An evaluation of human intervention in abandonment and postabandonment formation processes in a deserted Cretan village

Costas Papadopoulos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Mediterranean Archaeology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • formation processes
  • archaeology
  • Crete
  • village
  • abandonment
  • Human interventions
  • postabandonment


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