ZAGORA: We’ve been working on an archaeological project on the Greek island of Andros in October/November 2012 – and we want to share the experience with you. Check the updates on our blog!
The place: The settlement of Zagora, on the Aegean island of Andros, about two hours by ferry from mainland Greece.
The time of the settlement: Almost three thousand years ago, from around 900 BCE to 700 BCE.
Why Zagora is special: The people of Zagora left around 700 BCE. We’re not sure why but it may have been that the water supply dried up and could no longer support them. The area was not resettled – which means that the buildings were left as they had been lived in. Zagora is like a snapshot in time.
Zagora virtual flyover video
In May 2012, The University of Sydney produced a trial 3D model of the Zagora site, placed into Google Earth, which we provide here to give you a better picture of the site and the layout of the settlement.
Many other archaeological sites have been ruined by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or the ravages of war. Or their architecture and artefacts portray a less clear picture due to successive periods of habitation by different peoples, obscuring or confusing the evidence of earlier habitation.
The settlement layout at Zagora – over 6.7 hectares – was not disturbed by subsequent settlement. The building materials weren’t used to modify the buildings or moved to make different structures with them, as is often the case where there have been successive settlements.
Of course not much remains standing after almost 3,000 years; the buildings collapsed where they had stood. But the building layout remains, along with objects and object pieces – mostly pottery, in the rooms where they had been stored and used. This provides clear evidence of how life was lived at Zagora – which is extremely rare among central Aegean Early Iron Age sites.
Much has been discovered even though only 10% of the site has been excavated – revealing 55 stone-built rooms. We wonder what our further exploration in 2012, 2013 and 2014 will reveal….
The 1960s/70s digs: It was an Australian team, led by Sydney University Archaeology Professor Alexander Cambitoglou, that in the late 1960s and early 70s conducted (under the auspices of the Archaeological Society at Athens) the first major excavations of the site. This revealed much of the settlement layout, and many of the artefacts discovered are now in the Archaeological Museum of Andros.
The 2012 – 2014 digs: Now, 40 years later, we have returned, thanks to an Australian Research Council (ARC) grant, to continue the exploration. The grant was awarded to the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sydney and the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens. The Powerhouse Museum, the Archaeological Society at Athens and the Institute for Mediterranean Research (Crete) are major participants in this important project.
The fieldwork took place for six weeks from mid October to late November 2012, and excavation seasons are also planned for 2013 and 2014. We used 21st century methods of geophysical survey, and digital recording mapping to add breadth and depth to our knowledge of this unique town.
Why this website?: Thanks to the internet, we have been able to share with an immediacy not possible before, our work as we explore this unique archaeological site.
We are hoping for answers to many questions. Might the migration of people from Zagora have contributed to, or been caused by, the process that led to the development of the Greek city-states and culminated in the flourishing of Athens around the 5th century BCE?
This period, known as the Golden Age, is revered for the development of the city-state (polis) and democracy, the burgeoning of philosophy and the sciences, and the flourishing of theatre – all of which have had a huge influence on western civilisation.
We believe we can better understand ourselves now if we understand our past. And with that better understanding, we may make wiser, more sustainable decisions about our future. We hope to share our joys of discovering our human past and we are especially keen to engage high school students in this journey.
This Zagora project provides a rare opportunity through the web to engage the general public and students in a real archaeological project.
Website overview: This website has been designed, and continues to be developed with a broad audience in mind (with parts particularly tailored for secondary school students and teachers) whom we hope to inform, educate and inspire about the story of our human past through archaeology.
We have completed a highly productive first archaeological season at Zagora, in October / November 2012; with planning now underway for the second season proposed to take place in September / October 2013 (a third is proposed for 2014).
We blogged from the island of Andros during the 2012 season. The realities of working in the field six days most weeks meant that we simply didn’t have time to publish posts on what was happening every day in the field – especially given that many of the early archaeology posts were fairly detailed – about the scientific analyses being undertaken at the site to inform where excavations would take place.
So there is a great deal more we wish to share with you in the coming months, using the ideas, stories, photography and video we have from the 2012 season – check for updates in the Zagora dig blog and the Around Andros blog (available from the 3rd and 4th menu items, above). And we hope to take up the blog again from Zagora, Andros, in September 2013. The background / education pages in the Learning about archaeology and Zagora pages will also be updated and added to in the coming months.
Our invitation to you: We invite you to comment on our blog. Let us know what engages you and what content you would like to see on this website. We look forward to our conversations with you.