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The Australian Paliohora Kythera Archaeological Survey (APKAS)

APKAS. 2001. Field Report.

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The Australian Paliochora Kythera
Archaeological Survey (APKAS)


The Australian Palaiochora-Kythera Archaeological Survey (APKAS) season in 2001 took place between the dates of August 15 and September 5. The small group in the field consisted of Professor Timothy Gregory (Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Sydney and Professor of History at the Ohio State University), Dr. Stavros Paspalas (Deputy Director of the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens), and two post-graduate students, William Caraher and David Pettegrew.

The activities of the team can be divided into three categories. Firstly, intensive survey work was carried out in specific areas within the larger region covered by the APKAS “concession.” The intention of this programme was to gain a better understanding of the impact of human activity in the chosen areas. With this aim in mind survey units were delineated, and then the fieldwalkers carefully collected a representative sample of the archaeological material visible on the surface and documented the full range of artefacts they saw. As a result of this work the team will be able to reconstruct a history of the examined microregions. The precise locations of the surveyed areas were recorded in the Geographical Information System (GIS), as is the usual practice of the project, and so the information gained can be incorporated accurately into the computer-generated maps of northern Kythera.

Fieldwalking was carried out in the following areas:

1. around the church of Agios Stephanos on the synonymous hill, northwest of Potamos;

2. to the south of the current cemetery of Potamos, and the church of Prophetis Elias, both on the spinal ridge north of Potamos;

3. around Agios Georgios Kolokythias, north of Agia Pelagia;

4. at the hillock of Agios Minas, northeast of Aroniadika; and

5. at Touphexina/Trochiles west of Logothetianika.

The finds from areas nos. 1-4 date mainly from the mediaeval and later periods, and so have an important bearing on one of the central questions of the project: the relationship of the countryside of the northern part of the island with the “urban” mediaeval centre at Palaiochora (Agios Demetrios). In addition to this richness of mediaeval and later finds, ancient material was also collected from some of these sites, which testify to human activities in these areas well back in antiquity. The churches in all four areas were documented, and placed onto the GIS. Touphexina produced a greater quantity of ancient material, which shows that it was an area of not inconsiderable activity in antiquity. Finds from this area date back as early as the Bronze Age.

Team members also spent time in the Archaeological Museum at Chora and undertook an examination of the material collected in past seasons. This was a preliminary step towards the definitive study of the material. Previous identifications of individual pieces were confirmed, refined or corrected. It appears that a considerable amount of the sherds testify to ancient activity within the survey region, including the Early Bronze Age and Middle-Late Minoan period; the final result of the project will undoubtedly throw light on both the ancient and mediaeval to later periods.

The third area of work carried out by team members was not planned. Professor Gregory and Dr. Paspalas reported to the local representative of the First Directorate of Byzantine Antiquities that recent bulldozing near the church of Agios Athanasios, northeast of Kastrisianika, had destroyed a number of graves and that human remains (bones) were visible in the resulting scarp. The Directorate asked the team members to help in removing the remains, and so an unexpected excavation took place. Pottery recovered in the operation dates back well into the mediaeval period. In association with this work a preliminary reconnaissance was undertaken of the wider area of Agios Athanasios, and both ancient and mediaeval material was noted on, and collected from, the surface. It is expected that the team will return to this region to carry out a more systematic survey in the future.

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