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The Kastro Kallithea Field School Blog Nr 2: What’s in Store for Kastro Kallithea? By Nicole Kolkman and Rachel DeGraaf
Excavations at Kastro Kallithea have ceased and many artifacts require processing using a variety of techniques in order to obtain a holistic understanding of the site. Specialists are needed for the interdisciplinary study of subsistence modes, in particular, transhumance. Future studies may seek to answer the question: Was transhumance a subsistence mode for the residents of Kastro Kallithea or the surrounding area? Here are a few ways of approaching the question:
Though ethnographic parallels cannot prove that transhumance was the primary mode of subsistence, they are useful tools in illustrating how transhumance may have been carried out in the past. Transhumance is still practiced in northern Greece and local shepherds reveal that they herd their sheep to the Othrys Mountains in summer. It is important to remember, however, that just because transhumance is practiced now does not mean it was practiced during the period in question. Not only are social and cultural conditions different, but environmental conditions also fluctuate.
Stable Isotope Analysis
In the analysis of subsistence patterns at Kastro Kallithea, stable isotope analysis of the faunal remains, especially teeth, can aid in the study of animal movement. Differences in Oxygen and Strontium stable isotopes values may point to differences in the environment in which animals were herded during their lifetime, in which temperature, elevation, and geological masses are important variables. This is useful in the study of transhumance because a repetitive and recurring change in location is often marked in the skeletal remains of grazing animals. This future research is multidisciplinary, providing experience for students from all programs.
Surface survey can also be useful in determining pastoral practices. For example, in Athens, there is evidence of “dung collectors” who sold urban refuse as fertilizer to farmers of the surrounding area. Broken domestic pottery was often tossed in with human waste and ended up in the farmers’ fields. This pottery then formed a “halo” around the urban habitation that makes itself apparent in surface survey. This mixed farming subsistence mode is not indicative of transhumance because herds could have grazed on crop stubble and would not have needed to travel long distances. Rather, transhumance is associated with animal husbandry as a specialization and a “halo” of domestic pottery would be less apparent in surrounding rural areas.
Although excavations have ended at Kastro Kallithea, there are many opportunities for students of all disciplines to pursue varying academic questions.