Institute for Mediterranean Studies

Application of Near-surface Geophysical Tools and GIS for Mapping the Ancient City of Lefkas

Whether it was called “Nirikos” or “Lefkas”, the area opposite the Acarnanian coast was inhabited from the early times. At this strategic point the Corinthians founded their colony, “Lefkas”, during the 7th century B.C. Excavations initiated in 1901 by the German Archaeological Institute revealed parts of the ancient wall and the theatre. Rescue excavations, contracted by the Greek Archaeological Service during the last two decades, enabled the partial reconstruction of the classical city’s topography. The city walls are well preserved in the northern and western part, while some eastern parts are visible near the coast. Problematic, however, is the direction of the southern part of the wall. Geophysical investigations were carried out in two phases, employing vertical magnetic gradient and soil resistance techniques. Mapping was focused in the southern limits of the ancient city. Geophysical data was able to identify a number of characteristics of the ancient city plan. The urban system was verified, consisting of parallel and vertical streets forming large building blocks. Drainage pipes were found to be running to the sides of the roads. Further to the south, the density of architectural remnants decreases, suggesting a potential location for the southern wall of the city. Similarly, a crossroad found in the SE corner of the surveyed region could be projected to lead towards the cemetery to the west and towards the port to the south. Aerial images of the area were registered to the topographic map and enhanced using image processing techniques. A similar methodology was followed for the processing of hyper-spectral satellite imagery (ASTER). All geographical data was imported to a GIS, in which the different geophysical layers were overlaid. Interpretation of the geophysical anomalies (in vector format), together with the resulting images, can provide supplementary information and be used for conservation and development planning.

  • Apostolos Sarris