The Trash

I’ve been thinking a good bit more about trash this summer and had the chance to check out two interesting assemblages of modern trash in the Argolid in our first week of field work.

The first was at a crossing of the Inachos River in our 2014 survey area. The scatter of modern trash extends in a 8 m x 60 m strip down the center of the now-dry Inachos River parallel to a seasonal road along the river bed.

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The trash consisted of a combination of building debris and modern household trash.

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The most interesting concentration was a dump of school books perhaps deposited at the end of that academic year.

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There was the typical clusters of water bottles as well as clothing, household furnishings, and detritus from agricultural work.

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The other dump that caught my attention this week was around the small church of Ag. Panteliemon.

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The church is probably Early Modern and has a fantastic scatter of broken tile associated with a re-roofing project over the last few decades. The modern tiles on the church feature a 5-digit Greek phone number of the kiln placing the manufacture of the tiles prior to the change in the Greek phone numbers to 9 and then 10 digits.

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The tile scatter on the north side was complemented by a scatter of tile and plastic bottles that probably once contained oil left at the church for lamps. Clean up at the church involved dumping the used plastic containers over the side of the little paved area. 

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This parallels a little study that David Pettegrew, Tim Gregory, and I did a few years back (I summarize some of this project here) where we documented the artifact scatter around Byzantine churches on the island of Kythera. We discovered that the vicinity of churches produced more fine wares than elsewhere in the landscape. This is hardly remarkable, but perhaps the modern practices of trash disposal provide insights into the historical distribution of artifacts.

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