Between coastal stretches of land and mountainous landscapes, the eastern Mediterranean region offers an enormous variety of diverse habitats. The permit excavations of Aigeira and Lousoi are therefore the object not only of research interests in the area of settlement archaeology, but also of environmental archaeology.
The Peloponnese is home to a variety of very different natural and settlement environments, each with extremely diverse orographic and climatic challenges for human societies. The two Arcadian settlement environments of Aigeira and Lousoi, both investigated by the OeAI for decades, could not for example be more different: Aigeira lies above the Gulf of Corinth in an advantageous location from a military-strategic perspective, and fishing grounds as well as agriculturally usable land are present in this Mediterranean favourable location, yet nevertheless the water supply is difficult. In contrast, the environs of Lousoi, the high plateau of Soudena, is much more difficult to access, is not optimal for the cultivation of typically Mediterranean produce (figs, wine, olives) and during the winter season is regularly flooded. The bioarchaeological research attempts here to better understand the strategies applied in dealing with these preconditions.
The most recent excavations below the ancient acropolis of Aigeira have revealed comprehensive archaeozoological finds that enable the reconstruction of practices of animal husbandry and economic systems in a broad chronological framework: goats and sheep, followed by cattle were the most important domestic animals. These animals were apparently slaughtered primarily in their middle years. Such a profile of age at slaughter speaks for the usage of secondary products such as milk, hair or wool, but also for the intent for the optimum yield of meat. The cattle must have been small in stature and of delicate frame. Amongst the significantly less common finds of pig bones, which in addition show a lower age at slaughter, were also found decidedly larger bones – all of these must have originated from wild boar. Noteworthy are also horse and donkey remains which could be attested as well as the pelvic bone of a lion. Red deer and hare bones, as well as a few seashells and snails complete the faunal remains.
In the ancient polis of Lousoi, archaeobotanical and archaeozoological analyses form part of the interdisciplinary investigation of the functional and spatial structure of the public centre public centre of the Hellenistic city.
The systematic study of botanic macro-fossils and mammalian bones from selected contexts in the area of the central urban sanctuary to the east of the Hellenistic agora as well as from another small sacred building in the immediate vicinity sheds light on the great importance that the agricultural economy and animal husbandry had for the inhabitants of the karst plain, located at ca. 1,000 m above sea level. On the other hand, they also provide vital information for the contextual interpretation of the excavation results.
Whereas the evidence in the area of the central sanctuary indicates the conducting of ritual banquets in the heart of the city, the botanic macro-remains from the usage strata at Monument A ought to indicate cultic festivals that had a close connection with the hope for fertility and good harvests, and possibly also to death and burgeoning new life.
Aigeira: Animal husbandry and subsistence
Lousoi: The bioarchaeology of two cult sites