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The Antikythera Survey Project (AkSP) is a phased, interdisciplinary program of fieldwork, artifact study and laboratory analysis that addresses the long-term history and human ecology of the tiny Greek island of Antikythera. Antikythera is one of the smallest (ca. 20 sq.km) and most remote inhabited places in the insular Mediterranean, but also one of the best-placed, lying on a key axes of maritime movement, both north-south between the southern Balkan peninsula (the Peloponnese) and Crete, and east-west, between the eastern and central Mediterranean. This strategic, if often fragile and marginal, location is emphasized by the presence of a fortified pirate community on Antikythera during the Hellenistic period (4th to 1st century BC), and a 1st century BC shipwreck a few hundred meters off the coast that famously produced a series of bronze statues and the Antikythera mechanism, an intricately-geared device for maritime navigation. Antikythera is also an island that provides an incredibly attractive research context, for three main reasons: small islands are prone to experiencing abrupt demographic changes, including periods of near complete abandonment and recolonisation.
Our results have indeed revealed that Antikythera has a long and turbulent history, which stretches back to the latter stages of the Neolithic and includes a substantial Bronze Age presence, a fortified Hellenistic pirate town, several Late Roman communities, Byzantine and Venetian evidence as well as a period of more recent re-colonization. Between several demographic highs are also some apparent demographic crashes, most obviously in the last hundred years. This comparatively discontinuous record of human activity makes it easier to date and understand settlement strategies and multiple cycles of landscape investment (such as terracing) than in most other Mediterranean landscapes. small islands such as Antikythera play eccentric but extremely revealing roles in wider social, economic and political networks (for example as special places for refugees, hunters, political exiles, hermits, monks and/or pirates).
ASP addresses many of these phenomena by combining different types of environmental, archaeological and historical evidence, but also seeks to place them in the broader Mediterranean context in which they emerge. Antikythera is small enough to cover the entire island by intensive survey and to collect other datasets comprehensively. Whereas high resolution archaeological and environmental survey has been practiced successfully on many other Aegean islands such as Kythera, Melos, Kea and Crete, the projects involved necessarily performed their data collection in a series of restricted sample areas. In contrast, on Antikythera, we are able to collect information across the entire island and this offers a wide variety of analytical opportunities.
Bevan, A. and J. Conolly. Forthcoming. Mediterranean Islands, Fragile Communities and Persistent Landscapes: Antikythera in Long-term Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Johnston, A., A. Quercia, A. Tsaravopoulos, A. Bevan and J. Conolly. Forthcoming. "Pots, Piracy and Aegila. Hellenistic ceramics from an Intensive Survey of Antikythera, Greece." Annual of the British School at Athens 107: 247-272.
Bevan, A., J. Conolly, C. Hennig, A. Johnston, A. Quercia, L. Spencer and J. Vroom. 2012. "Measuring chronological uncertainty in intensive survey finds. A case study from Antikythera, Greece." Archaeometry 54.
Bevan, A. and J. Conolly. 2012. "Intensive survey data from Antikythera, Greece." Journal of Open Archaeology Data 1.1
Bevan, A. and J. Conolly. 2011. "Terraced fields and Mediterranean Landscape Structure: an Analytical Case Study from Antikythera, Greece." Ecological Modelling 222: 1303–1314.
Quercia, A., A. Johnston, A. Bevan, J. Conolly and A. Tsaravopoulos. 2011. "Roman pottery from an intensive survey of Antikythera, Greece." Annual of the British School at Athens 106: 47-98.
Pentedeka, A., E. Kiriatzi, L. Spencer, A. Bevan, J. Conolly. 2010. "From Fabrics to Island Connections: Macroscopic and Microscopic Approaches to the Prehistoric Pottery of Antikythera." Annual of the British School at Athens 105: 1-81.
Palmer, C., S. Colledge, A. Bevan and J. Conolly. 2010. "Vegetation Recolonisation of Abandoned Agricultural Terraces on Antikythera, Greece." Environmental Archaeology 15.1: 64-80.
Bevan, A. and J. Conolly. 2009. "Modelling Spatial Heterogeneity and Nonstationarity in Artifact-Rich Landscapes." Journal of Archaeological Science 36.4: 956-964.
Rupp, David. 2009. “The Fieldwork of the Canadian Institute in Greece, 2008: Antikythera Survey Project.” Mouseion 9.2: 121-122.
Bevan, A., J. Conolly and A. Tsaravopoulos. 2008. "The Fragile Communities of Antikythera." Archaeology International 10: 32-36.