Norwegian Fieldwork in Greece
Although a young institution, the Norwegian Institute may look back upon fifteen years of active participation in fieldwork in its own right, as well as close to five decades of study by Norwegian archaeologists. As a direct consequence of the absence of a classical archaeological tradition in Norway, the number of trained archaeologists is exceedingly small, with the most immediate result being that a single scholar embodies much of this fieldwork, the Institute's second director Erik Østby. Art history, however, has a more solid base, particularly through the efforts of Peter L'Orange, Hjalmar Torp and P.J. Nordhagen, all three prominent scholars of Byzantine art.
As early as 1977 Østby initiated a modest research programme concentrating on the documentation, study and publication of insufficiently known Doric temples at the secondary sites of Karthaia on Keos, Pherai in Thessaly, and Tegea in Arkadia. A related project saw him return to Arkadia in 1984 to investigate four temples at Pallantion and to conduct limited excavations, under the leadership of the Swedish Institute at Athens in collaboration with the Scuola Archeologica Italiana di Atene. Finally, an investigation of a temple site at Sikyon near Korinthos (1984-1987, to be concluded) was carried out in agreement with and under the direction of the Archaeological Society of Athens, as part of their programme for this site.
With the establishment of the Norwegian Institute a new phase began. Already 1990 it was possible to organize the first excavation project under Norwegian permit and directorship. Returning to Tegea, Østby uncovered remains of a monumental early Doric temple of the late 7th century, probably slightly earlier than the famous temple of Hera at Olympia, below the 4th century B.C. temple of Athena Alea which the Ecole Francaise d'Athenes had cleared the in the years 1900-1910. In lower strata the new campaigns also discovered two successive, primitive cult buildings dating to the late 8th and early 7th centuries B.C.
In 1993 Siri Sande began investigations at a small Byzantine fortress or statio, later to become an Ottoman karawansaray, near the village of Petropigi, some 20 km east of Kavala. Five years of fieldwork, followed by study continuing to this day, identified three main phases, dating to the Byzantine and Turkish periods (13th-15th centuries).
The Institute's interests in Arkadia were extended in 1998 with the ongoing "Norwegian Arcadia Survey", a multidisciplinary investigation, led by Knut Ødegård, of the relationship of human settlement, vegetation and natural environment in a long-term historical perspective in the area around Tripolis and the urban site of ancient Tegea. The survey consists an archaeological part, mapping artefact density, documents settlement patterns; a botanical component employing pollen analysis of soil samples collected through coring to create a regional pollen chart; and a geological investigation using georadar images and test drilling to establish the sedimentary record. Work to date has indicated that the Tegea plain has been subjected to substantial sedimentation over time. It is also clear that two large sanctuaries - in addition to that of Athena Alea - were established in the area.
In 1999 the Institute, together with the Greek Department of Underwater Antiquities, initiated the "Greek-Norwegian Deep-Water Archaeological Survey", directed by Katerina Delaporta and Marek Jasinski. A pre-survey in the Northern Sporades inaugurated the co-operation. In 2000 the project moved to the Ithaki-Kephallonia area for the first year of a three-year undertaking. Both the regions may be characterized as ancient staging-areas for long-distance trade; small islands and protected coves served as shelter during storms, leading to the presence of a number of known wrecks. The Norwegian team provides high-tech underwater survey equipment, the side-scan sonar and the remotely operated vehicle, to enable the project to survey large areas down to 300 m without recourse to divers. The two short seasons have seen work on three new or insufficiently documented wrecks of late Republican/early Empire and Byzantine dates.
Last update: 29 April 2001 (m.w.)