Sikyon survey project

Geoarchaeological Survey

Highly eroded section of the upper plateau edge.

Physical environment has always influenced the development of the settlement on the plateau, and imposed limits to its settlers, who in their turn adapted and transformed it according to their needs and within the limitations of their available technologies and socioeconomic situations. An obvious concern for the settlers of all times was water, while an additional major concern for the ancient Sikyonians was the presence of building stone for monumental architecture. Therefore geological study focused especially on the identification and mapping of water resources, construction-stone resources and quarried areas of the plateau. Geoarchaeological evidence will be used to reconstruct the palaeotopography of the Sikyonian plateau in various phases of its long history. The impact on the preservation of antiquities of local and regional geology, in combination with human activities during and post-antiquity will also be assessed.

Prior to working in the field, the geoarchaeologist made initial studies of 1:5000 topographic maps, stereo-aerial photographs and published archaeological evidence, and carried out a preliminary one day survey of the entire plateau, to plan a comprehensive walking survey of the upper and lower plateaus. The network of walking routes, modified where necessary on the basis of field observations, provide maximum coverage of the study area, its topographic features and bedrock exposures (natural and man-made). The steep edges of the plateau were included in these observations, with special attention to the erosion in different parts of the plateau edge. Detailed information on the geology, erosional behaviour and water sources of the plateau was obtained, and the surviving traces of ancient stone extraction and transportation identified. The result is a map that will serve as the basis for more detailed studies for landscape evolution, stone production, urban development and water resources in subsequent years of the project. The stone used in construction at Sikyon and in other locations on the plateau was studied to identify the lithologies and the treatment of the stone prior to use in architecture. This forms the basis of work to understand stone production within the Sikyonia. Detailed investigation of bedrock and its weathering characteristics, soil and archaeological remains within the excavated area of Sikyon was used to reconstruct the palaeotopography of the area at a time prior to initial landscape alteration by human activity. The method used follows that of Hayward (1999, 2004).