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Halai Archaeological Project

For the latest news on HAP: HAP 2003 ] HAP reports ]

The independent city-state of Halai, located on the east coast of mainland Greece, offers a rare glimpse into the type of the urban environment in which most people would have lived in ancient times. Significant portions of the citadel were excavated early in the 20th century by pioneer archaeologists Hetty Goldman and Alice Walker.  They uncovered Neolithic, Archaic, Hellenistic and Roman fortified settlements and cemeteries.  In the 1990s, the Cornell Halai East Locris Project (CHELP), headed by John E. Coleman, furthered research through survey and excavation.  Preliminary reports have been published and several in-depth studies on discreet topics have been completed.  CHELP continues to prepare the Neolithic material for publication.  


Plan of Halai (2003) 


For more information on the archaeology of Halai, view the new visitor display boards as a pdf document


Fishing village of Theologos and Halai from the northwest.

The beauty of excavating a site such as Halai, other than its breathtaking location, is that the layers of the successive occupations are not only well preserved, but they are also relatively undisturbed.  Halai does not appear to have been re-occupied in the Classical period.  Very few small, city-states like Halai have ever been investigated. The results from these new excavations will further our understanding of important and controversial issues such as the origins of the Greek city-state and early Greek religion.  


Akropolis Halai in Spring: Neolithic in foreground, Archaic temple and altar of Athena in midground, 
Hellenistic civic structures in background, Late Roman Christian basilica at far right.

The city may have also played an important historical role. There was a major disaster at Halai that destroyed the Archaic sanctuary, but the cause of this destruction is as yet uncertain. There are two theories.  Halai was probably forced to host the Persian fleet the night before it attacked and destroyed Athens in 480 BC. The question is, did the city turn traitor or did it resist the Persian onslaught? If we can prove that the Persians destroyed Halai, then Halai will have the only other Persian destruction layer outside of Athens. The alternative cause of destruction is the monumental earthquake that shook the region in 426 BC, recorded in great detail by Thucydides [3.89.1].  The new excavations will try to solve this historical conundrum by paying close attention the stratigraphy.

Friends of HAP

If you are interested in becoming a friend of HAP and supporting our field research through a donation of equipment or money (for team's travel, food and lodging), please contact me: . All Donors are added to our "Friends of HAP" List and will receive regular updates about our project, progress and new discoveries.  Friends of HAP are strongly encouraged to come to Halai during the season and see us in action, participate in camp-life and visit the site.  There is a wide range of hotels and pensions, not to mention a host of the tavernas which serve delicious fresh seafood, in the village of Theologos where the ancient acropolis of Halai is located.

Tax deductible donations can be made in USD by sending a check or money order to: 

Halai Archaeological Project
c/o Prof. Getzel Cohen 
Institute for Mediterranean Studies 
7086 East Aracoma Drive 
Cincinnati, OH 45237, USA                    (every penny of the donation comes to HAP)

Donations in GBP:

Halai Arch. Project
c/o Alexandra Lesk
Department of Archaeology
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK                    (every penny of the donation comes to HAP)


Our Wish List:

  • DONATE AN OFFICE: HAP needs pre-fabricated mobile units to house and protect our  office equipment. HAP will name it after the donor!    (4000 Euros)
  • DONATE A COMPUTER: HAP requires a desk-top computer on which to run AutoCAD. The minimum requirements are a 19" screen and 120 GB Hard Drive.    (1200 Euros)
  • DONATE A LAP-TOP: HAP needs lap-top computers for data-entry and field notes. NEC Versa Daylite for outdoor use would be fabulous.    (approx. 2000 Euros)
  • DONATE AN EDM: Provide HAP with its own survey equipment, ideally a Leica TCR307 (reflectorless) EDM (digital theodolite)    (approx. 8000 Euros, second hand approx. 6000 Euros)
  • DONATE A DIGITAL CAMERA: HAP requires digital cameras (min. 4 Megapixels) for site photography and small finds. Second hand is fine.
  • DONATE A VIDEO CAMERA: HAP keeps a video notebook of the excavation and daily life on the project.  Second hand is fine.
  • DONATE A SHELTER: HAP is raising funds to build shelters over the excavated portions of the archaeological site which will otherwise have to be backfilled and hidden from visitors.  Donors' names will appear on dedicatory plaques.
  • DONATE A VEHICLE FOR A SEASON: HAP team members need to get around. (approx. 1000 Euros per season including petrol)        

Sponsor a student archaeologist (undergrads)

SUPPORT A DIGGER AT HALAI:  You can sponsor an archaeologist-in-training for a 6-week season for 1800 Euros/season.  We'd love to be able to provide bursaries to support student travel to Halai as well, if possible.

Sponsor an expert archaeologist (Ph.D. candidates and professionals)

SEND A PRO TO HALAI: Expert archaeologists eat about the same amount and sleep under the same conditions (1800 Euros), but they need their flights from the US or UK paid as well.  Flights across the pond usually run about 1200 Euros, and from the UK, about 230 Euros.  

Professionals such as conservators, palaeobotanists, faunal analysts usually only work for a part of the season and receive an honorarium for their expertise.

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