I usually plan my blog post as I am waking up (or, if I am running late, in the shower), but today, the post almost planned itself when I received 6 email pertaining to our ongoing research at Lakka Skoutara. Our work at Lakka Skoutara in the southeastern Corinthia is a collaborative effort between David Pettegrew, Tim Gregory, and Lita Tzortzopoulou-Gregory. I've been working from a set of GIS maps created for the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey (EKAS) and filled in with GPS points from 2001. It's remarkable to see how much our ability to map the landscape has improved over the years. GPS points are more accurate and the tools available to process large or complex datasets like regional level Digital Elevation Models (or DTMs) is remarkable.
Here's a cool example. (Here's another). This past summer, David, Tim, Lita, and I became curious about the terrace walls at Lakka Skoutara. They aren't particularly interesting on their own. In fact, they reflect what we though was typical terracing procedure. The walls creep up the southern face of the hill that marks the northern boundary of the Lakka (a lakka is basically a valley surrounded by relatively steep hills with a polje at its bottom).
In any event, as we looked at these terraces, we began to wonder at what point the terrace builders decided to build a terrace or, perhaps more importantly, decided that the slope was too steep to build a terrace. Andrew Bevan, one of the most clever practitioners of archaeological GIS, had posed a similar question based on the terraces on the island of Kythera where he noted that terraces become the norm in terms of field management as the hill slopes approached 10 to 15 degrees of slope (see here).
We conducted a similar analysis using a far less robust dataset derived from our work around Lakka Skoutara. At our site in the Corinthia, we found that terraces begin to appear when the slope exceeds 8 degrees and stop when the slopes exceed 16-18 degrees.
Here's a maps of the slopes and terraces. Note that some of the terraces function as check dams and that accounts for their position at lower elevations and lower slopes.
And here's a map of the slopes with the yellow color representing the slope range associated with terraces.
For more on our work at Lakka Skoutara see these posts: