Subsistence, Economy and Society in the Greek World. Improving the integration of archaeology and science. International Conference organized by The Netherlands Institute at Athens (NIA) and the Hellenic Society of Archaeometry (EAE), Athens, 22-24 March 2010.

D.  Mylona, G. Iliopoulos, P. Lymberakis, M. Ntinou, A. Penttinen, D. Serjeantson, G. Syrides and T. Theodoropoulou, "Integrating archaeology and science in a Greek sanctuary.  Issues of practice and interpretation in the study of the bioarchaeological remains from the sanctuary of Poseidon at Kalaureia".

Aspects of religion and food production in the ancient Greek world. A conference to the memory of Berit Wells, The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, Stockholm, 14–15 December 2009.

John K. Papadopoulos, "The bronze diadems of prehistoric Lofkënd and their Aegean and Balkan connections".

As a scholar, Berit Wells’ focus was on the Aegean in the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age. One of her earliest publications was on the Protogeometric tombs of Asine, and it is to one aspect of the funerary record of this period that I turn to in this paper in memory of a great scholar and friend. From the Early Iron Age tombs of the Kerameikos and the Areiopagos – not least the tomb of the so-called “rich Athenian lady” – the wealthiest burials of the period are those of women, not men. The same holds true not only for the heart of the Greek world, but also its fringes.
The bronze diadems from the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age (14th-9th centuries B.C.) burial tumulus of Lofkënd in Albania are among the most characteristic items of personal ornament in the richest graves of the tumulus, all of them of young females. In Albania bronze diadems are known in tombs from a number of other tumuli, mostly decorated with various motifs, whether incised or repoussé. In the Balkans north of Albania, contemporary bronze diadems are well represented in Bosnia Herzegovina, as they are farther north in a number of funerary contexts, some perhaps as early as the Early Bronze Age. To the south, bronze diadems very similar to those of Lofkënd are known from neighboring Epirus and Macedonia, and they are also found elsewhere in mainland Greece. It is clear, however, that diadems in the Aegean in situ in tombs go back to the Early Bronze Age, such as the celebrated silver diadem from Grave 14 at Dokathismata on Amorgos, perhaps the burial of a female child. They continue into the Late Helladic period, as the many gold diadems from the shaft graves at Mycenae testify.
One feature of the funerary record that has tended to be overlooked is that these diadems are primarily worn by women, and at Lofkënd, by young women who have not attained a critical rite de passage: marriage. In their funerary attire, they go to the grave as brides, married to death.
In the Aegean, diadems were also found as votive offerings in sanctuaries, especially those from Olympia, first published by Adolf Furtwängler in 1890, and bronze diadems, including miniatures, are well represented among the votives in a number of other sanctuary sites (the Athenian Acropolis, Argive Heraion, Bassai, Lousoi, Perachora, and the sanctuary of Athena-Itonia in Thessaly, to mention only a few); related gold diadems are known from both later Greek sanctuary sites and tombs.
The significance of the Lofkënd diadems in terms of funerary custom is noted, as is their shape and decoration; it is, however, their context that contributes to a better understanding of Aegean diadems. In addition to reviewing the evidence for diadems in the Aegean and much of southeast Europe, this paper attempts to uncover the word used in this early period in Greece to refer to these distinctive items of personal ornament, whether στεφάνη (anything that surrounds or encircles the head for defense or ornament) or κρήδεμνον (a woman’s head-dress or veil), rather than διάδημα (a band or fillet normally worn by men).

Monica Nilsson, "Let’s drink to that! Perachora and Lerna as indicators of EH II ritualised interaction and transaction".

Little is known of EH II religious practice and beliefs, but a toasting or drinking ritual is evident from a burial at Ayios Kosmas, Attica. The context – a burial – indicates that the activity is embedded in a belief system, to pay respects to the deceased, but finds from the adherent settlement suggest that the drinking of wine was also a shared experience at occasions where it is difficult to separate cult from other events. As for Perachora, Corinthia, and Lerna in the Argolid, there are signs of ceremonial consumption of food and drink in buildings that may have been built to that purpose. The object of such ceremonies is probably connected to the specialized production of numerous EH II settlements, where investments were concentrated to certain produce and crafts. An obvious advantage of such specialization is the concentration of know-how and resources, but it is tactical also in the sense that you create a ‘trademark’ and attract interested parties for transactions. A disadvantage is the vulnerability of the community, with a dependency on others for certain products and the impending risks of openness to external powers. It would appear that transactions inbetween EH II settlements and, probably, also with populations on the Cycladic islands were frequent, so, in order to avoid conflicts there had to be an agreement on how interaction should take form. At least in one aspect such precautions had been taken: a system of weights was established and, accordingly, there was a mutual understanding between producer and purchaser of how transactions should be executed. In addition, the finds from Lerna and Perachora suggest a ritualised intake of food and drink, designed for negotiations or closing a deal between the two parties.

Sarah Morris, "Dairy Queen? Churns and Cults in the Aegean and Beyond".

This article assembles examples of an unusual vessel found in domestic contexts of the Early Bronze Age around the Aegean and in the Eastern Mediterranean. Identified as a "barrel vessel" by the excavators of Troy, Lesbos (Thermi), Lemnos (Poliochni), and various site in the Chalkidike, as well as in Central Greece (Agios Kosmas, Attica), the vase finds its best parallels in containers identified as churns in the Chalcolithic Levant. A striking feature of the Levantine parallels is that they also exist in miniature form, as in the Aegean at Troy, Thermi, and Poliochni, while they also appear as part of votive figurines in the Near East. This implies that these vessels testify to ritual attention to milk and its secondary products, during a period when pastoralism was still paramount in the domestic economy. My interpretation of their use and development will consider how they compare to other miniaturizing phenomena in the archaeological record, especially in Aegean prehistory, and what cult purposes they express along with their function as common household processing vessels of the third millennium.

Mats Johnson, "Food production and cult: the Neolithic perspective".

This paper explores aspects of food production and cult during the Neolithic era, and discusses possible approaches to deepen our understanding thereof.

Ann-Louise Schallin, "The Berbati Valley as a service area for the Mycenaean state – a model".

The potter´s workshop at Mastos was excavated in the 1930s. Åke Åkerström was in charge and he was also responsible for the material. In the 1950s, further excavations were conducted in order to clarify loose ends, but mainly to recover a great amount of pottery sherds. Åkerström early concluded that the structure that he had revealed represented a potter´s workshop of the Late Helladic period. The best evidence for this conclusion was the kiln situated in the middle of the excavations. The huge amount of fine ware pottery sherds gave further indication for this conclusion, as did the presence of misfired pottery.
It has been put forward that the production at the Mastos workshop may have been under the power of Mycenae situated close by. A step further along this line of reasoning is to propose that the entire Berbati Valley was used as a service area for the Mycenaean state. A tentative model for such a hypothesis is suggested and this may prove to be useful in reconstructions of Mycenaean economic behavior.
This model will be built upon the existing archaeological evidence from the valley as it has been collected during various field works and the starting point will be to use the existing evidence for the Late Helladic site pattern. Further evidence may later be provided by the literary evidence of the Linear B tablets. Parallel scenarios with nucleated centres surrounded by satellites in an arable vicinity will also be investigated.

François de Polignac, "Water, grain and gods: a survey of panoramic cults".

Signe Isager, "‘May the earth bear them no fruit’ – two inscriptions from Halikarnassos, a partly published funerary inscription and a hitherto unpublished foundation".

Ancient Halikarnassos should be praised for its fertility, not in agricultural products, but in authors, who like Herodotos, ‘the Homer of history in prose’, grew from its soil. We have the goddess Aphrodite’s words for that as expressed in a Hellenistic epigram. Explicit evidence for a relation between religion and the production of food in the inscriptions of ancient Halikarnassos is sparse. In two of the earliest Halikarnassian inscriptions we meet the gods as warrants of transactions with landed property. A few inscriptions manifestly or probably concern private cult-groups, and there are some Halikarnassian epitaphs with imprecations concerning fertility of the earth. In my paper I will present two inscriptions now in the museum of Bodrum, an only partly published epitaph and a hitherto unpublished inscription, which sets up rules for a private cult-group.

Jenny Wallensten, "Karpophoros deities and the produce of the earth".

Karpophoros, fruit-bearing, is an epithet easily considered as “literary”, i.e., a poetic name with little or no relation to cult. The epigraphic sources however show us that gods thus named were offered divine worship. The epithet is found in connection with several deities. Goddesses of agriculture, such as Demeter and Gaia naturally carry this name, but so do Zeus, Dionysos and a goddess known as “The Aiolian”, sometimes associated with Agrippina. Taking its departure from an inscription found on the Athenian Acropolis, this paper surveys deities known as karpophoroi, and examines what their cult entailed.

Gunnel Ekroth, "Animal castration: cultic and agricultural perspectives".

Castration of male animals seem to have been the rule in ancient Greece when rearing cattle, sheep, goats and pigs, as only very few males are needed for the breeding purposes. Flocks or bulls, rams and boars are also difficult to keep and castrated males yield more and fatter meat, as well as in the case of sheep, more wool. Still, sacred laws and sacrificial calendars in some cases stipulate the sacrifice of uncastrated victims, which are more expensive that females or castrated males.
This paper will discuss the role of uncastrated males in Greek cult both from a religious and agricultural perspective. Of interest are which divinities that received such victims as well as the relation between the practical, economic reality and the theological perception of sacrifice. These issues will be explored from epigraphic, literary, iconographical and osteological material.

Charlotte Scheffer, "Preparation of food in Greek sanctuaries".

The presence of dining-rooms in Greek sanctuaries shows that food was eaten and possibly also prepared on the premises. This paper will gather all kinds of evidence for food preparation such as, for instance, cooking utensils and vessels, braziers and fixed stoves.

Arto Penttinen, "Introduction to recent results from the Kalaureia Research program 'The Sea, the city and the god'”.

Yannis Hamilakis & Aris Anagnostopoulos, "Archaeological ethnography and public and community archaeology at Kalaureia".

Anaya Sarpaki & Arto Penttinen, "Life next-door to a sanctuary: excavations in the so-called Building I in 2007–2009".

Marie-Françoise Billot & Jari Pakkanen, "Observations on the architecture and the terracotta roofs in the Sanctuary of Poseidon at Kalaureia".

Arja Karivieri & Petra Pakkanen, "Deposit of miniature lamps: questions of cultic functions in the vicinity of the entrance to the Archaic Temple of Poseidon in Kalaureia".


Bones, behaviour and belief. The osteological evidence as a source for Greek ritual practice, The Swedish Institute at Athens, Athens 10th-12th of September 2009.


Dimitra Mylona, "Dealing with the unexpected.  Strange animals in a Late Hellenistic/Early Roman cistern fill in the Sanctuary of Poseidon at Kalaureia, Poros".


The excavation of the Late Hellenistic/Early Roman fill of an Archaic cistern in the sanctuary of Poseidon at Kalaureia, produced the remains of a range of animals that are not usually found together in closed contexts.  Consideration of taphonomic parameters and of the specific features of the assemblage indicate that it represents the remains of ritual actions.  This paper aims to explore the possibilities of using the material remains (here the bones) to detect ritual actions of the type not referred to in the written sources.  Such an exploration brings forwards issues of definition and interpretation of what can be seen as ritual or profane in the context of a cult place such as a sanctuary.


Fish and Seafood. Anthropological and Nutritional Perspectives, ICAF 28th Conference,  Kamilari, Crete, Greece 31 May - 6 June 2009.

Dimitra Mylona, "Fish-eating in ancient Greece. Edible fish categories beyond the Linnaean taxonomy".


A standard methodological tool in the study of the consumption of fish and seafood in antiquity is the use of modern taxonomic categories to describe the consumed animals. These categories provide some familiar terms by which the researchers approach and understand their data (fish bones and shells, iconography etc). They also facilitate the communication of researchers from different backgrounds. This presentation ponders over the problems generated by this approach to the actual understanding of the ways in which people in the past perceived the fish and sea-food and chose them as food. Based on a range of disparate data, such as fish bones, literary sources and epigraphy, this paper proposes the existence in ancient Greece of alternative fish categories, beyond the ones imposed by modern analysts through the Linnaean taxonomic identification. Fish consumers in ancient Greece based their evaluation of fish and their culinary preferences in these alternative categories of edible fish. By exploring those we acquire the means to explore the explicit or even implicit statements on the part of the consumers about proper social behaviour, status, or identity more generally, in short about ancient Greek society.

Les arts de la couleur en Grece ancienne ... et ailleurs. Colloque international, Ecole francaise d'Athenes, 23 - 25 avril 2009

Carmen Alfaro-Giner, Dimitra Mylona, "La peche des muricidae dans l'Antiquite et les premieres etapes de la fabrication de la teinture pourpre".


Durant toute l'Antiquite la couleur pourpre demeura le symbole de la royaute, du prestige, de la richesse et du luxe. Un discours complexe se developpa autour des qualites de cette couleur et des conditions de son usage dans des contextes differents. Les sources ecrites de l'epoque sont particulierement eloquentes. Elles associent usage de la pourpre et statut social. Elles se font aussi l'echo d'une industrie de la pourpre particulierement active et developpee dans plusieurs regions de la Grece. La production de la teinture pourpre etait en relation etroite avec differents secteurs de l'economie ancienne, telle la production de la laine et sa commercialisation. Toute une chaine de travaux permettait d'obtenir une riche matiere premiere, deja teinte, destinee a une industrie textile beaucoup plus developpee qu'on ne pouvait l'imaginer au premier abord. L'ensemble de ces etapes prealables a la commercialisation de la laine se faisait au bord de la mer, dans des ateliers de structure tres simple. L'exploitation de la mer et de ses ressources representait une activite capitale pour cette industrie : elle prenait ici la forme de la peche aux mollusques a pourpre. Une fois peches, stockes et concasses, les mollusques etaient prets a l'emploi. La laine teinte mise dans le commerce (deja filee ou en fibre) etait le meilleur systeme pour faire voyager la liqueur pourpre. Si la renommee d'un certain nombre de cites specialisees dans la production de la pourpre est parvenue jusqu'a nous, l'organisation precise de cette activite reste obscure. Au dela de quelques aspects techniques qu'evoquent les auteurs anciens, au-dela des vestiges materiels constitues par les amas de murex associes a des ateliers cotiers, nous ne disposons que de peu d'informations. Faute, d'abord et surtout, de fouilles systematiques. Un petit corpus de textes juridiques traitant de l'utilisation des droits de peche dans les differentes poleis nous aide cependant a mieux apprehender un phenomene economique qui n'a pas a ce jour livre toutes ses clefs.


13th International Congress Cultural Heritage and New Technologies (Workshop 13 of “Archäologie und Computer”). Vienna, 3–5 November 2008

Section 1: Archaeology and technology

Session: Publishing "old" excavations with new technologies 4: What could be more basic than databases?

Jari Pakkanen, "Documentation and computer reconstruction strategies in the study of architecture at the sanctuary of Poseidon at Kalaureia, Greece."


The Kalaureia Archaeological Program – the Sea, the City and the God is a multi-disciplinary project hosted by the Swedish Archaeological Institute at Athens and funded by the National Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation (2007–2012). In the recording of the progress of the excavations and architectural features special emphasis has been placed on the use of current digital technologies. At the conception of the programme three-dimensional site scanning was ruled out due to high costs and it has been largely replaced by extensive use of up to three total stations. Due to the detailed measurements of the archaeological features it is e.g. possible to present a detailed 3D digital elevation models (DEM) of the various states of the excavations. It is also possibly to add further details to the 3D models by draping actual photographs over the DEM. In the recording of architecture the total stations are used to directly ‘draw’ the features with laser. Effective use of the laser requires frequent changes in the position of the instrument which is made possible by an extensive network of fixed points over the large site. Recording the architecture principally as lines has the added benefit of making the production of site plans and 3D reconstructions clearly quicker. The terrain models and recorded ancient features can be integrated with the reconstructions to display what is the basis of the architectural interpretations.


Defining and Interpreting Ancient Greek Cult Deposits, Ancient Olympia 24-27 October 2008.

Petra Pakkanen, Depositing cult. ”Considerations on what makes a cult deposit”.

Berit Wells, ”New beginnings? Preparations for renewal of cult at Kalaureia and Asine”.


Perceptions of Polis Religion: Inside/Outside. A Symposium in Memory of Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood”, Reading 4-6 July 2008.

Petra Pakkanen, “Crossing the Border of Official and Private Religion at the Poseidon Sanctuary of Kalaureia on Poros”.


This paper presents a discussion and methodologies for reviewing the common conceptualisation of Greek religion into two rather exclusive main spheres of official polis religion and that of private or local religiousness. The theme will be scrutinised firstly by looking at the 'historiography' of conceptualisation of Greek religion in the tradition of religious/cultural studies and within the field of Classics, and secondly through a case study of the material related to religion from the sanctuary of Poseidon at Kalaureia on Poros. This discussion will particularly address the question of how polis-religion is to be understood within the broader framework of regional and local religious networks and their relation to polis. This will be done by scrutinising the nature of the Kalaureian cult the material traces of which exhibit quite enigmatic features regarding past cultic activities at the site. The phenomenon of (ritual?) dining connected with the claimed asylia-function of the sanctuary will serve as an example. Generally, at Kalaureia regional/local aspects of cult overlap and crisscross with official, public and panhellenic characteristics of the Greek religion. Therefore, a discussion of the significance and interpretation of border(s) and boundaries between both physical and symbolic separation of sacred and profane, temenos and polis will also be presented. Finally, these observations are further elaborated to encompass a discussion about the difference between cult and ritual from the theoretical point of view. Drawing distinction between the two may help us understand the dynamics and interplay between official, city-state-oriented and ‘private’, local aspects of ancient Greek religion.

Approaches to Religion in Ancient Greece – an International Symposium, Athens 17-19 April 2008.

Petra Pakkanen, ”Polis within the Polis: Crossing the Border of Official and Private Religion at the Poseidon Sanctuary of Kalaureia on Poros”.


This paper presents a discussion and methodologies for reviewing the common conceptualisation of Greek religion into two rather exclusive main spheres of official polis religion and that of private religiousness. The theme will be scrutinised through a case study of the material related to religion from the sanctuary of Poseidon at Kalaureia on Poros.

I will firstly clarify my method of studying conceptualisation of the Greek religion in general and the Kalaureian religion in particular. In defining Greek religion on the basis of material from one site, Kalaureia, we constantly move between general (and generalising) principles and particular ones. These are general conceptions on the nature of Greek religion and the particular type of the religious life of the Kalaureian sanctuary. The aim is to create a method which could bind general and particular together both theoretically (views of the study of religion) and practically (views of the 'archaeology of religion'). The themes to be discussed within this framework will be the claimed asylia-function of the sanctuary and its nature as a seat of amphictyony. This discussion will be connected to interpreting the role ritual(?) dining played in the life of the sanctuary.

Secondly I will scrutinise the nature of the Kaluareian cult in the light of the role which polis has played in providing a structural framework for conceptualising religion in Greek societies. City-state at Kalaureia does not necessarily seem to possess primacy over religion. At Kalaureia regional/local aspects of cult overlap and crisscross with official, public and panhellenic characteristics of the Greek religion. Therefore, close examination of the nature of the cultic life at this particular site challenges us to reconsider and re-evaluate the premises of the basic divisions in the definition of ancient Greek religion in official cult, which reflects panhellenic aspects of religious life, and private cults which are seen as more prone to fall into the realm of local/regional religion. Theoretically these observations are bound to interpretations of the interplay between general and particular.


 Archaeological Ethnographies: Charting a field, devising methodologies

A “Kalaureia Research Programme” Workshop, supported by the Municipality of Poros and the University of Southampton

Poros Island, Greece, 6-8 June 2008

Organisers: Yannis Hamilakis and Aris Anagnostopoulos (University of Southampton, UK).


In the last few years, an increasing number of researchers has started engaging in projects that are situated at the interface between socio-cultural anthropology and archaeology, aimed at investigating the links between material heritage in general, archaeology, and the various non-archaeological communities associated with them. It seems that these projects signify the emergence of a new field which is distinct from the now established fields of socio-politics of the past, community and public archaeology, and the ethnography of archaeological practice, although it is related to the above fields in significant ways.


Αρχαιολογία του Περιβάλλοντος – Ιστορία του Ανθρωπογενούς Περιβάλλοντος. Παν/μιο Θεσσαλονίκης, Τμήμα Ιστορίας-Αρχαιολογίας, 29-29 Μαρτίου 2008.  

D. Mylona, "Η ζωο-αρχαιολογία σε νέες διαδρομές. Υπολείμματα στεριανών και θαλάσσιων ζώων στο Ιερό του Ποσειδώνα στην Καλαυρεία, Πόρος."
Η ιστορική πορεία της ζωο-αρχαιολογίας στην Ελλάδα της κληροδότησε ορισμένα χαρακτηριστικά που  καθόρισαν τον προσανατολισμό και την φυσιογνωμία των ζωο-αρχαιολογικών μελετών στην Ελλάδα, από την δεκαετία του 1970 μέχρι πρόσφατα.  Η εφαρμογή ζωο-αρχαιολογικών αναλύσεων κατά κύριο λόγο σε προϊστορικές ανασκαφές, η έμφαση σε ζητήματα παλαιο-περιβάλλοντος και η ελλιπής ένταξη των ζωο-αρχαιολογικών δεδομένων στην χωρο-χρονική τους συνάφεια είναι μερικά από τα πιο ευδιάκριτα χαρακτηριστικά. Τα τελευταία χρόνια η ζωο-αρχαιολογία, όπως εφαρμόζεται στην Ελλάδα,  φαίνεται ν΄ αλλάζει  σημαντικά, με κύρια νέα στοιχεία της την διεύρυνση της προβληματικής της και των  δεδομένων που αξιοποιεί, την χρονολογική της επέκταση, την  πολύπλευρη ένταξή της στην  αρχαιολογική προβληματική και την σταδιακή της εξάπλωση  σε ανασκαφές όλων των αρχαιολογιών φορέων στον Ελλαδικό χώρο.

Η παρούσα εργασία εικονογραφεί μερικές από τις νέες διαδρομές που  εξερεύνα η ζωο-αρχαιολογία  παρουσιάζοντας ορισμένα από τα αποτελέσματα της ανάλυσης ενός συνόλου οστών χερσαίων και θαλάσσιων ζώων από το Ιερό του Ποσειδώνα στην Καλαυρεία. Οι παρατηρήσεις και η προβληματική που προκύπτουν από την ανάλυση των ζωικών υπολειμμάτων του «εορταστικού δείπνου» χρησιμοποιούνται για να προσεγγίσουν ζητήματα λατρείας και να αμφισβητήσουν  την επάρκεια των γραπτών πηγών ως αποκλειστικές πηγές πληροφόρησης για τέτοια θέματα. Επίσης οι παρατηρήσεις αυτές χρησιμοποιούνται για  να  ρίξουν φως στην  έρευνα για την ύπαρξη και τα χαρακτηριστικά μιας  συγκεκριμένης ομάδας  λατρευτών στο Ιερό, τους ψαράδες. Οι ψαράδες ως μέλη  ειδικευμένων αλιευτικών κοινοτήτων με διακριτό χαρακτήρα  είναι λίγο-πολύ αόρατοι στην σημερινή έρευνα και η ζωο-αρχαιολογία θα μπορούσε να προσφέρει ένα τρόπο εντοπισμού τους.


Paper read at the AAA meetings, Washington DC, 28 November–2 December 2007.

Yannis Hamilakis, "Decolonizing archaeological practice in the crypto-colony."

Recent postcolonial perspectives and practices in archaeology are usually associated with indigenous groups and descendent communities, and they generally take place in countries conventionally accepted as former colonies. In this paper I want to focus on a European context instead, and show that colonial imagination and practice, often entangled with national imagination, has shaped archaeology as much in the European heartlands as in non-European locales. Greece is a particularly interesting example in that respect, being both a European core in symbolic and imaginary terms, and a European (or even a non-European, for some) periphery in modern geopolitical terms. While not formally colonized, given the circumstances of the foundation of the Greek nation-state and especially the role of western powers and western archaeologists in this process, it can be described (following M. Herzfeld) as crypto-colony. Based on my current archaeological ethnography project which forms part of the Kalaureia Research Programme at the Sanctuary of Poseidon on the island of Poros (a Swedish project with an international team carried out under the auspices of the Swedish School at Athens), I will show how decolonizing archaeology in the crypto-colony can enrich our understanding and highlight the further potential as well as the drawbacks of post-colonial archaeology, as thought of and practiced to date.


CULT AND SANCTUARY THROUGH THE AGES, Castá-Papiernicka, Bratislava, 16–19 November 2007.

Petra Pakkanen, "Defining Cult Site. Theoretical Observations on the Nature of Religion at the Sanctuary of Kalaureia on Poros, Greece."

The Sanctuary of Poseidon is located in the centre of the island of Kalaureia, the larger of the two islands that make up today’s Poros in Greece. An international team of researchers is currently working on the site and on the island carrying out a long-term investigation funded by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation with the permission for the Swedish Archaeological Institute at Athens. This paper presents some ideas for interpreting the nature, function and development of religion and cultic activity of the Kalaureian sanctuary with particular emphasis on methodological and theoretical points of view.

The discussion will attempt to define the term religion in its context and also aims at an understanding of how the concept of past religion has been formulated in relation to our modern conceptions. When studying Kalaureian material which is connected with religious activity, the interpretative work is conducted as an integral part of an ongoing archaeological investigation. The investigation, which involves a two-stage procedure, can be characterised as hermeneutic: on the basis of an overview on how religion and cultic activity has been conceptualised among scholarly community the particular Kalaureian material is set against general interpretative views about the nature and characteristics of ancient Greek cult. The strategy for conceptualising Kalaureian religion is formed in a process of oscillation between our general conceptualisation of ancient Greek religion and particular – in certain cases even enigmatic – Kalaureian material connected with cultic activities.

The new excavations at the Poseidon sanctuary have produced material with strong cultic associations. In order to illustrate our interpretative process this paper presents a possible methodology for interpreting the nature and characteristics of Kalaureian cultic activity by taking a closer look at one distinct aspect of its cultic life, namely (ritual) dining which at Kalaureian sanctuary seems to have been an important feature over long periods of time. At Kalaureia material from two deposits – one dated to the early and the other to the late Hellenistic period – present rather enigmatic features which do not conform with any known ancient Greek cultic practices. A strategy for establishing criteria for cult or ritual activities discernible on the basis of archaeological material will be discussed. Finally, these observations are further elaborated to encompass a discussion about the difference between cult and ritual from theoretical point of view. Drawing distinction between the two may help us understand the dynamics and interplay between ‘official’ and ‘private’ aspects of ancient Greek religion.


Eat, Drink and be Merry: the archaeology of food. 40th Chacmool Conference, Calgary, Canada, 10-12 November 2007.

D. Mylona, B. Wells & A. Penttinen, "Dining in the Sanctuary of Poseidon at Kalauriea (Greece) around 165 B.C. Theoretical and methodological considerations in archaeological practise."

The social character of food consumption and the economic and political role of communal eating has been widely treated in anthroplogical discourse but only recently in archaeology. However, little explored are the actual processes that lead to the fomulation of research questions, to the adoption of specific field and analytic methodologies and eventually to the interpretation of the archaeological finds that are related to such phenomena.

Excavations in the Sanctuary of Poseidon at Kalaureia, Greece, revealed the remains of a large dining event in a closed, precisely dated context (165 B.C.). This assemblage consisted of thousands of fragments of cooking, serving and drinking vessels, and a few other objects such as lamps. It also contained a large amount of bones both from the typical sacrificial animals such as cattle, pig, sheep and goats and from a large variety of fish, among which tunas were common. Plant and seafood remains accentuate the impression of richness given by this assemblage. This paper explores the theoretical and methodological factors that have been important in the practise of an “archaeology of food” within, and in close contact with, the much more traditional field of Classical archaeology. Such an anatomy of the archaeological practise offers a better evaluation of the insights into the nature of the dining event and its structure, into the variety of consumed foods and the identity of the participants. Hopefully it contributes towards the development of the “archaeology of food”.  


THE “DARK AGES” REVISITED. An International Conference in Memory of William D. E. Coulson. University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece, 14-17 June 2007.

B. Wells, "Evidence of EIA activities in the Poseidon Sanctuary at Kalaureia."  

Excavations in the Poseidon Sanctuary at Kalaureia in 2003-2004 have revealed an intriguing set of data from the second half of the eighth century BC. Around 750 a building was constructed of which a stretch of wall has survived together with a portion of its floor. The ceramics trampled into the floor suggest a short life for the building. In order to create good drainage for it a fill of soil, stones and cultural material had been brought to the location. The fill lay on bedrock and covered a pit cut down into it. Also the pit had been filled with cultural material mixed with soil and stones and carefully sealed with closely packed stones. Underneath them a goat horn core and several pieces of the goat’s scull were found.

The sealed pit is one of three such features, the other two being located less than ten m distant to the west. One was partly damaged through the digging of a cistern in Archaic times; the other lost its probable sealing of stones through an extension of the area also in the Archaic period. It can with confidence be said that the material found in the three pits is coeval and has a number of characteristics in common, the most conspicuous being that all three contain fragments of very large Late Geometric vessels and pieces of large Late Mycenaean IIIC kraters. Several of the LG fragments come from large richly decorated amphorae, one of which is certainly a work by the Hirschfeld Painter and others emanating from the Dipylon Workshop and perhaps from the Master himself.

The following questions will be discussed:

  1. How are we to understand the relationship between the pit underneath the building and its construction?
  2. What are the LH IIIC kraters doing in the pits? There is no other Mycenaean material in the pits whatsoever. What do they tell us of what was going on in the area?
  3. The large amphorae are of the type generally associated with Attic burials. Why were they brought to Kalaureia? One of them may not have been brought for its own sake but for its contents, which has been determined through residue analysis.
  4. What was going on at Kalaureia? What do these spectacular vessels tell us about the society, which used them, and about their contacts with the outside world?