NORWEGIAN ARCADIA SURVEY – PART III

nas-iii-team-2016-in-formationThe Norwegian Arcadia Survey III (NAS III) is the third survey project in the area of ancient Tegea, Arcadia under the aegis of the Norwegian Institute at Athens. The survey is directed by Mari Malmer (University of Gothenburg) and is conducted as a two-season project by an international team of researchers (2016-2017).

NAS III will investigate new areas and employ new methods in an effort to better understand the pre-urban landscape around Tegea and its relationship with the sanctuary of Athena Alea during its early period, ca. 950-500 B.C. Little is known about the inhabitants of Tegea in this early period beyond the evidence from the sanctuaries; thenas-iii-mari-and-landscape Geometric period is essentially unknown outside the cultic context. The thriving cult of Athena Alea and the construction of other sanctuaries from the Geometric and early Archaic periods are testaments of early activity in the area, but the appearance of the urban centre rather suddenly around 550-500 B.C. is the first sign of a real settlement. Where and how did the Tegeans live? The gradual elaboration of the sanctuary culminating in the construction of the monumental temple ca. 600 B.C speaks of a degree of organisation that seems incompatible with a population predominantly engaged in mobile pastoralism – yet this occurs at least half a century before any real traces of habitation appears.

Areas not thoroughly investigated will now be covered by means of a detailed form of field survey and pXRF (portable X-Ray Fluorescence) will be utilized for scientific ceramic studies in a diachronic and synchronic perspective. Parallel to the investigation of pre-urban settlements NAS III will conduct a geophysical survey with GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar), 2D-resistivity imaging and core drillings. The survey project aims to bridge the gap between the sanctuary and its surroundings through a comparison of the material found in the field with that of the sanctuary, and through a geophysical investigation of the landscape.

tasos-evan-emma-nas-iii-2016NAS III aims to contribute to a better understanding of the ancient landscape in both human and geological terms. Documenting human activity in the pre-urban phase will provide an opportunity to understand the dynamics behind the early polis, from scattered hamlets to an urban core. Tegea is in many ways a unique case, as the polis in political terms (marked by the construction of the monumental temple) and the polis in physical terms (marked by the construction of the urban, planned centre) takes places in two distinct phases. In other poleis the process was more gradual and therefore difficult to study. This makes Tegea an ideal case for investigating the rise of the polis.

In 2016, the NAS III team successfully located and documented a small, pre-urban site in an area called Metousia just south of Alea. The site appears to have had continuous occupation from the second half of the 8th century B.C. to the time of the construction of the urban centre and beyond, lending support to project hypotheses.