Kythera Island Project
Specific Geoarchaeological Research:
Palaeoenvironment and coastal change
Soil and bedrock mapping
Site integrity and geomorphology
Terracing and its impact

Site integrity and geomorphology

Principal Investigators:
Charles Frederick (Independent)
Nancy Krahtopoulou (Sheffield)

Quarry section showing Site 027
Quarry section revealing Second Palace walls and a pit (Site 027). Surface remains in this area were limited due to quarrying and the site was identified through geoarchaeological prospection. Photography by C. Broodbank 2000.
Geoarchaeological survey adds a new loop to the process of site identification. The methods are deliberately different from typical intensive line-walking (see the Archaeological Survey section from the above menu), and place greater emphasis on exploiting informative 'windows’ on the landscape (standing sections, high visibility areas, particularly dynamic geomorphological zones, etc.). This has led to the recognition of certain site categories whose detection by standard survey methods is problematic.

i. lithic sites dominated by local cherts and quartzes — although such materials are found during normal survey, they represent a low-visibility type for fieldwalkers more attuned to recognising pottery and obsidian.
ii. steep slope sites in areas that would require contour terracing if their vicinity were to be cultivated. These are almost always encountered in road sections, often in areas unsuitable for regular field-walking, and are conspicuously post-prehistoric (mainly Classical to Late Roman) in date.
iii. sites along the Palaiopolis river, revealed in its bank where it emerges from bedrock confinement onto its primary alluvial plain ca.1.5km upstream of Kastri. During the winter floods of 2000, the outer cut-bank was intensively scoured, revealing our first glimpse of the late Pleistocene and Holocene deposits of this large and very active river.

Environs map or Site 028
Environs map of Site 028 (5x5m collection grid shown in centre). Notes made on the geoarchaeological assessment forms use this map as a reference point.
Within the three broad geoarchaeological study zones, small-scale site environs mapping was also conducted to assess the contextual integrity of sites identified during survey. At a general level, these evaluations provided useful new information on the nature and integrity of the deposits at some 70 survey sites, and integrated the geoarchaeological work with the survey in a manner uncommon, if not unique, in Aegean archaeology.

These evaluations are designed to assess preservation and contextual integrity, and to search, on a microscale, for places where occupational materials may lie buried or undetected by the pedestrian survey. They involve detailed examination of all vertical exposures within about a 100m radius of each site, as well as more detailed geomorphological mapping (geoarchaeological site assessment form).

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