A Multi-Disciplinary Regional Survey
The Mazi Archaeological Project is a multi-component regional surface survey, focused on understanding the long-term human and environmental history of the Mazi Plain. This page presents our approaches, methods, and the preliminary results of our fieldwork, which began in 2014 with a geomorphological study and the initial season of the archaeological survey.
Our approach is rooted in Mediterranean landscape archaeology, which examines a region, rather than an individual site, as the primary focus of study. Moreover, the scope of our project is completely diachronic, aiming to document all periods of the past, in order to examine the development of settlement patterns, human-environmental interaction, land use, territoriality, and connectivity to surrounding areas. As a neatly defined unit in terms of its physical geography, the Mazi Plain presents an ideal area in which to examine these trends, situated as it is on the borders of Attica and at the confluence of several land routes.
Our methods involve well established practices in intensive pedestrian survey, involving side-by-side fieldwalking, where a team of archaeologists walks systematically through the landscape, divided into Survey Units, carefully inspecting the ground surface, noting archaeological remains and counting and collecting artifacts as they go. The result is the quantification of the spatial distribution of artifacts of all different types and periods across the entire landscape (see distribution maps below). Field teams also record all archaeological features, or aspects of the built environment, for all areas covered by the survey. Examples of features documented by MAP include buildings, walls, agricultural installations, roads, rock cuttings, wells, water channels, and burials. Each feature (like each survey unit) is assigned a number and documented through photography, GPS mapping, drawing, measurements, and detailed notes. The intensive survey is supplemented by the use of extensive survey methods, which focus on areas that are not suitable for side-by-side fieldwalking, in order to maintain as complete a form of coverage as possible. This type of extensive exploration focuses on finding and documenting features and artifact scatters and is conducted mainly around the mountainous edges of the survey area, and on wooded or difficult to access hill slopes and summits within the survey area.
In addition to the primary archaeological fieldwork of MAP, we are also carrying out various scientific approaches to landscape documentation, involving geomorphological mapping and coring, spatial analysis, remote sensing, including the analysis of WorldView-2 multispectral satellite imagery (courtesy of the DigitalGlobe Foundation), and the use of photogrammetry to create high resolution 3-D models.
See the resources and bibliography page for project publications, including annual reports published in Antike Kunst.
The 2014 Field Season
The initial season of the Mazi Archaeological Project took place over four weeks between 16 June and 11 July 2014. Fieldwork was conducted in two areas: the southeastern part of the Mazi Plain, around and between Ancient Oinoe and the Mazi Tower (Area a), and the Kouloumbi Valley, located immediately south of the Mazi Plain proper (Area b). Intensive survey was carried out over an area of approximately 2 square kilometers in Area a, supplemented by extensive survey on the hilly and wooded margins. Area b was the focus of extensive survey only in 2014, which has already yielded promising results. In total, a single intensive survey team covered 370 survey units, in which artifacts dating from the Neolithic to the present were found, collected, and studied in preliminary fashion (and are currently awaiting specialist study). Features or feature complexes were recorded in 109 locations, 68 in Area a and 41 in Area b. In addition to intensive and extensive survey, we began a thorough architectural study of Oinoe, producing already the most detailed plan of the site to date, as well as a photogrammetric model, both of which are excellent resources for further study.
The 2015 Field Season
The second field season of the Mazi Archaeological Project took place over five weeks, from 15 June to 17 July 2015. This season was a substantial expansion from the small first season, thanks to an international team of some 28 individuals. As in 2014 we used a combination of intensive and extensive archaeological survey methods, and this season included a variety of other methods: photogrammetric modeling, drone-based aerial photography, multi-spectral satellite imagery analysis, differential GPS mapping (DGPS), and geological studies – some highlights can be found on our Media page. In 2015 we conducted fieldwork in three zones of the Mazi Plain, designated Areas b, c, and e. Area b corresponds to the Kouloumbi Plain, just south of the Mazi Plain and connected to it via a short valley. Area c is located immediately north of Area a, and is the northeastern part of the survey area. Area e is the western end of the Mazi Plain, and includes the settlement and fortress of Eleutherai, at the mouth of the Kaza Pass, as well as the small Villia valley. Altogether we intensively surveyed some 1490 survey units and recorded 216 architectural features. Some highlights included detailed architectural documentation at the Eleutherai Fortress and Settlement, the discovery of a substantial prehistoric settlement, and two exciting settlements of the Byzantine period. See the interactive map below for survey areas and coverage.
The 2016 Field Season
The third field season of MAP was carried out over five weeks in the summer of 2016, from 13 June to 15 July. Work continued, and was concluded, on the intensive survey of the plain, which has now been “covered” in its entirety by systematic fieldwalking, at least as much as possible. Work focused especially on Area d, and on closing small gaps left elsewhere in previously surveyed regions. Some 35 individuals participated in the project in 2016, contributing to a major multi-component team effort. Fieldwalking in the plain was accompanied by extensive survey around the perimeter of the plain and on ridges within it, focusing especially on the surrounding mountains and slopes. As in 2015, digital technologies featured prominently in our work: multi-spectral satellite imagery was used in combination with ground-truthing to identify archaeological features, DGPS mapping was used in the mapping of architectural remains, and photogrammetric models were created for a variety of archaeological features. A geophysical survey component of the project was also introduced, in collaboration with a team from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, led by Gregoris Tsokas. We undertook cleaning operations at the site of Kato Kastanava (discovered in 2015) and at Eleutherai. Gridded collections were expanded at Kato Kastanava and carried out also at a newly discovered Byzantine settlement. Finally, preliminary analysis was completed of all artifacts collected by the survey (2014-2016), leaving us with a complete record of the archaeological field survey and data thus far collected by the project.
The Mazi Plain is complex terrain comprised of a wide range of landforms, the result of a range of geomorphological processes. Our goal is to understand the natural processes which have contributed to the formation of its landscape. The fist step of the study was to complete a preliminary study and geomorphological map of the area. The primary data for the mapping project are the topographic maps of the Hellenic Military Geographical Service scaled 1:5.000 and the geological maps of the Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration, scaled 1:50.000 (map sheets “Erythrai”-“Elefsis”). They are supplemented by the Orthophoto maps of the National Cadastral Survey, multispectral satellite imagery (courtesy of the DigitalGlobe Foundation), and extensive field work. Thematic layers for the topography, hydrography and geology were constructed using GIS. A precise Digital Elevation Model was used for creating slope and aspect maps. Slopes and lithology were subsequently classified into categories, which were combined in order to render detection criteria of landforms. Finally, with the appropriate combination of colors and symbols, the geomorphological map of the study area was produced, providing crucial context for the archaeological survey. This was supplemented by a series of corings in 2015, in order to render a detailed picture of lanscape development through time. This research is conducted in collaboration with MAP, by Prof. Kosmas Pavlopoulos, Dr. Dimitrios Vandarakis, and Nikos Liosis, from Harokopio University, Department of Geography.
A note on navigating the map: Mac users may need to hold the shift key and scroll to zoom in and out. PC users should be able to zoom by scrolling normally.