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Peer-Review Record

Mountain Landscape and Human Settlement in the Pindus Range: The Samarina Highland Zones of Western Macedonia, Greece

by Paolo Biagi 1,*, Elisabetta Starnini 2, Nikos Efstratiou 3, Renato Nisbet 1, Philip D. Hughes 4 and Jamie C. Woodward 4
Reviewer 1: Anonymous
Reviewer 2: Anonymous
Reviewer 3: Anonymous
Submission received: 28 November 2022 / Revised: 19 December 2022 / Accepted: 19 December 2022 / Published: 28 December 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaeological Landscape and Settlement)

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

The article is a detailed summary of the results of more than 20 years of high-altitude archaeological field surveys in the Pindus Mountains of NW Greece, set in their evolving landscape context. On the whole the text is clear and well written, and supported by a broad range of maps, diagrams and photographs. The paper is a collective effort by an interdisciplinary group of authors, who are all well known, experienced and highly regarded in their respective fields.

The paper makes clear the inevitable limitations of this type of research. Archaeological finds were restricted to relatively imperishable materials (lithic artefacts, pottery sherds, charcoal, etc.), often recovered from erosion scars, with potential for mixing of material from different periods and little scope for radiocarbon dating. This results in an archaeological chronology that is extremely coarse-grained (and to a degree subjective), with finds ranging in age from Middle Palaeolithic to the historic period judged mainly on artifact form and technology.

That said, the research has produced some interesting and important results, including:

1) It is one of very few upland/high altitude archaeological surveys undertaken anywhere in the Balkan Peninsula, yet this type of research is essential if we are to gain a better understanding of land-use patterns and changes through time in what is predominantly a mountainous region.

2) The extensive use of non-local lithic resources, in spite of (often lower quality) chert sources. Interestingly, the non-local rocks include single finds of obsidian from Melos and the Carpathian Mountains, which expands the known distribution of both.

3) The evidence provided by radiocarbon and geomorphological studies for discontinuities in the settlement/land-use record.

I have no substantive criticisms of this paper. But I noted one or two inconsistencies in spelling, punctuation and grammar, which for the most part seems to follow British English. For example ...

a) land-use - should only be hyphenated when used as an adjective, not as a noun.

b) Figure 3 caption - "Calibrations according to OxCal 4.4".

c) Page 16, line 4 - "...under-practised field, ..."

d) Page 20, line 6 - "... rivers' runoff ..."

In short, this submission is a good fit for the Landscape Archaeology section of LAND.

Author Response

Thank you. All the suggested corrections have been made. See the attached paper revised

Reviewer 2 Report

Please comments sent to editors.

Comments for author File: Comments.pdf

Author Response

Thank you very much for your reviewing and the useful suggestions. Regarding the LIDAR dataset, it is not available in this region of northern Greece (see attachment). Moreover, we never thought of using it during our surveys which we started in an empirical way so many years ago and then we improved due to the fieldwork experience and the impressive amount of finds and recorded data, mostly Middle Palaeolithic artefacts, which are not considered in this paper. I agree that would it be useful to utilise it in the future whenever available also for the Pindos Range. 

Regarding the chronology of the sites and the tree-pits, it would be possible to add the periods covered by the different groups of dates in Table 1. For example write Mesolithic for the oldest one, Late Neolithic close to the following two, etc.. if the journals editors think that this is necessary or more clear for the readers. If it is, no problem about it. A few words have been added regarding the relationships between the BA sites that are difficult to define in detail, because of the absence of structural remains and most deposits are reworked or eroded away. In conclusion, we tried to achieve as many data  as possible, by radiocarbon-dating whatever was possible to date, and trying to interpret the chronology of occupation also thanks to the techno-typological characteristics of the lithic artefacts. We have remarked the importance of the presence of one valley bottom site (AA) and one on the top of Mt Anitsa, despite the strong wind that always blows up there, as a control point which for sure it was. The others are all reworked deposits or the sites consist of just a few surface finds (lithics and potsherds). We consider important the presence of obsidian pieces up there from two different (geographically opposed) sources. These discoveries change our perspectives regarding the distribution of obsidians in the Balkan peninsula (personal opinion).

The general impression is that, due to the extreme winter climate, the sites were seasonally settled. In any case agricultire was undoubtedly proctised up to ca 1800 m of altitude (VSL 1 etc..) This is also interesting. As well as hunting. It is not a surprise that the watersheds footpaths were already open in the Bronze age and that they are scattered with chert arrowheads. The same happens in the Alps. This is new to Greece etc..... but I think that in the Carpathians etc.. would be the same if accurate surveys are conducted..

Author Response File: Author Response.docx

Reviewer 3 Report


The subject addressed in the current manuscript ("Mountain Landscape and Human Settlement in the Pindus Range: The Samarina highland zones of Western Macedonia, Greece") is appropriate for the journal's aims. 


The current article's primary goal is to present data gathered during more than 20 years of field surveys and excavations in the Pindus range of Western Macedonia (Greece), mainly focusing on the Holocene land-use. 


The reading of the manuscript was exciting, and we congratulate the authors for the results. The manuscript brings new interesting data related to a series of archaeological sites in the target region, accompanied by distribution data, radiocarbon data, and excavation/survey details (features, material culture, etc.), which represents a gain for the knowledge of human communities in the Mediterranean Sea basin. Although the manuscript is quite long (48 p.), and some descriptive passages could be better summarized, we consider that the manuscript can be published in its current form.


Author Response

Thank you. See the revised manuscript according to the notes of all reviewers

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