The Kephalonia - Livatho Valley Survey (LVS)

The Livatho Valley Survey (LVS) is a diachronic integrated survey project of 35 sq. kms in the south of the island of Kephalonia, extending across the district of Livatho and part of the district of Krania, south of the acropolis of the ancient city of Krane and the modern capital of the island, Argostoli. The project, which is ongoing, has been conducted as a synergasia of the Irish Institute and the 35th Ephoria of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities since 2003, and was preceded by a pilot excavation and survey in 2001-2 (Souyoudjoglou-Haywood 2003). Most primary fieldwalking was carried out up to 2009, and has been followed by a mixture of targeted fieldwork and study seasons.

The project in the context of the history of the region
The survey area is characterized by a limestone hilly landscape between small colluvial-alluvial plains. Archaeologically the area has been known in the past by the excavations of tombs and cemeteries, dating from Bronze Age to Late antiquity. According to this evidence, communities of modest wealth and size flourished in the region during the Late Bronze Age, particularly in the post palatial period, but declined and seem to have dispersed in the late 12th century BC.  The history of the classical Greek polis of Krane – one of the four poleis on the island - of which the survey area was the largest part of the chora, is known by a short list of events recorded mainly by Thucydides and Diodorus Siculus. The city-state remained for most of its history under the influence of the Athenians, who regarded it as desired territory because of the island’s strategic position, but also its manpower, crops and ships. Both ancient authors refer to the episode in 421 BC when the city of Krane accepted helots and deserters from Messenia and Laconia as settlers after the Spartans put pressure on Athenians to surrender Pylos. Polybius (Book 5) is the main source for the island’s fortunes during the Hellenistic period. The Kephalonian cities became part of the Aetolian league in 226 BC, and during the War of the Allies were threatened by Philip V, who targeted the island as his base for the control of the area. Kephalonia was the last of the group of islands to surrender to the Romans, in 189/88 BC. In the 1st c. BC, the exiled Gaius Antonius (Cicero’s ex co-consul) took ownership of the island and, according to Strabo, contemplated building a new city there (Strabo 10.2.13). Practically nothing is known about the island in the early imperial times. In the later imperial period, according to Cassius Dio (Book LXIX), Emperor Hadrian (117 -38 AD) gave the island to Athens.

The remains and exact position of the asty/city of Krane, which would have been one of the four most populated centres on the island throughout antiquity, have not yet been identified archaeologically, but the hills of the acropolis with remains of the foundations of early temples, and the majestic walls rise to the immediate NE of the LVS project area.

It is only with the close of antiquity that the centre of the region moved from that location to c. 4km further SE, the natural hill known as the Castle of St George, which lies on the northern borders of the LVS project area at the foot of the mountainous massif that occupies central Kephalonia. The monumental fortifications preserve remains of one Byzantine wall and some structures in the interior of the citadel date from the Frankish period. But the citadel in its preserved state was designed end erected by the Venetian, when the hill became the administrative centre for the whole island during its long occupation by the Serenissima (15th to second half of the 18th c. AD).

Throughout the ancient and early modern historical periods Kephalonia remained centre stage whenever the focus of interest in Greece shifted to the west. From 1759, the date when Argostoli became the capital of the island, the region of Krania and Livatho became progressively the most densely occupied and built up districts of the island. Building activity accelerated during the recent boom years of tourism with a serious expansion into the countryside. Our project is obviously affected by these developments and has had to ‘work around’ such activity. 

Goals and methodology
The goals of the LVS are the diachronic investigation of the project area through fieldwalking survey and appropriate investigative techniques that would help the understanding of settlement and landuse in the region, topographical changes over time, and the relationship between centre, rural settlement and funerary landscape. The project focuses its attention on the geomorphological processes that are responsible for the destructive forces at work in this highly built up and earthquake-ridden region. Through fieldwork and museum work we also aim at addressing the problem of the loss of substantial artefactual material from past excavations in the area following the devastating earthquake of 1953. In order to achieve its goals the project is engaging a number of experts and specialists for its landscape and period-by-period artefact studies.


The survey methodology has had at its starting point a primary collection survey at 10m intervals from tracts that keep to the natural boundaries of modern fields. We have been aiming at complete coverage, but, realistically, the extent of modern building activity, high vegetation coverage and other restrictive factors mean that up to 4/6 of the project area will be surveyed in an intensive way. Pottery and other artefact counting and preliminary examination and recording of features took place at the completion of the survey of each individual tract. Tracts with ancient artefacts were rewalked at closer intervals. At the beginning of the survey, due to the great volume of modern ceramics in the area, a decision was taken not to take away from the field all the collected pottery from the primary fieldwalking of the tracts. Instead the team leaders guided the teams to the selection and bagging of diagnostics and representative pottery only. The highest density sites were subsequently gridded at 10x10 m squares, each square being ‘hovered’ of artefacts, with the purpose of establishing differences artefact densities across the sites. Topographical surveys and geophysics were carried out in the case of some of the sites identified.

The work of the last season (2013)
The three-week season (June-July) had the dual aim combining fieldwork with laboratory work. Firstly, a small team of student volunteers carried out primary collection survey at small field clusters in the SW of the island, which for a variety of reasons were not walked in earlier years. Secondly, the gridded total collection survey at the sizeable Roman site of Kolymbos continued from last year, and was completed.


The gridding revealed great differences in tile and pottery density between the various grid squares, the significance of which remains to be interpreted. In the laboratory, the main focus of this year’s work was the selection and visual examination of Bronze Age coarseware sherds intended for petrographic analysis in 2014. The photography and drawing of artefacts also continued this year.   

The participants
Director: Christina Souyoudzoglou-Haywood
Project specialists:Conor Brady (lithics); Lynda Mulvin (Roman- Byzantine ceramics); Peter James (geomorphology); Conor Trainor (Hellenistic-Roman ceramics, amphorae); Christina Souyoudzoglou-Haywood (Bronze Age and Greek pottery and small finds); Joannita Vroom (Early Modern Pottery).
GIS: Matthew Sammon
Geophysical survey: Roseanne Schot
Topographical survey: Joe Fenwick, Angelliki Andreatou
Petrographic analysis: Peter Day, Nienke Pieters 

Team leaders: Conor Brady; Lynda Mulvin; Christina Souyoudzoglou-Haywood.
Assistant/acting team leaders: Siobhán Hayes, Will Megarry, Catherine Parnell
Fieldwalkers: 2003: Cara O’ Doherty, Orla McGuiness, Elizabeth McNicholas; David Morrison, Satu O’Neill, Claire Phelan, Vera Power, Alan Russell. 2004: John Burke, Siobhán Hayes, Thomas Loughlin, Vassilis Petrakis, David Walshe; 2005: Siobhán Hayes, William Megarry, Satu O’Neill, Eimear Reilly, Alexandros Pantelis; 2006: Niamh Collins, Siobhán Hayes, Fiona Kinsella, William Megarry, Catherine Parnell, Peter Ryan.2007: Catherine Parnell; 2008: Siobhán Hayes; Justin McDaid, Fiona Murphy, Fiona Kinsella, Catherine Parnell; 2009: Margaret Williams, Catherine Parnell; 2010: Catherine Parnelle; 2012: Maeve McHugh, Daphne Weisnstein; 2013: Marina Nuovo; Calogero Buongiorno.
Fieldwork (pilot): 2001-02: John Burke, Thomas Donaghy, Cara O’Doherty, Seána Trehy.
Tina Ross, Barbara Katsipanou, Vassilis Politis

• Institute for Aegean Prehistory (INSTAP)
• 35th Eforeia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities
• University College Dublin (UCD)
• The British Academy

Relevant publications
Souyoudzoglou-Haywood, C. (2006) ''The Kephalonia-Livatho Project'' Archaeological Reports 2005-06. Council for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies : 50.
Souyoudzoglou-Haywood, C. (2005) ''The Kephalonia-Livatho Project'' Archaeological reports 2004-05. Council for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies: 39-40.
Souyoudzoglou-Haywood, C. (2003) ''The Kephalonia-Livatho Project'' Archaeological Reports 2002-03. Council for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies : 42.
Souyoudzoglou-Haywood, C. (2003) ''A Corner of the Landscape: The Kefalonia Project 2001-02. A Preliminary Account''. Classics Ireland, 10: 64-73.
Souyoudzoglou-Haywood, C. (2008) “Interpreting the Bronze Age landscape of Kephalonia. A view from the Livatho Valley Survey' In: Gallou, C., Georgiadis, M. and G.M. Muskett (eds). Dioskouroi. Studies presented to W.G. Cavanagh and C.B. Mee on the anniversary of their 30-year joint contribution to Aegean Archaeology, pp. 237-51.
Souyoudzoglou-Haywood, C. (1999) The Ionian Islands in the Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age, 3000-800BC. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

Information about the project
Contact the LVS Director:

(Return to top)

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ For further information please contact us:

The information contained in these Web pages is, to the best of our knowledge, true and accurate at the time of publication, and is solely for information purposes. The Irish Institute of Hellenic Studies at Athens accepts no liability for any loss or damage whatsoever arising as a result of use of or reliance on this information, whether authorised or not.

Designed by iArchitectures (2007).


facebook logo