An Evaluation of Human Intervention in Abandonment and Postabandonment Formation Processes in a Deserted Cretan Village


  • Constantinos Papadopoulos University of Southampton



abandonment, human intervention, cultural formation processes, ruins, Crete


A deserted Cretan village provided the grounds to look beyond the ruins and study the abandonment and post-abandonment formation processes that transform settlements into archaeological sites. The long abandonment period, as well as the continuous human presence and ntervention in the post-abandonment period of individual buildings and larger parts of the site, resulted in an evidence-rich environment, ideal for tracing the formation processes in the different stages of ruination. By drawing on a case study in the eastern Mediterranean basin, where only a few other observations have been undertaken, this paper highlights the historic and cultural distinctiveness of formation processes, emphasising the difficulty of generalising about post-abandonment factors associated with sites. The paper attempts to give an account of the observed structures and artefact distributions, and draw conclusions regarding the anthropogenic impact that led to an advanced state of decay only 40 years after the abandonment of the settlement. In this context, it addresses the complexity in attributing cultural causes to their effects by linking cultural behaviour to the archaeological record and incorporating informants’ responses about the invisible abandonment and post-abandonment stages. The paper concludes by underlining the spatiotemporal peculiarities and cultural circumstances of abandoned settlements and the importance of avoiding universal law-like generalisations when it comes to the interaction between humans and the environment.

Author Biography

Constantinos Papadopoulos, University of Southampton

Constantinos Papadopoulos is a PhD candidate at the University of Southampton interested in the theory of visualisation, perception and interpretation in archaeology, the processes of recording in archaeological fieldwork, and the importance of light in the understanding of ancient built spaces. He has published in peerreviewed journals, edited volumes and conference proceedings and is the author of a recent monograph Death Management and Virtual Pursuits: A Virtual Reconstruction of the Minoan Cemetery at Phourni, Archanes, Examining the Use of Tholos Tomb C and Burial Building 19 and the Role of Illumination, in Relation to Mortuary Practices and the Perception of Life and Death by the Living (BAR International Series 2082, Oxford: Archaeopress, 2010). He works as a supervising archaeologist, IT manager and 3D visualisation specialist for the Zominthos Project in Crete (Archaeological Society at Athens) and for the Koutroulou Magoula Archaeology and Archaeological Ethnography Project in Thessaly, Greece (14th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and British School at Athens). He has been a member of the peer-review committee of the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) International Conference since 2010 and serves as publication officer on the Board of CAA Greece.


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How to Cite

Papadopoulos, C. (2013). An Evaluation of Human Intervention in Abandonment and Postabandonment Formation Processes in a Deserted Cretan Village. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 26(1), 27–50.