The Azoria Project

1. Project Overview

The project is the five-year excavation of the Early Iron Age town of Azoria (ca. 1200-600 B.C.) on the island of Crete in the Greek Aegean.  The objective is to explore the changing dynamics of crop processing, subsistence, and land-use practices on this site and to relate these changes to social processes involved in the formation of small-scale polities in the eastern Mediterranean during the first millennium B.C.

Studies of ancient Greek states (such as the classical polis) are dominated by historical analyses of large-scale cities, such as classical Athens (7th-5th c. B.C.), or Bronze Age palace-centered states such as Mycenae (ca. 1400 B.C.), using methods derived from classical archaeology.  A goal of the present project is to reshape the methodology by shifting the emphasis from traditional historical models to current approaches in Mediterranean and North American archaeology, which have recognized diachronic variation in crop production, distribution, and processing as key considerations in assessing emerging complexity.  The project is concerned with patterns of land use and culture change that are both identifiable and recoverable archaeologically, and potentially comparable in analyses of European, ancient Near Eastern and Mesopotamian city-state formation.

In the Aegean in particular, the problem of state-formation involves a multi-lateral discourse (e.g., Mitchell and Rhodes 1997; Andersen et al. 1997; Small 1995; Snodgrass 1993; 1987; 1991; 1977; Coldstream 1991; Morris 1991), encompassing both historical and archeological perspectives.  While some city-states such as Athens developed complex political economies, others were smaller in size and shorter lived, representing fascinating regional variations of state-structure.   The Azoria Project focuses on a single small-scale polity, as a test case for culture change during a period of urbanization in the Iron Age Mediterranean.

The plan of work involves the identification of differentiation in patterns of animal consumption and crop processing across the site through various periods of occupation (1200-600 B.C), quantifying both relative proportions of grains, chaff, and weeds, as well as species variation in animal-bone samples, in diverse contexts.   The recognition of functional differentiation in findspots and stone-tool assemblages across the site, as well as the analysis of conditions before and after the urbanization will provide contextual and temporal frameworks for studying the floral and faunal assemblages at Azoria.  The purpose of excavation, however, is to address the very question of the chronology of city-formation and to develop a methodology for examining the process of city-state development.

The study of Greek state formation assumes an 8th century B.C. date for the appearance of cities, a radical transformation of preexisting social hierarchies and political structure, and a shift in the nature of agricultural production (Thomas and Conant 1999; Snodgrass 1987).  Changes in exchange systems and a restructuring of pastoral boundaries and herding practices occurred after the collapse of Bronze Age palace states (cf. Foxhall 1995; Morgan 1990).  The interpretation of evidence for these changes requires an integrated framework—a dialectic between faunal, botanical, environmental, and other archaeological and historical data.  Given the importance of agropastoral systems in the emergent Greek city (cf. Fisher and Van Wees 1998; Chaniotis 1995; Cherry 1988; Whittaker 1988), an excavation approaching the problem of state-formation in this culture-region should emphasize the study of plant and animal assemblages.  The present project is designed to reassess this period of culture change by framing broad questions of land use practice, social structure, and economic organization of the first cities in the Iron Age Mediterranean.  Formal and functional differentiation in architecture and habitation space and variations in artifact assemblages provide a broad framework for the study of floral and faunal remains from the site.

Agriculture and animal husbandry can be important expressions of power relations within early state societies, while food mobilization and processing are reflections of political and economic complexity (cf. Halstead 1981; 1988; Gumerman 1997).   The present project traces the development of a single polity—a typical Mediterranean city—by examining the change from small-scale domestic production to centralized food distribution systems.  The analysis of diachronic changes in patterns of crop processing would affect our picture of the economics of settlement on multiple spatial scales, while allowing us to shape a model of urbanization that utilizes archaeological evidence for human agency in sociopolitical change—the control and management of labor and resources.

2.  Theoretical Background

Since the middle of the last century urbanization has been a central issue in the study of early state formation and in addressing the question of sociopolitical complexity in the ancient Mediterranean (Adams 1966; Willey and Braidwood 1962; Childe 1950).  These questions have remained pertinent over the past decade as part of comparative analyses (Southall 1998; Rich and Wallace-Hadrill 1991) as well as in geographically and environmentally distinct case studies in Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt, and the Aegean (Van de Mieroop 1997; Pollock 1999; Schwartz 1994; Wenke 1989; 1990; Cherry 1984).  The concept of a "city-state" (Postgate 1994)—a unified town and country or a "ruralized city" (Southall 1998)—provides the notional underpinnings of the early Sumerian city as well as the Bronze Age Aegean states and the Archaic-Classical Greek polis (cf. Snodgrass 1990; Small 1995), while the city as an economic nucleus has both central-European (Wells 1984) as well as Mesopotamian (Van de Mieroop 1997) proponents.

Two dominant models of urbanization within emerging "city-state" systems are current.  One stresses the importance of the organization of staple finance within kinship and ritual frameworks (Schwartz 1994; Stein 1994; Halstead 1988; Halstead and O'Shea 1982); the other stresses wealth finance and production and exchange on various spatial scales (e.g. Wells 1984; Sherratt and Sherratt 1993).  Both models tend to emphasize the nature and extent of regional integration—the symbolic or functional connection between center and hinterland—and the complex relationships between local agropastoral production, non-agricultural manufacturing, the organization of labor, and external exchange networks.  The proposed dynamic interaction on which these models are based is at the core of theoretical and synthetic studies of the Greek Early Iron Age (Foxhall 1995; Whitley 1991)—and indeed historical models for the emergence of the classical Greek city—but it has not been tested empirically through systematic archaeological excavation and environmental survey in any specific example of an emergent urban nucleus in Early Iron Age Greece.  The Azoria Project provides such a case study.   The aim of fieldwork is to recover enough evidence to make connections between changing sociopolitical systems within the town and changing contexts and practices of food production and land use.

Archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological data may provide a much-needed framework for tracing the social processes in question: the establishment of cities as cultural or economic responses to the opposing tendencies of local agrarian and kinship structures and extra-regional and extra-insular exchange systems.   Agricultural production and animal husbandry form the basis of the ancient economy, while shaping and maintaining social and political relationships within societies.  Food distribution and crop processing, in particular, are as much parts of daily subsistence strategies of the community as functions of the organizational structure of the state.  Recent zooarchaeological work (e.g. Crabtree 1990; Deland 1994; Gumerman 1997) has pioneered such approaches, which are now being extended to palaeoethnobotany (Weber 1999). Building on these studies, a simple working hypothesis for the Azoria project is that there should be perceptible differences in plant assemblages dating before and after the urbanisation process. Centralisation and homogenisation in certain contexts—a shift from a strong diversity in crop processing patterns to more homogeneous situations—could be connected to the transition from small-scale domestic production to a centralised food distribution system.

Historical models of early Greek state formation presuppose a shift from either pastoral or mixed village-farming communities (Thomas and Conant 1999; Donlan and Thomas 1993; cf. Cherry 1988), with a chiefdom or big-man structure (Whitley 1991; Donlan and Thomas 1993) to more integrated sociopolitical and economic systems, with complexly stratified social organization, involving trade, and more extensive exploitation of the outfield lands surrounding nascent cities.  A shift from infield garden cultivation, characteristic of village-farming groups, to more specialized, extensive, and controlled exploitation of marginal environments should be detectable in the faunal and floral record of the Azoria site.   Defining and understanding the evidence for such a change would have implications on two spatial and organizational scales: the site and the region.   On the level of the site we will look for contexts that suggest sociopolitical structure—such as the differentiation in house types; the appearance of special-function buildings (hearth temples; industrial areas; storage); variable contexts and differential distribution of metallurgical technology and eastern Mediterranean imports.  On the level of the region we will assess carrying capacity of different environmental zones, reconstructing a picture of the town's territory.

One multi-scalar view of the dynamics of city-formation in the Mediterranean (Sherratt and Sherratt 1993) has argued that towns on the coastal fringe developed, ca. 1000-700 B.C., in response to the revitalization of Mediterranean exchange systems, by North Syrian, Phoenician, and Cypriot traders, causing tensions between the in-land, agriculturally-based communities of the Early Iron Age and the new trading towns on the coast.  The results of the Azoria Project would form a stratigraphic test case for changes in the economic and social organization of an emerging in-land polity, impacting the current discourse on the process of city formation in the Aegean, but also contributing to the Mediterranean-wide discussion of the "secondary state" and the validity of developmental models of urbanization.

The recovery of stratified occupation areas—various stages of the town's development—presents an opportunity to employ an intensive sampling strategy, potentially retrieving a detailed cross-section of plant and animal use at the site throughout the duration of periods of state-formation in the post-Bronze Age Aegean.  That is to say, the excavation of Azoria will allow us to test existing models deductively, while recovering new data that should provide the basis for new models of human-landscape interaction throughout the duration of city-state consolidation.  We will address the question of how the community responded to their environment and utilized their local resources in the face of drastic economic and sociopolitical changes in the late second and first millennium B.C. Mediterranean.

3.  Research History

Early work at the site and intensive survey

An early American archaeologist, Harriet Boyd (1901), discovered the site of Azoria and excavated a single trench on the hilltop in 1900, revealing a stratified series of walls.  Subsequent surface exploration by Haggis in 1990 (1992) resulted in a sketch plan of the site and a re-evaluation of its size and chronology.  This intensive survey also identified an Early Iron Age settlement pattern in the broader region made up of discrete groups of sites centered on upland water supplies, arable land, and pasturage (Haggis 2001a; 1996; 1993).  He hypothesized that these clusters formed communities of interdependent villages organized in kinship groups around traditional agricultural and pastoral land.  Azoria is the largest in the group (9-10 hectares in size), and the only one to show evidence of being a town as early as 1000 B.C., with continuing occupation into the sixth century B.C.  Previous excavations at other sites in the region (Coulson et al. 1997; Day et al. 1986; Gesell et al. 1983; 1985; 1988; 1995), have revealed interesting chronological patterns pointing to the abandonment of smaller sites and the long-term movement of population to Azoria (Haggis 1996).  A central goal of the Azoria project is to explore this process of population nucleation and urbanization within an already well-established community of place and territory, principally defined by the distribution of villages and their associated agricultural and pastoral lands.

4.  Research Objectives

Sizeable samples of plant and animal remains are needed to investigate changes in the agrarian economy that accompanied the shift from rural to urban settlement.  The main objective in 2003 is to expose four comparable occupational contexts of house units—stratified features representing storage, production, and consumption areas—in four different periods of the site's use: Late Minoan (Late Bronze Age) IIIC (1200-1100 B.C.); Protogeometric (1000-900 B.C.); Geometric (900-700 B.C.) and Archaic (700-500 B.C.), with the aim of implementing a chronologically comparative sampling strategy.  In subsequent seasons (2004-2005) we will diversify the sampling universe by integrating various functional and chronological contexts, while attempting to reduplicate types of context to test results of earlier seasons.

There are three basic questions that we are asking in 2003, which we will develop in subsequent seasons as we expand the areas under excavation:

(1) Are there changes in the relative quantity, ages, and consumption patterns of cattle, sheep, goat, pig, and wild fauna; and what can these tell us about how the community was using their environment from period to period?  Shifts in meat production versus secondary products—such as dairy and wool—could indicate important changes in economy and social organization of the community involving the manipulation of labor and the allocation of land for certain agricultural activities.  In neighboring Early Iron Age villages for example, herd-management practices appear to have been oriented toward local production and consumption throughout the life of the villages (cf. Klippel and Snyder 1991; 1999; Snyder and Klippel 1999).  At Azoria it will be possible to investigate the transformation of this local production economy into an exchange system of a town.  A systematic program of dry-screen sieving and sediment flotation permits recovery of small mammal and bird remains, allowing us also to determine the balance of domestic and native animal resources in this area of mountain/meadow juncture.  Azoria's faunal assemblage provides a unique opportunity to explore the sociopolitical meaning of changes in the mobilization and deposition of animal products throughout a formative period of urbanization.

The diachronic faunal analysis addresses two important questions of culture change at the end of the pre-urban phase: was the economy of the Early Iron Age pre-state community "pastoral" (cf. Snodgrass 1987; Cherry 1988) in the sense that the local economy shifted from the intensive agriculture of the Bronze Age palaces, to more localized agropastoral herding?   In what functional contexts do certain animal bones appear, and what kinds of social interaction do they suggest?  On both the mainland and Crete, cattle bones—in large proportions relative to the Bronze Age—have been found in elite, or "chieftain's," houses indicating communal dining in ritual contexts and changes in overall patterns of consumption related to the social organization of the village.  As the town of Azoria takes shape, is there a change in the volume, type, and context of animal use that might demonstrate changing social roles of consumers and differing patterns of land use?

(2) Are there changes in the kinds of domesticated and wild plants processed and consumed on site, and how do they indicate changes in the scale and condition of different microenvironments exploited and the social context of production?  The presence of wheat, and long-term plants such as olive and grapevine, in this environment, could indicate more organized, administered, and labor-intensive production or even centralized control of resources.  Barley and pulses, on the other hand, might be signs of local household production that is more characteristic of village-farming.

One aim of sampling is to define differences in how agricultural products were manipulated and redistributed on the site.  We hypothesize, for example, that a mixed group of cereals, representing crop-husbandry products and by-products in variable proportions, would be related to crop-processing activities (Hillman 1984; Jones 1984; Peña-Chocarro 1999).   The quantification of proportions of grains, chaff, and weeds in various assemblages—characterized by chronology, function, and location on the site—would give us an interesting picture of differentiation in patterns of crop processing that we can relate to social or economic structure.  The contextual focus allows for the analysis of the distribution of seeds, the assessment of the degree of homogeneity of crop types, as well as examination of methods of processing.  The latter is recoverable archaeologically through stone tool assemblages—primarily certain types of hand stones, querns, and millstones—in systemic contexts.

Are some archaeological contexts richer in wheat or in barley?  Local ethnographic evidence of barley production, along with soil studies in this environment (Haggis 1993; Morris 1994) suggest that the plants require less water, lower soil nutrients, and less labor than wheat.  Presence, absence, and relative proportions of the crops may be signs of variable socio-economic conditions of production.  Historical analogies from the region indicate that barley cultivation was widespread but largely in marginal environments, while wheat production selected certain soils and water supplies; distribution was more labor intensive and at times administered by a central authority.

Do some contexts have more clean grains, while others more chaff?  What is the proportion of weeds to grains; or is there a general scarcity of weeds?  And are there observable changes in the proportions through time?  On the one hand, contexts with clean grains and no glumes could suggest the pounding of clean grain.  Contexts rich in chaff waste, on the other hand, might indicate sieving after pounding.  In household, communal, public, and official contexts the relative proportions of clean grains and chaff could be indications of varying economic and social conditions surrounding the procurement, storage, and processing of grain.   An aim of excavation is to define a diversity of contexts, which have the potential of demonstrating the meaning of such variability across the site.

While we might expect to find significant differences in assemblages, which we could relate to the effects of urbanisation—such as centralisation of crop processing, reflected in a larger proportion of grains in a given context—the variability in the proportion of grains, chaff and weeds may be independent of a chronological tendency toward centralized control of agricultural resources.  Heterogeneity in data sets could demonstrate more complex processes of state formation: a new “public” level of economy and society could have functioned side by side with a “private” system of kin-based exploitation of resources, which simply carried on from the Bronze Age. In this view, state formation, might be seen as the progressive widening of the new communal civic sector at the expense of the old family-based one, which will never have completely disappeared.

(3) A final question the project will address concerns the broader environmental context of plant and animal consumption.  What is the viability of soils and agricultural environments in the area of the site, and what is the potential extent of arable land and human landscape modification?  The presence of certain environmentally-sensitive weed seeds on the site could indicate a corresponding type of ancient habitat.  Working with the zoologist and botanists, the soil and environmental scientists will investigate the area's potential agricultural carrying capacity and the physical contexts for stock rearing and plant cultivation, while reconstructing the depositional patterns affecting the interpretation of the use history and agricultural potential of upland terraces surrounding the site.

The soil work builds on an earlier landscape study in the region (Morris 1994; Timpson 1992; Haggis 1996).  The current plan of work involves the investigation of soils and landforms in the immediate vicinity of Azoria, particularly the agricultural terraces and inland valleys that formed the primary agricultural zone and in-field farming area for the settlement (fig. 2).  Two fundamental problems for the soil/landscape study are (1) to determine the agricultural potential of buried sediments and soils, and (2) to assess the likely range of weed types.  A soil survey was conducted from 1988 until 1990, across a twenty-five square kilometer area (fig. 1), corresponding to the zone of Haggis's intensive archaeological survey (Morris 1994).  The purpose of work in 2003-2005 is to target specific locales not sampled in the earlier mission.  The objectives are to document buried soils in the immediate region of the site, and to reconstruct the landscape history of the broader region.  The team will investigate soils using standard pedological sampling techniques and soil morphology and classification methods.

5. Data Recovery and Analysis

The excavation is exploratory.  The context of the site suggests a chronological and spatial relationship to broader-scale systems of sociopolitical and economic interaction: a change from dispersed settlement clusters of the Early Iron Age to a nucleated town center with a coastal orientation and links to the Mediterranean.  The sampling strategy is to recover, define, and reduplicate three basic categories of functional space for each period of occupation (cf. Morris 1998): domestic space (storage and industrial); public space (storage, industrial, cultic); and common space (open courts and waste areas).  The aim of work in 2003 is to define and sample diverse functional contexts and then in subsequent seasons, develop strategies for recovering diachronic patterns.

There are three primary advantages of the study of urbanization in the context of a small Aegean town. (1) The scale of the investigation is small enough to permit us to recover a number of specific architectural components of the site's economic, social, religious, and political organization.  (2) The regional context is sufficiently established so as to make possible a meaningful assessment of land use and socioeconomic relationships of the site with the hinterland.  (3) The lack of evidence of extensive subsequent occupation on the site (in Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods) indicates a largely pristine—or abandonment phase—condition.  This rare state of preservation invites questions not only of the site's foundation and development, but also of the causes of its ultimate abandonment in the milieu of the sixth and fifth century B.C. Mediterranean.

(a) Excavation (general strategy)

The area of exposed and visible architecture exceeds 8.0 ha.  We estimate conservatively a total area of about 9.0 –10.0 ha. for the site.  The target area is the top of the hill, about 6.0 ha., covering both north and south hillocks.  We have acquired for excavation the hilltop and immediate slopes, and will concentrate samples within areas comprising 2.0-3.0 ha. total.  Five excavation seasons are planned—three within the present grant period—each one consisting of seven weeks of fieldwork and three weeks of study.

During the first season in 2002, we will have conducted surface cleaning, test trenching, and full-scale excavation, utilizing aerial photographs and the topographical plan generated in 2001.  The target areas and visible remains are sufficiently definable on the surface so as to preclude the initial use of magnetometer or resistivity survey.  A team from the Institute for Aegean Prehistory Study Center will be implementing ground-penetrating radar (GPR) in order to experiment with the technique in a rugged mountain site and limestone/phyllite environment.  GPR is not, however, part of our methodology or sampling strategy.

One purpose of excavation is to expose sufficiently wide and contiguous areas of the site so as to determine as much as possible of the internal layout and organization of architectural components of the town. The purpose of the extensive strategy at Azoria is to examine functional differentiation of architecture and habitation space across the site, considering the relationship between public and private space, and habitation, civic, and religious spheres of activity.  We will employ a coarse 20 x 20 m. diagnostic grid for exposing individual architectural spaces (e.g., rooms, external space, partially covered/enclosed)—definable areas that can stand as basic sample units.  Sections and sub-sampling will be conducted as loci within the architectural spaces, while the division of the grid into smaller study units (5 x 5 m. trenches) will be employed at the outset, and in areas where no reasonably clear architecture is evident on the surface or after initial surface cleaning.  The intensive strategy is designed to recover a complete sequence of phases of the site's use by systematic soundings in each of the sampled areas.

(b) Analyses

The analysis of floral and faunal material will take place in the field laboratory at the Institute for Aegean Prehistory Study Center for East Crete; some comparative study will also take place in the Wiener Laboratory of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, which houses a comparative collection of Aegean flora and fauna.

The recovery of animal bones and carbonized plant remains requires the use of both dry sieving and flotation.  "Intensive-sampling loci," will be designated areas of primary or secondary human deposition, features, and objects—such as floors, habitation deposits on or above floors, hearths, storage and waste pits, fill, and vessels.  The aim of sampling is to document the total volume of the matrix of these loci, controlling the specific areas and amounts sampled, thereby allowing for quantitative comparison of the density, preservation, and species identified across the site.  Our plan is to sample a manageable percentage of the matrix, and 100% of obvious discrete deposits, such as bins, hearths, pits, and pot contents.  Floors and exterior living surfaces will be gridded in one-meter (or smaller) squares across the surface area, and collected using one-liter buckets, which are one tenth the size of a "zembili"—large rubber buckets which will form the standard excavation measure for each locus.  The purpose is to derive a measurable percentage of the matrix, while locating discrete samples across the entire area, collecting regularly room corners, sides, and quadrants. A sieving team will be in the field to separate and record the volume of sediment for flotation, to dry sieve 100% of the remaining matrix from each locus, and to help to identify and recover individual bones, shells, and carbonized remains, that might result from the sieving process.

After flotation, both heavy and light fractions will be sorted.  Previous experience—at neighboring sites in the Azoria area—has shown that in this situation a large quantity of charred material may remain in the residue.  The heavy fraction will be sorted with naked eye, while the flot under a low-powered stereo microscope using 10x-30x magnification.  Identification will be carried out using the microscope, comparing the archaeological material with a modern seed reference collection, aided by identification manuals and seed atlases.  While the identification of species is particularly problematic in the case of the cereals—because of changes in the shape of the grain during charring processes and the overlapping of grain morphology between different species—chaff identification is generally regarded as more objective than the grain determination, and in the case of glume wheat chaff, identification is often straightforward if the remains are sufficiently well preserved (Hillman et al. 1996).

The pedological investigation will focus on the types of plants that grow in particular areas, the age of soil and soil development, the soil’s ability to contain excess water, and anthropogenic effects that relate to the development of the broader landscape.  A "factorial" approach views soil formation as a function of five major factors: climate, organisms, relief, parent material, and time plus unspecified subsidiary factors.  Soil mapping units will be determined by selecting type pedons, conducting detailed morphological descriptions, and interpreting laboratory data from samples collected from the soil profiles.  The polypedon concept is based on the assumption that a typical soil profile or pedon is representative of the characteristics of that landscape unit.  A number of soil profiles will be selected to represent soil survey units in the survey zone.  The mapping scale used will be approximately 1:30,000.   Soil morphological descriptions are the first step in understanding the soils lateral extent on the landscape.  Descriptive data such as soil color, texture, depth to rock, horizonation and soil structure are used classify and determine use models.

6.  Significance of Research

(a) State-formation in the Early Iron Age Mediterranean

The study of Early Iron Age Greece (ca. 1200-600 B.C.) has gone through a transformation in the past two decades because of the recovery of new sites through surface survey, and the examination of environmental contexts (Snodgrass 1987; 1991; 1993; Morris 2000; Foxhall 1995; McDonald, Coulson, Rosser 1983).   While the period comprises the most important formative stage in the establishment of city-states in the Aegean, floral and faunal data and well-documented environmental contexts are few.  The Azoria project excavation provides a stratigraphic sequence from an urban site that can provide diverse samples of occupation deposits, rich enough to trace changes in land use and economy through the duration of the period.

(b)  Palaeoethnobotany and State-formation

Assessing variability in crop processing, as evidence for changing social behavior in the transition from pre-state to state society, is an approach that has not yet been followed in many Mediterranean contexts.  In the Greek Aegean, where there were at least two separate phases of state formation, it has not been conducted at all.  Previous work in Greece (cf. Jones 1984) has, however, shown the feasibility and indeed the imperative of this kind of work.  The Azoria project integrates perspectives from both North American and European archaeology toward a new approach to urbanization and state-formation on the Mediterranean fringe.

One goal is to fill important gaps in the palaeobotanical data for the Aegean.  Even though long-term climatic and environmental data are available from Middle Paleolithic onwards for several regions including Crete (Moody, Rackham, and Rapp 1996; Bottema 1994), there are fewer than ten sites on the island for which there are published palaeoethnobotanical studies (cf. Jones 1981); and the focus of work remains centered on issues of social storage in Late Bronze Age palatial contexts (cf. Halstead 1981; 1988; Christakis 1999).  Early carbonized plant remains from Upper Paleolithic-Mesolithic Franchthi Cave in mainland Greece, and Neolithic-Bronze Age contexts from across the Aegean provide the bulk of the data on macroscopic plant remains.  There are, therefore, significant gaps for later Iron Age and historical periods (Hansen 1991; 1994), with only a handful of sites actually spanning the Bronze Age and Classical periods.  Thus, there has been little effort to reconstruct subsistence patterns in the context of discussion of emerging complexity.  The aim of the Azoria project is to fill these lacunae in the palaeobotanical record for the Aegean, while relating the data directly to other categories of archaeological evidence in effort to examine processes of economic and sociopolitical change in the rise of a single city-state.

The study of carpological assemblages from an Early Iron Age Mediterranean urban site has several interesting implications. First, the approach looks at both "before and after" phases of urbanization as well as more complexly stratified assemblages across the site, allowing us to introduce and develop theoretical frameworks. The coexistence of different circuits of crop processing in the same community, for example, would resonate with heterarchical structure (Ehrenreich et al. 1995; Haggis 2001b).  In this view, there may be no unilinear transition from simple to complex forms of organization, but rather the progressive overlaying of different and intersecting power networks.  In practice, this means that different individuals would have differing production (and social) roles in different contexts, an idea that might go some way toward explaining heterogeneity in crop assemblages across sites and deposits.  A community on the way to becoming urbanized may not have simply replaced a primitive production system with a more advanced one.  Rather, the dynamic would probably involve the spread of new economic links, typically associated with statal administration, over traditional and still-functioning kin-based systems. This interplay of different identities—personal, kin-based, and civic—seems to offer a much more vivid and perhaps explanatory framework for the early Greek states (cf. Small 1995).

(c)  Anthropology and Archaeology

The disciplinary and frequently methodological division between "anthropological archaeology" and "classical archaeology" is seemingly an American institutional divide that is less firmly rooted in the aims, methods, and interests of researchers than in geographic or cultural emphasis and university structure (cf. Kluckhohn 1961; Humphreys 1978; Renfrew 1980; Gernet 1981; Morris 1994; 2000).  In the study of the Early Iron Age in the Greek Aegean, the division has all but dissolved (e.g., Morgan and Whitelaw 1991; Morris 1987; 1991; 1996; 1998; 2000; Shanks 1999; Snodgrass 1991; 1993; Small 1995; Whitley 1991).  In the field of classical archaeology, the problem orientation of the present project addresses directly and concretely questions of city-state formation, Aegean state-formation, and the social organization of early Greek society.  In the field of anthropology, it engages a current discourse in the development of complex societies, the nature of wealth-finance and staple finance systems in early emergent states, and the issues of environment and scale in understanding the relationship between rural and urban structures.  The geographic and chronological scope of the Azoria Project presents an opportunity to address very basic anthropological questions of culture change in the context of city and city-state formation, utilizing data that allow for both regional and diachronic perspectives on the cultural complexity in the first millennium B.C. Mediterranean.

The stratigraphic examination of household and community economy, and human-landscape interaction at an Early Iron Age site on Crete augments significantly our knowledge not only of the resource base of early communities on the verge of becoming cities, but also of the process of urbanization in the Mediterranean area.  This process is potentially definable and comparable across the diverse environments and cultures in the Mediterranean basin.  Most important is that the project is interdisciplinary, bringing together archaeologists with widely differing experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives to form diverse dialogues on the question of the emergence of cities.  The participation of zooarchaeologists, palaeoethnobotanists, physical anthropologists, and geomorphologists presents an excellent opportunity to integrate the results of a wide range of analyses into the study of human-environment interaction; to examine the occupants of Azoria as producers, consumers, and as agents of environmental change in the landscape.

Finally, our understanding of the origins and ultimately the form of Mediterranean civilizations, and indeed any period and place of significant human achievement, is dependent on our ability to visualize the past as not merely the sum total of the literature, art, and the physical and intellectual monuments produced by a given culture at a given time, but as diachronically changing scales of human interaction across diverse and overlapping cultural spheres of influence.  Crete is an extraordinarily complex landscape sitting at central point along major axes of interaction and exchange in the Mediterranean.   Our project conceives of excavation not only as a means of discovering the form and character of an Archaic Greek town, but also as a test case for exploring the nature of cultural complexity, the processes of urbanization, and the relationship between social and economic systems and cultural identity.
 
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