Is there such a thing as “Mediterranean” archaeological survey? This pan-Mediterranean review finds out

A new review article on archaeological survey across the Mediterranean, published in Journal of Archaeological Research, explores diverging practices, key topoi, and future opportunities.

Featured photo: Fieldwalking on Aghios Loukas, near Kythnos, Greece (courtesy of the Small Cycladic Islands Project).

Over the last decades, the literature on Mediterranean survey has increasingly emphasized a distinct set of practices, viewed both favorably and critically by regional archaeologists in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. This new synthesis shows that Mediterranean survey in fact comprises several discrete regional traditions. In general, these traditions have much to offer to wider dialogs in world archaeology, particularly concerning sampling and research design, the interpretation of surface assemblages, and the integration of complex, multidisciplinary datasets. 

The article focuses especially on surface survey as a means of documenting long-term settlement patterns at various scales, as an approach to the archaeology of regions, and as a pathway to the interpretation of past landscapes. More specifically, survey investigations of Mediterranean landscapes provide comparative data and research strategies of relevance to many issues of global significance, including human ecology, demography, urban–rural dynamics, and various types of polity formation, colonialism, and imperialism.

Data about survey projects was collected via an online “Survey of Mediterranean Survey” completed by survey project leaders and linked to the survey project gallery database (see ). 

This review is the result of a collaboration between Alex R. Knodell (Carleton College), Thomas P. Leppard (Florida State University) and GIAP (ICAC) researchers Toby C. Wilkinson and Hector A. Orengo.

Access the article:
Knodell, A.R., Wilkinson, T.C., Leppard, T.P. and Orengo, H.A. Survey Archaeology in the Mediterranean World: Regional Traditions and Contributions to Long-Term History. J Archaeol Res (2022).

Full text:

This work received funding and institutional support from: Agencia Estatal de Investigación, Ramón y Cajal (RYC-2016-19637); Carleton College; European Research Area, Marie Curie Actions (H2020-MSCA-IF-2018, 840892); and Florida State University.