Application for Grant Aid

Submitted on: 24 Feb 2018

Expedition details (GPF2018a-005)

Expedition Name (& Club): ASUL 2018: Return to Atlantis (Cardiff University )
Destination country: Greece
Region: Cyclades
Lat: 36.3639 Long: 25.4800 Elevation: 564 m
MEF funding: none

Leader: Mr Kostas Trimmis
Total cavers: 10
Cavers ≤25 yrs old: 5
Cavers 25-35 yrs old: 4
UK/nonUK cavers: 7/3
Eligible for grant aid: 0
Alex Pitcher nominations: 0
Expedition dates: 10th Jul 2018 - 25th Jul 2018
Duration (days): 16
Man-days in field: 140 Man-days travelling: 20
Brief Expedition objectives:

List a short summary of the main Expedition objectives.

ASUL 2018: Return to Atlantis is a follow up expedition to our 2017 Atlantis Subterranean Landscapes endeavour.
Our 2018 objectives will mainly focus on the completion of 2017 explorations and cave surveys along with further field research for new caves in the area of Archanggelos at the south of the island close to the Aktoriri village.
Analytically our objecties can be grouped in four targets:
A) Location, exploration and survey of the lava safts in Skaros area
B) Further exploration, survey and archaeological research in the lava caves of Foinikia area that have been explored during ASUL 2017
C) Exploration the area of Archanggelos in the south of the island where cave etrances have been located during the 2017 expedition but they have not been explored.
D) Continuation of the archaeological and geological research on the Santorini's caves that we started during the 2017 expedition.
How can the GPF support your Expedition?:

Please explain the aspects of the trip which make it eligible for Ghar Parau funding.

We chose to apply to GPF mainly because this expedition is organised by a British University in collaboration with the university's caving club. The expedition aims to engage the new cavers with field cave exploration and research. Since many of the participants are archaeology students it would also be beneficial for hem to gain valuable experience and expertise on field archaeological research methods and techniques. Main idea of our return to the island is again to discover and explore the first Mediterranean Lava tubes outside Sicily and to explore the archaeological potential of Santorini caves. As this is a student led project, is difficult to be self-financed or to have access in external funding bodies. A GPF grant aid can be beneficial to students experience of travelling and collaborating abroad with peers from an other country.
Detailed description of objectives:

Give a more detailed account of the purpose of the trip, including any particular known caves you intend to visit, specific areas where you will explore for new cave, and scientific experiments you will attempt.

ASUL 2018 objectives will be a follow up of our primary 2017 goals. As we stated in our previous application, Santorini is a volcanic island in Greece, part of the Cyclades islands complex. Santorini's geological history is a combination of volcanic eruptions and limestone erosion. Today more than 85% of Santorini's land is lava deposits around St Elias mountain which is the limestone "core" of the island. Santorini is still and active Volcano where the last eruption took place in1956. Except the geological interest, Santorini is an Archaeological heaven, particularly for researchers of the Bronze age, since on the island the prehistoric town of Akrotiri has been unearthed. Akrotiri is a prehistoric Pompei, with houses surviving up to the second floor. Colourful frescos and fascinating artefacts creates a picture of an advance and wealthy civilisation that people usually connects with the Myth of Atlantis.

During our expedition in 2017, 11 caves have been recorded. A failure to receive on time the SRT equipment form Cardiff waved the opportunity to explore the lava potholes on Skaros area. However 4 lava and 7 limestone cavities have been explored and we are positive that we have located the first lave tubes in Eastern Mediterranean. We collected rock samples form the lava caves’ walls and ceilings for further analysis in the lab. Structures like chapels and megalithic walls that existed inside the caves have been recorded using 3D photogrammetry but also traditionally hand drawing methods.

This year's objectives are to follow up the 2017 ones and to explore more caves that have been located previously in the lava massif of Archangelos in the Southern part of the island and to finally explore the lava potholes of Skaros. We also aim to continue our study on the human use of caves in Santorini and to collect more evidence for the geological study of the lava caves.
Previous work in this area:

Give details of any previous work in this area by your own and other teams. Include references to reports and articles published on the area, and the names of any local cavers or academics with whom you have discussed the Expedition.

As we stated also in our application in 2017 first speleological research in Santorini conducted by the Hellenic Speleological Society (HSS), during two expeditions in 1952 and 1970. Reports of these expeditions have been published in volumes II and X of the Bulletin of the HSS respectively. 1952 expedition explore the cave of Zoodochos Pigi at Prof Ilias mountain the main limestone core of the volcanic island. 1972 expedition record 3 shelter caves on the west side of the same mountain and 2 relatively large caves (around 80m) in lavas in Foinikia area close to cape Columbo at the northern part of the island.
In 2001 the Speleological Group of Bologna ( Gruppo Speleologico Bolognese - SGSB), Italy, visited the island and explore two horizontal caves in St Elias mountain Zoodochos Pigi (ZP) 1 and 2. The ZP1 is the same cave that have been explored and published by the HSS in 1952, but Italians did not seem to be aware about HSS publication. Italian expedition outcomes have been publish in GSB's bulletin Sottoterra, issue 122, 2001.
Our expeditions of 2016 and 2017 can note that natural caves of Santorini have been used diachronically as places for pen-herding, Christian cult, and as shelters during the periods of turbulence. The pattern of Medieval, modern and contemporary use of caves in Santorini is very similar to the other Cycladic islands, and also to islands that are not in Cycladic complex but have face Venetian rule – such as Kythera or Crete (see Trimmis 2015a, 2015b). In Santorini the caves are predominately places that host chapels (Zoodochos Pigi 1, Agios Georgios Katifio, Panayia Katifiani), pen herding facilities (Zoodochos Pigi 2, Ancient Thera, Klasoysterna, Gavrilos rockshelters) or places for water collection and storage (Panayia Katifiani and Foinikia).
The most interesting find of our survey was the discovery that layers of volcanic material also cover most of the cave paleodeposits in Santorini. Thus, it is equally difficult to discuss human-landscape interaction in caves as it is in the open landscape of the island. Excluding the obsidian flakes in AT, a couple of Cycladic pottery sherds from Foinikia 3, and the few handmade pottery sherds in Klasoysterna’s periphery, the pottery that has been recorded in Santorini caves is exclusively Classical/Hellenistic and Post Medieval/ Modern. Assumptions that caves, such as the cavity in Red Beach, might host Bronze Age material (see Vlachopoulos and Zorzos) cannot be rejected though due to the volume of volcanic material that these caves have.
Pen herding in caves again is not something exclusive to Santorini. Caves in the South East Europe are used as barns or pastorals’ shelters since the Neolithic period (Trantalidou et al 2010) with similar patterns of spatial arrangements to today (see Andreaen et al 2009). A drywall that blocks the entrance of the cavity and smaller partition walls in the interior of the cave are the most used pattern in the Aegean (see Trantalidou et al 2010; Trimmis 2015b). ZP 2, AT and Vlychada rockshelter are the best examples in Santorini; particularly ZP 2 as the cave was used until recently and the dry walls standing to their full high. Animal herding is still today and important part of the island’s economy even though intense development have destroyed most of the traditional pens. Zooarchaeological data from Akrotiri, along with the image of a pen in the famous “fleet” fresco, highlights the importance of the animal herding for the Bronze Age Island’s society. A modern day traditional pen that has been photographed during our survey is looking very similar to the pen that has been depicted on the fresco (fig.) Maybe the limestone cavities of the island are used on a similar way as well; however bioturbation factors was a drawback in our survey to record such activities. Due to the intense bioturbation, as in the caves that have been filled by volcanic material, in pen herding caves we have an almost absolute absence of surface finds, which may happened, due to the large volume of dung that have been deposited in the sites.
By far the caves with the highest archaeological potentiality are the three caves in Foinikia area. Foinikia 1 is to a great extent filled with volcanic material, which made impossible to record surface pottery. However, in areas inside the cave, clear intact deposits with high archaeological potentially have been recorded. A hand grinding stone has also been found close to the cave’s entrance. Foinikia 2 and especially Foinikia 3 are the most interesting sites of the complex with the megalithic walls and the standing structure. Foinikia 3 has also the greatest pottery density of all other cave sites on the island. In 2018 expedition we aim to investigate further all three sites.

Expedition Finances


Travel plans:
Fly from London to Athens, stay overnight and then travel by ferry to Santorini next morning. Rent a mini-van on the island for our transport between cave sites.

# from UK: 8 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from UK: £2,304 Eight people traveling from UK to Greece:

£240 per person for a return trip UK-Greece = £1920
£48 per person for a return trip Athens-Santorini = £ 384

# from outside UK: 2 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from outside UK: £188 £ 140 return trip from Thessaloniki (GR) to Santorini for G. Lazaridis
£ 48 return trip Athens-Santorini for D. Karoutis

Travel total: £2,492 Travel p.p. from UK: £288
Travel p.p. from outside UK: £94


Total: £1,600 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £160 Accommodation for two nights in Athens in a hostel for eight people = £320 total

In Santorini the team will be hosted in Akrotiri excavation dorms. We pay £15 per person per week in order to contribute to cleaning expenses: £300

Subsistence allowance is 7£ pppd: total £ 980


Total: £400 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £40 Most of the equipment will be provided by Cardiff University Caving club.
We will need around £240 for ringing expendables, batteries and a couple of LED lights for cave video.
£160 will be given for equipment for samples analysis from the lava caves.

Special 1

Total: £700 Comments:
Special 1 p.p.: £70 Mini van hiring on the island: £40 per day for 14 days: total: £560
£10 per day for gas for the minivan: £140
Exped Total: £5,192 Exped cost p.p. travelling from UK: £558
Exped cost p.p. travelling from outside UK: £364
Mean Exped cost per person: £519

Other Funding

Total: £600 Comments:
The sum of £600 will be provided by Cardiff University
The sum of £150 will be provided by Thera island council.
Total shortfall: £4,592 Mean shortfall per person: £459

Referees and Report

Please give the names, addresses and phone numbers of two suitably qualified people whom the Committee can contact. You should ensure that they are aware of the objectives of your trip, and that you have their permission for the Committee to contact them.

Referee 1: Prof. John Gunn
Affiliation: University of Birmingham

Reason: Since KT is an active BCRA member since 2011 and current Editor of the Cave Studies Series, John Gunn has a good knowledge about the leader's caving and archaeological experience. JG has also evaluate previous application of KT for the BCRA fund and has seen presentation of previous KT's field expeditions.

Permission obtained?: Yes
Referee 2: Dr Dusan Boric
Affiliation: Columbia University

Reason: Dusan has supervised KT's PhD work along with KT's previous research project in Balkan Caves. He can address KT's competence as team leader, his experience as cave researcher and he can also comment about the importance that Santorini caves have. Dusan is mainly available via email since he is spent much of his time abroad.

Permission obtained?: Yes

Expedition report author: konstantinos Trimmis