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Conclusions

    A traditional archaeological understanding of the past is achieved by comparing the evidence among different excavated sites.  In this manner a series of sites (settlements, cemeteries, special purpose locales) are interrelated and, on the basis of judgments about their size, wealth, and duration, a hierarchy of places is constructed.  Phases of occupation are correlated across the sites and changes in the archaeological assemblages are compared, thereby enabling a rough historical sketch of the developments of the society designated by the archaeological culture.  Two major weaknesses in this approach are uncertainty about the actual size and importance of the sites studied and uncertainty about the actual number, kind and size of undiscovered sites in the landscape around them.   By placing the study of the landscape at the center of the Nemea Valley Archaeological Project we have attempted to address this problem.
    Study of the landscape entails gathering a wide variety of information.   As indicated above, the recognition of sites of human activity is the primary archaeological goal, but any study of the landscape necessitates understanding the context in which human activity takes place and also requires grappling with changes in that context.  The contextual issues concern the environment and there are two issues to be reckoned with, natural changes and human induced ones.  We have attempted to gather information that would help us sort these matters out, and we have been mindful that it is necessary to take a very long view of the history of human activity in the landscape to do this.  Thus we have attempted to recover information from all period of human activity, which in the Nemea Valley begins in the Middle Palaeolithic and extends to the present.  Through our program of pollen analysis and geomorphological study we have learned what the basis characteristics of the landscape were prior to human occupation.  Combining the record from these specialist studies we now recognize the anthropogenic (human induced) changes in the landscape and can pinpoint different episodes when human activity dramatically disturbed the region.  This has led us to recognize episodes of intensive utilization of the valley alternating with periods of minimal use, if not actual abandonment.  These begin early in the Neolithic and continue down to the present.
    As we examined these episodes we realized that their study must center on the question of human intervention, particularly on the probability that humans so disrupted the natural environment that it no longer sustained substantial settlement and forced a retreat from it or a different manner of utilizing it.  Examination of this question further in most periods requires a much more detailed chronological understanding of the phases of human activity than we have been able to gather and an equally more detailed picture of the political economy.  Yet at this point it is also clear how the social anthropological study of the valley contributes to this broad goal, for it is precisely in the study of the last two centuries of the valley's history that the kind of detailed documentation necessary for such study is available.  Using the historical records available in government agencies and in township archives and comparing them to oral accounts given by local inhabitants, Professor Sutton has reconstructed a history of settlement, economy and social relations in the valley that provides a useful model of the changes in human habitation of the valley.  Her research covers the major areas of interest to the whole project: the effects of external political economies on settlement and use of the valley, the different forms of economic activity in the valley, social relations among the inhabitants and the demographic and geographic effects they have on settlement and landuse.  Thus the more detailed record available to study the modern period offers us a model of how in one historic instance various factors combine to stimulate settlement and land use on the one hand and on the other can militate against them.  In no way, however, can the model thus derived be generalized to help explain the other periods; it merely provides directions for us to look for more evidence.
    So what then have we learned specifically for each period?  The following section offers general conclusions and directions for further research.

Palaeolithic
Neolithic
Early Bronze Age
Middle Bronze Age
Late Bronze Age
Geometric Period
Classical-Hellenistic
Hellenistic-Early Roman
Roman
Early Christian
Byzantine
Ottoman
Modern
 

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