Implementing Survey in a Suburban Coastal Context: Reflections from the BEARS Project (20 min)


Grace Erny, University of California, Berkeley; and Maeve McHugh, University of Birmingham


Archaeological surveys in Greece have largely been conducted in rural landscapes with sparse modern habitation. The bay of Porto Rafti in East Attica forms a striking contrast to this norm. Rocky massifs with interspersed areas of intensively cultivated agricultural land surround the bay, and the shore is lined with densely packed houses and villas encroaching on sandy beaches, resulting in an influx of visitors every weekend. Several uninhabited islands lie in the bay’s waters. This variegated natural and built landscape posed challenges for the BEARS team, but it also presented an opportunity to rethink traditional survey methods and turn the unsurveyable into the surveyable. Fieldwalking at closely-spaced intervals with the goal of continuous land coverage is the traditional mainstay of Aegean pedestrian survey. In Porto Rafti, such an approach was impractical and not the best use of the survey team’s resources. In this paper, we present BEARS’s field methodology, which employed hybrid intensive-extensive survey units, gridded collections, built-feature mapping, and targeted intensive field walking. Our collection strategies ranged from timed total collections to targeted sampling of representative diagnostic materials. This suite of methods was developed in response to local conditions. We sought to capture as much information as possible about the diachronic and multifarious history of the bay and to answer targeted research questions, all without overwhelming our team or our storage facilities. Finally, we reflect on the lessons learned from surveying this diverse human and natural landscape. We stress the importance of designing flexible, targeted methods that move beyond dominant paradigms in Aegean survey.