Last weekend in Thessalonki the Greek/Canadian synergasia excavating at ancient Argilos (or was it Arkilos?) celebrated the 25th anniversary of the commencement of research there. Over two-and-a-half days the large audience in the Auditorium of the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki was treated to the discoveries of the past 25 years by the researchers involved in the project as well as the view from other excavations in the region to complement the picture concerning aboriginal settlement, Greek colonization and trade efforts, and the impact of the Kingdom of Macedonia on the affairs of the regional settlement system.
Canadian Ambassador Keith Morrill, the General Secretary of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sport, Dr. Maria Vlasaki, Vasiliki Malama, Director of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Serres, and Dr. Polyxeni Veleni, Director of the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, welcomed the attendees in turn. On behalf of the Canadian Institute in Greece I offered the following remarks.
“Since the 1960s most systematic archaeological excavation projects, both Greek and foreign, have had a relatively short longevity, compared to the “Big Digs” of the 19th and earlier 20th centuries. The reasons for this pattern vary, of course. The relatively few projects that continue to conduct fieldwork for more than 10 years are those that frequently have a large group of co-researchers responsible for the broad range of data collected by diverse means and amassed over the years. These researchers and their graduate students drive the evolving objectives for the investigations.
Longevity has its challenges, obviously. The richness and complexity of the data sets collected on a regular basis make analysis and interpretation a time-consuming process. Besides annual preliminary reports of a descriptive nature, more analytical and synthetic publications normally appear slowly; sometimes awaiting the holy grail of Mediterranean archaeology, the so-called “final publication”, often in a special series for the project, with a distinctive exterior color. A recent, important development in archaeological publications is for a long-lived project to choose a significant anniversary since the inception of the fieldwork, such as the 25th, in order to stop and to take stock in a conference focused on the results of the project. That is, each active researcher is asked to summarize the results of her particular research and to contextualize it in space and time. A further refinement of such a conference is to invite colleagues working on excavations at other, analogous sites in the immediate region and beyond to present their views on the significance of these findings. Christos Doumas for Akrotiri on Santorini and Metaxia Tsipopoulou for Petras in eastern Crete have done this with very positive results.
The Greek / Canadian synergasia at ancient Argilos in Macedonia was conceived by Dr. Zisis Bonias and Prof. Jacques Perreault to investigate the nature of Greek colonization in the northern Aegean as well as the cultural and economic interactions of these colonists with the aboriginal inhabitants and with other Greek colonies and commercial centers overtime.
For the Canadian Institute in Greece the Argilos project represents the longest continuously running fieldwork project in its 40 year history. This conference emphasizes the importance of the melding of fieldwork, analysis and timely publication in the core structure of a long-term archaeological research project. In addition, it serves as an opportunity to self-evaluate what has been learned so far as well as to refine and redirect the objectives of the research. Thus, this conference is important for the Argilos project, for the Canadian Institute and for Greek archaeology.
In closing, I wish to emphasize here that the Argilos research team has not neglected its publication responsibilities over the past 25 years. I invite you all to visit the Argilos component in the Institute’s acclaimed Portal to the Past, at www.portal.cig-icg.gr . There are listed the complete publications to date related to the findings of the Argilos researchers. Further, the Argilos entry offers the visitor summaries of the work done in each of the sectors and the most important finds. This component and those for the other 19 fieldwork projects conducted under the aegis of the Institute since 1980 in the Portal represent our primary venue for public outreach.
On behalf of the Canadian Institute in Greece I extend our warmest congratulations to the hard-working organizers of the conference, and, special thanks to Dr. Polyxeni Veleni and her staff here at the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki for hosting the conference. Despite the lingering gloom [outside there was a thunderstorm], such collective efforts offer optimism for the future of investigating the past by Greek and foreign researchers alike.
In the next three days I look forward to learning about the current state of research on ancient Argilos from a very talented and experienced group of researchers. Finally, I invite Zisis and Jacques to submit the proceedings of this conference for inclusion in the Publications of the Canadian Institute in Greece monograph series.”
I am pleased to report that among the paper givers were Jacques Perreault (of course), Gerry Schaus, Mark Lawall and Keven Ouellet. Bravo sas se olous!!!
The cloudy, wet and cool weather reminded me so much of St. Catharines this time of year!