Azoria Project Excavations 2007 (15-Aug-2007)

Report to the 24th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquites and the Ministry of Culture
The American School of Classical Studies and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducted its first season of field conservation, and artifact and ecofact conservation, illustration and study at the site of Azoria and the Institute for Aegean Prehistory Study Center for East Crete in northeastern Crete from June 1-August 15, 2007.
     The staff consisted of the project director (D.C. Haggis), field director and ceramic specialist (M.S. Mook), palaeoethnobotanist (C.M. Scarry), zooarchaeologist (L.M. Snyder), biological anthropologist (M. Liston), architect (R.D. Fitzsimons), project registrar and small finds specialist (Y. Furuya); wood charcoal specialist (M. Ntinou); architectural consultant (K. Nowicki), epigrapher/historian (W. West), conservator (S. Chlouveraki); ceramic study assistant (M. Eaby); palaeoethnobotany and zooarchaeology assistant (S. Papadaki); registrar's assistant (D. Colloway); archaeological illustrator (R. Docsan).
     Consultants were: K. Nowicki (architecture); E. Santaniello (ceramics); Nuncio Allegro (architecture); Julien Zurbach (ceramics); Maia Pomadere (ceramics); Niki Oikonomaki (epigraphy); Brice Erickson (ceramics); Andrea Babbi (Geometric figurines)
; V. Stefanaki (numismatics).
     The field staff consisted of D. Haggis (project director), S. Chlouveraki (Chief Conservator, SCEC), S. Tzari (conservator), E. Kasotakis, (excavation forman), N. Poulis, E. Smyrnios, S. Papadaki, E. Phiorakis, and S. Koutsakis.
     In the processing of finds, the project staff was assisted by the staff of the INSTAP-SCEC, Stephania Chlouveraki (Chief Conservator), Michel Roggenbucke (Senior Conservator), Kathy Hall (Senior Conservator), and Chronis Papanikolopoulos, photographer, and Doug Faulmann (Chief Artist).
     The purpose of fieldwork and study in 2007 was to begin documentation and analysis of ceramics and small finds; to make progress on the sorting, identification and study of plant, animal, and human remains; to conduct architectural and stratigraphic illustration including drawings of the state plan of the site, architectural elevations, phase drawings and stratigraphic sections; and to complete field (architectural) conservation.
Ceramic Study (Mook)
In 2007, M.S. Mook conducted a preliminary study and recording of 187 pails of pottery (from excavation in 2006 and site conservation in 2007), and studied 15 stratigraphic deposits (100 pails of pottery), for which statistical analysis was completed. Mook also oversaw the photography of some 125 pieces of pottery (including five groups shots with 5 to 11 pots each) and the drawing of 566 vessels and individual pottery sherds, for both study and publication.  797 inkings of pottery drawings from 2002-2006 were scanned and digitized (1200 dpi, grayscale tiff format), 26 oversized inkings of pottery were professionally scanned (800 dpi, grayscale tiff format), and 899 previous scans were checked for correctness.  Corrections were made and all existing inkings of pottery drawings have now been scanned in preparation for publication. 

Study of Small Finds (Stone, metal, terracotta, bone and marine shell) (Haggis, Furuya).
The principal aims of small-finds study in 2007 was to prepare final photographs and/or drawings of all non-stone artifacts recovered in 2002-2006 excavation seasons, and to prepare or correct catalogue entries and verbal descriptions: 335 terracotta; 247 metal; 78 bone and shell; and 5 glass objects. While further visual analysis will be required in preparation of final publication, the basic data has been recorded.  The ground-stone tools will be the focus of work in 2008.
     V. Stefanaki examined and wrote catalogue entries on two coins: an Hierapytnan dichalco (Inv. 02-0034) recovered in 2002 from B300, and a bronze Byzantine coin (Inv. 03-1040) of the 11th century C.E. (A1700).

     Andrea Babbi (Research Fellow at the Italian School of Archaeology at Athens) examined for publication five terracotta figurines of Geometric date: four anthropomorphic and one zoomorphic from the shrine in D900: 06-1042; 06-1053; 06-1082; 06-1083; 06-1084).

     Susan Muller-Wiering (Center for Textile Research, University of Copenhagen) submitted a report on a piece of thread recovered from a bronze helmet crest (02-0013) from A1400 in 2002. It is about 3 mm in diameter, with a z-spin direction, made of vegetal material. The fibers are very fine, clinging together in bundles. There are some so-called dislocations along the fibers, suggesting bast fiber, probably linen. It is seemingly a sewing thread, used to fasten the plume to the helmet crest.

Inscribed Pottery (West)
W. West studied 12 inscribed pottery sherds, including visual examination, photography, and consultation with colleagues: Niki Ikonomaki (Univ. of  Rethymnon), John Oakley (College of William and Mary; ASCSA), Mary Richardson (ASCSA), Henry Immerwahr (UNC-CH) and Alan Johnston (UCL Institute of Archaeology.
     Graffiti and dipinto on pottery studied:
1. Lekane rim. Sherd 04-0154, from B2200/2300.
2. Bf skyphos rim. Sherd 04-0319, from B1500.
3. Coarseware handle; san on inside. Sherd 05-0047, from D500.
4. Pithos handle from D300.
5. Pithos handle from D300.
6. Pithos. Pottery 04-0360, from A1200.
7. Sherd; inscribed on body of a closed vessel, from B3000.
8. Rf lekythos, ligature. Pottery 04-0174, from A1600.
9. Transport amphora, inscribed on handle. Sherd 04-0005, from B3000.
10. Open vessel body fragment. Sherd 06-0278, from B1500.
11. Fineware cup fragment. Sherd 07-0001, from B3806.4.
12. (dipinto) Black monochrome cup fragment. Sherd 07-0002, from B3719.3.
Archaeobotanical Work (Scarry)
Over the five years of excavation at Azoria (2002-2006), 2716 samples have been collected and processed by flotation.  Roughly 25% of these were standard samples collected from excavation loci. The rest were intensive samples collected from specific deposits.  Sample volume averaged 10 liters, although some intensive samples were significantly larger.
     As of the end of August 2007, over 70% of the flotation samples (including light and heavy fractions) have been sorted.  This includes all samples from Areas A and E (except for a few samples from topsoil and tumble deposits) and the majority of samples from trenches and deposits in Areas B and D that were identified by Haggis as high priority.  Data from all completed samples have been entered in an access database in a format that is designed to permit quantitative analyses at various levels of specificity.
     From June through August 2007, two people worked on the botanical samples.  Amanda Tickner (in the Research Laboratories of Archaeology at UNC Chapel Hill) sorted samples from the 2002-2005 excavations, concentrating on 325 samples from high priority deposits. Margaret Scarry (in the INSTAP SCEC lab on Crete) analyzed plant remains from the 2006 excavations. She sorted 350 samples from trenches and deposits identified by Haggis as high priority. Specifically, all 2006 samples from A1900, D300, D700, D800, D700, and D900 as well as about two-thirds of the samples from D1000 have been completed.  In addition, Scarry sorted samples from floor deposits in B3700 and B3900 and from a burnt deposit in B3000.
     Scarry also began spatial analyses of the distribution of major plant taxa (i.e., olives, grapes, cereals and pulses).  Preliminary analyses were done at two levels. She examined the distribution of the various plans by room and for several rooms (D300, E100, and A2300) examined the distribution of the plants within the rooms.
Charcoal Analysis (Ntinou)
In 2007, 1999 samples of wood charcoal, from 152 pails (excavation units) recovered in 2005 and 2006 excavation seasons were sorted and studied, and plant tax identifications were made using a metallographic incident light microscope of x50-x500 magnifications. 21 wood taxa were identified. Of particular interest is the recognition of particularly high relative quantities, if not over abundance, of olive wood (Olea europaea), including samples that appear to be fragments of architectural elements in destruction deposits in D700 (Northwest House), D900-D1000 (the sample includes a fallen roof beam in D1000), and D500 (Monumental Civic Building). This pattern, established in earlier seasons, finds concrete evidence in instances where sizable wood fragments, resembling architectural features were recovered (especially in E100, D700, and D1000). Olive is dominant across the site, e.g., in B3700 (oven room); D300 (Industrial Building) and D800 and D1200 (North buildings). Only A1900, the central room and vestibule of the Andreion complex, shows a divergent pattern with almond peaking in two samples (Prunus t. amygdalus).

Zooarchaeology (Snyder)

In 2007 L.M. Snyder studied 1085 lots of animal bone and shell, including 709 lots of trench sorted bone, and 376 lots recovered by ¼ dry screening of excavated matrix.  This study involved identification of all elements and element fragments to genus and species, plus recording of element, side and portion, and all alteration to the specimens including taphonomic changes (root etching, carnivore and rodent gnawing, surface erosion), and human alterations to the bone (breakage patterns, cut and chop marks, burning), recording in tabular form and quantification.  All human alterations were described as to location and orientation, and pencil sketches of the marks were also made.  Approximately 30,500 specimens were examined from these 1085 bone lots.  Combined with the 1799 bone lots studied during five years of excavation, this brings the total of bone lots studied to 2884, approximately 83% of the entire faunal assemblage recovered by excavation and dry screening during 2002-2006 excavations at Azoria.  In addition, 234 lots of bone from flotation processing heavy residue were also studied and preliminary quantifications and identifications completed, bringing the number of heavy residue samples studied to date to 2219, representing 100% of bone lots from flotation heavy residue.
            In 2007, all modified bone objects and fragments were segregated from unmodified bone lots studied, and a descriptive catalog of these specimens was prepared.  Descriptions included species and genus of the animal from which the specimen came, element and/or element fragment used, and all alterations to the element, including manufacturing technique, shaping/modification for use, use wear and breakage.  Snyder prepared 71 of these specimens, plus 10 additional lots of selected burned and unburned bone and shell from specific contexts for photography, to be used in study and publication.   

Bioarchaeology (Liston)

In 2007 Maria Liston began work on the human remains from the small chamber tomb in Trench 3700, excavated in 2006. In 2007, all of the bone from 83 pails (excavation units) was cleaned, and some initial reconstruction and consolidation of the more fragile remains was carried out.  Each unit of bone was inventoried, and a preliminary association of skeletal elements with the plotted bone plans was developed.  Using these plots, initial work on identifying individual skeletons and body positions was also begun.  The current count of individuals in the tomb includes a minimum of four adults and two children. In addition, all of the water sieve residue from the tomb soil was sorted with the assistance of Dr. Lynn Snyder, and the human bone, animal bone, plant materials, and artefacts  found in the soil residue were distributed to the appropriate excavation staff.
     Work in 2008 will start with reassociating the human bone from the residue with the appropriate bone bags, and the reconstruction of skeletal elements.  Further work will be done with the bone plots to determine the body positions and sequence of burials within the tomb. Using these plots, it should be possible to assign many of the isolated skeletal elements to a particular skeleton.  All skeletons will be evaluated for indicators of age, sex, race, stature, pathology, and other biological characteristics

Residue Analysis (Koh)
Employing a Bachi Syncore Polyvap system at the William D.E. Coulson Conservation Laboratory (INSTAP-SCEC), Dr. Andrew Koh (Department of Classics, Greek and Latin, Wayne State University; Research Associate, Department of Conservation Science, Detroit Institute of Arts; and Director of the ARCHEM Project), sampled 14 ceramic vessels, a stone oil press (D300), a stone mortar (B700), and seven soil samples from D300, in order to recover organic residue, for analysis using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). The analysis will take place (2007-2008) at Wayne State University and the Detroit Institute of Arts. Of particular interest is the sampling of soil from D300 to explore the possibility of the presence of oleic acid, which would help to support the archaeological evidence for olive-oil processing in the Industrial Building.
Architectural Study (Fitzsimons)

In 2007, 2 stone by stone ground plans, 7 architectural elevations, and 1 stratigraphic section were drawn; 30 plans, sections, elevations, and floor deposits were inked and scanned; and architectural analysis has been completed in 22 excavation sample units. The illustrations were drawn by R. D. Fitzsimons, except for Boyd's Buildings on the peak of the South Acropolis, which was drawn by K. Nowicki, and the stratigraphic scarp section through B3000, which was drawn by D.C. Haggis.  All illustrations were rendered at a scale of 1:20, except for Boyd's Building, which was drawn at a scale of 1:50.
     Work on the study of the architectural remains progressed along three main fronts: (1) the illustration of key wall elevations and sections, as well as previously unobserved features or incomplete plans; (2) the inking of all architectural plans and elevations, as well as select sections and floor deposits; and (3) the continuing on-site description of the extant architectural remains (with particular reference to wall composition, building techniques, circulation patterns and phasing). The primary objective of the architectural study during the 2007 study season, the completion of all 1:20 scale drawings and architectural inking, and the updating of the 1:100 site plan, was achieved this year. On-site analysis of the extant architectural remains greatly enhanced our understanding of such architectural elements as construction techniques and site layout, and resulted in the clarification of both the earlier (i.e., Geometric and Orientalizing) and later (i.e., Hellenistic) phases of occupation on the site. Of particular interest was the discovery during wall cleaning operations of several Early Iron Age walls in the area of the Andreion Complex (Trenches A600, A1500 and A1900) and the lower southwest terrace (Trenches B3400, B3500 and B3900), and the realization that the occupation of the site during the Hellenistic Period (already noted in the area of the South Slope Houses [Trenches B100, B200, B300 and B400], the southeast slope [Trenches B1100 and B1300], the Monumental Civic Building [D500], the Olive Press Installation [D300] and the lower southwest terrace [Trench B3500]) was perhaps more extensive than previously thought, with additional architectural remains being confirmed (or re-identified) in the area of the South Slope Houses and the Andreion Complex (Trenches A800, A900, A1100 and A1900).

Architectural Conservation (Haggis)
Field (architectural) conservation was conducted for 9 weeks (45 working days), June 4-August 3, 2007, under the supervision of Stephania Chlouveraki, the chief conservator of the Azoria Project and director of the Coulson Laboratory of the INSTAP SCEC, with the assistance of S. Tari and E. Kasotakis, in consultation of A. Nikakis, the chief conservator of the Ayios Nikolaos Museum and the 24th Ephorate. 
     Architectural conservation continued at Azoria in 2007, employing the same methods and materials used in 2004-2006, in accordance with the request of the Directorate of Conservation of Ancient and Recent Monuments, April 1, 2004, on the recommendation of the chemical engineer B. Eliadou and geologist S. Psychogiopoulou.
     Wall conservation in 2007 was conducted in phases. The walls targeted for conservation (listed below) were photographed, studied and documented by the project director and site architect, R. Fitzsimons. Stone-by-stone drawings were made of wall tops (top plans) and wall faces (elevation drawing) by the site architect. Subsequent to the study phase, the exposed ancient mud mortar was removed from the top and face surfaces as deeply into the wall fabric without disturbing the original position of the stone, usually 3-5 cm. The exposed facets of the stones were carefully cleaned and then prior to application of the compound, the stone surfaces were washed and dampened with water. The compound was then applied and pressed and then pounded into the cleaned interstices. Finally the exposed surfaces of the stones are scraped and cleaned. For the details of the conservation process, see the technical reports submitted to the 24th Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities.

     Conservation was completed in 25 trenches (12 buildings):

A1900N: Hall with the stands of the Andreion Complex
A600: North kitchen area of Andreion Complex
A1600: doorway into A1200 of Andreion Complex
A2000: west wall of upper dining hall
A300-400: vestibule and north end of the hall of the Northeast Building
A2100: segment of south wall of kitchen of Northeast Building
B3000 and B3900: walls of LG-EO building
B3800: upper hall of Southwest House
B3700: oven room of Southwest house (all walls and features except for the tholos tomb)
B3500: benches and east wall
D100, 200, 500: Monumental Civic Building
D300: Industrial building and east and west olive press rooms
D600: LM IIIC shrine
D900: Archaic shrine
D1000: storage/workroom of Archaic shrine
D1400: stepped platform, west of Archaic shrine
D700 and D1500: Northwest House
D1200-1300: North Buildings (west slope)
D800: North Buildings (north slope)