Archaeological Fieldwork

The activity in the field includes surface survey, excavation, geological mapping and geophysical prospection conducted at Rodafnidia and underwater in the Gulf of Kalloni and the sea south of Lesbos. The extensive scatter of Palaeolithic artefacts in Rodafnidia requires a field research strategy founded upon four pillars.

The first is the systematic investigation of the surface around the Kalloni Gulf and along the river valleys connecting the gulf with southern Lesbos to map the distribution of archaeological remains. Emphasis is placed on the identification of outcropping layers with Palaeolithic artefacts or Pleistocene faunal remains. The appraisal of local distributions and find densities at this stage is helping to define the area of interest in spatial terms and to document the variety of habitats on Lesbos that would have been available to the Palaeolithic groups.

The second pillar consists of the opening of deep sounding trenches to identify the stratigraphic sequence, namely sondage.  At this stage, information is obtained on the geological and depositional history of the study area. 35 such trenches have been opened in Rodafnidia and Lisvori.

Horizontal excavation is conducted in places where anthropogenic remains can be identified – the third pillar of the fieldwork. In Rodafnidia, four such archaeological trenches have been opened following the principles of grands décapages. The provenance (vertical and horizontal) of the Palaeolithic remains is documented using satellite systems for recording coordinates. Sampling is also conducted to date the archaeological sequence and study the soil micromorphology, the micropalaeontology and the sedimentology. The trenches of interest opened during sondage and décapage are backfilled using geotextile and polyesterine blocks, topped by cobbles and loose earth from the excavation debris.

The archaeological investigation of the sub-surface at the heart of the archaeological site is complemented and guided by geophysical inspection methods. Geoelectrical sounding and tomography was used to capture the roof of the ignimbrite, which forms the geological background of the site, and to define the extent of the overlying clastic fluvial formation that includes the Palaeolithic remains.  

The fourth pillar of the research program is geological fieldwork on-shore and geophysical-geological survey off-shore conducted by geoscientists and oceanographers, in order to map the faults, assess the vertical and horizontal offsets they have created, reconstruct the history of the landscape and coastline of the Kalloni Gulf and southern Lesbos and to detect the sources of the raw material used in the Palaeolithic stone tool assemblages. 

The second and third pillars, investigating the sub-surface, inform the archaeology of the site, namely Onsite Archaeology, while the first and fourth pillars inform the archaeology of the landscape, namely Offsite Archaeology.