The vast majority of the artefacts found on the 2013 survey were in the form of chipped stone (Figure 1). There was also a small quantity of flakes and cobbles/hammerstones made of emery (Figure 2), a raw material local to Naxos, albeit not from this western part of the island (Figure 3), together with even smaller quantities of marble, a stone that is also indigenous to the island. Pottery was extremely rare, the majority appearing to be post-Bronze Age in date.
Figures 1 - 3: Middle Palaeolithic artefacts from the survey; An emery cobble; Map of emery outcrops on Naxos (modified from Boleti 2009: figure 2).
The study of these artefacts is ongoing, with a rapid scan of all finds from the 2013 season undertaken during that time, followed by a two-week study season in February 2014 (Carter and Mihailović). Our work involves two to three stages of analyses. In first stage all cultural material is counted and weighed en masse by collection unit, be that from transect, or grid. This provides us with a rapid impression of artefact density across the site (Figures 4-5).
Figure 4: Chipped stone artefacts from survey transects by count and weight.
Figure 5: Chipped stone artefacts from survey grids by count and weight.
The second stage involves studying each collection assemblage by artefact, separating the material into groups of period-specific diagnostics, which are then recorded in terms of their technology and form of modification (e.g. ‘denticulate on Levallois flake’). In certain instances we may then undertake a third stage of analysis where individual artefacts are provided with a larger range of metrical and techno-typological details, though one is always wary of the interpretative limitations of surface material and by extent the level of analysis appropriate for such finds.
There are two main phases of prehistoric activity at Stélida, Mesolithic and Middle Palaeolithic. These artefacts are quite distinct from the blade-based assemblages we associate with Cycladic Neolithic – Bronze Age sites; indeed nothing we have seen from the site need be associated with these later prehistoric periods. The absence of Bronze Age (3rd – 2nd millennium BC) activity at the site did not come as a great surprise to us, as the study by one of us (Carter) has failed to note any chert of similar type to that from Stélida amongst the numerous domestic and funerary stone tool assemblages of Bronze Age date that he has studied from Naxos and the neighbouring islands of Epano Kouphonisi and Keros.
Boleti, A. (2009), L’Exploitation de l’Émeri en Égée et en Méditerranée Orientale a l’Age du Bronze. Unpublished PhD thesis, Université de Paris I.