2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 9:15 AM


REYNOLDS III, James H., Division of Environmental Studies, Mathematics, and Natural Sciences, Brevard College, 400 N Broad St, Brevard, NC 28712-3498, CHAPIN, Anne P., Fine Arts, Brevard College, 400 N. Broad St, Brevard, NC 28712 and BAUSLAUGH, Robert A., Social Sciences, Brevard College, 400 N. Broad St, Brevard, NC 28712, reynoljh@brevard.edu

Integrating geology and archaeology in the classroom presents many new avenues for student participation on research projects. Our 2005 interdisciplinary course, Geology and Archaeology of the Mediterranean Basin, culminated with a field trip to Greece with 16 students. Student-involved research produced preliminary results on several projects that will be amplified with further student participation on future trips. The projects fall into three categories: 1) delineation and measurement of paleoseismologic vectors from palace destructions at Minoan archaeological sites on Crete; 2) the possible archaeoastronomic significance of palace wall orientations at the same sites; and 3) detailed mapping of the contact between older strata and the Minoan eruption on the eastern lee side of the Santorini caldera.

The goal of the first project is determine which palace destructions, if any, can be attributed to the same seismic event. Vectors determined from fallen blocks/walls were measured at Agia Triada, Mochlos, Palaikastro, and Knossos. Encouraging preliminary results suggest that enough evidence may survive to delineate paleoepicenters. The second project developed from recognition that palace walls at Phaistos and Agia Triada, in southeastern Crete, are exactly oriented to the modern magnetic pole which has a declination of 2º off of true north. This contrasts with the orientations of most sites on the north side of the island.

A frustrating problem of the Minoan eruption of Santorini (Thera) is the inability to date the exact year in which the c. 1630 BCE eruption took place. Since the eruption, numerous headward-eroding ravines have exposed many kilometers along the basal contact. We assume that the Minoan/Cycladic culture that inhabited Santorini grew olives like their counterparts on Crete. Detailed examination along the base of the airfall deposits at bottom of the Minoan ash may reveal carbonized wood for dendrochronological study. We plan to return with a team of students for further investigation.

Student involvement in research stemming from collaborative teaching in geology and archaeology provides the potential to develop reliable relative and numerical chronologies in Minoan archaeology. It may also offer important insight on prehistoric Minoan architectural design.