Institute for Mediterranean Studies

Ancient Itanos (Erimoupolis, Lasithi): An Archaeological Site as a Remote Sensing Laboratory

For the past 4 years, a coalition of European researchers has been studying the archaeological site of Itanos in North-East Crete, Greece from various archaeological, environmental and geophysical aspects. The project, supervised by the Institute of Mediterranean Studies in Crete and the French School of Archaeology in Athens, has integrated a number of surveying techniques for accessing the archaeological and environmental parameters of the wider archaeological region. The purpose of the geophysical project has been to map the buried archaeological relics, including remnants of buildings, streets and walls in the extended area of the archaeological site. Furthermore, the site has been used for testing a number of high resolution conventional and modern survey techniques. Seismic refraction and reflection techniques were used for detecting the ancient port of Itanos and mapping the bedrock of the area, covered by alluvium deposits. The ancient port was also the target of GPR and electrical tomography prospecting, which encountered serious problems due to the shallow depth of the water table. The geophysical, topography and archaeological survey data have been superimposed on to an aerial mosaic of the region. The overall assessment of archaeological sites has been extended through the use of Landsat and SPOT satellite imagery (the last of which has been re-sampled to 5m accuracy, through pixel-mixing techniques). Sub-centimetre accuracy with GPS receivers has been used specifically for the above image registration as well as for precisely locating the archaeological, environmental and geophysical features. The archaeological site of Itanos has been evolved to be a natural Remote Sensing lab, where different scientific approaches have been applied to effectively extract the archaeological information of the site.

  • Athanasios Kalpaxis †
  • Apostolos Sarris