The Southern Euboia Sea and Land Routes Project. A case study in Mediterranean interconnectivity, ca. 4000–1 BC.
Scientific context and aims
Over the last decade, Mediterranean archaeologists and historians have shifted from models emphasizing small, static units and rigid structures towards a new paradigm emphasizing fluidity and Mediterranean connectedness – almost to the point that mobility and ever-expanding networks are taken as gospel truth. This research project deliberately takes a step back: its aim is to give a firmer empirical basis to the Mediterranean interconnectivity model but also to critically examine some of its basic tenets by refocusing the attention on local and regional systems of communication (in addition to supra-regional networks) and on land-based interconnections (in addition to maritime communications).
The southern part of the island of Euboia (Greece) builds an ideal case to conduct this type of research. A detailed analysis will be made of its connections and connectedness at various scales and over a long period of time (ca. 4000–1 BC). A novel approach is adopted by analyzing both the terrestrial and maritime environment. Cutting-edge research is performed by combining remote-sensing techniques to detect ancient structures and land-route systems, and model visibility at sea and maritime routes using sensor performance models developed for the Dutch navy. In the final synthesis the research results are related to wider, Mediterranean developments and to the Mediterranean interconnectivity paradigm.
Another aim of the project is to contribute to the preservation and protection of the archaeological sites in the study area. Knowledge utilization will be accomplished by redesigning the project’s Spatial Data Infrastructure into a tool for heritage management.
The project encompasses five subprojects:
1: Air: An aerial archaeological contribution to the study of settlements, landscapes and spatial interconnections in southern Euboia’ – Anke Stoker (PhD researcher)
2: Earth: Landroutes and overland communications in southern Euboia’ – Stefan Kooi (PhD researcher)
3: Water: Maritime landscapes, sea routes and seaborne communications around southern Euboia’ – Ruben Brugge (PhD researcher)
4: Fire: Knowledge utilization – from SDI to knowledge hub’ – Dr. Maurice de Kleijn, SPINlab.
5: Synthesis: South Euboia as a case study in Mediterranean interconnectivity’ – Prof. Jan Paul Crielaard (project coordinator).
The first step will be data collection. During this phase of the project, the three PhD researchers will collaborate closely. Together with the SPINlab they will design a spatial database to systematically register all the known sites and structures in southern Euboia. This database will be built by the PhD researchers, using the data that have been assembled over the last 40 years through excavations and surface surveys in the region. Next, site re-visits will be made to record the present state of the sites by means of short descriptions and visual imagery and taking GPS coordinates.
The PhD researchers will also make an inventory of the historical and environmental cartographic sources. Historical maps, elevation models, geomorphological maps, (historical) aerial photographs, satellite images, LiDAR, geological maps, and detailed topographical and nautical maps will, if necessary, be elaborated for inclusion in a geographic information system (GIS). Both the archaeological spatial database and the cartographic sources will be accessible through a spatial data infrastructure (SDI) that will be designed and implemented in close collaboration with SPINlab. This digital environment will make it possible for the three researchers to store, share and process large datasets without having to worry about versioning and the memory limitations of their hardware and software. The SDI can build on the knowledge and tools that have been developed by VU University’s Geoplaza SDI and webportal.
After assembling these data, the dataset will be augmented, using aerial archaeology. This constitutes the main part of subproject 1, although targeted remote sensing also plays a role in subproject 2. Each of the subprojects will analyse and interpret its own dataset, for which a specific methodology has been designed. These methods are described in detail in the following section.
Output / deliverables
– excerpt database