Multidisciplinary Field Projects, “Publication Logistics in the Kommos site publications.” , Joseph W. and Maria C. Shaw.



January 4, 2014.

1) Introduction.
Excavations at Kommos in Crete were carried out in two phases, from 1976 through 1985 and from 1991 through 1996. The publication of the site consists of a series of nine preliminary reports in Hesperia, and five volumes (I-V) focusing on the site overall (Minoan and Greek), complemented by a volume on a Minoan pottery kiln, and two volumes on Minoan Mansion X (the first [2011] on architecture and finds, the second [forthcoming] on the pottery). [Those can be seen in the appendix].

The focus from the beginning was multidisciplinary, including an area survey, geological and land use studies, as well as studies of the ancient fauna and flora.1


2) Publication Logistics at Kommos
During the first years of excavation, with the discovery of Minoan houses on the hilltop and hillside, and a wellpreserved Greek Temple above a substantial Minoan palatial building in the southern area near the sea, it became clear that a major publication effort was in order. This was encouraged by Princeton University Press, which offered to print the first three of any volumes concerning the site.Some of the publication decisions made then and later can now be discussed. Concerning the Minoan pottery, for instance, although its order in the volume presentation comes after introductory Volume I, its importance for fixing site and context chronology gave it priority in preparation.

HsX_Rms X7 & X13 editedWe also thought that, given the relative lack then of studies of some categories of Minoan pottery, our work should be thorough (thus two volumes [II, III in the series]). Moreover, since space at our storeroom was limited, the formal study and profiling of the Later Minoan pottery in Volume III should take place only after the Middle Minoan pottery had been prepared.2

Watrous map segment
For the so-called ‘para-archaeological’ studies of area,geology, etc., made during an early stage of excavation, they were preparedand served as appropriate preliminaries to the actual excavation reports, and so were placed, along with other introductory material, in Volume I, Part 1.3 Time-wise, also, since excavation of the Minoan hilltop and hillside houses was terminating, their study would be included in Volume I, part 2.

Thus the order of the first volumes of the publication would appear in a reverse order of HOUSEXSHRRECM-th_CDietrich_2their actual publication date, with II and III on the pottery appearing in 1990 and 1993, and Volume I (Parts 1 and 2) appearing in 1995 and 1996.

Since the Greek Sanctuary in the southern area was excavated before the underlying Minoan structures were cleared, it could be studied in Volume IV, so formal publication work on it began as soon as study of the houses ended.4 Perhaps unusually, it was decided that the Sanctuary volume should include all material from Greek levels, which would involve numerous colleagues publishing the epigraphic, ceramic, metal and other artifacts, along with the relevant faunal discoveries. Thus Volume IV, when complete, would stand by itself rather than depending on other volumes (which might never appear) for complementary material.5



The final, fifth volume of the Kommos series, published in 2006, focused on the monumental Minoan buildings on which the Greek Sanctuary had been built. Like Volume IV, V, too, was a challenge to both write and produce, for it is ‘complete.’ Aside from the architecture and stratigraphy, it includes long descriptions and discussions of the MM and LM pottery deposits, as well as all small finds and fauna.

3) Finally, some general comments:
A member of the personnel throughout the years we were preparing publication was an editor who reviewed, edited and Greek TemplesDeposit25_2organized the material submitted. His or her salary was a major expense. The cost was not included in our grant applications, however, since granting agencies incorrectly assumed that the principal investigators could, with their busy academic schedules, handle the work on their own. The editor might be called one of the “Secret Weapons” that enabled us to finish.

After Volume III, Princeton Press stopped underwriting the publication effort, which forced us to double our efforts to pay for our usual text editor as well as a free-lance production editor that Princeton Press had kindly recommended. This continued through Volume V.6 The masses of material to be included were large. That was somewhat alleviated by splitting Volume I into two sections, and by separating text from plates in Volume IV.7 Preliminary reports, underwritten by the American School of Classical Studies,8 forced us each year to consolidate and clarify our thinking about the challenging discoveries that appeared year after year. Those reports, also, were “secret weapons.”

While publication assignments normally worked out for staff, in several cases individuals faltered. In those of Volume IV, the main writer of a large section could not continue because of severe psychological problems but, fortunately we found an excellent replacement to continue his work.9 In two cases less crucial contributors, again, could not continue, forcing the Director to complete their contributions.


We wanted very much to avoid the fate of some of the smaller excavations in Greece, where publication, if it actually occurs, often follows some years after the death of the original excavators, with the result that there often may have been little or no interchange between the scholars.10 A danger, on the other hand, is that a rush to publication may lead to incomplete documentation.11


1992 Volume I: The Kommos Region and Houses of the Minoan Town. Part 1, The Kommos Region, Ecology, and Minoan Industries.
Text 607 Published July 1995 Figs. & Plates 238
1995 Volume I: The Kommos Region and Houses of the Minoan Town.
Part 2, The Minoan Hilltop and Hillside Houses.
Text 442 Published August 1996 Figs., Plates & Foldouts 300
1987 Volume II: The Middle Minoan Pottery.
Text 278 Published August 1990. Figs. & Plates 166
1988 Volume III: The Late Bronze Age Pottery.
Text 256 Published August 1992. Figs. & Plates 131
1999 Volume IV: The Greek Sanctuary. Part 1: Text 838
Published November 2000 Part 2: Plates 431
1999 A LM IA Ceramic Kiln in South-Central
Text 172
Crete: Function and Pottery Production
Plates 66 Published September 2001 as Hesperia Supplement 30.
2003 Volume V: The Minoan Ashlar Buildings
Text 948 Published January 2006 Plates 261
2005 Kommos. A Minoan Harbor Town and Greek Sanctuary in
Southern Crete
Text with Illustrations 170 Published January 2006
2008 House X at Kommos: A Minoan Mansion near the Sea. Part I.
Architecture, Stratigraphy and Selected Finds.
Published September 2012. Text 147 Plates etc. 142

In Preparation
House X at Kommos: A Minoan Mansion near the Sea. Part II. The Minoan Pottery.

Contributors: J.W. Shaw and M.C. Shaw, General Editors, with Barbara
Ibronyi and Cy Strom as Production Editors, and Paul Anderson, John
Bennet, Philip P. Betancourt, Patricia Bikai, Harriet Blitzer, Giuliana Bianco,
Dawn Cain, Peter J. Callaghan, Anne Chapin, Leda Costaki, Eric Csapo,
Mary Dabney, Peter Day, Daniel Geagan, John Gifford, Debi Harlan, John Hayes, Alan Johnston, Vassilis Kilikoglou, John McEnroe, Lucia Nixon, Michael Parsons, Sebastian Payne, David S. Reese, Ned Rehder, Mark J.
Rose, Deborah Ruscillo, Jeremy Rutter, Richard Hope Simpson, Katherine
A. Schwab, Catherine Sease, Joseph W. Shaw, Maria C. Shaw, Jennifer Shay, Thomas Shay, Aleydis Van de Moortel, Alan Walker, L. Vance Watrous, Helène Whittaker, James C. Wright, John Younger, and others.


  1. Those constitute an innovative approach introduced formally to Greece by the University of Minnesota Messenia Expedition organized (1969-1971) by William McDonald and Ripp Rapp.
  2. It is important to note also that since excavation was going on concurrently, those studies would not contain pottery recovered after a certain date.
  3. Along with a study of Minoan industries.
  4. From 1986 through 1992, which were mainly study seasons.
  5. The urgency for cooperation, efficiency, and speed became particularly necessary at the time (see also below). Volume IV appeared in 2000.
  6. Non-grant donations were particularly welcome since they could be assigned to publication work.
  7. In Volume V, which we would have split in the same way, we were already deep in debt when binding time came around, so V emerged huge and, unfortunately, somewhat unmanageable because of its size.
  8. Published in Hesperia 1977,1978,1979,1980,1981,1982,1984 (1982-1985 seasons), 1986 (1984-1985 seasons), and 1992 (1986-1992 seasons). 9 In Volume IV, the author of a major section produced most of it, but then refused (without explanation) to complete the remainder, instead sending offprints of other written projects, frustratingly regularly. A junior colleague in the same field graciously offered to complete the work.
  9. In Volume IV, the author of a major section produced most of it, but then refused (without explanation) to complete the remainder, instead sending offprints of other written projects, frustratingly regularly. A junior colleague in the same field graciously offered to complete the work.
  10. For instance, of the 10 volumes in the Kea Series, only one was published before the Director’s death in 1981. Of the 7 so far in the Lerna Series, only two were published before the (same) Director’s death. The record for Isthmia is somewhat better, with (of 10) 5 published before the Director’s death in 1992.
  11. For instance, the theory that there was a strip of land, a tombolo, projecting out from the shore at Kommos, is soon to be reexamined through coring by a geologist.


Posted in Articles

J. W. Shaw: “The Middle Minoan Ship Slipway at the Kommos Harbor”

The co-excavator of Kommos, Professor Joseph W. Shaw will be giving a paper on the Kommos slipway at a Conference on Minoan Architecture in general, in Toronto Canada in early January 2015. Here below is a brief abstract for the Kommos Conservancy President’s paper.

4 October 2014

In 1985, excavation below the Central Courts of Minoan Buildings T and AA, revealed a long (18.40 m) but narrow (1.40 m.), segment of slab pavement heading west, sloping down toward the sea. At the time, and later, in our Volume V (2006), we had also identified the MM I-IIA pavement as having served as a “walkway” of the type commonly encountered in the West Courts of Minoan Palaces. Some think such walkways were used for processions, appropriate for the palatial buildings at Kommos after MM IIA.
Since then, the writer had an opportunity to independently examine Minoan walkways, so that I realized that our “walkway” was certainly something else. This is because it differs from the usual “walkways” by having shallow gaps 0.15-0.20 m. wide, set every 2- 2.60 m. Into each gap was set something, most likely wooden, which had simply disappeared. Our thought, proposed here, is that wooden beams were set in the gaps, projecting up slightly above the stone slabs, and functioning as “sleepers” upon which ships could slide when being hauled up or down the slope of the shoreline. This makes our “walkway” into a slipway — perhaps a unique find of naval architecture in the Aegean, but with parallels in the slipways with similar sleepers within the later Classical Greek ship sheds.
Joseph W. Shaw

Posted in Articles

Ποίηση και Τόπος Ιθάκη / Ithaka

Τι ήχοι, τι μουσική, τι πεζογραφία και ό, τι ενέπνευσε τη ποίηση συμπληρώνει την έμπνευση που προέρχεται από ένα μέρος. Ένα αρχαίο προ-ιστορικό τόπο, όπως ο Κομμός της Κρήτης.
Ο William Logan το 15 ​​Ιουνίου, 2014 στο New York Times κατέληξε στο συμπέρασμα “Η γλώσσα του επικερδώς απασχολούμενου έχει τη θέση του. Η ποίηση ποτέ δεν θα έχει το κοινό του “Game of Thrones” – που είναι ό, τι η τηλεόραση μπορεί να κάνει. Η ποίηση είναι κάτι που η γλώσσα μόνο μπορεί να κάνει. “1
Read more ›

Posted in Articles

Poetry and Place — Ιθάκη / Ithaka

What sounds, what music, what prose and what inspired poetry can supplement
the inspiration derived from a place especially an ancient pre-historic place such as Kommos Crete? One outstanding example is the poem “Ithaka” written by Constantine P. Cavafy in 1911.

William Logan in his 15 June 2014 New York Times opinion concluded “Language gainfully employed has its place. Poetry will never have the audience of “Game of Thrones” — that is what television can do. Poetry is what language alone can do.“ 1 Read more ›

Posted in Articles


Ένα βίντεο σχετικά με τη διατήρηση και την ανάπτυξη του αρχαιολογικού χώρου του Κομμού σε βιώσιμο δημόσιο αρχαιολογικό πάρκο.

A You-Tube video in Greek about the conservation and the development of the Kommos archaeological site into a sustainable public archaeological park.

Posted in Articles, GreekArticles

A New Jeremy Rutter Video About Kommos

Posted for James Stratis

Jan Driesen of the Universite catholique de Louvain has brought to our attention Jeremy Rutter’s new video entitled Late Minoan IIIB at Kommos : an abundance of deposits, a dearth of clear sub-phases, and probably a gradual desertion of the site  which was presented at the Workshop Colloquium “ARC A World in Crisis? The 13th c. BC in the Eastern Mediterranean”


Other pod casts from the UCL colloquium are available at:

Posted in Articles Tagged with: , ,

A Review of “Kommos V”

Kommos V the Monumental Minoan Buildings at Kommos presents the southern area of the excavations which includes the monumental buildings found at the site. In addition to chapters written by the principle excavators at Kommos, Joseph and Maria Shaw (JS and MS henceforth), nine other authors contribute, with particularly extensive contributions on pottery by Jeremy Rutter (R) and Aleydis Van de Moortel (VdM). Read more ›

Posted in Articles

A Cretan Conundrum


This post is a somewhat modified version of a talk that I presented to the Egyptian Study Society of Denver Colorado on 21 January 2014. It was intended for a general audience; thus, it includes some information that is already well known to readers of these blogs. See also James Stratis’ post “The Egyptian Gods of Kommos” for additional information on Sekhmet and Nefertum.
Read more ›

Posted in Articles Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

The Egyptian gods of Kommos


Posted for James Stratis.

During the fourth season of the Kommos excavation in 1979 the team from the University of Toronto, discovered, amongst other finds, two faience statues of Egyptian deities – Sekhmet (AB85) and Nefertum (AB86). The fact that both statues were found together points to a connection with Memphis, Egypt. This is where Sekhmet was the consort of Ptah and the mother of Nefertum.
Read more ›

Posted in Articles

The Kommos Virtual Reconstruction Project

Building P Minoan Shipsheds by Joe Wynn

By Alexander Assaf

Every perfect traveler always creates the country where he travels.
~Nikos Kazantzakis

The bright sun beat down on the plains overlooking the distant Rocky Mountains. In the midst of this landscape ouzo flowed, the crowds dined on saganaki (flaming cheese), traditional Greek dancers shouted, “OPA!” and I couldn’t tell if I was in Greece or in Denver at the annual Greek Festival on a sweltering day in June of 2011. Read more ›

Posted in Articles

Ερμηνευτικό θέμα 1: ΥM IA κεραμικός κλίβανος στην νότια περιοχή Στοά

Η LM Ia εντός του κλιβάνου νωρίτερα Στοά

Ένας κλίβανος κεραμικών γεμάτος με είδη κεραμικής, που χρονολογείται στην Υστερομινωική  περίοδο  IA  (1500 Π.Κ.Ε) , χτίστηκε  στα ερείπια μιας πρώην  Μεσομινωικής στοάς (1700 Π.Κ.Ε). Έτσι ερμηνεύτηκε σε μια δημοσίευση της Αμερικανικής Σχολής Κλασικών Σπουδών στην Αθήνα από τον A. Van de Moortel, P.M. Day, Β. Κιλίκογλου και τον Διευθυντή Ανασκαφών/ Πρόεδρο της Υπηρεσίας Προστασίας Φυσικού Περιβάλλοντος του Κομμού, J.W. Shaw. Read more ›

Posted in GreekArticles

A Lakonian (Minoan?) Shipwreck


Read more ›

Posted in Articles

The Sounds of Silence


Today is the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks that caused the deaths of many innocent people. I am reminded of the man who lead some passengers on flight 93, over Shanksville Pennsylvania to counter attack. He was overheard by a telephone operator to say “let’s roll”. Read more ›

Posted in Articles

A Donation Box for Delos (& Kommos…?)

In recent news a new government, and somewhat recent news – a new freedom to spend on cultural resources from donations. Good site stewardship requires regular site maintenance, and there has never been sufficient government funds to meet all the needs. Read more ›

Posted in Articles

Capitalizing on Existing Assets: Infrastructure and Planning


The disappointment of the Gaddafi government’s stewardship at Cyrene

An important Hellenic-Roman heritage site in eastern Libya, as recounted in a  recent Kathemerini article by M. Abbas, reminded us of the planning that the Kommos Conservancy continues to invest in, towards producing a sustainable leveraged amenity for the Mesara in south central Crete. Where Shahaat, the neighboring town to the archaeological site of Cyrene has unaddressed short comings – the Cretan towns and villages of Pitsidia, Kamilari and Matala, near the Kommos archaeological site, offer the visitor plenty of good accommodation and restaurants. Read more ›

Posted in Articles

The Chinese Are Coming

Photo: Chania Museum

We learned from an article in Ekathemerini on 24 February 2011 that Greece has committed to evacuating 15,000 Chinese from Libya, which is south of Kommos across the sea. This is another sign of the intergovernmental cooperation that is so pronounced at Greece’s primary shipping hub at Piraeus, where the Chinese have already been given control of 2 of the 3 container terminals, with the intention of their investing $300 million to upgrade the facilities over their new 35 year contract. Read more ›

Posted in Articles Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The future Great Minoan Triangle

Το Μέλλον των Μεγάλων Τρίγωνο Μινωικές Γραμμές

In Athens there has been planning and implementation for 25 years on a project called the Unification of Archaeological Sites, which connects pedestrian pathways to different archaeological sites. This  walkway across history and infrastructural improvement  provides the heritage tourist safety, convenience and a quality experience. And …Just in time as the tourism industry, according to Kathimerini in July 2010, was severely impacted by internal unrest and the Icelandic volcano eruption combined with political-economic uncertainty, have cost Greece’s Tourism sector over €200,000,000. euros. Read more ›

Posted in Articles Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Future of the Great Minoan Triangle

In Athens there has been planning and implementation for 25 years on a project called the Unification of Archaeological Sites, which connects pedestrian pathways to different archaeological sites. This  walkway across history and infrastructural improvement  provides the heritage tourist safety, convenience and a quality experience. And …Just in time as the tourism industry, according to Kathimerini in July 2010, was severely impacted by internal unrest and the Icelandic volcano eruption combined with political-economic uncertainty, have cost Greece’s Tourism sector over €200,000,000. euros.

Read more ›

Posted in Articles Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Contemporary Music and Minoan Mythology

LOL – We previously posted about “closing the gap with humor” as a way to connect a larger audience to the relevancy of the Kommos site and its Minoan era artifacts. By using contemporary media we can reach out to people outside the interest groups of archaeology and conservation. Similar to the podcast in the Zits comic strip this video utilizes a popular web based medium but with added contemporary music (Radiohead), to make accessible artifact images and humor, introducing the pre-Greek culture with its associated mythology of the man-bull minotaur. Read more ›

Posted in Articles Tagged with: , , , ,

bull leaper podcast

Read more ›

Posted in Articles Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

Interpretive theme 2: artifacts – pottery

The Kommos kiln, described in a previous Blog entry is but one architectural feature of the site that deserves interpretation. The site also yielded many artifacts besides the architectural legacy of the former inhabitants. Chief amongst the artifact categories is pottery. The kiln was filled with pottery and there were other intriguing earlier and later significant finds, examples of Minoan but also Greek, Egyptian, Phoenician and Roman pottery. Read more ›

Posted in Articles Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Transparency for Growth

Read more ›

Posted in Articles Tagged with: , , , ,

Summer Work Season Plan

The American and European economic downturns have caused a postponement of the previously planned continuation of the Master Plan development for construction documents ( efarmogis –εφαρμογις) and the necessary government Ministry of Culture and Tourism ( Υπουργείο Πολιτισμού και Τουρισμού) and Κ.Α.Σ. regulatory approvals. Read more ›

Posted in Articles Tagged with: , , ,

Full Scale Minoan ship as a tool?

Read more ›

Posted in Articles Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Interpretive theme 1: LM IA ceramic kiln in the Southern Area Stoa

The LM Ia kiln within the earlier Stoa

Read more ›

Posted in Articles Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Join Our Community!

Interested in joining the conversation? You are welcome to create an account with us to get involved with our cause.

Join us


Be a part of this park! We are planning to preserve this history and make it accessible to the public. Your contributions will go towards hiring an architect for the next stage in the process. GoodSearch: You Search...We Give!