The Thesprotia Expedition is an interdisciplinary survey project that combines archaeology, geology, and history with the aim of writing the diachronic history of one part of Thesprotia in the Kokytos River Basin (Epirus, northwestern Greece) from prehistoric down to modern times.
How are we to explain the extremely rich finds of Middle and Upper Palaeolithic material in Thesprotia, and Epeiros in general, and the subsequent evidence for occupation during the Neolithic period and the Bronze Age, which is surprisingly poor? Did the shift from hunting-gathering groups to agricultural societies follow a different path here than in the rest of Greece, where there are generally few Palaeolithic finds but very rich Neolithic and Bronze Age remains? Or is this difference due to environmental changes in Epeiros? How should we explain the apparent existence in Thesprotia of “Dark Ages,” i.e., periods with no or very few finds? The Mesolithic period, parts of the Neolithic period, the Iron Age and the Archaic period are the most obvious. Was the territory depopulated during those periods, or is the lack of finds due only to biases in the history of research in the area? Can we gain new insights into the prehistoric pottery chronology of northwestern Greece? In what ways can the contacts of the indigenous inhabitants with the first Greek colonies that were founded on Kerkyra and along the Thesprotian coast in the late 8th and the 7th centuries BC be documented? How did these contacts influence the development of major sanctuaries and poleis in Thesprotia and its immediate surroundings? What kinds of relationships did the tribe of the Thesprotians and, later on in the Classical period, the poleis of Thesprotia have with the major sanctuaries of Dodona and the Nekyomanteion? What impact did the development of political leagues during the late Classical and early Hellenistic periods have on regional settlement patterns? To what extent do isolated farmsteads occur in Thesprotia during this time as they did elsewhere in Greece? What effects did the spread of Roman control have on the area? At what stage did the typical Roman villa economy develop? And how was the area influenced by the development of the major Late Roman city of Photike just north of the survey area? Can we obtain complementary information from the rich Byzantine, Venetian, and, above all, Ottoman archival sources about the cultural clashes in the area during the Medieval and Early Modern period, when it was located at the crossroads between Western and Eastern Europe, represented by Venice in Kerkyra and Parga, and by the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires on the mainland. What effects did the infiltration of Albanian shepherds in the area, starting in the 14th century, have on the demographic and economic development in the region? What environmental changes can be documented in the area through history and how has this influenced living conditions?