Backfilling Zagora trenches

Backfillers silhouetted on the horizon
Heroes on the horizon, from left: Hannah Gwyther, waving the ‘come home’ flag, Steve Vasilakis and Aleese Barron signal completion of the backfilling of trenches at Zagora to ensure they are protected. © AAIA; photo by Susan Wrigley
by Irma Havlicek
Web content producer

I left Greece before the backfilling of the Zagora Archaeological Project (ZAP) trenches was completed, so Hannah Gwyther stepped in and took (and arranged others to take) photographs of the process so that we could share them with you on this blog. Thanks again, Hannah! (Most of our archaeologists, including Hannah, worked on the backfilling, although only a few are seen in these photos. I know how hard they will all have worked.)

Each trench that has been excavated was covered with protective geo-textile which was then weighed down with stones. Then soil and more stones are placed over that. The aim is to protect the trenches from any kind of environmental damage, including wind, rain and possible damage from plant roots should plants take seed there.

Now the focus is on research into the finds from the excavations at Zagora in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and the preparation of publications about that research.

Callum Ferrell, Steve Vasilakis and Meg Miller working on Zagora backfilling
Callum Ferrell (centre) passes a stone to Steve Vasilakis to place on the geo-textile which has been placed over the trench to protect it. One of the Zagora Archaeological Project directors, Meg Miller is off to fetch more stones. © AAIA; photo by Hannah Gwyther
Callum Ferrell, Meg Miller and Kostis Fragiadakis select and place stones onto the geo-textile to protect the trench
From left: Callum Ferrell, Meg Miller and Kostis Fragiadakis select and place stones onto the geo-textile to protect the trench. © AAIA; photo by Hannah Gwyther

In due course, funding will be sought to resume excavations. We expect that when excavations recommence, each of the trenches will have been well protected, and the work can be taken up again where it was left off this year.

Giorgos Moustakas from Batsi selecting stones for the backfilling
Giorgos Moustakas from Batsi selecting stones for the backfilling. © AAIA; photo by Hannah Gwyther

We hope that Hannah’s photos give you an idea of how much soil and stones were wheelbarrowed, lifted, carried and placed onto the trenches by our heroic and stoic Zagora archaeologists. Fantastic work, guys! I bet you earned your refreshments that night back at the Kantouni!

Stones are wheelbarrowed to the trench for the backfilling
Stones are wheelbarrowed to the trench for the backfilling. Working here are, in the foreground from left: Maria Karagiannopoulou, Olivier Vanwalleghen and Susan Wrigley, with Steve Vasilakis and Meg Miller in the distance. © AAIA; photo by Hannah Gwyther
One of the southern trenches after it has been backfilled and a stone barrier built around it to further protect the trench
One of the southern trenches after it has been backfilled and a stone barrier built around it to further protect the trench. This means that the ancient walls are encased and protected. © AAIA; photo by Hannah Gwyther
Steve Vasilakis and Kostis Fragiadakis place stones on a protective wall they are building around a trench
Steve Vasilakis and Kostis Fragiadakis place stones on a protective wall they are building around a trench. © AAIA; photo by Hannah Gwyther
Steve Vasilakis takes a moment to savour the sunset on the path up the hill from Zagora after a hard day's backfilling
Steve Vasilakis takes a moment to savour the sunset on the path up the hill from Zagora after a hard day’s backfilling. © AAIA; photo by Hannah Gwyther
Olivier Vanwalleghen watches the sunset from the path after a hard day's backfilling
Olivier Vanwalleghen watches the sunset from the path after a hard day’s backfilling. © AAIA; photo by Hannah Gwyther.

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2 thoughts on “Backfilling Zagora trenches”

  1. Hi, Zagora Team,
    Wonderful blog! I will be on Andros from c 16th – 26th July 2015, staying at Felos bay ( I used to live in Athens as a child in the 80s, and we’d visit Andros every summer…)
    I am fulfilling a dream by studying for a BA in Archaeology via Leicester University, and volunteer on an Iron Age site out here in Dubai where I am currently living. I imagine that things will be pretty quiet on Andros in July, and I see the trenches are backfilled until the next season can be budgeted for, but would there be any opportunity to visit Zagora even so? I would love the opportunity!
    Best wishes,
    Anelisa Lambert

    • Hi Anelissa
      It’s fantastic that you are fulfilling your dream by studying archaeology. If you’re already volunteering on a dig in Dubai, you know the wonder of discovering and connecting to the past through your fingertips and imagination. On the Andros Routes website, there are walks, including the path to Zagora from Stavropeda, marked with a ‘7’ along the path. So you will be able to walk down there. More information is here: http://www.androsroutes.gr/en/andros-paths-2/south-andros/stavropeda-arxaiologikos-xoros-zagoras/ Take water with you, especially in July. And I used a trekking pole to help with the uneven path but most walked down without one. I do hope you enjoy it. …. Just curious – how did you come across our blog? Kind regards, Irma

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