Excavations on Chios: Livanou, 2017-2018

Finds from the dig range from as early as the late Roman period to as late as the 20th Century, so I have managed to interact with a wide variety of artifacts

For the last two summers (2017 and 2018) I have spent a considerable amount of time volunteering for the Archaeological Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities on the Greek island of Chios. My work has consisted mostly of sorting and reconstructing antique ceramics ranging in period from the Late Roman to the Late Ottoman. The ceramics with which I worked during the summer of 2018 are from a site called Livanou, and the ceramics with which I worked with the previous summer were from a field directly beside Livanou.

In Greece, most building projects require permits from archaeological authorities in order to ensure that no antiquities are destroyed in the construction process. This was how the site at Livanou was discovered: the owner of the plot, Nikolaos Livanos, was preparing to demolish an old villa which turned out to have been from the Late Ottoman period.  When archaeological authorities were brought in to preserve it, a Byzantine church was discovered underneath, dating from before the 15th century, and so the plot was converted into an active dig. One unique feature of the church was that, while its structure was impossible to preserve, a number of exhumed bodies were buried inside it, and so not only ceramics, but also massive amounts of bones, were retrieved.

All of the artifacts retrieved from the site eventually made their way to the Osmaniye Mosque, which today functions not as a religious institution, but as both a warehouse and a workshop operated by the Ephorate. It was here that I worked, sorting and reassembling ceramics, as well as other ancient artifacts. Namely glass, bones, nails, and pieces of frescoes, would have to be separated from the ceramics and stored in a temperature and humidity controlled environment.

The following artifacts are from the Byzantine period; I have chosen to catalog them because of their rarity. While many more Byzantine shards of ceramics were found at Livanou, their styles were generally similar, and so assembling them together was almost impossible: most of the pieces found would seem to belong to the same ceramic, but in reality, they were almost always broken from different pieces.

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The following pieces are post-Byzantine. Like the previous and all future ceramics shown here, they have been chosen for their uniqueness, although hundreds of other pieces from this period were discovered at Livanou.

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The following ceramics are all of (likely) northern Italian origin, although they vary greatly in their time of production. The earliest of these pieces are Genoese Renaissance, while the latest are 19th Century.

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The following ceramics were all produced during the Ottoman occupation of Chios, although non of them were produced on the island itself. These pieces exhibit the shift in trends and influences of certain ceramic-making schools: the old Byzantine manufacturers from Macedonia and Thrace slowly lost influence and were replaced by manufacturers from centers of Turkish culture such as Canakkale, Iznik, and Kutayha.

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Finally, the following ceramics were all produced during the Ottoman occupation of Chios, although unlike the ones shown above, these ceramics were all produced on the island of Chios itself.

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