Skip to main content

Terraced Fields, Farming, and Farmers at the Settlements of Kalamianos and Stiri, Greece

  • 118 Accesses

Part of the Themes in Contemporary Archaeology book series (TCA)

Abstract

This chapter focuses on the adoption of agricultural terracing as a technological enhancement that resulted in changes to cultivation practices and distribution and organization of farm labour. The macroscopic investigation and systematic documentation of terraces in and around the settlements of Kalamianos and Stiri in the south-eastern Corinthia in southern Greece revealed that several large systems of terraces were likely contemporary to these Late Bronze Age settlements in the productive hinterlands of nearby Argolid palace-centres like Mycenae. It is suggested here that the construction of several systems of agricultural terraces, likely achieved with some palatial support, prompted the implementation of diverse cultivation techniques that would have altered labour needs throughout the agricultural calendar. Garden terraces within the settlement of Kalamianos emphasize the variety of growing environments enabled by terraced farming and raise questions regarding the identity of farm workers and the creation of gendered agricultural spaces.

Keywords

  • Field systems
  • Terraces
  • Ancient farming
  • Mycenaean
  • Bronze Age
  • Women’s work

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-71652-3_8
  • Chapter length: 14 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   109.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-71652-3
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Hardcover Book
USD   149.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 8.1
Fig. 8.2
Fig. 8.3
Fig. 8.4
Fig. 8.5

Notes

  1. 1.

    The Middle Bronze Age on the island of Crete, which includes the Middle Minoan IA to IIIB periods, lasts from c. 2100/2050 to 1700/1675 BC. The absolute chronology used here follows Manning (2010).

  2. 2.

    The terraces on Kythera are dated to the Neopalatial period on Crete, which lasts from Middle Minoan IIIA to Late Minoan IB, c. 1750/1700–1470/1460 BC.

  3. 3.

    These terraces are tentatively dated to the Minoan Proto-palatial and Neopalatial periods (Middle Minoan IB to Late Minoan IB, c. 1925/1900–1470/1460 BC) based on masonry style and associated sherds, but, as is frequently the case with terraces encountered during surface surveys, the chronology of terrace construction is based on circumstantial evidence that awaits corroboration by other means. “Sherds on the surface” (Betancourt et al. 2005), however, are not always the most reliable means of establishing a secure date, especially if they are the only factor considered, as opposed to the study presented here which examines multiple lines of evidence.

  4. 4.

    Two terraces were excavated on the island of Pseira. Terrace G 2 is dated to the Middle Bronze Age (Middle Minoan period, c. 2100/2050–1700/1675 BC); terrace Q 21, the terrace referred to here, is dated to the Late Bronze Age (Late Minoan I, c. 1700/1675–1470/1460 BC). Q 21 appears to have been a contour terrace, although there is some confusion about its classification in the original publication (Hope Simpson et al. 2005) as well as references to it in other scholarship (Krahtopoulou and Frederick 2008).

  5. 5.

    Analysis of the distribution of moveable finds indicate that in some cases erosional processes moved Late Bronze Age material into these basins, but not always. Early Bronze Age material, for example, was found in high density in down slope areas of a basin north of the settlement of Stiri from the settlement but no finds from that period were collected in the flat areas of the basin, whereas Late Bronze Age material was also found within the basin (Kvapil 2012).

  6. 6.

    Palaima (2015), for example, connects the use of pairs of working oxen, loaned by the palace on Crete, to the harvest of approximately a million litres of grain, as recorded on tablet KN F(2) 852.

References

  • Alcock, S. E., Cherry, J. F., & Davis, J. L. (1994). Intensive survey, agricultural practice and the classical landscape of Greece. In I. Morris (Ed.), Classical Greece: Ancient histories and modern archaeologies (pp. 137–170). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bennett, E. L., & Chadwick, J. (1958). The Mycenae tablets II. Transactions of the American Philological Society, 48(1), 1–122.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Betancourt, P. P. (2006). Survey conclusions. In P. P. Betancourt (Ed.), The Chrysokamino metallurgy workshop and its territory (Hesperia supplements 36) (pp. 257–278). Princeton: American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

    Google Scholar 

  • Betancourt, P. P., Davaras, K., & Hope Simpson, R. (2005). Pseira IX: The archaeological survey of Pseira Island part 2. The intensive surface survey. Philadelphia: INSTAP Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bevan, A., & Conolly, J. (2004). GIS, archaeological survey, and landscape archaeology on the island of Kythera, Greece. Journal of Field Archaeology, 29(1/2), 123–138.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Billigmeier, J.-C., & Turner, J. A. (1981). The socio-economic roles of women in Mycenaean Greece: A brief survey from evidence of the Linear B tablets. Women’s Studies, 8, 3–20.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bintliff, J. L., & Snodgrass, A. M. (1988). Off-site pottery distributions: A regional and interregional perspective. Current Anthropology, 29(3), 506–513.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Buxó, i., Capdevila, R., Alonso, N., Canal, D., Echave, C., & González, I. (1997). Archaeobotanical remains of hulled and naked cereals in the Iberian Peninsula. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 6(1), 15–23.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Chadwick, J., Bennett, E. L., French, E. B., Taylour, W., Verdelis, N. M., & Williams, C. K., II. (1963). The Mycenae tablets III. Transactions of the American Philological Society, 52(7), 1–76.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chase, A. F., Chase, D. Z., Awe, J. J., Weishampel, J. F., Iannone, G., Moyes, H., Yaeger, J., & Brown, M. K. (2014). The use of LiDAR in understanding the ancient Maya landscape. Caracol and Western Belize. Advances in Archaeological Practice, 2(3), 208–221.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Dal Corso, M., Marchesini, M., Leonardi, G., & Kirleis, W. (2012). Environmental changes and human impact during the Bronze Age in northern Italy: On-site palynological investigation at Fondo Paviani, Verona. In J. Kneisel, W. Kirleis, M. Dal Corso, N. Taylor, & V. Tiedke (Eds.), Collapse or continuity? Environment and development of Bronze Age human landscapes. Proceedings of the international workshop socio-environmental dynamics over the last 12,000 years: The creation of landscapes II (14th–18th march 2011) in Kiel (pp. 71–83). Bonn: Verlag Dr. Rudolf Habelt GmbH.

    Google Scholar 

  • Davidovich, U., Porat, N., Gadot, Y., Avni, Y., & Lipschits, O. (2012). Archaeological investigations and OSL dating of terraces at Ramat Rahel, Israel. Journal of Field Archaeology, 37(3), 192–208.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Flood, J. M., & Soles, J. S. (2014). Water management in Neopalatial Crete and the development of the Mediterranean dry-season. In G. Touchais, R. Laffineur, & F. Rougemont (Eds.), PHYSIS. L’environnement naturel et al relation homme-milieu dans le monde égéen protohistorique. Actes de la 14e Recontre égéenne internationale, Paris, Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art (INHA) 11–14 décembre 2012 (pp. 79–84). Leuven - Liege: Peeters.

    Google Scholar 

  • Forbes, H. A. (1982). Strategies and soils: Technology, production and environment in the Peninsula of Methana, Greece. PhD thesis, University of Pennsylvania.

    Google Scholar 

  • Frederick, C., & Krahtopoulou, A. (2000). Deconstructing agricultural terraces: Examining the influence of construction method on stratigraphy, dating and archaeological visibility. In P. Halstead & C. Frederick (Eds.), Landscape and land use in postglacial Greece (pp. 79–94). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • French, C. A. I., & Whitelaw, T. (1999). Soil erosion, agricultural terracing and site formation processes at Markiani, Amorgos, Greece: The micromorphological perspective. Geoarchaeology, 14(2), 151–189.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Halstead, P. (1987a). Man and other animals in later Greek prehistory. The Annual of the British School at Athens, 82, 71–83.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Halstead, P. (1987b). Traditional and ancient rural economy in Mediterranean Europe: Plus ça change? The Journal of Hellenic Studies, 107, 77–87.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Halstead, P. (1992a). Agriculture in the Bronze Age Aegean: Towards a model of palatial economy. In B. Wells (Ed.), Agriculture in Ancient Greece (pp. 104–117). Swedish Institute in Athens: Stockholm.

    Google Scholar 

  • Halstead, P. (1992b). The Mycenaean palatial economy: Making the most of the gaps in the evidence. Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society, 38, 57–86.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Halstead, P. (1995). Plough and power: The economic and social significance of cultivation with the ox-drawn Ard in the Mediterranean. Bulletin on Sumerian Agriculture, 8, 11–22.

    Google Scholar 

  • Halstead, P. (1999). Mycenaean agriculture: The nature of palatial intervention. Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, 43, 211–212.

    Google Scholar 

  • Halstead, P. (2001). Mycenaean wheat, flax and sheep: Palatial intervention in farming and its implications for rural society. In S. Voutsaki & J. T. Killen (Eds.), Economy and politics in the Mycenaean palace states. Proceedings of a conference held on 1–3 July 1999 in the Faculty of Classics, Cambridge (pp. 38–50). Cambridge: Cambridge Philological Society.

    Google Scholar 

  • Halstead, P. (2004). Life after Mediterranean polyculture: The subsistence subsystem and the emergence of civilisation revisited. In J. C. Barrett & P. Halstead (Eds.), The emergence of civilisation revisited (pp. 189–206). Oxford: Oxbow Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Halstead, P., & Jones, G. (1989). Agrarian ecology in the Greek Islands: Time stress, scale and risk. The Journal of Hellenic Studies, 109, 41–55.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Hope Simpson, R., Goldberg, P., & Clark, J. A. (2005). The two agricultural terraces chosen for excavation. In P. P. Betancourt, K. Davaras, & R. Hope Simpson (Eds.), Pseira IX: The archaeological survey of Pseira Island, part 2: The intensive surface survey (pp. 251–256). Philadelphia: INSTAP Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jansen, A. (1994). Stations along the roads in the area of Mycenae: An analysis of the Mycenaean road system and its relation to the Mycenaean State. PhD thesis, University of Pennsylvania.

    Google Scholar 

  • Killen, J. T. (1993). The oxen’s names on the Knossos Ch tablets. Minos, 27(28), 101–107.

    Google Scholar 

  • Knauss, J. (1987). Die Melioration des Kopaisbeckens durch die Minyer im 2 Jh.v.Chr. Kopais 2 - Wasserbau und Siedlungsbedingungen im Alterum. Munich: Obeinach Technische Universität München.

    Google Scholar 

  • Knauss, J. (2001). Späthelladische Wasserbauten: Erkundungen zu wasserwirtschaftlichen Infrastrukturen der mykenischen Welt. Munich: Technische Universität München.

    Google Scholar 

  • Krahtopoulou, A., & Frederick, C. (2008). The stratigraphic implications of long-term terrace agriculture in dynamic landscapes: Polycyclic terracing from Kythera Island, Greece. Geoarchaeology, 23(4), 550–585.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Kroll, H. (1982). Kulturpflanzen von Tiryns. Archäologischer Anzeiger, 1982, 467–485.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kunen, J. L. (2001). Ancient Maya agricultural installations and the development of intensive agriculture in NW Belize. Journal of Field Archaeology, 28(3/4), 325–346.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Kvapil, L.A. (2012). The Agricultural Terraces of Korphos-Kalamianos: A Case Study of the Dynamic Relationship Between Land Use and Socio-Political Organization in Prehistoric Greece. Cincinnati: PhD thesis, University of Cincinnati.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kvapil, L.A. (forthcoming). Bronze Age terracing systems. In: T.F. Tartaron & D.J. Pullen, eds. The Saronic Harbors Archaeological Research Project: Engaging land and sea in the Saronic Gulf, Greece.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kvapil, L. A., Meier, J. S., Price, G. C., & Shelton, K. S. (2019). Beyond city and country at Mycenae: Urban and rural practices in a subsistence landscape. In D. Garcia, R. Orgeolet, M. Pomadère, & J. Zurbach (Eds.), Country in the city. Agricultural functions in protohistoric urban settlements (Aegean and Western Mediterranean) (pp. 122–136). Oxford: Archaeopress.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Lane, M. F., Horsely, T. J., Charami, A., & Bittner, W. S. (2016). Archaeological geophysics of a Bronze Age agricultural landscape: The Aroura Project, central mainland Greece. Journal of Field Archaeology, 41(3), 271–296.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Lansing, J. S. (1991). Priests and programmers: Technologies of power in the engineered landscape of Bali. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Manning, S. W. (2010). Chronology and terminology. In E. H. Cline (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean (pp. 11–28). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Miller, W. M. (1946). A threshing ring in southern Ohio. Hoosier Folklore, 5(1), 3–13.

    Google Scholar 

  • Moody, J. A., & Grove, A. T. (1990). Terraces and enclosure walls in the Cretan landscape. In S. Bottema, G. Entjes-Nieborg, & W. van Zeist (Eds.), Man’s role in the shaping of the eastern Mediterranean landscape: Proceedings of the INQUA/BAI symposium on the impact of ancient man on the landscape of the eastern Mediterranean region and the Near East, Groningen, Netherlands, 6–9 March (Vol. 1989, pp. 183–194). Rotterdam: A.A. Balkema.

    Google Scholar 

  • Murray, P., & Kardulias, P. N. (1986). A modern-site survey in the southern Argolid, Greece. Journal of Field Archaeology, 13(1), 21–41.

    Google Scholar 

  • Olsen, B. A. (1998). Women, children and the family in the late Aegean Bronze Age: Differences in Minoan and Mycenaean constructions of gender. World Archaeology, 29(3), 380–392.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Olsen, B. A. (2014). Women in Mycenaean Greece. The Linear B tablets from Pylos and Knossos. London/New York: Routledge.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Palaima, T. (2015). The Mycenaean mobilization of labor in agriculture and building projects: Institution, individuals, compensation and status in the Linear B tablets. In P. Steinkeller & M. Hudson (Eds.), Labor in the ancient world (Vol. 5, pp. 617–647). ISLET-Verlag: Dresden.

    Google Scholar 

  • Palmer, R. (1999). Perishable goods in Mycenaean texts. In S. Deger-Jalkotzy, S. Hiller, & O. Panagl (Eds.), Floreant Studia Mycenaea. Akten des X. Internationalen Mykenologischen Colloquiums in Salzburg vom 1.-5. Mai 1995. Band I (pp. 463–485). Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pullen, D. J. (1992). Ox and plow in the early Bronze Age Aegean. American Journal of Archaeology, 96(1), 45–54.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Pullen, D. J. (2015). How to build a Mycenaean town: The architecture of Kalamianos. In A.-L. Schallin & I. Tournavitou (Eds.), Mycenaeans up to date. The archaeology of the northeastern Peloponnese - current concepts and new directions (pp. 377–390). Stockholm: Svenska Institutet i Athen.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pullen, D. J. (2019a). Agricultural self-sufficiency and Mycenaean Kalamianos on the Saronic Gulf. In D. Garcia, R. Orgeolet, M. Pomadére and J. Zurbach (Eds.), Country in the city. Agricultural functions in protohistoric urban settlements (Aegean and Western Mediterranean) (pp. 137–151). Archaeopress: Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pullen, D. J. (2019b). If you build it, will they come? Will they Stay? The Mycenaean port town of Kalamianos. In A. Gyucha (Ed.), Coming together. Comparative approaches to population aggregation and early urbanization (pp. 215–238). State University of New York Press: Albany.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rackham, O., & Moody, J. A. (1992). Terraces. In B. Wells (Ed.), Agriculture in ancient Greece. Proceedings of the seventh international symposium at the Swedish Archaeological Institute at Athens, 16–17 May 1990 (pp. 123–133). Svenska Institutet i Athen: Stockholm.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schallin, A.-L. (1996). The Berbati-Limnes archaeological survey. The late Helladic period. In B. Wells (Ed.), The Berbati-Limnes archaeological survey 1988–1990 (pp. 123–175). Svenska Institutet i Athen: Stockholm.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shelmerdine, C. W. (1985). The perfume industry of Mycenaean Pylos. Göteborg: P. Åströms Förlag.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sherratt, A. (1983). The secondary exploitation of animals in the Old World. World Archaeology, 15(1), 90–104.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Spencer, J., & Hale, G. (1961). The origin, nature, and distribution of agricultural terracing. Pacific Viewpoint, 2(1), 1–40.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Tartaron, T. F. (2013). Maritime networks in the Mycenaean world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Tartaron, T. F. (2015). Late Bronze Age architecture and regional dynamics at Korphos in the Corinthia. In A.-L. Schallin & I. Tournavitou (Eds.), Mycenaeans up to date. The archaeology of the northeastern Peloponnese - current concepts and new directions (pp. 391–401). Stockholm: Svenska Institutet i Athen.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tartaron, T. F., Rothaus, R. M., & Pullen, D. J. (2003). Searching for prehistoric Aegean harbors with GIS, geomorphology, and archaeology. Athena Review, 3(4), 27–36.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tartaron, T. F., Gregory, T. E., Pullen, D. J., Noller, J. S., Rothaus, R. M., Rife, J. L., Tzortopoulou-Gregory, L., Schon, R., Caraher, W. R., Pettegrew, D. K., & Nakassis, D. (2006). The eastern Korinthia archaeological survey: Integrated methods for a dynamic landscape. Hesperia, 75, 453–523.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Tartaron, T. F., Pullen, D. J., Dunn, R. K., Tzortopoulou-Gregory, L., Boyce, J. E., & Dill, A. (2011). The Saronic harbors archaeological research project (SHARP): Investigations at Mycenaean Kalamianos, 2007-2009. Hesperia, 80, 559–634.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Treacy, J. M. (1987). Building and rebuilding agricultural terraces in the Colca Valley of Peru. Yearbook, Conference of Latin American Geographers, 13, 51–57.

    Google Scholar 

  • Treacy, J. M., & Denevan, W. M. (1994). The creation of cultivable land through terracing. In N. F. Miller & K. L. Gleason (Eds.), The archaeology of garden and field (pp. 91–110). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • van Zeist, W., Wasylikowa, K., & Behre, K.-E. (Eds.). (1991). Progress in Old World palaeoethnobotany. A retrospective view on the occasion of 20 years of the international work Group for Palaeoethnobotany. Rotterdam: A. A. Balkema.

    Google Scholar 

  • Watrous, V. L. (2012). The harbor complex of the Minoan town at Gournia. American Journal of Archaeology, 116, 521–541.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Weiberg, E. (2014). Timing, perception and response. Human dimensions of Erosion and sedimentations in the Greek Bronze Age. In G. Touchais, R. Laffineur, & F. Rougemont (Eds.), PHYSIS. L’environnement naturel et al relation homme-milieu dans le monde égéen protohistorique. Actes de la 14e Recontre égéenne internationale, Paris, Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art (INHA) 11–14 décembre 2012 (pp. 41–48). Leuven - Liege: Peeters.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wells, B., Runnels, C. N., & Zangger, E. (1990). The Berbati-Limnes archaeological survey. The 1988 season. Opuscula Atheniensius, 18, 207–238.

    Google Scholar 

  • Whitelaw, T. (1991). The ethnoarchaeology of recent rural settlement and land use in northwest Keos. In J. F. Cherry, J. L. Davis, & E. Mantzourani (Eds.), Landscape archaeology as long-term history: Northern Keos in the Cycladic Islands from earliest settlement until modern times (Monumenta Archaeologica 5, 16) (pp. 403–454). Los Angeles: UCLA Institute of Archaeology.

    Google Scholar 

  • Whitelaw, T. (1994). An ethnoarchaeological study of rural land-use in north-west Keos: Insights and implications for the study of past Aegean landscapes. In P. N. Doukellis & L. G. Mendoni (Eds.), Structures Rurales et Sociétés Antiques: Actes du Colloque de Corfou (14–16 1992) (pp. 163–186). Paris: Les Belles Lettres.

    Google Scholar 

  • Whittaker, J. C. (2000). Alonia and Dhoukanes: The ethnoarchaeology of threshing in Cyprus. Near Eastern Archaeology, 63(2), 62–69.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Wylock, M. (1972). Les Aromates dans les Tablettes Ge de Mycènes. Studi Micenei ed Egeo-Anatolici, 15, 105–146.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Tom Tartaron and Daniel Pullen for allowing and encouraging my fieldwork as part of SHARP, and the editors of this volume for their insightful comments on the text.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lynne A. Kvapil .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2021 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Kvapil, L.A. (2021). Terraced Fields, Farming, and Farmers at the Settlements of Kalamianos and Stiri, Greece. In: Arnoldussen, S., Johnston, R., Løvschal, M. (eds) Europe's Early Fieldscapes . Themes in Contemporary Archaeology. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-71652-3_8

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-71652-3_8

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-71651-6

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-71652-3

  • eBook Packages: HistoryHistory (R0)