The Norwegian Archaeological Survey in the Karystia (NASK) is a four-year long project of systematic archaeological investigation in the Karystia, which is the part of southern Euboea centered on the modern town of Karystos.
The long-term goal of the project is to record and reconstruct the cultural landscapes in the Karystia and the ways the landscape was constructed, lived in, and used by people inhabiting the Karystia in the past, from the prehistoric times to the present. In its first phase, the project focuses on the part of the Karystia known as the Katsaronio Plain, which is the section of southern Euboea most suitable for agriculture. The plain is virtually unknown in archaeological terms, since very little research has been done there in the past. The primary objectives of the project are to explore the long-term connection between people and the landscape they inhabit and to gather evidence that reflects the past (particularly prehistoric) sociopolitical organization of Karystian communities and their access to and management of agricultural resources. Additionally, the project includes the search for evidence for the earliest known (Late Neolithic) settlement of the area and it also functions as an informal field school where students of archaeology and classics from Norway and elsewhere can obtain field experience.
NASK is organized as an intensive diachronic pedestrian surface survey. The entire target area will be surveyed by team members spaced ten meters apart, assuring maximum coverage and accuracy. Concentrations of archaeological materials (termed findspots), features (immovable objects such as walls, pits, wells), significant natural resources (e.g., springs), and individual finds of any kind (e.g., pottery, chipped and polished stone, metals, etc.) are recorded using a GPS device and their location and other information associated with them (i.e., their context) is entered into a database, which will be analyzed using GIS software. Special attention is given to findspots, as likely surface indications of buried archaeological sites; all findspots are surveyed in greater detail for evidence of differential spatial distribution of certain kinds of artifacts and/or features.
According to current evidence, the Karystia has been an important and well-populated area at least starting from the Late Neolithic. It is a liminal area that straddles the insular world of the Cyclades on one side and the Greek mainland on the other. As such, it was not only an important waypoint for people travelling in this part of the Aegean but also a place where different cultural influences combined to give this area its current feel and its specific archaeological record. Karystos itself has been an important settlement at least from Geometric times, to judge by the size of its principal Geometric settlement of Plakari. Homer in the Iliad, in the famous Catalogue of Ships, mentions Karystos, together with other settlements (Styra and Geraistos) from southern Euboea. The fact that Karystos is mentioned by Homer indicates that it was a well-known settlement at that time. Karystos continued its existence as a Classical and Hellenistic polis, first independently and, following the Persian Wars, under the suzerainty of Athens. The Roman occupation brought with it several centuries of stability and economic progress. Karystos benefited from the imperial quarries in its vicinity. The turmoil that engulfed most of the Roman Empire during the fourth and fifth centuries CE, during the Great Migrations period, does not seem to have affected the Karystia in an adverse way. During late Medieval times the ownership of the Karystia and the rest of Euboea changed hands among the crusaders, Byzantines, and Venetians until the Turkish occupation of the area in the late fifteenth century. The Karystia remained under the rule of the Ottoman Empire until the early nineteenth century, when it became a part of the post-Ottoman Greek nation state.