The second field season of VLAP is over since over a week, but the many administrative issues related to the project makes it still very much alive to us involved in it! Reports to complete, material to process, applications to write.

…but what a season it was. Perfect weather every day except one, giving us in total 14 days of fieldwork with blue skies and temperatures below +37°C.

Not only the weather conditions were favourable. The municipality of Palamas had made us an incredible favour by mowing all the thistles and thorny weeds that normally cover the site. From a prickly hell to a geophysicist’s paradise.

Drone view highlighting the difference between mowed and non-mowed sections of the archaeological site.

Thanks to this, we were able to conduct a magnetometric survey of nearly 90% of the ancient lower settlement; an area corresponding to more than 17 football fields, of which nearly all was completed in just 10 days. Derek Pitman, supervising the magnetometry unit, was extremely pleased to see his heroic one-man efforts of last year dwarfed by the rapid pace of his students.

Hayden and the magnetometer working his way through the fields south of Strongilovouni.

To improve his image, he then took off to do more aerial photography with the project drone. Provided with extra batteries, he managed to take more than 14000 photographs of the hill and the surrounding fields, including some of rather confused looking stray dogs.

Derek trying not to steer his drone into the sheer mountainside.

This year’s students were all exceptionally hard-working, especially considering the long days and the hot weather. Without them, we could never have completed our mission, and we’re certain that they will have a bright future within archaeology.

Johan Klange introducing the archaeology of the hilltop to this year’s newcomers.

Stunning view of Patoma, taken by amateur mountaineer and professional archaeologist Johan Klange from the steep south slopes of Strongilovouni.

Atop the very steep hill of Strongilovouni, work with the recording and documentation of the extensive remains of fortifications and other structures were continued by Johan Klange and his unit. At the very last day in the field, we had completed the digital recording of nearly 100% of the known architectural remains (including 6 km of walls), including the scanty fragments of buildings in the lower settlement. Very satisfactory results, especially considering the hardships of our team members who had to scale the slopes every day to reach the remains on the summit.

Tractor-master Angelos Davadzikos returns to site.

Just as last year, Rich Potter and his Ground Penetrating Radar unit were joined by the master of tractors Angelos Davadzikos. Also benefitting from the mowed terrain, they zig-zaged more swiftly over the ancient remains, often covering in one day more than what was possible during the whole past season.

The GPR unit is ready to go!

Waiting for the sheep to finish grazing.

Field directors Fotini Tsiouka and Robin Rönnlund sometimes felt a bit superfluous, which is a good sign that everything is working just fine. Between the responsibilities of administrating work, they conducted a pedestrian survey of the fields surrounding the archaeological site, trying to identify the maximum extent of the ancient settlement, as well as the chronology of some of the visible pottery found on the ground.

The total material – after being studied and processed – will provide us with a complete overview of the accessible archaeological remains at Vlochos, and this without excavating. We do not rule out that excavation will ever take place again at Strongilovouni, but we think that the work of VLAP shows the great potential in non-invasive methods for large-size sites such at Vlochos.

The full team, including directors, field directors, research members and students plus special guests gathered for lunch with the mayor of Palamas, mr Sakellariou.

As stated above, the municipality of Palamas provided us with much assistance, but also with great hospitality. We all hope that VLAP will lead to future archaeological work in the area of the municipality, to give further light to the truly amazing archaeology of the region.

Thank you,

/The VLAP team