An intro to Zagora work mornings

Zagora headland at dawn
The Zagora headland as you see it walking down the path in the early morning light. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
by Irma Havlicek

I thought it may be useful to 2014 Zagora Archaeological Project (ZAP) team members who have not yet been to Zagora to get a picture of the site and how the day’s work generally commences. (This year’s excavation season starts next Monday, so many team members will be travelling to Andros this week.)

Breakfast is usually at 5.30am in the Kantouni pensione dining room, with departure for the site in the various Zagora vehicles at 6am. Start times can change according to sunrise time. The aim is to get to Stavropeda, where the vehicles are parked for the day, as the sun is rising, so that team members have enough light to safely walk down the rocky path to Zagora. Safety is ALWAYS the primary consideration. Stavropeda is about a 20-minute drive from the Kantouni at Batsi.

Meg and Lesley compile a list each day which determines which vehicles people will travel in that day. Factors affecting who will travel in which vehicle include what work is required on site and what equipment needs to be transported in the vehicles. One of the vehicles has to go to the Archaeological Museum in Chora at the end of each working day, to take any excavated material there for cleaning, sorting and storing. There are a number of approved drivers assigned to each hire vehicle; Meg and Lesley also decide who will drive each vehicle for the day. There will be a number of vehicles hired during the project, including three mini-vans/people-movers, a 4-wheel-drive vehicle for use on the rougher tracks and two smaller vehicles.

Team members waiting by a vehicle outside the Kantouni, in preparation for the drive to Stavropeda
Assembling in the morning near one of the the vehicles outside the Kantouni Pensione, in preparation for the drive to Stavropeda, and then the walk down the path to Zagora. In the foreground at left, Stavros Paspalas, one of the three ZAP directors, is checking his phone. There are frequent logistics for the ZAP directors to deal with daily. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek

Because Meg and Lesley are so meticulous in organising the travel arrangements, we can all rest assured (even those of us who may take a little longer getting up the hill at the end of the day) that the car will still be waiting for us at Stavropeda when we get there.

Team members waiting by a vehicle outside the Kantouni, in preparation for the drive to Stavropeda
Team members waiting by a vehicle outside the Kantouni, in preparation for the drive to Stavropeda. There was a slight delay in departing this morning; usually it is darker when we set off. The red bags seen in the back of the van contain our lunches – another part of the logistics that must be managed daily. Usually there are bread rolls with a variety of cheeses, meats, boiled eggs, tomato, cucumber, tuna, etc, and we assemble our sandwiches according to our preference near the dig hut at Zagora. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek

Here are some photographs which show you how work days tend to begin:

Dawn view on walk to Zagora
Sometimes the glorious views on the dawn walk down to Zagora quite take your breath away. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
Early morning view of walk to Zagora
Another early morning view of the walk to Zagora. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
Zagora team members walking to the site in the early morning
Overall, it is a downhill slope to Zagora but the rocky path rises and falls along the way. Here is a section of upward incline. Zagora is seen in the distance to the right of the frame. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
Team members walking down the path to Zagora
And here is a downward section of the path to Zagora (but not one of the very steep bits). © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
Team members walking down to Zagora; Kristen Mann and Andrew Wilson in the foreground
Kristen Mann talking to Andrew Wilson on the path down to Zagora. People walk at their own pace, depending on what preparations they’ve had to make and what gear they have to carry, as well as how fit they are feeling that day. Everyone tries to get to the site as quickly as possible in order to make the most of the working day. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
Walking down the path to Zagora
Here are Kristen and Andrew again walking down the path. In front of them are other team members. You can see those at the front carrying gear to the site on their shoulders. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
The number '7' denotes the path to Zagora
Paths on Andros are marked by numbers such as this. The number ‘7’, seen here, indicates the path to Zagora. If you find another number on the path, you have taken a wrong turn. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
Carrying gear down to Zagora
Team members, Rudy Alagich (front) and Steve Vasilakis carrying gear down to Zagora. All gear needs to be carried either by people, horses, mules or donkeys. We named the red and white tower in the distance the ‘Tower of salvation’ – as it is close to the end of the climb to the top at Stavropeda, where the cars await to take us back to the Kantouni. It can be quite a gruelling climb up at the end of the day on site, especially if the weather conditions are harsh (hot, wet, windy, etc). © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
Starting the morning of work at Zagora
In this photo, a few team members have already set off for their excavation area, some are milling outside the dig hut before heading off, and a couple have just left the path and are heading across the field to Zagora. The island in the distance is the small unpopulated island of Γυάρος – transliterated as Yiaros, Giaros or Gyaros. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
Team members assemble outside the dig hut in the morning
After a day or two, everybody knows the drill. Here, team members assemble outside the dig hut to gather their equipment for the day’s work. Each site supervisor, in consultation with the ZAP directors, determines the work to be done in their excavation area. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
Setting off to Zagora excavation areas in the morning
Teams quickly gather the gear they need in the mornings and carry or wheelbarrow it to their respective excavation areas. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
Taking gear to excavation areas in the morning
Antonio Bianco is in the foreground pushing a wheelbarrow up towards the dig site he worked on in 2013. This year, 2014, Antonio will be a site supervisor. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek
This becomes a familiar and beloved view for those fortunate enough to be part of the Zagora Archaeological Project. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek

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9 thoughts on “An intro to Zagora work mornings”

    • Thanks, Malcolm and Carol. Your kind wishes are much appreciated. The team will enjoy your kind gift of wine at the Kantouni, I’m sure! Cheers, Irma

    • Thanks a lot, Robert – your kind wishes about the project and the website are much appreciated. I will pass them on to the team. The weather can certainly be challenging, with extremes of temperature, wind, humidity and rain. However the challenging weather passes, and it is always exhilarating.

  1. Hi Irma. What wonderful photos! Good luck to you and this year’s team for the season ahead – may the breeze be gentle, the days cool and the finds exciting.
    Best wishes

    • Hi Kate. So glad you like the photos. I’m sure they bring back fond memories for you. And thanks for your kind wishes – I will pass them on to the team. Cheers, Irma

  2. Fantastic photos as always Irma, takes us right there with you! No doubt you’ll find the team well and in excellent spirits when you arrive soon, all the best for another successful season and look forward to following all the archaeological adventures!

    • Many thanks, Vanessa. I’m so glad you’re following the blog again and enjoying it. I hope we’ll keep you engaged with ZAP, and look forward to your further comments. All the best.

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