The Seventh Century

Just a short post for today. Over the last few weeks here in the Western Argolid, Scott Gallimore, Guy Sanders, and I have talked a good bit about the seventh century A.D. The three of us are working with Sarah James to publish an assemblage of seventh century material from the Helleniko pyramid near Myloi in the Western Argolid (initially published by Louis Lord in 1938) as well as a growing body of seventh century material from the Western Argolid Regional Project (WARP).

When I was working on my dissertation in the late-1990s and early 21st century, the number of seventh century monuments in Greece was tiny, and they were mostly ignored or considered with skepticism. 

Over the past decade, the number of 7th century sites has slowly increased. Some of these sites appear to be associated with political, military, or economic disruptions (like the Andritsa Cave and the Tunnel at Nemea), but sites like the island the island of Dokos and the the tower at Helleniko suggest that the seventh century assemblages represented more than just cowering communities in a time of disruption. There seems to be an emerging 7th century landscape that show some signs of continuity with the previous two centuries in contact between regions, persistent prosperity, and the beginnings of change in both material culture and settlement structure. There are hints at ethnic change as well. On WARP, our ceramicist, Scott Gallimore, are piecing together a dynamic and diverse 7th century landscape that defies simple categorization as refuges or farmsteads or even settlements.  

So over the next few years, I’m going to spend some time working through the evidence for 7th century change in Greece with my colleagues on WARP.  

Some Punk Archaeology

I was pretty excited to read Lorna-Jane Richardson’s recent critique of punk archaeology in World Archaeology. Not only was it a thoughtful engagement with the ideas at the core of punk archaeology, but with viability and sustainability of punk archaeology as an approach.

She and I probably disagree more than we agree on whether a punk approach to archaeology has any benefit, but ultimately we recognize similar problems within the discipline of archaeology (and society) and articulate – ultimately – similar solutions. She argued that the most salient aspects of punk archaeology already exist in various forms of participatory practice in archaeology and rebranding them under the term “punk archaeology” amounts to little more than a “navel-gazing need for sub-cultural self-identification.” 

There are few places where I sensed that we might have been talking past each other a bit, and as a very preliminary response to her article, I offer the following observations:

1. Punk Archaeology in Context. One thing that didn’t come through in her response to punk archaeology was that whatever academic or theoretical formulations existed for punk archaeology, the project had a very personal element to it. The participants – Andrew Reinhard, Kostis Kourelis and the various other contributors to the volume – had thought about the overlap of archaeological work and punk music. In this sense, the project was, indeed, solipcistic (at worst) and personal (at best). Maybe we were thinking about archaeology wrong, but it still was how were were thinking about it.

Richardson also seems to have overlooked that many of the key participants in punk archaeology worked in Mediterranean archaeology which, as a rule, occupies a more straight-laced and conservative place in World Archaeology. While participatory practice has occurred in Mediterranean archaeology (see, for example, some of Yannis Hamilakis’s work), it is hardly part of the dominant discourse or method. In fact, some practices that are widely accepted on the global stage, like intensive pedestrian survey and even historical archaeology (Kourelis is a Byzantinist; Caraher a survey archaeologist), have only in the 21st century become part of the mainstream of Mediterranean archaeology (which isn’t to say that there weren’t many significant intensive survey projects or a healthy Byzantine archaeology in the Mediterranean). As a result, our need for “sub cultural identification” was, indeed, “naval gazing,” but also the result of a disciplinary culture that tended to marginalize certain methods, periods, and practices. This coincidence with our interest in punk rock created the basis for our exploration of “punk archaeology.” Whatever the larger methodological and “untheorized” foundations that our association with punk offered, it was, at the end of the day, a reflection of our personal and disciplinary experiences.    

2. Punk, Slow, and Craft. I am skeptical of her claim that “punk archaeology” places “the agenda, content and practice of participatory and collaborative projects in the hands of the non-professionals” and views DIY practices as part of an “an outright rejection of the structures of archaeological authority and knowledge gatekeeping.” While Richardson was clearly concerned with potential impact of this approach on heritage archaeology in the U.K. and professional practice, I’d like to imagine a punk archaeology that does not see the professional/non-professional dichotomy as the primary nexus in which DIY practices occur.

I like to think that I developed this aspect of punk archaeology a bit more thoroughly in my exploration of craft and “slow archaeology.” Whatever the flaws in my thinking about slow practices in archaeology (and people have been quick to point them out), I think archaeological practice even on the professional level is a mixture of archaeological methods incubated within a disciplinary context and tightly controlled as standards, and practices that are not distinctly archaeological but nevertheless shape the kind of knowledge we produce. For example, stratigraphic excavation is a professional, disciplinary method, and punk archaeology is not calling for a disruptive, DIY, experimental approach to this foundational method (just as punk rock music, with some exceptions, maintained the basic structures of songs). On the other hand, punk archaeology is interested in challenging and playing with certain strands of archaeological practice like our growing obsession with 3D models and remote sensing, and injecting the spirit of low-fi and craft into those approaches to documenting the past. These strands of archaeological practice tend to be advanced in name of efficiency, accuracy, precision, and technology in a professional context that is both relatively uncritical and reflective of priorities that are not universal within the discipline. In this context, DIY approaches challenge the technological solutionism within professional practices. In some ways, these DIY (or to use Ivan Illich’s useful term: more convivial) practices draw not only unprofessional traditions, but pre-professional traditions within archaeology and remind us that no matter how much we “streamline workflows” a part of archaeology will “never be modern.” This space between professional standards, innovation, pre-professional practices, and the pressures of modernity (and super modernity) leave plenty of room for DIY and other ad hoc practices that connect professional archaeology with both the public and its own preprofessional past.       

3. Punk Publishing. I was a bit bothered by Richardson’s characterization of punk publishing efforts. While her critiques of the web are fair, and I might even understand her fears of archiving, I will strongly contend that digital publishing has transformed the way in which knowledge is communicated and whether this rises to the level of democratization or not, I’m not entirely sure, but the internet, for all of its liabilities, has transformed the world.

At the same time, there are standards for publishing on the web, archaeologists recognize the potential for ephemera to shape the discipline, and archival practices have emerged over the last decade to ensure that digital artifacts, like the book Punk Archaeology, are preserved. This is an old complaint that seems to equate short-term, spontaneous, and low-budget punk archaeology projects with naive approaches to producing useful archaeological analysis. 

Shoestring budget projects have a growing body of resources available to archive their digital and non-digital material. In fact, I’d argue that shoe-string budget projects like my Digital Press at the University of North Dakota (annual budget of about $0) or the North Dakota Man Camp Project (<$10,000) have played a key role in documenting ephemeral and marginal practices that tend to fall through the cracks of traditional archaeology. In other words, digital tools allow for the documentation and preservation of our ephemeral recent past in ways that analogue tools do not. Punk archaeology embraces this opportunity and the challenges associated with critically engaging these new ways of working that are aware of both the growing reach of “large tech companies” and their role in making our digital heritage legible and accessible. Readers of Richardson’s article will likely find the free download of Punk Archaeology via a Google search or at the Internet Archive, but Richardson’s article is behind a paywall controlled by a large publishing house.

4. Performing Punk Digitally. Richardson’s most troubling critique is that punk archaeology and its participatory ethos is a slippery slope toward reduced funding to archaeological projects and the exploitation of unpaid or inexperienced labor. This is a legitimate concern, but not one unique to punk archaeology, I’d suggest. First, as I have argued above, archaeology continues to have an apprenticeship system where students and junior scholars work with more senior scholars to acquire field skills and regional knowledge. This is less than idea, but it has been part of the discipline (and academia) for nearly a century. Academic credit, publications, and field knowledge cannot and do not pay the rent, keep lights on, or put food on the table, and this is a problem that archaeology – not just punk archaeology – must acknowledge. Second, the problem of unpaid work extend to include the messy world of academic publishing where scholars give uncompensated hours and days of their time in peer review to journals published by for-profit publishers.

For its part, punk archaeology, including the book that coined the phrase, served as a critique of academic practices by being published by and for academics and circulated for free. While I would agree that punk archaeology remains under theorized, I rankle a bit at the assertion that “The punk movement does not seem to have properly thought through the potential political consequences and ethics of unpaid work…” I think punk archaeology has engaged some of those issues and this is demonstrated in the very book that Richardson cited in her article and the work of institutions like The Digital Press to promote archaeological work in a collaborative and collective way.

While punk archaeology has not offered a definitive critique of the exploitative practices present in archaeology and academia more generally, punk practice within archaeology is hardly consistent with what Richardson’s statement: “So, while these projects may in fact be self-reliant and self-funding to an extent, and may also be the exact type of grassroots projects that ‘non-profits, charity organizations, and large foundations don’t want to be bothered with’ (Reinhard, pers. comm..), they are not advancing the understanding of archaeological knowledge within communities or providing open access to information.”

5. Punk Archaeology in Context II. While Richardson and I might differ in how we approach the problem of archaeology in the age of austerity, I think the great value of this article is as a reflection on the complexities facing any approach to archaeology or the humanities in a time of diminished funding.

Punk archaeology offers on approach to the problem through encouraging collaboration and collective action among archaeologists, by supporting and developing new models of archaeological publication (through projects like The Digital Press), by offering critiques of the relationship between archaeological practice and technology (through “slow archaeology”), and by recognizing the role of archaeological work in engaging pressing issues in our communities. The approach that punk archaeology has adopted does not solve the fundamental problem of austerity or the nefarious impact of neoliberal ideologies on academia, of course. I tend to see these pressures as being more than just the disinterested forces present in a fundamentally neutral economic regime, but rather a system designed, at least in part, to undermine values incubated in the humanities and archaeology. Punk archaeology, then, represents a kind of resistance to this larger project rather than a way to accommodate its impact.

Richardson’s willingness to dismiss punk archaeology as a largely uncritical, austerity-influenced, “navel-gazing need for sub-cultural self-identification” is a bummer because I suspect that we’re actually on the same side.

Foto Friday from the Western Argolid

Some photos from my first couple of weeks in the Argolid.

The first photo is taken by Dimitri Nakassis using his fancy Canon EOS 5DS with a 50 mm Zeiss lens. This is me in my natural environment:

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Some provisional discard:

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When your irrigation pipe leaks and you have sheeps to water:

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Sheeps and sheeplets in the Western Argolid:

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A long and winding road:


And as a bonus (they couldn’t stop barking at EVERYTHING, so now they’re practicing being bored):

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The End of Methodology: Fragments and Notes

On the Western Argolid Regional project this summer, we’re slowly shifting from field work to study season and publication mode. I got to thinking about how I might contribute to the volume and, as you might expect, began to reflect about methods and methodology. Of course, my conversations with David Pettegrew have also inspired my thinking about the trajectory of archaeology, particularly intensive pedestrian survey.

Over the last decade or so, I’ve noticed the relative decline in frequency of articles on intensive survey methods and archaeological methodology more broadly. I wonder a bit whether the great methodological flurry precipitated by the “Second Wave” of archaeological survey projects on Greece accomplished its goal and intensive survey has achieved the same level of acceptance as excavation in Mediterranean archaeologists’ tool kit. Are we no longer really concerned with whether 5 or 10 m spacing is ideal for producing a diverse and complex of assemblage of material? Are issues like visibility, background disturbances, and various sampling strategies less important was we have shifted from a site-based survey approach to distributional analysis of assemblages collected on the regional scale rather than attempting to reconstruct functional differences at sites across the landscape?

Perhaps hidden landscapes are only an issue as long as we assume that survey will produce an exhaustive image of a landscape. If we anticipate that survey archaeology always makes some landscape visible while hiding others, then the anxiety of hidden landscapes becomes more a matter of misplaced expectations and the lingering shadow of the Pompeii Premise over intensive survey. Our eagerness to concoct a method that reveals the functional complexity of the ancient countryside is noble, of course,  but probably an overly ambitious goal. Instead of producing a functional landscape (and I have some thoughts on this for a post next week), it seems like intensive survey is moving more and more toward landscapes that reflect connectivity, historic engagements between regions, and diachronic clusters of activity areas rather than neatly organized hierarchies of settlement or function. The move away from chasing the farmstead (or site – however defined) and toward building assemblages that reflect the complexities of our sampling strategies, recovery rates, and the political contingencies that dictate the limits of archaeological research.  

My feeling is that the shift from building settlement hierarchies and landscapes defined by functional spaces reflects a shift from a paradigm established in excavation toward a more distinctive kind of archaeological knowledge. With this shift, archaeologists no longer have to argue that intensive pedestrian survey produces knowledge that is somehow commensurate with excavation, and this has made the need for an apologetic tone less urgent. While there will always be questions of method in archaeology (and the growing interest in how digital tools have changed field practice is evidence for this persistent interest), the main thrust of methodology, at least in terms of intensive pedestrian survey, has seemingly dissipated and been replaced – at least for now – with an interest in assemblage making, reflexive practice, and arguments for connectivity. As someone who has written one of the most boring pieces on survey method in published history, I’m pretty happy for this change.

The Spirit of Arbor Park

There has been an interesting debate going on in my home town of Grand Forks, ND over the last few months. The city is looking to sell one of a small number of “pocket parks” in the downtown for development as a build a mixed-use condominium and office building. A rather rancorous debate ensued with a vocal group of community leaders calling for the park to be spared and another group calling for the park to be sold to accelerate development downtown. The park itself features work from local artists and stands as a nicely landscaped spot in the city with some disiecta membra from buildings destroyed by the 1997 flood and metal sculpture that evokes the history of the city and one of its founding fathers George Winship. While I’ve never found the park very compelling or interesting, apparently some folks in the community do. I’m much more interested in seeing the continued development of downtown Grand Forks, but I’m not entirely unsympathetic to people wanting to spare the park. You can get a sense for the debate here

What is getting me interested and excited about this debate is that this is just the latest in a series of issues that have fueled community interest in how Grand Forks should develop the downtown. Residents are debating the location for a new library, adding bike lanes, managing surface parking, traffic calming measures at dangerous intersections, and the role of tax revenue in all these projects. The enthusiasm with which people engage these debates is incredibly encouraging.

Downtown Grand Forks is going through a bit of a transition lately with a few established businesses closing up shop, some new apartments and businesses moving in, and a growing interest in thinking about downtown in new and interesting ways. Events like the Blue Weber’s Alleys Alive – a music and arts festival set up in alleys and parking lots downtown – attract impressive crowds, and initiatives like Pete Haga’s food truck (which local restaurants can rent for events) drew long lines. My hope is that the energy from the Arbor Park debate will continue to fuel interest in downtown. This is all the more important as the North Dakota economy stalls and the legislature panicked imposing overly ambitious budget cuts which further impair the ability of communities (and individuals) to respond the opportunities for growth.

The exciting thing about a downtown in transition is that there are ample opportunities for what some have called “tactical urbanism.” These are small-scale projects like Alleys Alive or temporary parks or other short-term interventions that expose new ways to inject energy into downtown at a minimum risk and cost. In other words, the energy being put into preserving Arbor Park could also fuel myriad other projects across the community. 

For example, I’m sort of interested in seeing the now-closed co-op Amazing Grains being turned into something new in the short term (although maybe the space has already been leased). Maybe a temporary coffee shop and library extension? Or a pop-up art gallery? Are there ways to use the evident passion for downtown to ensure that the pregnant pause of transition doesn’t slide into a kind of doldrums? I’m particularly interested in the potential for small-scale, short-term projects to bring new voices to downtown and reveal new opportunities for growth and change. 

So no matter what happens with Arbor Park, I am optimistic that the energy evident in the debate (aside for some of the more divisive and rancorous comments that probably speak more to frustration than genuine anger) will contribute to the existing vitality of the downtown.

[As an aside, one of my great regrets this past year is that I’ve stopped walking home from campus and walking around downtown. Part of it is because I started running regularly either on a treadmill in the winter or outside in my neighbor in the summer. This made me less motivated to go out for a long walk in the evening or walk home from school in the winter. As a result, I feel like I’m a bit less connected to the downtown (which is only a few blocks from my house) and a bit less informed on the vibe of the community. I need to get out and walk more.]

Foto Friday from the Western Argolid

For the last week or so, I’ve been ensconced in the Western Argolid doing some digital work and getting our feet set for a short study season focused on six sites that fell just outside the area that the Western Argolid Regional Project surveyed for the last three intensive field seasons. 

The sites are pretty rugged, but the views provide amazing perspectives on rugged countryside of the northeastern Peloponnesus.

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Illich and Slow Archaeology

As you might have gathered from my post earlier in the week, I’m interested in applying Ivan Illich’s ideas of conviviality to archaeological practices as well. One of the longterm failures in my argument for slow archaeology is that beyond advocating for a more critical engagement with digital tools and practices in the field, I’ve struggled to articulate why a slow archaeology is a better archaeology.

My efforts along these lines have centered on three critiques that I’ll summarize briefly here:

1. Fragmentation. Digital tools fragment the archaeological landscape into smaller and smaller fragments that archaeologists then need to re-integrated typically away from the field using another set of digital tools. 
2. Efficiency. Some archaeologists have argued that digital tools will increase efficiency and this will lead to more time for intensive analysis while in the field. I remain unconvinced and evoke claims as early as the industrial revolution asserting that more efficient production practices would lead to fewer hours at work, more abundance, and more leisure. While it is hard to deny that industrialization has improved our quality of life in some ways, the utopian visions of a world without poverty and with abundant free time have not come to pass.   
3. Deskilling and Blackboxing. Finally, I argue that our growing dependence on digital tools in archaeology runs the risk of deskilling archaeological practitioners. While some recent work has suggested that the use of more digital tools will lead to the retooling of archaeological knowledge rather than the deskilling, it is hard to deny that the latest generation of digital tools remove the archaeologist from moving archaeological information from the field to the lab.

Over time, I’ve added little observations here and there that expand these points. For example, I’ve argued that the use of digital tools is unevenly distributed across projects of different sizes and funding levels. Others have observed that digital tools distinguish well-funded foreign projects from local archaeologists and could evoke longstanding colonial practices in archaeology. And others have suggested that the adoption of new technologies in archaeology have sometimes reinforced gender differences in the discipline and the pace and expectations of research often force the hand of junior or non-tenure track faculty to embrace digitally mediated archaeological work.

(Full disclosure: as I am writing this I’m waiting for our new 17 inch laptop (code name: War Daddy) to generate a mesh from a dense point cloud… oh, good, it restarted 4 hours into the process.)

After reading Ivan Illich’s Tools for Conviviality I got to thinking about which tools in our archaeological kit are genuinely convivial and which promote more alienated and abstract forms of engagement with knowledge production. Illich was particularly concerned with matters of professionalization and specialization and how institutions (especially schools) used various forms of credentialing to limit access to professions and services. This generated wealth for those with various credentials, but also exacerbated inequality. For Illich, conviviality was the opposite of industrial practices and offered a path toward a more just, more equal, and ultimately, more happy society. I suspect that most practicing archaeologists would apply at least some of Illich’s goals to the ongoing course of our discipline. Equality and justice within archaeology are as important as finding common ground between archaeologists and the various communities that they serve. This is especially visible when we work abroad or among groups who have less access to expertise, technology, and wealth.

(I just scrapped the entire project and started to process photos again after the software crashed. PROGRESS!)

The question then becomes which tools offer opportunities for more convivial practice in archaeology. At a conference on digital tools, I recall a colleague – in a bit of puckish way – noting that if a project couldn’t afford iPads, maybe they shouldn’t be doing fieldwork. While his comments were meant in a bit of lighthearted way (and in response to a wide ranging discussion), I think he expressed how certain kinds of practices produce unconvivial environments in the discipline. The need for digital tools in archaeology produces new forms of specialization from data managers to folks to set up servers, design applications, manage digital processes, and even use particularly complex tools like differential GPS units, drones, or various devices designed to analyze the chemical constitution of artifacts. This isn’t to suggest that archaeology hasn’t always had some degree of specialization with material experts and technicians making certain aspects of field work and analysis more efficient, but in some ways, the advances in digital technologies in archaeology has led to greater specialization, at greater cost, and at greater distance from the disciplinary core of archaeological practice. At the same time, people can make reasonable arguments that technology opens up the field of archaeology and all of its practices to individuals with less specialized skills. Anyone with a phone can now produce 3D models of a site. Portable XRF technology makes it possible for even a non-specialist to analyze the chemical composition of an artifact. As GPS units become cheaper, more accurate, and easier to use, projects no longer need dedicated architects to plot points. Yet, these tools all require investments in money, shift part of the expertise in measuring, observing, and building to hardware and software that is beyond the user’s control, and require complex, usually institutional, data management practices to be accessible to other people. The stakes here are complicated especially as we realize that Illich’s tools for conviviality are not necessarily anti-technological, but emphasize that some tools open the door to more convivial practices than others.

Of course, Illich would see the very disciplinarity of archaeology part of the problem with its exclusive or at least relatively narrow claims to knowledge making. I still think that a convivial approach to understanding knowledge production within the discipline offers perspectives that are useful for thinking about how to keep archaeology moving toward both more just as well as more sustainable and open practices. 

Fragments of Ivan Illich in the Bakken Oil Patch

Over the past week or so, I’ve been making my way slowly through Ivan Illich’s Tools for Conviviality (1973) over the last few weeks, and it has really helped me refine (let’s say?) some of my ideas on work in the Bakken and (wait for it…) slow archaeology.

For Illich, the expansion of technology, professionalization, and institutions have undermined the fundamental conviviality of human society. This conviviality involves making space for independent creative acts and a commitment to work that modern, industrial society has stripped away. Illich sought to promote tools that allowed individuals and communities equal access to productive processes. His classic case study is learning: convivial tools allow for a freedom to experiment and encounter without institutional sanctions or limits whereas non-convivial tools limited access, reinforce the exclusivity of knowledge, and develop expertise and restrictive institutions like schools, factories, and professions. Technocratic society promotes inequality among its members through tools that grossly amplified the labor of the individual through increasingly technical means. Thus, the individual’s labor became increasingly estranged from their access to the rewards of the system which institutions meted out unevenly and in ways that were increasingly distinct from the work of the individual. The rise of fossil fuels accelerated the dominance of non-convivial tools and created a hard break between individual work and effort and consumption. 

During my research in the Bakken oil patch, I consistently noticed this curious curious tension that I was at pains to understand or describe. On the one hand, extractive industries especially modern fracking and deep drilling, represent an apex of industrial technologies and have value not in anything visible or tangible, but in the monetary reward that individuals receive for their work and society received from fossil fuels. In other words, the individual is separated from the fruits of work by myriad institutional and technological barriers ranging from the complexities of the modern financial structure of extractive industries to the hidden infrastructure of drill bits,  pipelines, and wells. Opportunities for expression within these institutional frameworks are profoundly limited for the safety of the worker, the efficiency of the process, and the control over the product. Worker wear uniforms, live in company housing, come to the area exclusively to work, and have hyper specialized skills.

There are, however, more convivial spaces in the Bakken, particularly in the informal workforce housing sites where some of the same workers (or the workers who support them) live. Amid the deeply unconvivial space of extractive industries that feeds the dense network of unconvivial tools that dominate the exclusionary space of modern society, there are these informal, ad hoc, convivial space for living that stand out as a space of resistance against the very regimentation of society that petroculture demands and requires. For example, these camps are filled with ad hoc mud rooms often built of found material present throughout the industrialized area. These rooms expand the living space of the RVs where workers live, protect the door from the cold and dirt of the patch, and offer an opportunity to show off individual building skills. These are expression of conviviality and the ideas for these improvised extensions circulate via conversation at these camps and stand in contrast to the more regimented life and work on the oil rigs.

This contrast produces a chilling irony. Advocates for the Bakken oil patch have presented it as a pathway to energy independence. If we follow Illich’s thought, however, the need for the fossil fuels produced from the Bakken constitutes a much more densely constituted web of dependence. 

Despite romantic views of the American West as a space for rugged individualism, the reality of work in the Bakken is more consistently manifest as the “wage earners frontier” with oil patch worker depending on a dense web of government, capital, and institutions to thrive. In fact, the risks associated with oil field work, the structured spaces of workforce housing, the technocratic organization of 21st-century extractive industries, and even the increasingly conspicuous collusion of the state and the oil companies locates the oil patch worker (as well as any consumer of fossil fuels) amidst multiple and rarely competing systems of control. Parts of this system from the economic networks that fund the work to the infrastructure that moves oil and water throughout the patch are conspicuously occluded as if to hide these patters of dependency. In fact, little about the Bakken and the Bakken oil boom constitutes genuine independence, but the space of man camp provides a rare exception.

It is hardly surprising that local government has cracked down on both mudrooms and informal workforce housing sites, and promoted superficially tidier superficially tidier apartment blocks that despite their more rational and regular design are now unoccupied. The result is a simple case study for Illich’s ideas. The informal conviviality of RV parks in the Bakken produced housing that was flexible, dynamic, cost effective, and left little impact on the landscape. The less convivial constraints of modernity produced produced a superficially more humane and rational housing system that has, at least for now, failed and will cost communities and future workers into the future.

Last Days on Cyprus

I’ve had a remarkably productive two weeks on Cyprus that are really the culmination of almost 10 years of work at Polis-Chrysochous and close to 15 years of work on the site of Pyla-Koutsopetria.


Our work at Polis has culminated in a massive article that we learned had been accepted just before departing for Cyprus. The article primarily focuses on the dating of the South Basilica and the material from a particularly robust deposit of material in a fill. In response to some of the reviewers critiques we expanded and refined our catalogue to connect our objects to our dates even more clearly. We also included more objects that push our building into the final third of the 7th century and perhaps even hint at the 8th. These are hazy times in the history and architecture of the island so our work will not only shed some light on a particular site and a late assemblage, but also on the history of the island and the region during a rather tumultuous and seemingly obscure period in the island’s history.

On the other side of the island, we wrapped up work on material from the sites of Pyla-Koutsopetria and Pyla-Vigla. The former is an Early Christian basilica probably dating to the late 6th-century and certainly in use in the early 7th century before probably collapsing sometime before the middle of that century. Vigla is a Late Classical to Hellenistic fortified site that produced a really nice assemblage of Hellenistic pottery from a clean up dump.

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The two sites featured prominently in our survey volume (which is still available as a free download!) and for the last five years, we’ve been working on a detailed description and analysis of our material from three seasons of our own excavations and two reasons of excavations by the Department of Antiquities in the 1990s.

While Polis has plenty more material to draw us back, our work at PKAP is more or less over. So we’re looking to pass some of that site onto scholars interested in excavating the Hellenistic site on a larger scale than we did over our three seasons. It’s been kind of a bitter-sweet visiting Vigla the last time and putting away crates of objects knowing that next time we see these sherds it’ll be to put them into permanent storage.

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