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Michael C. Nelson > Leukos Survey Project, Greece
Michael C. Nelson
Michael C. Nelson
Omrit Excavations, Israel
Leukos Survey Project, Greece
QC Students in the Field

Leukos from the east

LSP: The Leukos Survey Project

The Site: Leukos

Leukos, on the western coast of the Greek island of Karpathos, was the site of a Late Roman and Early Byzantine port town.  Geographically, Leukos consists of three natural and sandy harbors, two peninsulas, a fortified promontory (Sokastro) projecting out into the Aegean Sea and overlooking the harbors from the north, and a broad coastal plain.  The western side of the site is bounded by a precipitous ridge, rising more than 50 meters above the coastal plain.  The ancient and medieval town wrapped around the harbors and extended out onto the peninsulas.  Small, exploratory excavations were conducted by the Greek Archaeological Service in 2000 and 2010 in order to make way for the ever-expanding tourist industry and the businesses that cater to the seasonal visitors.  These explorations revealed portions of the densely packed town, including industrial installations and storage rooms containing large pithoi-like jars. 

The Site: Sokastro

Sokastro is small islet just off the west coast of Karpathos and just to the north of Leukos. Sokastro was once connected to Karpathos via a land bridge but tectonic activity sometime in the Medieval or Early Modern period severed the connection. Today it is accessible only by boat or the adventurous swimmer. The island plateau was fortified and home to small settlement in the 11th and 12th centuries. The settlement consisted mainly of small 1-3 room domestic structures many of which were outfitted in with cisterns, numerous large community cisterns and one triple-apse church.

The Project

Fieldwork, conducted under the auspices of the Canadian Institute in Greece, at both Leukos and Sokastro cmae to conclusion in 2011 and publication is underway. The mission of the Leukos Survey Project was multi-faceted.  LSP was the first ever systematic and scientific archaeological program of investigations conducted on the island with contemporary methodologies used to understand and interpret the ancient material culture and the human modifications to the natural landscape.  LSP documented the entire landscape, including topography, vegetation, ancient and modern architecture, and natural and human-made features, with satellite image remote sensing, low-altitude, high-resolution kite photography and differentially-corrected GPS-assisted ground survey techniques.  The resulting field data was compiled and analyzed both two- and three-dimensionally with ArcGIS, PhotoModeler and Autocad Map 3D.  LSP also conducted intensive surface-artifact survey and recorded potsherd densities and distributions.  Ceramic and coin data was entered directly into the GPS units and instantly incorporated into the data model.  The project also included an archival search component and canvases ancient literature and 15-18th century maps for clues to the ancient and modern history of Leukos.


Publication of the results will appear in two articles with the first dedicated to Leukos and the second to Sokastro.

2009 Season Report (PDF)

2010 Season Report (PDF)

2011 Season Report (PDF)

Michael C. Nelson, Amanda Kelly, D.J. Ian Begg and Todd Brenningmeyer THE EARLY BYZANTINE SETTLEMENT AT LEUKOS, KARPATHOS. The Annual of the British School at Athens, Available on CJO 2015 doi:10.1017/S0068245415000040

“Leukos Survey Project: Karpathos.” Mouseion, Series III, Vol. 12, 2012, 7-10.

“Leukos Survey Project.” Mouseion, Series III, Vol. 11, 2011, 6 – 9.

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