Archaeological transect survey

by Irma Havlicek
Powerhouse Museum Online Producer

Paul Donnelly, Jane McMahon and Taryn Gooley walking down the steep slope to do a transect survey
Paul Donnelly, Jane McMahon and Taryn Gooley walking down the steep slope to do a transect survey © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
Over the last week, we started a new phase of the project – a transect survey.

The Zagora Archaeologcal Project team leaders, Professor Meg Miller, Dr Lesley Beaumont and Dr Stavros Paspalas, are doing their utmost to develop the most comprehensive possible picture of the site and also the area around it to find evidence of human use during the settlement period. This is necessary so they can plan the excavations for this season and potential future seasons.

Initial indications since the first survey seasons in the 1960s and 70s have been that settlement activity was fairly much contained within the settlement walls on the plateau at the top of the hill.

However, the Zagora team leaders want to ensure that nothing is overlooked, so they have decided to undertake a transect survey of the surrounding areas of the walled settlement area, including the ledges and the (very!) steep slopes down to the bay.

This transect survey requires team members to walk the surrounding locations at a distance of about 20 metres from each other in a wide sweep.

The only artefacts to be collected are those considered significant: for example diagnostic pottery pieces such as rims, bases, handles and anything with decoration (painted or incised).

In our briefing before this new phase began, it was made clear that safety is the primary consideration. The team leaders made it clear they want to get to the end of the season without injuries, so cautioned against heroics and no bravado.

As well as collecting significant artefacts, team members were asked to look carefully at the environment they were walking through and to note anything which may have had an impact on the settlement, for example iron ore or seams in rocks.

This transect survey will be of considerable help in understanding Zagora and its surrounds. The team is hoping to gather a picture of what features and artefact types and numbers occur in which parts of the surrounding area. And then to try to understand why.

Team members walking down the steep slope to do a transect survey
Team members walking down the steep slope to do a transect survey © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek

So for the last few days, team members have been heroically climbing down the cliff and back up, as well as the usual daily climb down to the site, and back up.

Oh, did I mention that, because our time is running out, they are working even longer hours in the field as well?

Did I also mention that archaeology is not for the faint-hearted? Here are some pictures of our team bravely climbing down into the depths below Zagora.

Team members walking down the steep slope to do a transect survey
Team members walking down the steep slope to do a transect survey © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
Team members walking down the steep slope to do a transect survey
Team members walking down the steep slope to do a transect survey © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
Team members walking down the steep slope to do a transect survey
Team members walking down the steep slope to do a transect survey © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
Team members walking down the steep slope to do a transect survey
Team members walking down the steep slope to do a transect survey © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
Stavros Paspalas, Meg Miller and Lesley Beaumont walking down the steep slope to do a transect survey
Meg Miller, Lesley Beaumont and Stavros Paspalas walking down the steep slope to do a transect survey © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
Paul Donnelly, Jane McMahon and Taryn Gooley walking down the steep slope to do a transect survey
Paul Donnelly, Jane McMahon and Taryn Gooley walking down the steep slope to do a transect survey © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
Paul Donnelly, Jane McMahon and Taryn Gooley walking down the steep slope to do a transect survey
Paul Donnelly, Jane McMahon and Taryn Gooley walking down the steep slope to do a transect survey © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
Meg Miller, Lesley Beaumont and Stavros Paspalas walking down the steep slope to do a transect survey
Meg Miller, Lesley Beaumont and Stavros Paspalas walking down the steep slope to do a transect survey © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek

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