The Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens supports significant Australian fieldwork projects in Greece. This includes at Torone, Zagora, Kythera and Paphos.
Zagora Archaeological Project
The Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens in conjunction with Department of Archaeology of the University of Sydney, the Powerhouse Museum and the Archaeological Society at Athens has been excavating at the Island of Andros under the auspices of the Zagora Archaeological Project, which took place for about six weeks in 2012, 2013 and 2014. This was a return to excavations at Zagora after some 40 years.
The settlement of Zagora, is on the Aegean island of Andros, about two hours by ferry from mainland Greece.
The people of Zagora left around 700 BCE. We’re not sure why but it may have been that the water supply dried up and could no longer support them. The area was not resettled – which means that the buildings were left as they had been lived in. Zagora is like a snapshot in time.
Many other archaeological sites have been ruined by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or the ravages of war. Or their architecture and artefacts portray a less clear picture due to successive periods of habitation by different peoples, obscuring or confusing the evidence of earlier habitation.
The settlement layout at Zagora – over 6.7 hectares – was not disturbed by subsequent settlement. The building materials weren’t used to modify the buildings or moved to make different structures with them, as is often the case where there have been successive settlements.
Of course not much remains standing after almost 3,000 years; the buildings collapsed where they had stood. But the building layout remains, along with objects and object pieces – mostly pottery, in the rooms where they had been stored and used. This provides clear evidence of how life was lived at Zagora – which is extremely rare among central Aegean Early Iron Age sites.
The ancient city of Torone, situated near the southern end of the Sithonia peninsula of the Chalkidike, was one of the richest and most important cities in the region during the Classical period. One of the highest tribute-paying members of the Delian League, it is best known from Thucydides’ detailed accounts of the campaign of the Spartan King Brasidas to take control of the city in 424 BC, and the Athenian General Cleon’s reprisals in 423 BC (Thucydides IV, 110-116; V, 2-3).
The Australian excavations at Torone began in 1975, directed by Professor Alexander Cambitoglou, then Head of Department of Classical Archaeology at the University of Sydney. The fieldwork at Torone was initially conducted under the auspices of the Archaeological Society at Athens and from 1986 as a collaborative project between that Society and the AAIA. Excavations were conducted at the site until 1990, followed by underwater and topographic and geophysical survey of the coastal environs since 1993.
The Australian excavations at Torone have shown that the site was occupied from the Final Neolithic period to the destruction of the Ottoman Kastro by Francesco Morisini in 1659.
Just as is clear from its role as a highly disputed territory during the Peloponnesian War, the key to the longevity and success of the settlement lies in its strategic position as a protected harbour on trade routes from the southern Aegean to the Black Sea and the Asia Minor coast. The inhabitants at Torone were perfectly placed to provide shelter and reprovisioning for ships engaged in long distance trade. Throughout its long history of occupation, the range of imported goods recovered indicate that Torone played a significant role as a trading way station to a lesser or greater extent throughout its 5000 year history.
As such, study of the material from Torone provides a unique view of the ebbs and flows of local and long distance economic and cultural interactions in the Northern Aegean.
Recent coring and geophysical examinations directed by Associate Professor Thomas Hillard (Macquarie University, Sydney) have been undertaken in the floodplain immediately northeast of the ancient city. Preliminary results strongly suggest that this area was once a deep embayment that may well have served as a, if not the, major anchorage of Torone in antiquity.
Archaeological excavations of the Paphos Theatre site, Cyprus
The Department of Archaeology of the University of Sydney has been excavating the site of the ancient Hellenistic-Roman theatre of Nea Paphos, under the auspices of the Department of Antiquities of the Republic of Cyprus since 1995.
The project is directed by Emeritus Professor J.R. Green, Dr Smadar Gabrieli and Dr Craig Barker. The excavations are conducted by the University of Sydney on behalf of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus. The project has received financial sponsorship from the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens since 2009, and since 2011 has been the official excavation project of the Nicholson Museum. Read more on the Paphos website.
Australian Paliochora-Kythera Archaeological Survey (APKAS)
Co-Directors: Professor Timothy E. Gregory (Ohio State University, USA), Dr Stavros Paspalas (AAIA), and Dr Lita Tzortzopoulou-Gregory (AAIA).
The primary objective of this project is to produce information to help us understand the settlement history of northern Kythera, from remote antiquity to the present. More specifically, we seek to elucidate one of the most perplexing problems in the history of Kythera: why the area of Paliochora was not settled until ca. 1000 AD, why it was abandoned some time after the sack of 1537, and why it remained abandoned thereafter.
At a broader level, the project will help to illuminate the history not only of Paliochora but also of the many similarly-located sites throughout the Aegean and elsewhere in the world. The project will make a significant contribution through exploring theoretical models for settlements in moderately adverse environments in middle range cultural settings, and provide an explanatory model for the utilisation of marginal niches for discrete periods of time. This will contribute to discussion of the role such settlements have in their broader cultural setting. Read more on the APKAS website.