Site familiarisation

by Irma Havlicek
Powerhouse Museum Online Producer

Work day 1 – Wednesday 18 October 2012

Meg Miller, Rudy Alagich and Kristin Mann at the temple site
(l-r) Meg Miller, Rudy Alagich and Kristin Mann at the temple site © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
We got down to the site and took our packs off, leaving them in the shade of the hut which had been built some 40 years ago by the previous team of archaeologists but had been unused since. This is where we would take our morning tea and lunch breaks each day, sitting on the ground.

The first thing we did was to walk around the site to familiarise ourselves with it. We looked closely at the site of the temple and also some of the nearby buildings. It was the custom at the time of the Zagora settlement for the altar to be outside the temple; however the situation at Zagora is extremely unusual because the altar is found inside the temple – we don’t know why.

During the first two weeks of this 2012 dig season the site is being surveyed and decisions made about which areas indicate they may be productive if excavated.

Kristin Mann, Meg Miller, Rudy Alagich and Hugh Thomas at the temple site
(l-r) Kristin Mann, Meg Miller, Rudy Alagich and Hugh Thomas at the temple site; the rectangular bank of stones in the foreground is the altar © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek

Some 40 years on from the first season of excavations at Zagora in the late 1960s and early 70s*, we are able to use more advanced technologies to give us a better idea about what may be beneath the surface of the soil. (More about those technologies in a future post.)

We walked around the perimeter of the site, discussing features as we went. Andrew Wilson, an archaeologist and database specialist representing Arts eResearch at the University of Sydney, walked around the site with a GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) receiver. This device is able to plot locations on the site and also record our track around the site. The data is recorded into the device and can then be downloaded into a computer and displayed in a mapping program.

Andrew Wilson using the GPRS
Andrew Wilson using the GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) receiver – the yellow device in his left hand – to plot our site familiarisation walk around the perimeter © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek

To record positions precisely, Andrew activates the device and holds it still in each position while it records and averages its readings from the satellites. The device receives information from three satellites to resolve its position, and uses a fourth satellite to estimate the accuracy of the position.

Andrew Wilson using the GPRS
Andrew Wilson using the GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) receiver to plot our site familiarisation walk around the perimeter © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek

For the familiarisation perimeter walk, Andrew plotted the lines between the points, which shows the route we took around the site. That is shown with the red line on the image below.

Zagora plan with site familiarisation route
Zagora plan with site familiarisation route; original plan produced by J. J. Coulton, with red overlay by Andrew Wilson
Pottery sherds among the stones on the ground
Two red pottery sherds among the stones on the ground © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
A lovely atmospheric view from Zagora
A lovely atmospheric view while we were walking the perimeter of the site of Zagora © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
The glorious Aegean as seen from Zagora
The glorious Aegean as seen from Zagora during our site familiarisation walk © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek

* It was an Australian team, led by Sydney University Archaeology Professor Alexander Cambitoglou, that in the late 1960s and early 70s conducted (under the auspices of the Archaeological Society at Athens) the first major excavations of the site. This revealed much of the settlement layout, and many of the artefacts discovered are now in the Archaeological Museum of Andros.

More from the Dig Blog

Zagora dig blog
Jodi Cameron

What is Archaeological Flotation?

Flotation is one of the archaeobotanical sampling techniques used on site to investigate ancient plant remains. Flotation captures small finds including grains and seeds that would normally be missed during archaeological excavation.

Read More »

2 thoughts on “Site familiarisation”

Leave a Comment