Underwater Survey of Kalamianos Harbor

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Project Abbreviation: 

USKH

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Monday, June 1, 2009 to Tuesday, June 30, 2009

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The Underwater Survey of Kalamianos Harbor [USKH] was initiated in 2009 and is closely associated with the Saronic Harbors Archaeological Project (SHARP) of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.  The underwater component was a joint Greek-Canadian project directed by Ms. Despoina Koustoumba  (Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities) and Prof. Joe Boyce (McMaster University). The research was aimed at reconstructing the changes in the configuration of the coastline since the Bronze Age occupation of the site as well as identifying the location of potential harbor basins and anchorage sites.

Bathymetric survey found that the water depth is less than 5 m across much of the inshore area and increases rapidly seaward, reaching a depth of more than 70 m within 300 m of the coast.  The seabed relief is smooth with nearly continuous sediment cover, except in shallow water where the limestone bedrock and beachrock crops out in localized shoals.  A submerged bedrock promontory was found east of Akrotirio Trelli, together with a submerged isthmus that must have formerly connected the islet with the mainland.  The isthmus also divides the inshore area into two separate lagoonal basins.

Beachrock ridges, 100 m from the shore, were found to consist of a well-cemented calcarenite with abundant Mycenaean pottery fragments which makes up 30-50% of the beachrock mass.  Fragments showed little sign of post-depositional reworking of biological alteration, characteristics consistent with rapid burial in a supratidal, low-energy beach environment.  The ceramic material provides evidence for a pre-Mycenaean occupation phase that was also recognized by the American SHARP team on land.

Coastal reconstructions show that during the Late Helladic period the offshore islet was more extensive, but still separate from the mainland.  Ships may have anchored to the west and loaded or unloaded goods directly or via smaller, lighter craft.  The area’s use as a shipping terminus appears to be supported by the ceramic concentrations of beachrock formations.  During the Early Helladic period, the sea level was 5.4 m lower than at present, allowing the island and mainland to be connected by the isthmus which at that period stood 1.25 m above sea level.  Together, the island and isthmus formed a natural breakwater enclosing a well-protected natural harbor to the east.

The distribution of ships’ ballast was also used to determine possible mooring locations.  Magnetic gradiometer survey allowed such ballast to be detected even when buried at some depth and located several magnetic hot spots in both the eastern and western harbor basins.

Bibliography: 

Dao, Peter, Joseph I. Boyce, Despoina Koutsoumba, Daniel J. Pullen, Thomas F. Tartaron and Richard M. Rothaus. In preparation. “Reconstruction of Bronze Age (Mycenaean) Coastal Environments and Anchorage Sites at Kalamianos (Korphos, Greece).” To be submitted to the Journal of Scientific Archaeology.

Tartaron, Thomas F. 2015. "The Settlement at Kalamianos: Bronze Age Small Worlds and the Saronic Coast of the Southeastern Corinthia." Pgs. 24-38. In Bridge of the Untiring Sea: The Corinthian Isthmus from Prehistory to Late Antiquity. E.R. Gebhard and T.E. Gregory eds. Hesperia Supplement 48. Princeton: The American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

Dao, Peter, Joseph I. Boyce, Despoina Koutsoumba, Thomas F. Tartaron and Daniel J. Pullen. In preparation. “Magnetic Gradiometer Survey of a Submerged Bronze Age (Mycenaean) Harbour and Anchorage Sites at Kalamianos, Korphos, Greece.” To be submitted to the Journal of Scientific Archaeology.

Tartaron, T.F., D.J. Pullen, R.K. Dunn, L. Tzortzopoulou-Gregory, A. Dill and J.I. Boyce. 2011. “The Saronic Harbors Archaeological Research Project (SHARP): Investigations at Mycenaean Kalamianos, 2007–2009.” Hesperia 80: 559-634.

Rupp, David. 2011. “The Fieldwork of the Canadian Institute in Greece, 2009: Kalamianos” Mouseion 11.1: 12-16.

Morgan, C. 2007-2010. Chronique des fouilles en ligne, BCH. < http://chronique.efa.gr/index.php/fiches/voir/ >

Project Website: 

http://www.saronicharbors.org

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