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Over the years 1984-1990 three survey teams, each with a leader and consisting of six surveyors, systematically walked over the landscape recording information. Surveyors traversed areas designated arbitrarily as "tracts". Tracts could be a vineyard, a plowed field, a ravine, an arbitary portion of an overgrown slope. Each surveyor was 15 m. apart from the other. Surveyors walked 100 m. lines and recorded what they saw. For example they noted walls, wells, graves, etc. For each 100m . traverse the surveyors also picked up and bagged diagnostic artifacts, such as pottery, chipped stone, etc. Thus the most discrete unit of information would be a 100 m. traverse of one surveyor. However, the information gathered by a team working within a tract was normally summed for each tract. This information was then plotted by the survey directors, who were able to determine if the tract was of potential interest.
Maps plotting distributions of tracts visually display the information gathered. These maps can be generated according to many criteria. For example plots could be made of the distribution of different periods of pottery, of the distribution of lithic material, of the total pottery in the tract, of the visibility of the tract. The last instance is important since it permits analysis taking into account missing data.
Significant clusters of material in a single tract or among contiguous ones alerted the surveyors to the potential significance of an area. Second visits by survey teams attempted to determine of such an anomalous distribution was to be designated as a "site", that is a significant distribution caused by human agency.
When a tract report was suspected to be meaningful in terms of human occupation or use, a team would revisit it. One method employed in revisitation was to collect material along orthogonal transects, assuming that such transects would register the increasing concentration of artifactual material hypothesized to lie at the core of a "site". This method, however, needs to be controlled by other considerations. For example two tracts (209,213) located on a ridge in the Tretos Pass were initially thought to be two "sites" -- one on the peak and one on a ledge downslope. Further examination of the artifacts and exploration by the project geologist, however, demonstrated that 209 was created by material eroded from the summit. The revisit of this site, known as 213, employed a different method, that of laying a grid over the area to be studied. A good example of gridded collection is Site 204, which was an area partially exposed by deep plowing. Here collection and recording by grid squares neatly disclosed the different distributions of material of Early Helladic and of Classical -- Hellenistic. In the former instance the remains conform to our expectations of typical settlement debris, while the latter area disclosed fragments of ashlar masonry, pottery and a fragmentary terracotta figurine showing a bearded male, possibly a deity. We concluded that the Classical -- Hellenistic site was probably a rural sanctuary.
The collection of material by tracts was especially useful for studying the internal distributions of the ancient city of Phlious. As is apparent in the illustration ceramic finds were particularly rich at the southern and western foot of the akropolis, much less dense on the akropolis itself. The one dense distribution on the north flank of the akropolis was a rich concentration of figurines marking the location of an ancient shrine.
Further north another tract contained material plowed up from a cemetery. Here survey showed its worth for rescuing a recently disturbed site and recovering intact vessels, such as an Early Geometric flask.
A study by Susan Alcock of the different distributions by period at Phlious illuminates the long history of occupation of this site. Another technique employed at Phlious was the mapping of architectural blocks. This was useful in identifying the course of the city wall and in providing a catalogue and map of architectural members from buildings whose foundations are no longer visible.
At the regional level, the distribution of sites throughout the survey zone displays patterns which bear explanation. For example a dense string of sites follows the line of the Kelossa Pass and bears witness to the continuous use of this route down to the 19th century C.E. In fact the number of sites in this area exceeds that in the core area of the Nemea Valley. However, most of these sites are small, individual or a few structures at most. In general the sites in the valley, though fewer in number, are larger and more durable than those outside it, for example the Sanctuary of Zeus or the prehistoric settlement on Tsoungiza. More refined study, currently underway, will examine more detailed questions, such as the relative sizes of sites and their probable different functions. A diachronic comparative study of these data will provide further insight into the nature of settlement and landuse in the area.
The histogram at left of the sites by period discovered show a pattern of rising and falling numbers of sites. This is true whether one looks at the total number of sites in the survey area or divides it into the Nemea Valley proper and its margins. This observation raised questions for research. Does this information reflect periodic abandonment and resettlement or merely different approaches to landuse? What are the causes of these patterns? Is there a uniform principle at work, or many different and changing factors? How much of this pattern can be explained by environmental or ecologic factors, such as climate change or anthropogenic causes? To what extent are landuse and settlement in this region dependent upon external factors, such as external population centers, political and economic forces?
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