In the summer of 2004, I was on Greek island of Antikythira where
I dug several early Byzantine graves (6th century). The head of the
site, Mr. Aris Tsaravopoulos, offered me the opportunity to continue
the research in following years. He also gave me the material that
had been dug out during the previous three years so that I publish
it in the monograph on the Antikythira Island.
The research will include several elements:
- Surveys to identify all points where there are elements indicative
of human presence in the Byzantine period of time (the surveys of
the previous years will be continued); the mapping of all identified
points is desired.
- During the previous years, several locations were identified where
there are tombs of this period of time. Up to now traces of dwellings
have not been precisely identified. It must be looked into to see
if near the identified groups of tombs there are traces of Byzantine
settlements (as it should be natural). It is possible that the materials
the Byzantine dwellings were made of, we mean stone, be reused in
the modern period of time and that is the reason why the traces may
no longer be visible or there may have been wooden dwellings.
- The tombs identified as Byzantine coming from the 6th century based
on a vessel and a fibula / cross buckle, and in 2004 based on earrings,
have an east – west orientation, but this does not enable us to say
whether they are Christian or not. We must search and find out whether
on the island, there are traces of a concrete religious activity,
and we mean a church. If there are none, we must see what the religious
authority is that the people of Antikythira must have adhered to.
- Still starting from the tomb type, we must find out what the areas
are where graves were found to have the same typology (dug in rocks
and covered with stone plates). As to the discovered items, and we
mean the cross buckle / broach, this type is also encountered north
of the Black Sea as well. We must find out where the item comes from,
thus determining what the islanders’ economic ties were. The same
thing must be done for the earrings. An analysis of the metal of the
two items will clarify that to a larger extent. The ties with the
island of Crete must not be forgotten. Being aware of the fact that
during the Hellenistic period the pirates’ fortress belonged to the
Cretan fortress of Phalasarna, it is possible that in the Byzantine
period as well the same dependence may have been preserved (we must
also remember the modern and contemporary history: most of the current
inhabitants of the island are Cretans. We should not forget that during
the 8th –9th centuries Crete was under Arabic occupation (Nicefor
Fokas conquers Crete back in the early 10th century). For instance,
the silver coin found near Hag. Myron church coming from Leon IV –
Hazar’s time, dating in the early 9th century, we could not say whether
it comes from Byzantine locals or pirates who were paid with silver
or gold coins.
- After digging the tombs, the bones must be analyzed to determine
whether in a tomb where several people were buried those individuals
belonged to the same family or whether the groups of tombs belong
to a clan settled in a certain area. Currently we believe that there
were families that owned a certain area where they had their dwellings
and annexes and where they buried their dead. we believe that the
discovered wine presses were jointly used by a family.
- Again based on the bone analysis, we could find out the age average
and gender of the people who lived here, and we could also estimate
the period of time when they inhabited the island. This estimation
may be done if we determine the buried people’s relative chronology.
Making the sum of the individuals’ ages, we could determine how many
generations we are talking about.
- Another important chapter is the analysis of the Byzantine pottery.
Until now, following the surveys, the discovered pottery is very fragmented,
but identifiable. Most of the items are the Peacock - Williams LR4
Having analyzed all these elements, we will try to determine what
the positioning of the island was within the Byzantine Empire, what
the religious and economic dependencies of its inhabitants were.