex on the northern slope of the Inachos valley above the village of Lyrkeia. There was evidence for long term olive cultivation and the neglected remains of broad terraces serve as reminders of grain cultivation.
Today, however, the olives are mostly neglected and the grain has gone wild, but bees continue to be kept and honey harvested. There were a few active hives near the compound (I didn’t get too close!), but it looked like the area was mostly used for the preparation of hives with bee food, broken down hives, and various storage containers in evidence.
The compound was filled with empty bee hives, metal lined covers, and the metal racks where the honey comb develops. The wood on many of these abandoned hives is beginning to rot, but the metal frames and hinges will stay behind long after the wood disappears.
The Inachos river is another marginal landscape. It is seasonal and during the dry summer months, it serves as a road, dumping ground, and temporary apiary!
Further up on the slopes, discarded be hives litter an open field. The frames in some were intact, although the metal lined covers had been largely removed.
I suppose in a few years, when all the bees are gone, all we’ll have left to show their impact on these marginal landscapes will be scraps of metal.
June 26, 2014 § Leave a comment
This week, I mapped some, drew some, and barely survived the rest of the time. I’m pretty sure that this is the last week of the season on the Western Argolid Regional Project.
I got some good photos of members of our field teams out working. Grace Erny is super photogenic in the field (although she’d deny it). She’s always doing something archaeological:
One of the project directors, Dimitri Nakassis, is very proud of being a University of Michigan graduate and also very happy to finally be getting into the field on a consistent basis:
Phil Cook and I spent a long day drawing a an early modern fortified site:
I saw the usual array of scenic and curious things in the field.
Prof. Nakssis makes lots of phone calls from the field because he’s the boss:
This is what a day that will approach 40 degrees looks like at the start:
This what about 38 in the field looks like:
On a hot day of mapping, we were caught off guard by a ZETOR in the wild (it’s a Czech tractor company):
A magic bus:
More of things Greek farmers put in trees.
More bottles presumably of pesticide:
Coat and boots:
One last picture… the low clouds snagging on the peak and the dramatic difference of scale and focus gives the picture a tilt-shift look:
For more on what’s going on with the project, check out the project blog here.
June 25, 2014 § Leave a comment
Every now and then when I’m in the field, I panic about falling behind in my journal reading and letting the ENTIRE DISCIPLINE PASS ME BY.
WHAT?? Archaeological Dialogues has an issue dedicated to ROMANIZATION? I thought about that once, like four years ago! I must… read… now!
WORLD ARCHAEOLOGY has forthcoming volume dedicated to the archaeology of sound? I know people working on that RIGHT NOW and how can I possibly interact with them without being familiar with soon-to-be-published articles. More than that, I’m an audiophile and I need to understand the archaeology of connectors. And I’ve done archaeology of the contemporary world (forthcoming) so I must understand what was albums were found on the floor of a commune where the Grateful Dead once live.
It’s not that it has to happen eventually – like say while I’m on sabbatical – it has to happen now.
So instead of spending a weekend catching up on vital scholarship and remaining relevant to my discipline, I decided to clean up some audio file that I captured over the past few weeks in the field.
On my hike to the cave, I encounter a fairly agitated hawk and this what he (or she) sounded like:
We’ve also had the good fortune of encountering some very vocal goats:
And some excitable frogs (especially at night!):
Finally, you can faintly hear the bells of the church at Kaparelli at the western edge of our survey area: