EASTERN BOEOTIA ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECT - 2007
Neolithic - Bronze Age - Antiquity - Early Modern - Early Bronze Age - Middle Bronze Age - Late Bronze Age - Classical - Hellenistic - Ottoman
Fortifications - Tomb - Tools/weapons - Stone - Cemetery - Territory - Building Type - Find Type - Material Type - Site Type
Type of Operation
Ministry of Culture (Θ' ΕΠΚΑ); Canadian Institute in Greece
Eastern Boeotia Archaeological Project (EBAP). B. Burke (Canadian Institute/British Columbia), B. Burns (Southern California), S. Lupack (London) and V. Aravantinos (Director, Θ' ΕΠΚΑ) report on the first season of a project aiming to document and interpret evidence for land use, settlement patterns and burial practices in E Boeotia over an extended chronological period, but with a primary interest in the LBA. The study area focuses on the plains surrounding mod. Arma, Eleon and Tanagra, which are bounded by Mt Teumessos and the Soros range along the S and the Ipatos mountains on the N, chosen partly because of the intrinsically interesting sites present (Eleon and Tanagra) and partly because this area connected Thebes to the sea and was, therefore, a major route for external contact.
In a 4 week season, 277 units were surveyed across ca. 20ha. With a focus on the elevated settlement provisionally identified as Eleon, intensive methods were adopted. Walkers 10m apart covered individual transects totalling over 18km. Large quantities of diagnostic artefacts were identified in almost all areas surveyed. Preliminary analysis was conducted on all collected ceramic and lithic objects, which are now stored in Thebes Museum. More detailed analysis focused on material from within the walled area of Eleon. Even the region surrounding the walled settlement was relatively rich in artefact counts: average field density was 0.45 sherds/m2, with only 30 fields of density higher than one sherd/m2.
Preliminary analysis indicates 3 major phases of activity at Eleon: BA (including a robust MH phase), LCl−Hel and Ot. BA material was of a much longer chronological range than expected. In addition to some Neo, EH and E MH were more extensively represented by several distinctive handmade sherds. In the MH the population of Eleon may have increased significantly considering the large number of sherds of that period (the majority being Grey Minyan, but some Yellow Minyan was also found). Since these wares were probably not produced at Eleon, its inhabitants engaged in trade during the MH. E LH is signalled by the appearance of a distinctive LH fabric, although many examples are somewhat burnished, as if potters were reluctant to give up old methods of decoration. LH II and III are well represented by numerous handles with swaths of paint at their bases, kylix stems and rims with characteristic red bands. Several examples of monochrome deep bowls indicate that Eleon was active into the latest LH IIIB and LH IIICE periods, although further study is required to see how late occupation continued into LH IIIC. Geo sherds are represented, but their precise chronology awaits further study.
Digital mapping was begun of the site of Eleon, its natural topography and the built features preserved above ground. The site’s most prominent feature was 70m of well-preserved Lesbian polygonal masonry, sometimes up to 5m h. This wall had previously been considered Ar, based on the masonry style, yet the relative absence of Ar material and the high concentrations of bg pottery with highly articulated profiles indicate that it was more likely part of a major LCl construction project. The history of Eretria provides a likely sequence of events, in which the 4th Ct saw an architectural revival that included sophisticated use of polygonal masonry. Understanding the function of this wall requires further study and possibly excavation. Although there are traces of towers and entry points, the concave form and the fact that only one face is visible suggest that this could have been a retaining rather than a fortification wall.
Survey around Eleon also produced significant results, notably the partial foundations of a square (3 x 3m) tower in the NW, with traces of a wall running to the N and S. These remains suggest settlement expansion well beyond the hill top centre of Eleon, perhaps during the Cl period. To the SW, a number of chamber tombs located in the hillslopes surrounding Eleon were apparently opened and emptied in recent times. The closest parallel for these rough-hewn chambers cut into the natural bedrock is found near mod. Tanagra, 7km SE. The largest concentration of tombs around Eleon was found below the church of Profitis Ilias, where over 20 tombs were recorded and mapped in 2007. All were heavily disturbed and devoid of anc. material. Erosion and mod. damage make the exact dimensions of many difficult to discern. One fairly intact example features a dromos ca. 6m l. from the hillside surface to a small low entrance cut into the natural rock face. A substantial chamber is preserved within the rock face, but the only material preserved derives from the tomb’s mod. use as a shelter.
Unpublished field report, Canadian Institute in Greece
Date of creation