PAVLOPETRI - 2009
Type of Operation
Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Ephoreia of Maritime Antiquities: BSA
Pavlopetri. E. Spondylis (EMA) and J. Henderson (BSA/Nottingham) report on the first season of underwater survey of the submerged prehistoric town off the Pounta shore, opposite Elaphonisos.
The site was first identified in 1904, rediscovered in 1967, and in 1968 surveyed by a team from the University of Cambridge using a fixed-grid system and hand tapes. The resulting plan, covering an area of 300m x 100m, included at least 15 separate building complexes, courtyards, streets, two chamber tombs and 37 cist graves. The underwater site continues south onto Pavlopetri island, on which were visible remains of walls and other archaeological material. On the Pounta shore, a cemetery of at least 60 rock-cut graves was provisionally dated to the Early Helladic. A little Early to Late Bronze Age surface pottery was recovered from the seabed in 1968, but the submerged buildings were dated by analogy mainly to the Mycenaean period. Ceramic evidence for later use of the site comprises Hellenistic cooking pots, black-glazed wares, Roman ribbed ware and late sixth- to seventh-century AD sherds.
In 2009 a new survey recorded the surviving architectural remains and recovered a range of surface finds from across the site. Two survey methods were employed: points were taken using a shore-based robotic total station; and trial survey was carried out using a Kongsberg-Mesotech MS 1000 sector scan sonar. In testing the sonar equipment, a wide range of scan radii were used from fixed positions, ranging from 150m scans of building complexes to very high resolution 5m scans. The MS 1000 sector scan sonar provides instantaneous high-resolution sea floor scans which consist of 3D point cloud data comparable to that produced by terrestrial laser scanners. The data produced will be manipulated in 3D environments to produce isometric images of the submerged building complexes.
In addition to recording the 30,000m2 of buildings first identified in 1968, over 9,000m2 of new buildings were discovered to the north (Fig. 1). At least 25 co-joined square and rectilinear rooms (built of rough square limestone blocks as elsewhere on the site) began some 10m from the existing shore line. A 40m long street was lined with rectilinear buildings with stone foundations. One square building (3m x 3m) contains the remains of a central pillar-like structure. Two new cist graves were discovered alongside what appears to be a pithos burial in a corner of one of the newly discovered rooms. A large trapezoidal building, ca. 34m long and 12−17m wide, contains at least three separate rooms and is comparable in layout to Early Bronze Age buildings. Its size and prominent position within the settlement imply that it was of some importance. The extent of the town is now estimated at ca. 4ha.
The pottery collected in 2009, while unstratified, covers the entire extent of the site as now known and provides a clearer picture of occupation history. Occupation began in the Final Neolithic. Ongoing study of the artefacts sampled, i.e. 442 ceramic items, an iron nail and an obsidian chip, provides the following chronological breakdown: 3% Final Neolithic, 40% Early Bronze Age, 15% Middle Bronze Age, 25% Late Bronze Age, 3% Classical/Hellenistic, 0.5% Roman/Byzantine. Of the pottery, 13.5% is badly worn and provisionally characterized as Bronze Age.
Early Helladic pithoi and storage jars bear a variety of rope-impressed and finger-impressed decoration. In addition to storage vessels (some with mat-impressed bases), standard Early Bronze Age shapes such as cups, sauceboats, conical saucers, askoi, portable hearths and dishes are represented, some showing close links with the Cyclades, western Crete and the northeastern Aegean. In contrast to the limited picture of Middle Helladic occupation from the 1968 survey, a quantity of Middle Helladic pottery was lifted in 2009, both local wares and a few imports possibly from Kythera, noting storage vessels with Middle Minoan decoration. Late Bronze Age sherds span the Middle Helladic/Late Helladic transition until the collapse of the Mycenaean palaces. Shapes represented include drinking vessels (mainly kylikes and cups), storage vessels (amphorae and alabastra) and vessels for serving liquids (squat jugs, skyphoi and kraters). Several sherds show strong Late Minoan influence; a clay strainer is provisionally dated to LMIB.
The site was probably abandoned in post-palatial times. Limited Classical to Hellenistic reoccupation is indicated by fourth- and third-century skyphos and other sherds. Late antique pottery recovered in 1968 and 2009 may also indicate limited reoccupation and local involvement in trade in limestone and iron from the nearby ores at Ag. Elissaios and the exploitation of murex beds for the production of purple dye.
Unpublished field report, BSA
Date of creation