Home page Excavation at Magoula Zerelia


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The research project at the prehistoric site Magoula Zerelia in the district of Almyros, is the first prehistoric excavation project of the Department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology, conducted in co-operation with the 13th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities. The main aim of the project involves the training of the students of the department in the modern approaches and/or methodology concerning field archaeology, with special reference to prehistoric sites, in the systematic survey of prehistoric habitation patterns in a specific landscape, in the use of new technologies in archaeology (GIS, data base, web applications, virtual reconstructions), as well as in archaeometric applications (magnetic surveys, dating methods, palaeoenvironment studies, materials analysis, etc).

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Magoula Zerelia and other prehistoric settlements in Magnesia.

Magoula Zerelia is a known site of prehistoric Thessaly. It was originally excavated by Wace and Thompson in the beginning of the 20th century (1908), the results of the venture being analytically published in 1912 (Wace A.J.B. & Thompson M.S. 1912, Prehistoric Thessaly, 150-166). The site was occupied from the Middle Neolithic period until the Late Bronze Age (eight archaeological layers were identified down to the bedrock, which was located at a depth of 6-8m), while in the surface layers were identified remains of the historical, medieval, and modern periods. After the Wace & Thompson venture, no systematic excavation was attempted either at the Magoula Zerelia itself or at other prehistoric sites in the Krokian plain. The wider Almyros area, despite the crucial role it must have played during the prehistoric era, is not so well known in modern research, as are other prehistoric sites around Volos, Larissa or western Thessaly, which have been investigated in a more systematic manner.

In 1992, the Netherlands Institute at Athens, under the direction of prof. H. Reinder Reinders (University of Groningen), conducted a surface survey in the area of the magoula, which was part of a bigger survey project in the Almyros and Sourpi plains, in co-operation with the 13th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities. The results of this survey were published recently (Reinders, R. (ed.) 2004. Prehistoric sites at the Almirοs and Sourpi plains (Thessaly, Greece), Publications of the Netherlands Institute at Athens V, Assen: Koninklijke Van Gorcum). The data from this survey have demonstrated that both Magoula Zerelia and the wetlands with the two characteristic lakes to its south, as well as the relationship of the former with the neighbouring site of Karatzandagli, are crucial to the understanding of the prehistoric habitation pattern in the area south and southwest of Almyros. The site of Karatzandagli in particular, judging by the surface finds, was occupied during the Early and Middle Neolithic periods, i.e. it was earlier and partly contemporary with Magoula Zerelia.

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General view of Magoula Zerelia.

It was this kind of information that stimulated our interest in this area, which, as we believe, can provide new data concerning not only the early Neolithic sites in southern Thessaly, sites that have not been yet investigated adequately, but also concerning the conditions of distribution, development and differentiation of these sites in the next period (Middle, Late and Final Neolithic, Bronze Age); the fact that all these periods are represented in stratigraphic sequence at Magoula Zerelia, is indicative of the importance of the site.

The wider scientific aim of the project involves the systematic investigation of the character of the Neolithic sites/installations in the specific area of southwestern Thessaly, the relations between the two neighbouring prehistoric sites, Magoula Zerelia and Karatzandagli within a common micro-ecological and geomorphological system, the way the specific bio-environment of the area was exploited and finally the peculiarity of the successive occupation of the two sites within prehistory. One of the aims of the research project also includes the ultimate incorporation of the members of the scientific team within the modern socio-cultural environment of Euxeinoupolis and Almyros, as well as the co-operation of the archaeologists in the team with anthropologists and historians of the Department, who are going to study the recent history of the area on a historical, anthropological and ethnoarchaeological basis. For the future we are planning to co-operate with other Departments of the University of Thessaly, in view of the prospective study and protection of the natural environment in the wider area of the site.

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Area of the intensive survey.

The first systematic working season at Magoula Zerelia, which was conducted this year (22/8/05 - 9/9/05), and which lasted three weeks, involved a systematic surface survey of the area of the magoula, including a detailed topographic plan of the site and GIS applications. The project was funded by the University of Thessaly, by the Department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology, and by the Prefecture of Magnesia. The EPEAEK program of practical training for archaeology students covered the expenses of the undergraduates in the program. In the project were accepted six undergraduate and six post-graduate students from the University of Thessaly and the University of Thessalonike. The team was transported daily from Volos on the University bus.

© 2005: Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλίας - Τμήμα Ιστορίας, Αρχαιολογίας και Κοινωνικής Ανθρωπολόγίας