University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

And We’re Off! – Amanda Ball

June 15, 2015

Every year, the Penn Museum provides support to Penn undergraduates and graduate students as they deepen their understanding of the human experience outside the Museum’s walls. Follow these blog posts from our intrepid young scholars as they report on the sights and sites that they encounter throughout their travels in the field.

June 3, 2015
New York

A picture of me surveying in Summer 2013. Taken by Chantel White.

This summer I will be taking part in my third field season at the Molyvoti, Thrace Archaeological Project (MTAP). The excavation, a collaboration between Princeton University and the 19th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, studies an ancient city on the Molyvoti Peninsula, identified as the Thasian colony, Stryme, by the first excavator of the site. In this upcoming season, five students of the Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World program at Penn will be participating in MTAP.

The site known as Stryme is on the Molyvoti Peninsula, on a plateau 15 meters above sea level. This strip of land lies east of the Nestos River, between Porto Lagos and Maroneia, 25 km southwest of the modern city Komotini. Stryme was a port city on the coast of Aegean Thrace, most likely founded in the second half of the 7th century BCE. The earliest finds found thus far date to the end of the 6th century BCE. The rich natural resources of the region, for example, gold, marble, and timber, attracted Greek colonists. Excavation and survey has revealed that the city prospered most in the 5th and 4th centuries BCE, due to trade contacts with Greece, Thrace, and the greater Mediterranean world. Stryme is mentioned a few times in ancient literature; notably Demosthenes mentions the city in his Orations as the source of conflict between the nearby cities Maroneia and Thasos (Demosthenes Orations 12.17).

A map of several significant Greek sites on the coast of Aegean Thrace.

The archaeology of northern Greek colonies is of particular interest because it has not been studied in the same depth as western Greek colonies. Evidence has been found that indicates Greeks traveled to this region from southern Greece and cohabited in cities with the indigenous Thracians. When the Thracians reached their height of power with the rise of the Odrysian kingdom, Thracians and Greeks traded with each other to the benefit of both. That said, no evidence has been found thus far indicating a Thracian presence at Stryme, though we hope this will change in the upcoming field season.

This summer, I will be a survey team leader, leading a team of students in archaeological survey in the farmland around the ancient Greek site. These teams are composed of five people. The survey squares are 20 meters by 20 meters. The survey team members are spaced regularly in each square and they walk in straight lines, looking for pottery and terracotta sherds, coins, and other artifacts on the ground. The pottery and terracotta sherds are counted and recorded at the end of every square. Coins and other artifacts are recorded separately, with the exact coordinates of where they were found recorded as well.

A picture of Beth Potens and me in summer 2013.
A picture of Beth Potens and me in Summer 2013.

This past year I completed my Masters in the Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean world program. As a part of this program, I wrote a Masters Paper concerning the burial mounds associated with the Greek colony of Stryme and the role they played in interactions between the Greeks and native Thracians. This summer the survey team, of which I am a part, will be surveying more burial mounds in the surrounding landscape. I am hoping to find evidence of Thracian activity to support my hypothesis that burial mounds resulted from the economic and political cooperation of Greeks and Thracians. However, no matter what we find, I highly anticipate my return to the Molyvoti Peninsula.

A beautiful sunrise as seen by the MTAP survey team.


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