Blog

A seaside café in Nafplio

For the past few years, I’ve somehow convinced myself that this year things will be different: this year’s study season will be more relaxed, with more time for contemplation, afternoon swims, and evening drinks at trendy cafés in Nafplio. Instead, each year becomes busier and more hectic as we all realize the enormity of the task before us. This six-week study season was different, however, in that it was much less uniform, with most of the team coming and going for short spells in between other fieldwork commitments. We were a smaller group, with only two to six researchers working at any one time. Our goals were to make significant progress on two major articles – a preliminary report on the 2014-2016 field seasons and a pretty comprehensive report on the 2017 field season – and to ensure that we were in good shape moving forward towards final publication.

Bill Caraher sweeping our dusty laboratory

We spent three weeks in our laboratory and storage facility in Argos, refining our analyses of the catalogued artifacts that we collected over four years (2014-2017), and correcting small mistakes and oversights: photographing some artifacts, correcting confusing catalogue entries, improving our macroscopic fabric groups, honing our understanding of specific artifact classes, and so on. Guy Sanders graciously came down from Corinth to help Scott Gallimore with fabrics and early modern materials, and Anna Philippa-Touchais looked at some possible Middle Bronze Age material in our collection.

Grace Erny correcting a plan of ancient Orneai

We tried to keep work in the field to a minimum, and here again we focused on targeted tasks. For example, Grace Erny and I checked our stone-by-stone top plan of the fortifications of ancient Orneai that we had generated in past field seasons. Bill Caraher and I double-checked the position of some sections of fortification walls that had gone unnoticed. Sarah Murray (University of Toronto) graciously came into the field for two days to help us produce high-resolution photogrammetric models of standing architecture in our survey area. Much of our time was spent staring at computer screens: writing, doing GIS, cleaning up our databases, making queries, and running Agisoft Metashape more or less non stop.

The church of Ayios Dimitrios, overlooking the western Argolid

Despite being pressed for time and overwhelmed by the data avalanche that we imposed on ourselves, we did spend some time in our survey area thinking about landscape. Afternoons were a good time to get up to some new places that provided views over our survey area and helped us to understand its broader context. This was especially important for our work on the fortifications of the western Argolid, whose function was (at least in part) to control movement through the terrestrial routes that crisscrossed the northeastern Peloponnese. Overall, we did manage to accomplish a lot this study season; and as a result we’re in a good position to finish writing three major articles about our survey this fall, and to continue our work on the final publication of the survey.

Dimitri Nakassis
University of Colorado Boulder; co-director, Western Argolid Survey project