Lower Gypsades hill probably marks the southern limit of the suburban settlement of Bronze Age Knossos. Its northernmost terrace, immediately above the Vlychia Stream, contains the remains of the enigmatic Caravanserai complex, with the Viaduct’ immediately northwest, while the terraces above and to the east appear to have supported residential structures, such as the ‘House of the High Priest’.
Finally, to the south, perhaps marking the southern boundary of settlement, lay tombs, notably the Temple Tomb and the Gypsades tholos.
The absence of deep post-Bronze Age occupation levels in this location maximises its value for investigating the suburban spread of Knossos in the second millennium BC. Archaeological interventions there span over a century from Hogarth’s extensive test-pitting carried out in 1900 to the recently completed surface investigations by the Knossos Urban Landscape Project (KULP). The goal of the Gypsades geophysics project was to carry out a programme of magnetometry survey followed by resistivity survey to develop an overview of the nature and density of occupation in this southern suburb of Bronze Age Knossos that could then be combined with existing archaeological data. Small teams therefore carried out a magnetometry survey over about 14 ha. in a 3-week season in July 2010, followed by a 3-week resistivity survey in January 2011 on a number of smaller areas selected on the basis of the results of magnetometry survey.
In relation to the aim to elucidate the overall layout of the southern suburbs of Knossos, geophysical survey had some limited success. It confirmed that there are likely to be more structures, presumably houses, in the area between ‘Hogarth’s Houses’ on the east and the ‘Sanctuary of Demeter’ on the west, as well as below the main Knossos–Archanes road in the northeast of our survey area, where Ephoreia excavations in 1998 had revealed residential structures. In addition to the ‘Caravanserai’ and ‘Viaduct’, there may be further special-purpose structures to the west. We are less clear what might have been going on on the lower west slopes of Gypsades, however, because results there were less conclusive. In the southern part of our area, we appear to have identified one north–south route running up the hill in the direction of the visitble gypsum quarries, possibly through an area less densely built over than those on the lower, northern slopes. This result would require further investigation to be confirmed, but it is consistent with the idea that the boundary between settlement and cemeteries did lie more or less along the souther boundary of the area investigated. Unfortunately, we were unable to confirm that this was also the case on the western part of our southern boundary.
Permission for geophysical survey was granted by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and fieldwork overseen by the 23rd Eforeia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and the 13th Eforeia of Byzantine Antiquities. The British School at Athens provided valuable logistical, financial and administrative support; the Institute of Aegean Prehistory, and the Universities of Cincinnati (Semple Fund), Oxford and Sheffield generously provided financial support. The team is grateful to all these bodies for their assistance.
Overall direction of the project was by John Bennet (Sheffield), who was present throughout both field seasons, Amy Bogaard (Oxford) and Eleni Hatzaki (Cincinnati), who were present in the 2010 season. The team comprised Colin Merrony (Sheffield; 2010; 2011), who managed the survey team in the field, Ian Bennet (Bristol; 2010), Will Gilstrap (Sheffield; 2010), Deborah Harlan (Sheffield; 2010; 2011), Jitka Jizerova (Sheffield Erasmus; 2011), Andrew Reid (Sheffield; 2011) and Chris Sykes (Bradford; Headland Archaeology; 2010; 2011). In July 2010 the team stayed off-site, using the Taverna as a logistical base; in January 2011 the Taverna was used as a logistical and residential base.