Saturday, June 20, 2020

Starochorafa on Kefalonia (C588)

The island of Kephalonia lies just off the west coast of Greece and directly facing the entrance to the Gulf of Corinth as is plain from this map. 

One of the best resources for Kephalonia as well as the Ionian islands in general can be found in the books and articles of Dr. Christina Souyoudzoglou-Haywood.   I've listed some of her writings in the bibliography at the end of this post.   

In this next map we see Kefalonia in close-up as it appears in the Mycenaean Atlas Project.  The blue paddles are specific sites and the red paddles (marked 'F') are modern-day features.

The island of Kephalonia

I've been reading an  article by her, ''Interpreting the Bronze Age Landscape of Kephalonia. A (Preliminary) View from the Livatho Valley Survey' in which she mentions a site near Argostoli, called Starochorafa.[1]  Starochorafa is mentioned in Simpson [1981] 156 as 'a locality named Starochorafa, three walls of a Mycenaean house were uncovered ... '. And ' ... only a few Mycenaean sherds were found, together with coarse ware, also presumably Mycenaean.'   It turns out that Starochorafa is one of the few places in the Ionian islands where true Mycenaean finds can be found and it has a little history.  It was originally  discovered by Marinatos (published 1932, AE [1932] 14, 42 n. 2) and then 'lost' until the Livatha Valley Survey Project stumbled across it again in 2007.

So where is Starochorafa?   I actually included this site in the Mycenaean Atlas long ago as site C588, based purely on Simpson who gives few clues as to its actual whereabouts.  Originally I put it here: 38.160442° N, 20.534861° E.  But now I have been able to glean some new information and I have learned that its real location is about 800 m distant to the SW.  It's actually here:  38.158419° N, 20.526261° E.

How was this more accurate location determined?

In the article mentioned above Dr. Souyoudzoglou-Haywood presents a photograph which I never noticed before of two archaeological field workers collecting surface sherds at Starochorafa[2].  I reproduce it here:

Where is this open field?  Which way  are we facing?  What is the ridge in the background?  We are not told.  Let's see whether we can figure this out by trying to reproduce it somehow in Google Earth.  Is there even a starting point?  I used Dr. Souyoudzoglou-Haywood's map of the survey area which I reproduce here:[3]

This map shows twenty-six Bronze Age find spots discovered by the LSV survey project.  I  plotted each of these on Google Earth.  The result was this:

The points closest to my original Starochorafa were points 10-13.  I blow them up here.  [Keph_Overlay_Detail.jpg]

Could these be the 'real' Starochorafa.  I zoomed in on this area on Google Earth and almost immediately hit paydirt.  Here's what this area looks like in close-up:

I found the grassy field between points 10 and 12 a real possibility for place from which the photograph was taken.  I zoomed into that field and tried to reproduce the same view.  The result is this:

And here, again, is the original  photo of Dr. Souyoudzoglou-Haywood so that you can compare it:

When we put these two pictures together we see that they are entirely consistent with each other.  Examination of the skyline shows that the positions are very likely to be the same.  It was here that I placed the marker.  It turns out that Starochorafa is more complex and extended.  Dr. S.-H. has put four different markers, placed closely together which encompass various components of Starochorafa.  But this picture at least gets us started and it's a huge improvement on what I had before.  I'll be releasing a new database soon and it will have the corrected position on it.

As usual I want everyone to stay safe.  COVID-19 is not the flu.  It is a dangerous viral infection - but you don't need to be told that by now.  Social distance and use masks when you go out of your homes.  I need all the readers I can get.

And ... friends don't let friends use Facebook.


[1] Souyoudzoglou-Haywood [2008] 241.  "‘Starochorafa’ ... is largely a one period site of Mycenaean date (LH III, most likely LHIIIC only). It is one of the two small settlements mentioned above which were excavated by Marinatos ... The toponym fell into disuse over time, and the site was only identified anew during the 2007 fieldwork season.  Marinatos ... only excavated part of one house (6.80m x 4.20m), and reported that, having been prevented from continuing the excavation in a neighbouring field, he covered up the exposed remains of the site at the end of his brief campaign."

[2] Souyoudzoglou-Haywood [2008] 243, fig. 4.

[3] Souyoudzoglou-Haywood [2008] 240, fig. 2.


Haywood [2018]:  Haywood, Christina.  'Archaeology and the Search for Homeric Ithaca: The Case of Mycenaean Kephalonia', Acta Archaeologica [89:1] 145-158.  2018.  Abstract is online here.

Livatha Survey Project:  The homepage of the Kephalonia - Livatho Valley Survey project is here.

Morgan [2007]:   Morgan, Catherine. Archaeological Reports (54) p. 46,  'Livatho Valley Survey'.   2007-2008.  Online here.

Simpson [1981]: Simpson, Richard Hope.  Mycenaean Greece. Noyes Press, Park Ridge, New Jersey.  1981.

Simpson [2018]: Simpson, Richard Hope.  Mycenaean Greece and the Homeric Tradition.  This book may be downloaded from here.

Souyoudzoglou-Haywood, Christina.  'A Corner of the Landscape: The Kefalonia  Project 2001-02.  A Preliminary Account', on JSTOR here.

Souyoudzoglou-Haywood [2008]:   Cristina Souyoudzoglou-Haywood, 'Interpreting the Bronze Age Landscape of Kephalonia. A (Preliminary) View from the Livatho Valley Survey'. 
In: C. Gallou, Georgiadis, and Muskett (edd.), Dioskouroi: Studies Presented to W.G. Cavanagh and C.B. Mee on the Anniversary of their 30-year Joint Contribution to Aegean Archaeology (BAR IS-1889) Oxford: Archaeopress, 237-251.  The paper is online here.