15 - Spring Cleaning at Stelida? Disentangling Depositional Practices at the Minoan-Type Peak Sanctuary


Kristine Mallinson, Westminster College; Tristan Carter, McMaster University; Shannon Crewson, McMaster University; Matt Harder, University of Missouri-Columbia; Claudette Lopez, University of Cambridge; Vagia Mastrogiannopoulou, independent scholar; Dimitra Mylona, INSTAP-EC; Marie N. Pareja, University of Pennsylvania; Georgia Tsartsidou, Ephoreia of Palaeoanthropology-Speleology; and Dimitris Athanasoulis, Ephorate of Cycladic Antiquities


In 2019, excavation revealed a Minoan-type peak sanctuary atop the hill of Stelida on northwestern Naxos. The site comprises a rectangular building on the highest peak, flanked by natural terraces, where excavation has detailed an array of material culture typically associated with such ritual loci: Minoan type pottery (albeit mainly locally made), bronze figurines, a ladle, pebbles, and animal bones inter alia. A major project aim has been to detail the spatial configuration of these finds, as a means of reconstructing social action, and the character of those participating. Methodologically this involves the quantification of each context (soil volume) and its material culture by type (number/weight), 3D mapping of finds using dGPS and photogrammetry, 100 percent wet sieving, standardized sampling for phytoliths, plus micromorphology and artifact analyses to reconstruct taphonomic processes.

This poster details an all too rare example of a particular depositional act from these sanctuaries, namely the digging of a pit on the eastern terrace whose contents currently represent the highest concentration of finds on site. The finds are dominated by pottery with over 100 handleless conical cups, high status pouring vessels, storage and cooking pots, plus metal artifacts, bones, pebbles, and wall plaster. Based on the character, freshness, and fragmentation of the material, we argue that this assemblage derives from an episode of cleaning and refurbishing the sanctuary building itself—a key insight to the ritual actions that were performed in a structure that no longer exists above threshold level.