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Survey Methods

The surface survey of 2013-14 involved a two-stage process, with Phase 1 providing a broad overview of Stélida, while Phase 2 involved focusing our attention on specific areas with concentrations of cultural material, or locations with artefacts of particular interest.

Phase 1

The first stage of our work was developed to provide a systematic survey of a large area of Stélida centred on the chert outcrops at the highest part of the hill. Working in pairs, we walked our survey transect lines along the cardinal directions (North, South, East, West) following the site grid. Every 10m along these transect lines, we would stop and collect all artefacts from a 1m2 area (Figure 1).

Phase 1 (continued)

The transects were spaced at 40m between them, the fieldwalkers writing notes on any artefact concentrations that lay 20m either side of their survey lines to ensure the entire hill was documented. These lines and collection points were established with tape and compass (Figure 2), while collection points were documented with recreation-grade GPS (Figure 3). Over the two seasons we walked 29 transect lines (70 – 820m in length), intensively surveying an area of approximately 40 hectares.

As we walked the transects and processed the 1m2 collection units, we systematically recorded a range of information to help us understand the distribution of artefacts across the site (Figure 4).

In short, we cannot take the data at face value, it needs to be critically evaluated. Where we find lots of artefacts does not necessarily indicate that this is a prehistoric activity area; this manufacturing debris and broken tools could have been made further up the hillside, and over the millennia come to have been moved downslope by gravity, rainwater and other natural processes.

Conversely, where our survey transects recorded non finds, this does not necessarily mean that these places are void of archaeology; the artefacts could have been buried under soil from hillwash, or hidden by modern bushes (Figure 5). We also noted how modern agricultural terrace walls often acted as ‘artefact traps’, with accumulations of stone tools  resting behind them after washing downslope.

To help us understand how and where our data might have been altered, or obscured by natural processes we recorded the degree of ground slope and the percentage of vegetation cover for each collection point and take photographs (Figure 4). We now have the largest visual database of Naxian bushes in existence... (Figure 5).

For those areas where we found nothing, it will be necessary in the future to make test excavations to see if the archaeology is simply hidden, or to confirm that these parts of Stélida were not used in prehistory.

Phase 2

The second stage of the survey was designed to gather larger samples of dateable artefacts from areas of particular interest. These areas were systematically sampled by either placing a targeted 1m2 collection point upon them, or by laying a grid over the area (Figure 5-6), within which we took a number of standardised 1mcollections. 

Phase 2 (continued)

Over the two seasons we established 43 of these grids, ranging from 3×3m - 75×80m, the latter located in front of Rockshelter A (Figure 6 or 7). Grids were laid out with tape-and-compass or a TOPCON total station (Figure 7 or 8), while collection points were recorded with both the total station and GPS (Global Positioning System).

What was discovered during the survey?



Survey Results

Survey Results

What did we find from our Survey?