Maps, Maps, Maps

I’ve been working on maps for my Tourist Guide to the Bakken. This is a tedious task made lighter only by the remarkably robust GIS data available from the great states of North Dakota and Montana.

BOO! I had to remove this content at the request of our publisher!


Archaeological Maps

One of my responsibilities with the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project this fall is to produce our final distribution maps. In fact, this was a collaborative effort as David Pettegrew checked all my calculations which were the basis for the first round of maps, caught a few little issues, and then created the GIS layers. All I had to do was to package these and make them legible as maps.

I find this part of the process fairly frustrating. My tastes in maps run to the old school and my patience for archaeological maps with incredibly high data density is pretty limited. As I result, I tried to produce maps that communicated a fairly limited amount of data in as clear a way as possible. We collected our data from a fair regularly shaped set of units set up on a coastal plain and a series of flat-topped coastal ridges surrounded by steep slopes and narrow valleys.

Here is the survey area with almost no archaeological data except the grid. The different colors of grid outlines represent the different zones that we discuss in our analysis. I have kept the 4 m topo lines rather than using only 8 or 12 m because I think that they communicate the rugged topography more effectively. I made them a rather light gray color so that the survey grid popped out more. I did not include elevation labels on the topolines because the coastline is clearly visible on the bottom of the frame.  Finally, I offset the map to the west/left in its frame to make room for the legend, north arrow, and scale on the right side of the frame. 

PKAP Zones

My next map shows the overall artifact density across the site with the colored outlines still representing the different zones. I think the outlines are hard to see against the gray gradient used to indicate different artifact densities. The legend records the artifact densities per hectare.

PKAP ZoneDensity

The gray gradient for artifact densities on the next map are made 40% transparent. The distribution of Early Roman ceramics are red. 

PKAP RomanEarly

I think this design shows low density scatters (like the Classical period) and high density (like the Late Roman) scatters effectively.

PKAP Classical

PKAP RomanLate

I remain torn about the need for a north arrow.

Corinth’s Byzantine Countryside

The distribution of Byzantine sites in Corinth’s immediate hinterland is poorly known. No Byzantine monuments exist in the Isthmia valley immediately to the east of the City of Corinth in contrast to the numerous Byzantine churches discovered during the early phases of excavation of the city center or the cluster of standing churches around the village of Sophiko to the south. The absence of any standing Byzantine remains might be an accident of preservation. It could also suggest that the immediate hinterland of Corinth had few nucleated settlements like monasteries and villages. It seems possible that Byzantine Corinthians lived in the city of Corinth, the village of Kenchreai, and perhaps a settlement centered on the eastern part of the Hexamilion wall near the long-abandoned Panhellenic sanctuary at Isthmia.

Over the past week or so, I’ve been working on analyzing the distribution of Byzantine pottery discovered during the work of the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey. In the chronological scheme used by the survey, material from the Byzantine period was divided into two periods: Early Medieval (700-1200) and Late Medieval (1200-1500). In the map below, the red triangles are the Early Medieval artifacts and the green are Late Medieval.

Byzantine Pottery

There are four main areas in the fertile plain east of the city of Corinth that show Early and Late Medieval ceramic material. One area may be associated with a now-destroyed church dedicated to Ag. Paraskevi. In a series of fields disturbed by plowing and recent construction, there is a complex and extensive assemblage of Early and Late Medieval material as well as a significant assemblage of Late Roman material. The assemblage included relatively common glazed finewares from the Early and Middle Byzantine period as well as table wares and utility wares. Some 2 km northwest of the Ay. Paraskevi assemblage, appears another cluster of pottery perhaps associated with ecclesiastical architecture. In a 100 square meter amidst architecture fragments suggesting monumental Christian architecture appear another similar scatter of Byzantine material which featured fineware, kitchen wares, utility vessels from both the Early and Late Medieval periods. As similar small assemblage appears on the steep slopes to the northwest of the Late Roman harbor of Kenchreai. In these units, another 200 square meter area produced a small scatter of Medieval material including finewares and utility wares. Finally, a deeply ploughed field at the base of Mt. Oneion measuring about 350 square meters produced an assembalge of Early Medieval and Late Medieval fine and ultility wares as well as a few sherds from the Venentian and Ottoman periods. Like the other scatters, this assemblage shows both Early and Late Medieval pottery with both table ware and utility wares.

The remarkable thing about these four little clusters of Byzantine pottery is how different the distribution was from period of earlier and later periods.  This is the same map showing Late Roman pottery.

Late Roman

This is a textbook example of a continuous carpet of artifacts and is typical of the Late Roman period throughout Greece. (For some critical comments on this see David Pettegrew’s “The Busy Countryside of Late Roman Corinth,” Hesperia 76 (2007), 743-784 for a PDF go here).

What is also remarkable is how different the distribution is from that of later periods.  The distribution of material from the Ottoman/Venetian period (1500-1800) for example does not overlap entirely with material from the Byzantine period.


It is only in the Early Modern period (1800-1960) where later material becomes an important component of the Byzantine sites, but this seems to be associated with a general expansion of activity in the Corinthian countryside. (For a more extensive discussion of this see T. E. Gregory, “Contrasting Impressions of Land Use in Early Modern Greece: The Eastern Corinthia and Kythera,” Hesperia Supplement 40 (2007), 173-198.)

Early Modern Pottery

This very preliminary analysis of the Byzantine material from EKAS resonates with recent studies of the Byzantine countryside in the Nemea Valley immediately to the south. (For this see E. Athanassopoulos, “ Landscape Archaeology in the Medieval Countryside: Settlement and Abandonment in the Nemea Region,” IJHA 14 (2010), 255-270.) Athanassopoulos suggested that the 12th and 13th century landscape of the Nemea valley clustered on arable land or on the lower slopes of valley sides (258). Moreover, the sites tended to represent small and medium scale agricultural production (261).

It is also important to realize that my brief analysis here is preliminary. Sanders has established the basic unreliability of most existing typologies and chronologies for pottery of this period as well as difficulties identifying artifacts datable to the Medieval period in general. A the same time, it is nevertheless striking that such pronounced clusters of Byzantine material would appear in the Corinthian landscape. More importantly, these clusters appear largely independent of the continuous carpet of Late Roman finds and the clusters of post-Byzantine material published by Gregory and, earlier, analyzed by Caraher.

Cross-posted to Corinthian Matters.

Fourth of July

This past year my parents put my childhood home on the market. For whatever reason, I didn’t feel any great emotional response to these developments. Maybe it’s because my wife and I have been working hard to create our own home, or maybe it’s because I have spent so little time in my childhood home since I left for graduate school in the early 1990s.  Whatever the reason, I began to think about the area where I grew up on my long flight home from Cyprus and during my fitful attempts to negotiate jetlag over the past couple of days.

I realized that I did not know very much about where I grew up archaeologically. For example, I had no real idea when my childhood home was built. I had a vague feeling it was built in the 1960s, but nothing more specific than that. (I am regularly shamed by my buddy Kostis Kourelis meditations on his neighborhood in Philadelphia!). My efforts here are a low-key, more academic and hnerdtastic version of this.

I grew up in North Wilmington in a typical east coast suburb. My increasingly fragmented childhood memories include an index of hyperlocal places, routes, and features in the landscape. I plan to maps these in relation to contemporary and historical aerial photographs and maps in ArcGIS, and to record some of my memories here in text form.

Our summertime activities were centered on the nearby Windybush Swim Club – the local pool and “the street” – Wheatfield Drive – where our family home was. Our street (as I’ll talk about later in more detail) was largely built in the late 1960s.  The pool was built in a depression at the “bottom” of Windybush road to serve that community. The community was largely built in the 1950s and the pool was built in 1958.

As kids, each Fourth of July we would decorate our bikes and ride them first down our street (Wheatfield Drive) in a parade (presumably organized by the local civic association). After that, we’d parade down Windybush Road to the swim club where we’d have a cook out and do what, as kids, we’d do every day we could all summer – play in the pool.

Here’s the Google Streetview perspective of the route down Windybush Road.


To the pool.


I plotted our routes here on this GIS map.  The background image is from Bing Maps which integrates with ESRI’s ArcGIS (h/t to Brandon Olson).


Here I’ve used the 2007 digital 0.25 meter orthophotos of the State of Delaware at a scale of 1:2,400.


And here I use the 1968 Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service photographs. These are as close as I can get to what this area looked like when I was a kid.