The American School of Classical Studies at Athens

Permits for Excavation and Survey Work in Greece

Α. Instructions for Applying for a Permit

The Excavation and Survey Committee is currently inviting applications for one synergasia permit available for 2017.  Applications should provide the committee with the information listed below (Section C).

Proposals for the 2017 season must be received in electronic form by the Chair of the Excavation and Survey Committee no later than November 30, 2015.  Proposals will be considered at the committee meeting in the first week of January 2016, and the results of the competition announced no later than the end of February.  (Note that in the case of a successful application to the ASCSA, The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports requires the submission of CVs for all non-student personnel working on active field projects.) Please forward proposals to Chair of the Excavation and Survey Committee .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Β. Acquisition of property for excavation

Land acquisition for excavation can be a very time consuming and expensive process that must begin before an excavation permit is requested.

After discussion with and approval of the local Ephoreia for the project, and prior to application for an excavation permit, the director(s) should ascertain the legal disposition and condition of ownership of the land on which the proposed excavation is to take place.

The disposition of the property on which one proposes to excavate must be determined prior to application for a permit from the ASCSA.  If the land is privately owned, it is necessary to begin the process of identifying owners and plots prior to application so that this process does not delay the proposed work, if a permit should be granted. 

Ownership of land can often be determined by making enquiries of the local residents and by checking the land registry located in every Demos, where one may obtain a print out with lot numbers associated with the declaration of property. It is strongly advisable to consult with a local notary (symvolaiographos) who will assist in this work. Some property may not be declared at the time of enquiry, but must be declared for purchase.

If the land is privately owned, the director should indicate that a plan for land acquisition and transference to the Greek government—purchase or expropriation or both—has been agreed upon with the local Ephoreia and that progress has been made to contact landowners.

Land acquisition can take years to complete and includes several stages: identifying the owners and securing their agreement to sell the property; surveying the property by a certified civil engineer (who makes the legally required map of the property) and locating parcels (for which the director must pay); making sure that the property has been formally and legally declared by owners to the Greek government and revenue service; agreeing on a price per stremma; and hiring an attorney or symvolaiographos to draft and execute the contract of sale and deed transfer and deposition.

It is important to note that the Ministry cannot buy land that is not legally declared.  So, when the contract is drawn up, it is necessary to make sure that each owner has legal title and tax declaration. Although most people do now because all plots are GIS linked and encoded, you may encounter owners who have not yet declared the land. 

In order to acquire land, the purchaser needs a certified topographic map of the site with the field boundaries and areas or plots/parcels (ktemata) marked and then a Ktematologikos Pinakas Idioktesion, listing the owners and the sizes of the plots; it may also include the land prices. This map must be drawn for the contract of sale to be approved, signed, and filed.  Such maps are made by registered civil engineers (politicos mechanikos); your local symvolaiographos can recommend one.

An Agorapolesia Agrotikon Akineton is the formal contract of sale, written by a symvolaiographos, signed by all the land owners, the Ministry, and the ASCSA Director, then filed in the land registry.

The project director is responsible for the fees associated with surveying the plots to be purchased (or expropriated) and for the cost of the attorney and symvolaiographos.

Land can vary in price dramatically, whether purchased outright or expropriated, and it is important that directors applying for a permit to excavate be able to demonstrate that they have the funds in hand for the acquisition.

The process for expropriation (anagkastiki apallotriosi) of land is somewhat different than outright purchase and in this case a tax-office assessed objective value (antikeimeniki axia) will be the basis for a court decision, which may also take into account the commercial value of the land, based on recent sales of adjacent or nearby parcels. The expropriation requires a judicial procedure and can last from 2 to 5 years. The procedure is undertaken by the Greek State – but paid for by the excavation director through the ASCSA – and constitutes the ultimate solution, if the owners of the land do not wish to sell the property or do not agree with the selling price. The court decides on the price of the land, which automatically comes to the ownership of the Greek State when the price decided by the court to the landowners has been paid.

C. Procedures for obtaining a permit from the School

The American School of Classical Studies is entitled by Greek Law of 1932 to three excavations each year. One of these has traditionally been the School’s own excavation at Corinth while the other two have been assigned by the School to cooperating institutions for various sites. Permission to excavate in the Athenian Agora was granted in 1929 by a special act of Parliament. The new Archaeological Law, #3028/2002 “For the Protection of Antiquities and in general of the Greek Heritage”, allows three American projects (excavations, surveys) each year (the Agora is excluded), and three joint Greek-American projects (synergasia).

All proposals for excavation and survey work in Greece, including synergasia, should be discussed first with the Director of the School and the Chair of the Excavation and Survey Committee. All such proposals then should be sent to the Chair of the Excavation and Survey Committee of the School’s Managing Committee for consideration by the whole committee.  The application should be submitted as a single pdf file, including the proposal, illustrations, and supporting documents.  After approval by this committee, the School will then apply to The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports on behalf of the applicant(s) and associated cooperating institution(s). The Excavation and Survey Committee traditionally meets during the Archaeological Institute of America meetings in January and considers proposals for work to begin approximately 18 months from that time.

Accordingly, when permits become available and are announced, those interested in excavation and survey in Greece should submit to the Chair of the Excavations and Surveys Committee 18 months before such work is to take place and no later than November 30, a proposal which will be assessed on the following criteria and information:

a. An Abstract summarizing the research plan and intellectual goals of the project.

b. A statement of the research plan and intellectual goals of the project including relevant bibliography (not to exceed 7 pages single-spaced).

  • When a permit is sought for continuing work on a pre-existing project, the project’s intellectual results to date and how these results have been disseminated must be communicated.

c. A statement of method and techniques to be employed. For scientific analyses, methods should be clearly articulated, and qualified personnel who will conduct the analyses should be incuded in section (e).
d. A plan, established in conjunction with the Ephoreia, for ongoing site conservation and final and sustainable plan for site conservation at the end of the permit period.
e. The names and specialties of the staff who are to participate in the work.
f. Full CV of director(s) (not to exceed 20 pages) and 2-page CV of each senior staff member (Append at end of application packet).
g. The exact dates of the field work which should not be more than 4-6 weeks and the overall length of the program.

  • The fieldwork should be planned to start not earlier than April 1st of each year. If there is a special reason why a project should take place earlier, this must be explained in writing, in a special request to be submitted no later than October 1st. These rules are stated in the Ministry’s directive of 2002, which is valid until further notice.

h. A budget for the work and evidence that funds are available and/or have been applied for.

  • The budget must take into account article 44 of Greek Law 5351/32 which reads in part: “During the whole period of the excavation and research until the final publication, the excavating Archaeological Society or Archaeological School is obliged to pay for, under the instructions of the relevant service of the ministry, the conservation of the uncovered remains, the support of walls, the filling of pits, or the drainage of water. Failure to fulfill the above (obligations) can be regarded, after consideration by the Central Archaeological Council, as a termination of the excavation. If no museum or other available appropriate public building exists near the place of excavation, the excavator (and surveyor) has the obligation to pay for the temporary safe storage of the discoveries.” Excavators are also expected to provide permanent storage for their finds after the completion of excavations. Even in instances where a local museum is available, the director must insure that space is available for proper storage and, failing that, that funds are available to provide for such storage.

Necessary Supporting Documents:

a. A brief written statement of support for the project from the Proistamenos of the relevant Ephoreia.  This requires personal and direct communication in person with the Proistamenos.
b. The contacts which have been made with local authorities about the work, and what support is forthcoming from them.
c. The precise location and area to be excavated/surveyed.  This should be described verbally and clearly indicated on a detailed map of scale 1:5,000.
d. If a permit for excavation is sought, the Trustees of the School require a statement on the legal disposition of the land and how this has been determined.  If the land on which you wish to excavate is privately owned, you must provide a plan for land acquisition and transference to the Greek government (purchase or expropriation or both) that has been agreed upon with the Proistamenos of the relevant Ephoreia and indicate what progress has been made in negotiations with the landowners. Directors applying for a permit to excavate must demonstrate that they have the funds (or at least the majority) in hand for the acquisition before a permit request can be granted by the ASCSA.
e. If the project will employ workers, an explanation addressing how IKA will be paid for them.  The ASCSA does not provide this service for affiliated projects.
f. Evidence of support from the cooperating institution(s) of which the project director(s) is a member, e.g. a letter from an appropriate Dean or the Provost.
g. Evidence that prior publication commitments of field projects have been fulfilled.
h. A statement outlining publication plans for the project, including plans for regular preliminary and final reports.

  • This plan should be updated as warranted by changes in the project’s plans and should contain also a statement of the methods to be employed by the project for the long-term storage and preservation of electronic data that emerges.

i. Evidence that adequate, available storage faciliites have been identified.


If a synergasia is contemplated, the name(s) of the Greek co-director(s) and a clear outline of the divisions of labor and responsibilities between the Greek and American teams, including a statement that each side will provide one-half of the required funds and staff for each season. In synergasia projects, and according to the directive of the Ministry of June 2002, the two teams must sign a “protocol of cooperation” before the beginning of their project (directive of the Ministry of June 2003). In this protocol the two teams must describe the intellectual purpose of the synergasia, the duration and the budget. The synergasia project is equally divided between the two parties and the Greek side is the director of the project.

Continuing Excavations

If the request is for continuing excavation on a site where you have excavated before, a clear indication both in writing and on a state plan of the site where conservation/backfilling is complete and what, if anything, remains to be completed.


At the end of each season all projects should submit to the School, via the .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), a report of activities (as a Word document) accompanied by photos and/or maps. This document will be translated into Greek and sent to The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, the relevant ephoreias and directorates, and Archaiologikon Deltion. The English report, with its enclosures, will be sent to foreign schools for inclusion in Archaeological Reports and Archaeology in Greece Online/Chronique des fouilles en ligne.  Therefore, members are requested to send high resolution images and plans as well as text to the Administrative Assistant to the Director via a file-sharing mode, such as Dropbox.

D. Procedures for obtaining a permit from the Greek Archaeological Service via the School

For those granted one of the School’s five fieldwork permit requests and others seeking permits to conduct study and other research, the following guidelines apply. If you have questions about this procedure, please contact the .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The School is required to submit all applications for excavation and survey work, including synergasia, to the relevant Ephoreias,the Department of Foreign Schools and other relevant Departments in The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports. The Department of Foreign Schools then seeks the reactions of the relevant Ephoreias and other departments to these applications. The School, therefore, urges the directors of all excavation and survey projects to receive the approval of the relevant Ephoreias before submitting their proposals. The Ephoreias are asked to submit their reactions by December 30 of the year prior to the one in which work is to take place. The School, thus, must submit its requests to the Service in November and accordingly asks the directors of all excavation and survey projects to submit their program of work to the School by October 15 in the year prior to the beginning of the project.

In order to submit these permit requests, the School needs the following information:

a. A report on the previous season’s work, accompanied by photos and/or maps.
b. A brief (no more than two pages) summary of what work is intended for the coming season, including a topographical plan of the area to be excavated/surveyed (scale 1:5000), the dates of the season, the various types of work that are to take place, and the names and specialties of as many staff members as are known, including the CVs of all scientific personnel.
c. If scientific studies are intended, exactly what these studies entail and who will carry them out.
For synergasias, the request must be submitted to The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports by both parties.

NOTE: Even though the School submits its requests to The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports in November, it does not usually receive replies from the Ministry until the end of April. In some cases, the replies are negative. Project directors who need to expend funds before this time are warned that they may have to cancel their plans if the Ministry denies permission. In this case, they are advised to make other arrangements in order not to pay penalties if air tickets are purchased earlier than the end of April.

E. Reporting requirements for permit holders

Applicants for permits should note that they will be required to submit annual reports on their work for publications in the Archaeologikon Deltion. These need to be in Greek and the School can have this done for you by a translation service (single spaced, 12-point type in all cases). For excavation and synergasia permitted projects, the cost is included in the excavation fee. For research projects the cost is $43 per page. If you anticipate requiring translation of your report and wish to pay the fee at the same time as your project fees, you may do so.  Those directors who provide a Greek translation of their report will not owe this fee (that is, you are free to translate it yourself or find your own translator, if you prefer) although the Director of the ASCSA will judge if it is acceptable for submission or needs to be corrected.