7th Season Preliminary Report to the 7th Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Olympia on the Results of Museum Study (May 20-July 5, 1997) and on Geophysical Investigations (July 21-August 2, 1997)[1]


Jack L. Davis


The seventh season of PRAP was again conducted with a skeleton crew, consisting of the following team members:

Phoebe E. Acheson

John Bennet

Ebe-Karsten Blohm

Jack L. Davis

Helge Grasshof

Suzanne Hofstra

Falko Kuhnke

Martin Rother

Robert Schon

Sharon R. Stocker

Eberhard Zangger

The goals of the season were three:

1) To restudy selected published and unpublished finds from Blegen's excavations.

2) To improve the storage conditions of artifacts from Blegen's excavations at the Palace of Nestor.

3) To conduct supplementary geophysical fieldwork in the town around the citadel on which the Palace of Nestor sits.

Reorganization of the Blegen finds and their study was conducted exclusively on tables behind the second apotheke of the museum, under direct supervision of museum guards and was organized by Sharon Stocker on behalf of PRAP.

Blegen's Unpublished Finds

Only a fraction of the finds from Blegen's excavations was published in the Palace of Nestor series. In 1993-95 we on occasion examined the unpublished finds for comparative purposes and were convinced that they warranted much fuller publication. The work described below has been conducted under the supervision of John Bennet, Jack Davis, and Cynthia Shelmerdine.

PRE-PALATIAL. Pre-palatial finds were the most neglected; only a few pre-Mycenaean sherds are described in PON III, despite the fact that Blegen's team excavated Middle Helladic (and probably also late Early Bronze Age) strata in many parts of the citadel and its vicinity, while searching for a Mycenaean fortification wall. In several instances the strata are deep and the quantities of finds are very substantial, e.g., in Trench S5 on the citadel and in the Petropoulos Trench in the Lower Town. The systematic study of the finds should for the first time establish solid foundations for an informed examination of the earliest stages in the development of a complex palace-based society at Englianos.

The first stage in this investigation was completed by Sharon R. Stocker and submitted in 1995 to the University of Cincinnati as her M.A. thesis, "Deriziotis Aloni: A Small Bronze Age Site in Messenia," the full publication of a significant site of the early Middle Helladic period on the Englianos ridge, approximately a kilometer southwest of the PON, now being revised for submission for publication in Hesperia. In June 1996, approximately 300 MH sherds from the citadel of the PON itself were catalogued and drawn. Stocker has collaborated fully with Yiannos Lolos in the publication of Middle Helladic finds from the PRAP survey. She will also collaborate with Mike Nelson and Fred Cooper of the MAWRP project in unravelling the complicated history of pre-palatial complexes of walls excavated by Blegen and recently re-exposed.

In 1997, her research focused on reexamination of MH and transitional MH/LH finds from the Kanakares tomb, excavated by Lord William Taylour in 1953. About one-half of the finds were catalogued, described, measured, and photographed; many were also drawn. Sherds included in plates in Vol. III of the Palace of Nestor were also studied as were selected finds excavated by Papathanasopoulos in '59, '60, and '61. All studies were clearly preliminary and no conclusions can be drawn as yet other than that it is already clear that a substantial amount of Middle Helladic material from various excavated trenches remains unpublished and that these trenches are widely distributed at the site.

PALATIAL. Study of Blegen's unpublished finds of the palatial period will be conducted by Suzanne Hofstra of the University of Texas and Robert Schon of Bryn Mawr College.

Hofstra's research program involves a functional analysis of different areas of the Palace of Nestor. In her view a restudy of the small finds from the site, in conjunction with the Linear B tablets, will contribute greatly to an understanding of what activities were carried out at the site in its final phase, ca. 1200 B.C., and how different parts of the palace were used. Some specialized areas have already been identified and studied by others, such as the wine and perfumed oil storerooms; Hofstra will be the first to examine the palace as a whole, including those areas which may be multipurpose or whose function is now unclear. Recent anthropological theories have also raised questions about the importance of gender in economic and social activities. The archive and artifacts of the Palace are well-suited to this type of enquiry. The tablets provide information about an extensive labor force of both men and women, of diverse social and occupational status. Through study of tomb as well as settlement finds it may also be possible to associate specific artifacts with each gender, and thus draw further information about those who worked in a given locale. In 1997 she catalogued previously uncatalogued small finds in the basement of the Museum of Hora and prepared photographs and drawings of them, beginning with objects related to textile manufacture: spindle

whorls, loom weights, awls, and needles, some of which were found during

the repacking process, mixed with pottery--then continuing her examination by photographing stone objects.

From an examination of Blegen's excavation reports, Robert Schon argued in his Master's thesis presented in 1995 to Bryn Mawr College that the manufacture of chariots was organized and carried out in the Northeast Building of the Palace of Nestor at Pylos. This hypothesis was based primarily on textual evidence provided by Linear B tablets found in the building, as well as from the archives room. Artifacts excavated in and around the building, such as tools and pieces of bronze and ivory, provided some further supporting evidence, but often the descriptions of objects were incomplete. In 1997, Schon examined cursorily in the basement of the Hora Museum all material excavated from the NE building.

Reorganization of Finds

Hofstra, Schon, and Stocker worked to improve the access to the Blegen finds that future scholars will have. Artifacts are often difficult or impossible to examine because they are kept in large barrels, with much pottery from individual excavation strata now separated only by rotting sheets of newspaper. There began in 1997 the laborious task of systematically rebagging and relabelling this material so that its contexts will be preserved for the future. Approximately one-third of the finds were so treated. In very many cases, labels were found to be badly damaged and had they not been replaced, contexts would have been totally lost within several more years. We attach a complete list of boxes examined this year (Appendix 1). Stocker estimates that the task will require at least two more years to complete, and will in the third year require the services of a professional archaeological conservator.

Geophysical Survey

In 1959, Blegen's team dug three trenches (LT I-III) approximately 20 m. southwest of the excavated buildings of the Palace of Nestor at Pylos. In those trenches several distinct strata with relatively well-preserved remains of Late Bronze Age buildings with some substantial rooms from the era of the late palace were found. To determine systematically the extent and continuity of structures in this area, we employed an array of different geophysical methods during a systematic reconnaissance in 1995 (the results sub iudice with Hesperia). We established a grid of 10 x 10 m. squares covering a total of 10,150 m2, with a maximum NW/SE-extension of 180 m and a maximum NE/SW extension of 90 m. Within this grid two magnetometers, one electromagnetic instrument and a resistivity survey with two different electrode arrangements were conducted.

The most remarkable results of the geophysical prospecting was the discovery of a sixty-meter long lineament on the steep northwestern side of the Epano Englianos ridge. Using computer modelling we were able to determine that the upper boundary of the source causing the anomaly seems to be one meter below the surface and is certainly not deeper than 1.5 m. The width of the source appeared to be approximately 2-2.7 m. The most plausible explanation for this anomaly is, that it marks the remains of a massive fortification around the citadel, possibly indicating the outer margin of the settlement surrounding it.

The 1995-data provided an excellent start from which the anomaly could be traced further. Moreover, since the anomaly showed up clearly in all magnetometer and resistivity measurements, the follow-up investigation could be conducted using the Overhauser-instrument only, because this magnetometer is easy to operate and allows fast progress in the field. For this research a team of five to six experts was employed for approximately two weeks between July 21 and August 2, 1997.[2] The investigation was limited to an area up to 300 m. west and south of the fence surrounding the palace. Field activities were limited to setting up a 10 m. grid and collecting measurements with the hand-held Overhauser magnetometer. The fieldwork was overseen by Eberhard Zangger, co-director of PRAP and head of natural scientific operations.

Investigations shed substantial light on the nature of the construction. We were able to trace the anomaly further around the palace, sufficiently far to offer strong support to the hypothesis that it did once encircle the citadel on which the palace stood. The anomaly does not appear to have been a support wall for a building terrace, because it crosses contours and recent terraces. The likelihood that we have found the remains of a fortification wall is strengthed also by a report from Ms. Litsa Malapani, representative of the Olympia Ephoreia that in August 1996 excavations by OTE to lay a telephone cable uncovered a 3 m.-thick wall northwest of the Palace of Nestor. In the areas investigated by us, the anomaly eventually could not be traced further in any direction, either because its remains have been eroded or because they are buried too deeply to be detected by our instruments. A large approximately square structure was noted outside the perimeter defined by the anomaly. Illustrations are being prepared and a fuller report will be submitted to the Ephoreia early in 1998.

Ottoman Studies

Bennet and Davis spent two weeks in Hora from June 18-July 5 examining unpublished Ottoman documents from 1715 that describe settlements in western Messenia in great detail; these documents were acquired from archives in Istanbul and should greatly improve our understanding of patterns of settlement in Messenia as they existed under Ottoman occupation. A full study will be published by us in cooperation with Professor Fariba Zarinebaf of the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago.


A general book summarizing the results of PRAP in the context of overall Messenian history and prehistory (entitled Sandy Pylos: An Archaeological History from Nestor to Navarino) will be published simultaneously both in paperback and hardback in February/March 1998 by the University of Texas Press. A 250-page technical description of the results of PRAP will be published in Parts 3 and 4 of Hesperia 1997. A fully illustrated catalogue of PRAP sites and artifacts continues to be available on the WorldWideWeb at "", and is regularly updated. Copies of publications will be sent to the Ephoreia as they appear.

Appendix 1: List of Boxes and Barrels Repacked and Relabelled in 1997

The following finds from excavations by Blegen at the Palace of Nestor and in its vicinity were repacked and relabelled in 1997.

Room 53, Restorable vases

Room 7

Area BB, Numbered sherds

Numbered Sherds from Rooms, Corridors, etc.

Rooms 32, 38, 43, Doorway 38-43, Selected Sherds.

WPD 1939, Room 67, Trench V (3 boxes)

WAM 1939, Various Trenches, Numbered Sherds

MR 1952, Room 21 SE, Area R

MR 1952, Room 21 NW, Area R

1953, Rooms 1-6

1953, Rooms 67 and 68, Whole and fragmentary pots

MR 1953, Area R, Doorway Rooms 18-20

ELB 1954, Drains D1-D9, Selected Numbered Sherds

1955, Room 68, Domestic pots

1955, Area T, Selected Sherds

RH 1955, Section MC, Box 0

RH 1955, Room 22 (SE), Box 1 and 2

RH 1955, Room 22 (SE), Box 3

RH 1955, Room 22 (SE), Box 4

RH 1955, Room 22 (NW), Box 6

RH 1955, Room 22 (NW), Box 7

RH 1955, Room 22 (NW), Box 8

RH 1955, Room 22 (NW), Box 9

RH 1955, Room 22 (NW), Box 10

RH 1955, Room 22 (NW), Box 11

RH 1955, Room 22 (SE), Box 12

RH 1955, Room 22 (NW), Box 13

RH 1955, Room 22 (SE), Box 14

RH 1955, Room 22 (SE), Box 15

RH 1955, Room 22 (SE), Box 16

RH 1955, Room 22 (SE), Box 17

RH 1955, Room 22 (SE), Box 18

RH 1955, Room 22 (SE), Box 19

RH 1955, Room 22 (SE), Box 20

RH 1955, Room 22 (SE), Box 23

RH 1955, Rooms 23, 24

WPD 1956, Tsakalis

MR 1956, Room 46

MR 1957, MNE, Room 86=98

MR 1957, MNE, Room 87=99

MR 1957, MNE, Room 83=Corridor 95

MR 1957, MNE, Room 96

MR 1957, MNE Room 84=96

MR 1957, 1960, MNE, Selected Sherds

MR 1957, MNE Room 83=95

CWB 1957, NE and NW of Palace outside Area M, Numbered sherds

Various Areas: Trench ES, Z, Y, 1952; Excavations for Columns; Hole Between I an VI, 1939; Belvedere W13, 1953

MR 1958, Area MZ, Room 103

MR 1958, Area MZ

MR 1958, Area MY, Nos 1-44

DF 1958, Rooms 104-105 (Magazine D), Box 6

DF 1958, Rooms 104-105 (Magazine D), Box 8

DF 1958, Rooms 104-105 (Magazine D), Box 1

DF 1958, Rooms 104-105 (Magazine D), Box 11

DF 1958, Rooms 104-105 (Magazine D), Box 10

DF 1958, Rooms 104-105 (Magazine D), Box 7

DF 1958, Rooms 104-105 (Magazine D), Box 12

DF 1958, Rooms 104-105 (Magazine D), Box 4

CWB 1959, Corridor 25

CWB 1959, Trenches III, IV, V, Numbered Sherds

GP 1959, PNW Lots 1-28.

MR 1959, Petropoulos Trenches 1-22

MR 1959, Court 47

MR 1959, MB (Belvedere), 1-58

MR 1959, MW Wall hunt, Sherd lots 1-45, Box 1

MR 1960, ANAS 2

MR 1960, Selected sherds: M1-16; ME 1-14

GP 1960, EBW, Box 6.

EBW 1960, Various Trenches, Selected Sherds

EPB 1960, Area EBW

EBW 1961, Selected Sherds

MR 1961, Northwest Slope, Nos. 12-23, Selected Sherds

MR 1961, Southwest Slope, Nos 1-8; Northwest Slope, Nos 1-11

WK 1962, Group I, Box 1

WK 1962, Group II, Box 1

WK 1962, Group II, Box 2

WK 1962, Group II, Box 3

WK 1962, Group II, Box 4

WK 1962, Group III, Box 1

WK 1962, Group III, Box 2

WK 1962, Group IV, Box 1

WK 1962, Group IV, Box 2

WK 1962, Group IV, Box 3

WK 1962, Group V, Box 1

WK 1962, Group V, Box 2

WK 1962, Group V, Box 3

WK 1962, Group VI, Box 1

WK 1962, Group VI, Box 2

WK 1962, Group VI, Box 3

WK 1962, Group VII, Box 1

WK 1962, Group VII, Box 2

WK 1962, Group VII, Box 3

MR 1962, Various areas, Box 1

MR 1962, Various areas, Box 2

MR 1962, Various Areas, Selected Sherds

CK 1962, Selected sherds

PS 1963 Selected Sherds, 80-119.

PS 1963 Selected Sherds, 120-158.

JP 1964, TR 64-1, 64-3.

1965, Trench E3

1965, Ext. 64.4