Pylos Regional Archaeological Project

THE PYLOS REGIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECT: 10th Season Preliminary Report to the 7th Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Olympia on the Results of Museum Study May-October, 2000

By Jack L. Davis
University of Cincinnati


1. Staff

The tenth season of PRAP was again conducted with a small staff, consisting of the following team members:

Fieldwork was directed by Sharon R. Stocker.

2. Introduction

Goals of the 2000 season were:

  1. To continue study of the human remains excavated by Blegen;
  2. To improve the storage conditions of frescoes from Blegen’s excavations at the Palace of Nestor;
  3. To arrange for the manufacture of wooden storage containers for ceramics from Blegen's excavations; and,
  4. To examine in a preliminary manner wood from the Palace of Nestor that was saved by Blegen.

Reorganization of the Blegen finds is now almost completed.

3. Reorganization of the Blegen Finds

(Sharon R. Stocker, University of Cincinnati)

The goals of the Hora Apotheke Reorganization Project (HARP) are to reorganize, conserve, restudy and publish material from Carl Blegen's excavations at the Palace of Nestor in Pylos. The 2000 season was funded primarily by a grant received from the Institute for Aegean Prehistory. In 2000, Stocker, together with Hariclia Brekoulaki travelled to Hora in early June to meet with a local carpenter. 600 wooden containers were ordered to be manufactured and delivery of these was taken in early August. The containers are now stored in the second storeroom of the Hora Museum and in the "Leader" annex to the museum. Our plan is to transfer all ceramic finds from Blegen's excavations that remain in cardboard cartons to these wooden boxes in the summer of 2001.

In 1999, Hariklia Brekoulaki had examined the numerous fresco fragments that are stored in Apotheke #1. She and Stocker measured the available space in this storeroom and placed an order with the local carpenter for six custom-built storage cabinets. Delivery of these was taken in early August and with permission of the Olympia Ephoreia they were installed in the storeroom in place of delapidated shelves and containers from the 1960s. Brekoulaki began to clean and repack fragments of frescoes in these new facilities. Her work will continue next year.

4. Report on the operations conducted from 29 May - 6 June 2000 and from 7-11 August 2000 on the Blegen frescoes - Archaeological Museum of Pylos

(Hariklia Brekoulaki, American School of Classical Studies)

4.1. 29/5–6/6/2000

4.1.1. A. Storage Conditions

Because of the highly unsuitable storage conditions of the frescoes, as mentioned in my last year’s report, a "first aid" operation was conducted this year, in order to prevent further damage of the frescoes. This operation consisted of:

  • photographic documentation of the actual state of the storage room;
  • removal of dust and dirt from the room;
  • removal of various useless objects that occupied much space in the narrow storage room;
  • rearranging antiquities, as much as possible, in order to consolidate all the fragments of frescoes in one place and to make them accessible;
  • removal of frescoes from the drawers that near the ground and thus most affected by humidity and the growth of microorganisms;
  • ordering new drawers and shelves for frescoes that had been stored in old wooden boxes.

4.1.2. B. Documentation and preliminary treatment of the frescoes affected by humidity:

  • documentation test of the colored surface of the frescoes using an AGFA scan 1236;
  • superficial removal of dust and dirt from the frescoes in lower drawers;
  • consolidation test of flaking paint layers using Paraloid B72 10% in acetone;
  • cleaning test using deionized water.

4.2. 7-11/ 8 / 2000

5. Human Osteology

(Lynne A. Schepartz, University of Cincinnati)

Analysis of the human skeletal material from the Palace of Nestor and associated chamber and tholos tombs was initiated in June 2000. The objectives of the work season were 1) to begin detailed analysis and description of the sample, and 2) to continue cleaning and preparation of the sample.

5.1. Analysis and Description

The analysis of Tsakalis Tombs E3, E4 and E9 was completed. E3 contained remains of a young adult male and a young adult female. E4 contained fragments of a young child’s skull (4-6 yrs) and portions of an adult male. E9 consisted of a primary burial of a young adult female ‘Burial A’, another fairly complete young adult female ‘Skeleton B’ mixed with the dental remains of a child (2-4 yrs), and three adults. At least one of the adults was a male. Tomb E9 also contained two pits filled with bones. These pits were not separated, and had to be analyzed as one unit. Between them, the pits contained a minimum of 3 adults. At least one was a fairly young male, and one was a female. Thus the total for Tomb E9 is a minimum of 9 individuals. Each specimen was fully described and measured.

Analysis of Tsakalis Tomb E6 is in progress. This is a particularly complicated tomb with at least 12 children and adults, according to Angel’s preliminary analysis. Skulls from Tomb E6 require extensive cleaning and preparation. Five were processed during June 2000.

The individuals from these tombs were mostly young adults. There is no indication of the cause of death. Many individuals, especially the females, have numerous caries and premortem tooth losses. Dental hypoplasia, a sign of childhood disease or dietary stress, is commonly seen on both males and females. One of the male tibias from Tomb E9 has osteomelytis, an inflammation and infection of the bone surface.

6. Faunal Analysis

Final analysis of faunal remains from the Palace of Nestor began in late September and continued in early October. This study is being conducted by Paul Halstead of Sheffield University with assistance of Valasia Isakidou, also of Sheffield University, who are just now finishing their fieldwork. A report will be submitted later to the Ephoreia.

7. Wood from the Palace of Nestor

Peter Kuniholm examined wood preserved from the Palace of Nestor and stored at present in the second storeroom of the Hora Museum. He writes: ‘"We went through all four boxes of charcoal and bagged two lots as having possible dendro potential. Most of the rest of the stuff is either Pinus brutia or Pinus halepensis, and a 8-centimeter diameter chunk might have only 5-8 rings preserved. Now that is clearly useless for dendro, but it is excellent for radiocarbon. The timbers cannot have lost more than half a dozen or so rings."’

Kuniholm recommends the export of samples of this wood to his laboratory at Cornell University.

8. Publications

The following major reports have now been published:

Several new publications are now in press:

Several other reports are in preparation:

Suzanne Hofstra completed her dissertation (University of Texas at Austin) in which she examines certain unpublished small finds from the Palace of Nestor: "Small Things Considered: The Finds from Pylos in Context."

Jack Davis, Director, University of Cincinnati. Date: