Institute for Mediterranean Studies

Neolithic Thessaly

Re-evaluation of the Dynamics of the Thessalian Neolithic Period: Habitation Patterns and Resource Management

The goal of the research project was the development of methodologies for the registration and mapping of the Neolithic settlements of Thessaly through geomorphological approaches and the use of Satellite Remote Sensing and GIS.

View the project site
http://neolithicthessaly.ims.forth.gr

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

Settled by the first farming groups of Europe around 7500 BC., Neolithic Thessaly is traditionally an interesting area for understanding human partinioning and territoriality of the landscape by non-hierarchical, 'egalitarian' human groups. Because of reasons pertaining to the peculiar geomorphological features of the Thessalian landscape, forming a closed geographical unity with well-defined limits and sub-divisions (see below), Thessaly is ideal for reconstructing the major habitational patterns of the first Neolithic farming groups of Greece, in direct relation to the features of the natural (hydrology, geology) and the human landscape (distance of sites, inter-communication patterns etc.).
Although the region always attracted the attention of scholars interested in the Neolithic period (see below), much of this international research has been relatively biased, favouring particularly the area around the Larisa plain, and leaving several other parts largely unexplored (Karditsa & Trikala) and out of the scope of settlement pattern studies. This neglect has also hindered a study of the well-known sources of 'chocolate' flint, originated from the Pindus mountains, west of the Trikala region.

Recently, an inter-site comparative study of lithic data of contemporaneous LN-FN sites of Thessaly that belonged to different topographic zones (Karimali, "Obsidian Production and Use in Thessaly: A Regional Approach", Instap funded research project, 1997-1999) verified the existence of a double system of lithic distribution in Thessaly, running in direct relation to the topography, the obsidian network falling off as moving towards the western inland and the chocolate flint network falling off as moving towards the coast. Such results stress the need to consider differences or similarities in the management of the natural landscape (water, soil, stone resources) and site distribution patterns of the human landscape (site clustering, site neighbour distance etc.) among ecological and topographic micro-zones of Thessaly.  In this present project we intend to address these issues by carrying out the following research plans:

  1. Creation of a synthetic presentation of site data from older and recent excavations and surveys in an integrated GIS module, in order to identify the causes and dynamics of Neolithic habitation patterns in the sub-parts of the region (cost distance, cost surface, viewshed, clustering, spatial correlations, proximity statistics and analysis, topographic and landscape settings, etc).
  2. Geological identification of the chocolate flint sources, lying at the fringes of the Pindus mountains, and a chemical analysis of a selected number of archaeological samples of stone tools made of this material, in order to access the presence of the material in distant sites.  Use of satellite remote sensing techniques for the further identification of geological sources and lithologic mapping of the study area.
  3. Construction of a synthetic lithic data base of the most representative (studied and published) lithic assemblages in a GIS module, in order to examine the degree of site involvement in chocolate flint production and use, in relation to distance, and topography in the region.

The above modules of research will make use of the most recent technological tools such as Global Positioning Systems, Geographic Information Systems and spatial analysis modelling, clustering analysis, satellite remote sensing, chemical analysis, etc.

LIST OF MAIN PARTICIPANTS

Dr. Apostolos Sarris
Principal Investigator.  Director of Research of the Laboratory of Geophysical-Satellite Remote Sensing & Archaeo-environment, I.M.S. / F.O.R.T.H.

Dr. Lia Karimali
Principal Investigator.  Researcher, Laboratory of Geophysical-Satellite Remote Sensing & Archaeo-environment, I.M.S. / F.O.R.T.H.

Prof. Thodoros Astaras
Professor of Geology and Satellite Remote Sensing at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Dimitris Alexakis
Main researcher.  PhD candidate of the Department of Geology (Natural and Environmental Geography) of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.  PhD dissertation title: "The Employment of Geomorphology, Satellite Remote Sensing and GIS in the Mapping and Modelling of the Archaeological Site Location" (in progress, 2003-today)

Nikos Papadopoulos
PhD candidate of the Department of Geology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, I.M.S. / F.O.R.T.H.

Kostas Vouzaxakis
BA., MA., PhD candidate at the Department of History and Archaeology, University of Thessaloniki. Archaeological Service of Volos.  Ministry of Culture

Vasilis Trigkas
BA, Department of Environmental Mapping, University of Aegean.  GPS mapping and Digitization techniques, I.M.S. / F.O.R.T.H.

Giorgos Papadakis
BA, Department of Computer Science at the Technical University of Crete, I.M.S. / F.O.R.T.H.

Michalis Papazoglou
BA, Department of Computer Science at the Technical University of Crete, I.M.S. / F.O.R.T.H.

Maria Elvanidou
Graduate student at the Department of Computer Science and Department of History and Archaeology of the University of Crete.  GIS applications in Archaeology, I.M.S. / F.O.R.T.H.

Georgia Kakoulaki
Senior student at the Department of Natural Resources and Environment of the Technological Institute of Crete, Chania Section, I.M.S. / F.O.R.T.H.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL DATA BASE

An archaeological data base was constructed to contain the basic information regarding the sites. The collection of datasets is crucial and the specific module of research aims towards the collection of a complete dataset of all the archaeological sites from already published gazetteers and recent fieldwork and excavations together with cultural and environmental information that have played significant role in the patterning and location of sites. The database has been constructed in Access and SQL and it has the ability to communicate with the GIS platform. The fields of the database are:

  • General Information of sites: Site Name, Toponyms, Code/s from previous researchers, Prefecture, Municipality
  • Attributes: Dimensions, altitude, coordinates
  • Comments: Comments about the environment around the sites
  • Chronological phase: Chronological phase/s of the archaeological site
  • Excavation: Kind of excavation, period of excavation, excavator
  • Researchers: Researchers that have work to the specific sites
  • Bibliography: Author, Title of Book, Title of article
  • Archaeological Survey: Kind of survey, period of survey, researcher
GEOLOGICAL DATABASE

An archaeological data base was constructed to contain the basic information regarding the sites. The collection of datasets is crucial and the specific module of research aims towards the collection of a complete dataset of all the archaeological sites from already published gazetteers and recent fieldwork and excavations together with cultural and environmental information that have played significant role in the patterning and location of sites. The database has been constructed in Access and SQL and it has the ability to communicate with the GIS platform. The fields of the database are:

  • Village - City
  • Coordinates
  • Date
  • Stratigraphy details, geological formations, depth, etc.

Project Team

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