In Honor of George Papathanassopoulos
Alepotrypa Cave at Diros Bay, Lakonia, Greece, is a 300 meters complex of consecutive chambers ending at a lake. It is one of the richest archaeological sites in Greece and Europe in terms of abundance, preservation and variability of artifacts, volume and temporal range of undisturbed deposits, as well as horizontal exposure of archaeological surfaces. The cave was excavated by G. Papathanassopoulos from 1970 to 2006. It is dated from 6,000 to 3,200 BC and was used, in conjunction with the surrounding area, as a complementary habitation area, a burial site, and a place for ceremonial activity. This edited volume is a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary study and interpretation of the unpublished results of approximately 40 years of excavation and analysis of the cave in one book. This contribution is essential to ongoing Neolithic research in Greece, but also in Anatolia, the Balkans and Europe, as it brings a comprehensive picture of a unique site to the attention of the archaeological community.
The book, which contains 23 chapters, starts with a presentation of the history of the excavations, an extensive description of the site, and its cultural and temporal positioning through a long series of radiocarbon dates, in association with the corresponding microstratigraphic, stratigraphic and ceramic sequence and also includes: a) the site formation processes, and the refinement of the stratigraphy of the cave deposits; b) the pottery and its spatial and temporal patterning, typology and technology; c) the stone and bone tools and objects, and their spatial patterning, typology and technology; d) numerous macroscopic, microscopic and isotopic chemical analyses of human, faunal, botanical and inorganic remains; and e) the environmental reconstruction of the area, and the results from the regional survey of the surrounding area. The volume concludes with a synthetic chapter that summarizes, combines and interprets all the aforementioned evidence, clarifies the actions implied by the observed materials, defines the particularities of the site and positions the cave in its broader natural and cultural web. All presentations include meaningful comparisons through time and across space within Alepotrypa Cave, as well as comparisons with other Greek Neolithic or European and Anatolian Neolithic societies. General questions that were addressed include: refinement of the Neolithic Aegean artifact chronology and typology; tool technologies; long-distance trade of raw materials and pottery; dispersal of communities and cave use in the Final Neolithic; permanent versus seasonal habitation/use of a site; site formation processes and hiatuses in caves; population health, movement, and biodistance; mortuary space and practice; expressions of ritual; the notions of continuity and monumentality, and of stability, definition and redefinition; the importance of terrestrial versus marine resources, as well as domesticated versus wild resources. Mortuary behavior, artifactual patterning and human skeletal remains are used to draw conclusions concerning social, cultural and biological conditions and to evaluate patterns of ceremonialism, including the fragmentation and dispersal of material in conjunction with mortuary data.
An article from National Geographic on the excavations may be found HERE
View or download the table of contents and front materials HERE