SEEP - Eastern Survey


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Thursday, June 1, 1989 to Tuesday, August 31, 1993

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This extensive pedestrian survey of the peninsula to the southeast of the town of Karystos was initiated in 1989 as a way to extend the investigation of the broader region to the interior and record and specifically study pre-modern communication routes and operated in the 1989, 1990, and 1993 seasons.  As the region had not been previously researched, the survey was designed from the beginning to focus on these routes and they served as the basic unit of reconnaissance survey zones because they provided good cartographical control for small, semi-autonomous, and far-ranging survey teams. By making use of land routes marked on existing detailed maps as non-random survey transects, the project has tested a new method by which to conduct systematic extensive survey. Furthermore, the recording procedures of the project have provided a sample of archaeological material located in a completely unexplored region, at the same time enabling the development of new guidelines for the study and analysis of ancient land routes. Careful analysis of sites and isolated cultural material encountered along the routes will form the basis for reconstructing communication networks of different past periods and developing new procedures and methods for the study of ancient roads themselves. Early routes were severely restricted by natural topography, especially in mountainous terrain, which adds to the positives of using such features as survey controls.  Small survey teams, usually of only two to three people each, followed trails marked on existing 1:5,000 scale maps and surveyed the surface 10 m to either side of the trail, a methodology that was not intended to locate all sites but to provide a meaningful sample of the archaeological material located in a large and relatively unexplored region.

In the first season, survey teams recorded 35 new sites or find spots in the region between Karystos and Kastri, where the ancient port of Geraistos was located.  The main pre-modern land route is a mule-trail that could be traced almost in its entirety between these two cities.  Although no signs of wheel ruts or cut grooves were found and the present surface over much of the route’s course is extremely rough, its significant width in sections suggests that the road was indeed built for wheeled traffic.

By the end of this section of the research program, a total of around 100 sites were located.  Many were scatters of pottery sherds, but around 60 preserved some architectural remains, as in the case of some ancient walls that were preserved above Metochi, providing enough evidence to determine the function of the site.  The chronology of the sites roughly parallels those of Paximadhi, but there are some differences.  The first inhabitants of the peninsula were farmer-herders at the end of the Neolithic or very beginning of the Bronze Age.  About 10 sites date to this period, most of them on or near the coast of either Karystos bay or the eastern Euboean coast.  The area appears to have been uninhabited through the rest of the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age and it was not until the Classical period that the region sees extensive occupation.  More than 30 sites were used in the Classical era, most of which are agricultural sites, small farmsteads, and some larger groupings of buildings that may represent small villages.

Later, the eastern region seems to differ from other areas surveyed by SEEP in that there is little evidence of Hellenistic occupation, especially of Late Hellenistic date, and virtually none of the Early Roman period.  In the 4th to 6th centuries CE there is a marked increase in sites, especially large farm sites, both in the uplands and in the coastal plains.  Thus, occupation of this area perhaps ended earlier in Hellenistic times than on Paximadhi, but the Later Roman rebound was stronger, as reflected in marble quarries and large Roman agricultural establishments.


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