A palace under the olive trees. Investigating the spatial organization of the Mycenaean palatial center at Ayios Vasileios (Laconia, Greece) through large-scale magnetic gradiometry

Wieke de Neef*, Sofia Voutsaki, Burkart Ullrich, Ronald Freibothe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

71 Downloads (Pure)


The results of a large-scale magnetometry survey are used to investigate two key aspects of the spatial organization of the Mycenaean palatial settlement at Ayios Vasileios (Laconia, Greece): the extent of the site and the existence, or possibly even zoning of distinct functional areas. These include the palatial core, funerary zones, industrial areas, and infrastructure. The unique situation at Ayios Vasileios, which remained relatively undisturbed after its abandonment, provides the possibility to explore the potential, limitations, and challenges of spatial research based on geophysical data of a prehistoric urban context. We do so by engaging different sources of information: geophysical contrasts mapped by our own and previous surveys, information from the excavations of the palatial core and the adjacent North Cemetery, preliminary observations on surface materials, and wider scholarship on Mycenaean palatial settlement. This dialogue between the disciplines enables us to problematize the interpretation of non-invasive geophysical prospection data and to check our implicit assumptions. Taking into account the different resolutions of these interdisciplinary sources, we formulate hypotheses about the layout and organization of the site which we hope to substantiate in the future by comparing against the surface data and the progress of the excavation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number34
Number of pages21
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2022


  • Data interpretation
  • Greece
  • Late Helladic archaeology
  • Magnetic gradiometry
  • Spatial organization

Cite this