Greek Archaeology a Survey of Recent Work

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  Greek Archaeology: A Survey of Recent WorkAuthor(s): Robin OsborneReviewed work(s):Source: American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 108, No. 1 (Jan., 2004), pp. 87-102Published by: Archaeological Institute of America Stable URL: . Accessed: 26/02/2012 05:00 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at  . is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact  Archaeological Institute of America  is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to  American Journal of Archaeology.   reek Archaeology Survey of ecent Work ROBIN OSBORNE Abstract This survey of work in Greek archaeology since ca. 1990 examines how recent excavation and analysis has related to the questions that seemed most important in Greek archaeology in the 1980s. It focuses in particular on three themes. It argues that archaeological surface survey and the analysis of its findings need to be brought into closer dialogue with the burgeoning work on re- gionalism n the archeological record. It notes that ques- tions of state formation have been replaced by consider- ation of the articulation of communities, whatever heir political form or status, and draws attention to the need for more work on the way n which ndividuals nd groups selected material for deposition in both sanctuary and cemetery and for the need for closer attention to urban forms. It celebrates the growth of work on the iconogra- phy of painted pottery and suggests that there remains scope for further work on objects and images in their chronological context and in the contexts of their use and deposition. In conclusion it draws attention to the absence from recent work of attempts to delineate the big picture and of the necessity or such attempts f the full range of the subject is going to be taught effectively to the next generation of students.* This survey of Greek archaeology over the last decade or so has two aims. It attempts to look at what has been done, and to summarize the direc- tion in which Greek archaeology has been head- ing. It attempts also to think about what has not been done, and to offer a view of what needs to be done in the future. Any such survey must necessar- ily be an individual view; that readers of AJA are being subjected to this idiosyncratic view, but not for the views expressed, the Editor must take re- sponsibility. THE SCOPE AND ORGANIZATION OF THIS SURVEY Greek archaeology s, for the purposes of this article, given narrow bounds, both chronologically and geographically. The way n which we are trained in Greek archaeology itself creates the false impres- sion of Bronze Age and Iron Age Greek archaeolo- gy being worlds apart; regrettably, however, I can claim no competence in Bronze Age archaeology, and I discuss here only the study of the material culture of the Greek mainland and Aegean islands between the Dark Age and the Roman empire. Al- though some comment will be passed on archaeo- logical relations between Greece and the wider Mediterranean world, I make no attempt systemat- ically to consider the archaeology of Greek settle- ments and settlers in that wider world. Such a re- striction reinforces the unhelpful divisions creat- ed by modern nation states, and necessarily gives the quite inappropriate impression that such a boundary meant something in antiquity.1 But such a restriction was necessary in order to allow breadth in another direction: this survey does aim to con- sider the analysis of all material culture, including art history, and not merely its recovery n excavation or surface survey.2 I begin with a retrospective look at the interests and innovations of Greek archaeology in the 1980s, and proceed to trace the fate of those themes since. I then turn to the ways in which Greek archaeolo- gists in the last decade have made accessible new bodies of data or drawn attention to new questions. The aim of this paper is to assess the general direc- tion and shape of recent archaeological enquiry; as a result much work is cited exempli ratia and neither the presence nor the absence of a particular study should be taken as a judgment upon its quality. THE LEGACIES OF GREEK ARCHAEOLOGY FROM THE 1980S Looking back on the 1980s, there are three par- ticular areas around which debate centered: survey archaeology, state formation and the birth of the polis, and approaches to painted pottery. From tentative beginnings in the 1970s, survey archaeology had become central enough to the in- terests of Greek archaeologists by 1981 to bring about a major conference in Athens, published in 1983.3 The early 1980s saw lively discussion about field methods, including questions of selection of areas for survey, and the publication of the first full * I am grateful o Ian Morris nd Julia Shear or comments on an earlier draft of this survey. 1 For he inappropriateness f such an approach, ee partic- ularly Horden and Purcell 2000. 2 This survey hus covers very much the material also cov- ered by what must now be the first port-of-call or all students of Greek archaeology, Whitley 2001. Whitley has interesting things to say on virtually ll the topics discussed below. 3 Keller and Rupp 1983; Cherry 1994 for a retrospective. 87 American Journal of Archaeology 08 (2004)87-102  88 ROBIN OSBORNE [AJA108 report of a survey, hat on Melos.4 By the late 1980s survey had sufficiently come of age for it to be intro- duced to the general reader and for some prelimi- nary general synthetic conclusions to be drawn from the earliest published data.5 The interest in and energies devoted to survey archaeology had various more general effects. One was to direct attention to the countryside and to is- sues of settlement pattern, issues which also were pertinent to the interpretation of excavated sites and were taken up and debated even for areas for which no systematic survey had been carried out or was possible (for example, the old issue of the nature of settlement in classical Attica was revived in the 1980s). Another was to direct attention to the longue duree: xcavators uncover remains period by period, but surface survey collects simultaneously data from the whole range of periods from which human activ- ity has left remains. The issues of change that can be so hard to track in excavation are literally on the surface for surveyors. One consequence of this was to encourage explanation of change in terms of long- term factors of social or economic change, rather than short-term factors of political history. Another consequence of this was to raise to greater promi- nence the archaeology of periods that had long been neglected. This was true above all for the late Ro- man period, evidence for occupation in the coun- tryside during which was omnipresent in surveys but of which there had been little prior study. Part of the impetus toward surface survey came from the wider world of archaeology, and not least New World archaeology. So too, state formation was an issue that archaeologists had taken up from an- thropologists. In the 1970s it had been possible for a Greek archaeologist to write about the eighth cen- tury without directing any attention to issues of the coming of the state or the birth of the polis; after 1980 that was no longer possible.6 But the challenge posed by state formation was how to detect political relationships in the archaeological record, from which such obvious indications of the state as the building of monumental defensive walls were large- ly absent. Snodgrass in 1980 directed attention to sanctuaries, of both gods and heroes, and to buri- als, and it is these that dominated discussions for the rest of the decade. In part the ensuing discus- sions brought a more sophisticated methodology to the same issues.7 But in part those discussions took quite new directions. This is above all the case with sanctuaries, where issues of sanctuaries and the state moved from quantification of dedications to the placing of sanctuaries.8 Just as the redirection of questions about sanctu- aries came from continental Europe, so too did the challenge to the traditional set of questions asked about painted pottery. La cite des mages f 1984 was a collaborative venture between French and Swiss scholars produced in the context of a public exhi- bition.9 The challenge took both a positive and a negative form. The positive form was the insistence that the images on Athenian pottery should be seen as a sequence or system, with one image taking up from and talking to another, and that that conversa- tion takes place in the context of the society that both uses those pots and is reflected in those imag- es. The negative form was that artistic individuality is not to be looked for in these images, for they were not the product of artists but merely of image- makers, and the interest of the images precisely resides in the lack of individuality that those imag- es display. The contrast between this and the dom- inant approach of the previous part of the 20th cen- tury, concerned above all with identifying artists' hands, does not need to be stressed. The positive theme of imagery being interrelated received clas- sic exposition in Lissarrague's exploration of the play of images at the symposium; the negative side chimed with a separate line of argument concerned with the relationship between pottery and vessels in more expensive materials, particularly metal.10 SURVEY, THE COUNTRYSIDE, AND REGIONALISM IN GREEK ARCHAEOLOGY The surveys of the 1980s have largely received fi- nal publication in the last decade or so, often on a massive scale.11 Further projects have been under- taken, both by the anglophone archaeologists who pioneered the techniques (Nemea Valley Project, Pylos Regional Archaeological Project, Kythera Is- land Project, Australian Paliochora Kythera Island Survey, Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey, 4 Renfrew and Wagstaff 1982. 5 van Andel and Runnels 1987; Osborne 1987. 6 Contrast Coldstream 977, with at best a page on the polit- ical implications of the archaeology (314-5), with Snodgrass 1980. 7 So Morris 1987, 1988. 8DePolignac 1984/1995. 9Berard 1984/1989. 10Lissarrague 987/1990, cf. Lissarrague 989; Vickers 985; Vickers and Gill 1994. 11 Cavanagh t al. 1996, 2003; Cherry t al. 1991; ameson et al. 1994; Mee and Forbes 1997. Note also Lohmann 1993, a different sort of enterprise, but with important results.  2004] GREEK ARCHAEOLOGY: A SURVEY OF RECENT WORK 89 Tanagra Survey, Alonnisos Archaeological Project, Praisos Survey) and by archaeologists from Europe adopting comparably intensive methods (Norwegian Arcadia Survey) . But if the number of potsherds counted has become enormous, the early confidence that a whole new Greek world was being opened up to view, that archaeology could and should fill in these blank spaces on the map, has been somewhat shaken.12 In many respects data collection has out- stripped data interpretation, and the situation in 2003 is very comparable to that in the early 1990s.13 Use of GIS has much improved the ability of archae- ologists to map the landscape they survey and to place the assemblages that they find accurately with- in their geomorphological context and in relation- ship to one another.14 But if we can now have more confidence that the spots on the map are in the right place, the problem of what exactly the spot marks, and what one can say about it, remains.15 Uncertain- ty about site definition, a concern of survey archae- ologists from the inception of intensive survey, has manifested itself in all sorts of euphemisms and ac- ronyms to avoid seeming to claim that a collection of sherds was necessarily a site. The purist determi- nation not to import interpretation into the data, admirable in itself, has often rendered interpreta- tion all but impossible: if those who have seen the evidence for themselves are not prepared to declare whether a scatter of sherds is evidence for more than a casual human presence, or are not prepared to pronounce on whether three sherds datable to a particular period constitute evidence for more than casual human presence in that period, how are those who can only review the data as statistics on a print- ed page to come to any sensible judgment?16 One welcome development is that the opposi- tion between survey and excavation, which was in part a result of their different relationship to ar- chaeological permits in Greece, has ceased to be so strident. Excavations have made significant con- tributions to our understanding of the countryside. Work on Delos has shown that in certain circum- stances it is possible to recover valuable informa- tion about field systems by excavation. Excavation of rural buildings has become more common and has suggested that patterns of rapid change in the countryside, as manifested by the excavations at the Dema and Vari houses in Attica as well as by survey archaeology, may be widely found.17 There has been some impressive use of survey data, particularly in relation to Hellenistic and Ro- man Greece,18 but on the whole the impact of sur- vey has been minimal. Even scholars generally sym- pathetic to, or indeed practitioners of, intensive survey have found few ways to integrate its findings into their accounts of Greek cultural history.19 Works concerned with the countryside have made either no use or selective and partial use of survey data.20 Among practitioners of survey, dialogue has been active and ongoing, but much more heavily focused upon theoretical problems of method and inter- pretation than upon bringing results of one survey into dialogue with the results of another survey or with wider archaeological and historical concerns.21 The failure of archaeologists to exploit the in- creasingly available results of survey archaeology is particularly disappointing in two areas: the archae- ology of Roman Greece and Greek regional archae- ology. Despite the alert given by survey about the quantity of (late) Roman material to be accounted for, the amount of archaeological attention devot- ed to Roman Greece has remain minimal. Augustan Athens, Hadrian, and Herodes Atticus have attract- ed some attention, with the excavation of another villa of Herodes, but otherwise work has been largely limited to particular buildings.22 This is despite the undoubted existence of an archaeological equiva- lent of the second sophistic, and despite the un- ceasing flow of literary treatments of that period in Greek thought.23 It is striking that recent and very 12For hat mission or archaeology, ee Snodgrass 1991, 12. 13 Much said by Cherry 1994) remains rue. 14 Cf. for an earlier period, Bevan 2002. 15 Cf. Pettegrew 2002 and the responses to that paper. 16For ne archaeologist rappling with another's data, com- pare Foxhall 1997, 126. 17 Delos: AR 1996-1997, 95; massive ural building used for only 50 years at Glykadia, hasos: Ai?2000-2001, 106; urther Attic arm, near Rhamnous: AR 2000-2001, 13-4. 18Alcock 993. 19 Survey archaeology appears only in its own ghetto in Whitley 002, 382-9, and only fleetingly n Osborne 1996 and Morris 000. 20Burford 993; Hanson 1995. 21 So the five volumes on The Archaeology f Mediterranean Landscapes f the Populus project, explicitly oncerned to ad- dress methodological ssues: Bintliffand Sbonias 1999; Leveau 1999; Gillings t al. 1999; Pasquinucci nd Trement 2000; Fran- covich et al. 2000. At a conference in Ann Arbor n 2002, sur- vey archaeologists discussed he substantive esults o be had by comparing heir results: Alcock and Cherry 003. 22Baldassari 998; Willers 1990;Tobin 1993, 1997; A/H996- 1997, 30-1; Perry 2001; Kienast 1993; Goette 1994; Hoff and Rotroff 1997; Marc and Moretti 2001. 23 For one particular xample of second sophistic hought manifesting itself in the material record, see Moretti 1993. For the ongoing boom among philologists, cf. Whitmarsh 2001, Goldhill 2001.
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