Khavania Topographic and Architectural Mapping Project - 2019
Bronze Age - Early Bronze Age - Middle Bronze Age - Late Bronze Age
Antiquity - Hellenistic - Roman
Khavania Topographic and Architectural Mapping Project. D. Buell (Concordia University / CIG) and R. Fitzsimons (Trent University / CIG) report on the 2019 field season of the Khavania Topographic and Architectural Mapping Project, that ran between July 23 and August 8, 2019 on the northern side of Ayios Nikolaos in the Lasithi prefecture of East Crete.
The project goal for summer 2019 was to document all extant natural and anthropogenic features at Khavania, including those revealed by the ΚΔ’ Ephoria’s excavations in 2016. The reasons for doing so were threefold: 1) to create a new and precise plan of the peninsula for study and historical documentation and preservation; 2) to increase our understanding of the prehistoric periods in this little-studied part of the Mirabello Bay; and 3) to lay the groundwork for future archaeological work at the site.
There were three components of fieldwork: 1) topographic survey and recording; 2) documentation of all visible architectural features, including those revealed by the ΚΔ’ Ephorate excavations; and 3) limited collection and analysis of material remains from the surface of the site.
A Total Station was used to obtain spatial data for each architectural feature identified during the survey and for those excavated by the ΚΔ’ Ephorate in 2016. In addition to drawing all features, the team also photographed them and recorded pertinent data, including dimensions, number of courses, building materials, construction techniques, and respective relationship(s) to other features on standardised field forms. They also took a series of high-resolution photos of each trench excavated by the Ephoria in order to create three-dimensional photogrammetic models of the features within these trenches. Two drone flights were conducted on July 30 and 31, 2019, in order to acquire aerial photographs for the purpose of creating accurate orthophotos and photogrammetric three-dimensional models of the site.
Finally, in order to develop a coarse chronological profile of the site, the team divided it into ten discreate sections (labelled A-I and Ephoria Excavations) based on local topography. During the last two days of the project, team members were assigned particular areas from which to collect diagnostic sherds and any other portable objects that might yield chronological data. These were then placed within bags, complete with labels, and brought to the Ayios Nikolaos Museum for storage and future study.
Most extent features were identified on the western and northwestern slopes of the peninsula, while several others can be found on the southeastern slope. Few remains were found on the summit of the peninsula, since it has suffered from erosional episodes while the western flatland, which currently sits under the sea-level, and, as a result, has likely been subject to much periodic flooding.
Nearly all identified features may be classified as walls. Walls 22 and 24, however, are exceptions in that they are sections of pavement. In general, the walls have been constructed from locally available materials, including both limestone tripolitza and metalimestone. Indeed, it seems as though some building materials were quarried at the site itself. The walls typically consist of a mix of large and smaller boulders often packed with smaller stones and pebbles. In some instances (e.g., Walls 11, 12, 17, 18, 28, and 29), the largest stones within a wall measured greater than 0.50m in any one direction. When two faces were observed, the widths of walls could be substantial. Wall 17, for example, possesses a width of 1.16m. Stones were typically placed with flat edges outward, which created a unified outer facing. In rare cases, boulders were hammer-dressed to achieve this effect. Usually, only one course at current ground-level was visible, but in some instances (e.g., W12, W17, W28/20, W30) walls were preserved to height of two or three courses above ground level. Moreover, W08, W17 and W28/29 possessed a projecting plinth course. Unfortunately, only in rare cases (e.g., W3, W11, W17, and W18) could we trace the full length of a wall. The average preserved wall length is 3.55m. For the most part, architectural features were oriented in accordance with local topography (e.g., W1, W2, W7, W20, W27, W28, W29, and W31) in that they follow the natural contours of the site. In other cases (e.g., W3, W4, W8, W9, W10, W11, W12, W13, W14, W15, W17, W18, W19, W23, and W25), walls are oriented with disregard to topography.
In at least two cases (i.e., W3 and W27), the wall terminates at a doorway, the former possessing a roughly fashioned, monolithic threshold. One stone riser was identified between W6 and W11. A paved area (W22 and W24), consisting of water-rounded boulders, was identified on the southeastern side of the site, bound by a wall (W23). Directly north of this feature, we identified a north–south running street, to the west of W26. Like the paved area, the stones comprising the street were water-rounded boulders.
Numerical labels (1–8) were assigned to the trenches excavated by the Ephoria in 2016. In these trenches, the Ephoria excavated to a level slightly below the tops of architectural features (the average preserved height of features is ca. 0.30m). Most of the architecture within these trenches is similar to what was observed through the entirety of the site. These features were constructed from locally available tripolitza and metalimestone. The walls are substantial and well-built. The average width of walls in these trenches is 0.85m, while the average preserved length of wall was 2.55m. Each wall possesses two skins, each of which is comprised of boulders with flat sides facing outwards, creating a unified wall face. Smaller stones were used to fill the interstices between the courses consisting of large boulders. Walls are well-bonded. In terms of orientation, like those detected in the survey, these are mostly in accordance with the local topography in that they follow the natural incline of the slope leading to the height of the peninsula. The features in T5, 6, 7, however, differ in orientation by a few degrees. Two sections of walling from the same structure (T02.1 and T03.1) reveal a somewhat different construction and likely belong to a later phase. Each face incorporates a number of stones that were set upright and likely reused from earlier constructions. Between the two faces is a packing of small stones and cobbles, the whole measuring 1-1.15m wide.
Several notable architectural features other than walls were also identified in the Ephoriea trenches. These include a pavement (T02.3) on the eastern side of walls T02.2 and T02.4; two sections of pavers (T02.3 and T04.2), the former perhaps belonging to a bench or step, the later to a paved vestibule or interior courtyard; a series of two broad risers (T08.1), which may be part of the settlement’s street-system; another series of risers (T05.3), which may be part of an interior staircase; and two well-constructed monolithic thresholds (T04.1 and T08.2). Mention should also be made of a possible fortification wall located on the steep east slope of the peninsula (W28, W29).
The architectural remains identified by the survey and from the Ephoria excavations testify to the presence of several monumental buildings, perhaps official buildings, which advertised the power and authority of prominent members of the community. Additionally, the dimensions and orientation of some walls suggests that they also served as retaining walls. Their presence may be indicative of substantial efforts to modify the local landscape. As observed at other sites within the Mirabello (e.g., Gournia and Azoria), their presence may also be taken to be indicative of some degree of civic planning, a situation to which the presence of streets also testifies. That a planned settlement should be founded here is of no surprise, given that it possesses two well-protected harbours and it is situated on both the major overland and maritime communication routes. Unfortunately, at present without proper systematic excavations, we cannot determine whether the buildings at the site are all contemporary. The difference in orientation between some buildings detected both in the survey and in the Ephoria trenches suggests that this is not the case. Likewise, it is clear from the Ephoria excavations that some features are not contemporary as the walls in T3 and T02.1 were higher founded than others from the excavations, which suggests that this wall is later in date, as compared to the others in this area. Similarly, the markedly different construction of T02.1 and T03.1 suggests a different date.
With respect to portable material remains, 445 sherds were collected, one piece of ceramic building material (CBM), eight pieces of obsidian, including two primary flakes, five tertiary ones, and one proximal fragment of a prismatic blade, one large piece of worked pumice, and a talismanic sealstone from across the site. The ceramic material consists of cup, bowl, jug, and plate rim, handle, spout, and base fragments, as well as decorated body sherds. Wares include fine, coarse, cook, storage, and architectural (i.e., roof tiles and gutters/drains). The chronological phases represented include: Early Minoan (ca. 2% of total assemblage), Protopalatial (ca. 22%), Neopalatial (ca. 25%), Late Minoan III (ca. 20%), Hellenistic (ca. 2%), Roman (ca. 20%), Byzantine (ca. 2%), and Medieval (ca. 7%). In terms of distribution, Minoan sherds appeared in abundance on the summit of the hill, as well as the slopes immediately to the north, south, east, and west (Fig. 20). Limited Roman and Medieval sherds were also recovered in these areas. Later sherds (Roman–Medieval) were primarily concentrated at the western boundary of the site, which is unsurprising, given that excavations in this area in 2004 revealed parts of a Roman building (ΑΔ 56-59 (2001–2004), fig. 5). Macroscopic fabric analysis of the Prehistoric sherds reveals that many possessed grano-diorite within their matrix, which suggests that the residents of Khavania were interacting with other contemporary settlements (e.g., Gournia, Vasiliki, and Priniatikos Pyrgos) within the Mirabello region.
Unpublished field report, CIG.