Pylos Regional Archaeological Project

THE PYLOS REGIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECT: 12th Season Preliminary Report to the 7th Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Olympia on the Results of Museum Study August-October 2002

By Jack L. Davis
University of Cincinnati


1. Staff

Fieldwork was directed by Sharon R. Stocker.

2. Introduction

Goals of the 2002 season were:

  1. To continue study of the human remains excavated by Blegen;
  2. To transfer frescoes from Blegen’s excavations at the Palace of Nestor into new drawers that were built and installed in 2002;
  3. To transfer the artifacts from Blegen's excavations that are stored in cardboard boxes in Apotheke 2 into new wooden storage containers;
  4. To continue the analysis of the faunal material from the excavations at the Palace of Nestor;
  5. To examine the contextual associations for the animal bones; and,
  6. To begin scientific and archaeological analysis of frescoes, published and unpublished, from the excavations at the Palace of Nestor.

Reorganization of the Blegen finds in Apotheke 2 is now virtually complete.

3. Reorganization of the Blegen Finds

by 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 2002 season was funded with a grant from the Institute for Aegean Prehistory and by the Classics Department of the University of Cincinnati. In 2002, Stocker, Julie Hruby, Nick Thompson and Erin Lopp of the University of Cincinnati and Elena Kountouri of the 9th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Thebes spent 12 days (August 27-September 9) transferring the excavated material that is stored in Apotheke 2 from cardboard boxes into new wooden containers. All information from each cardboard container was transcribed directly onto the wooden box in permanent magic marker and entered into the HARP database. T yvek tags were included in many of the bags in boxes when it was feared that original labels would be destroyed. At this point, almost all the material in Apotheke 2 has been curated in this way.

Much of this season's work focused on the back portion of Apotheke 2 where there is still considerable water seepage. We were able to rebox all of the finds from the "pantries" of the Palace of Nestor, i.e., Rooms 18-20, all those from the Southwest Workshop, all Lagos, PNW and EBW material, and all on the top shelf in the inner corridor. The only material that remains to be transferred is that from the trenches opened by John Camp and Carl Blegen in 1968 and 1969 (about 60 boxes). Our plan is to finish the transfer of these remaining ceramic finds from Blegen's excavations that are still in cardboard cartons to new wooden boxes in the summer of 2003. Since the levels are separated by sheets of newspaper that have become very fragile, this will require delicate and time consuming treatment. It is anticipated that another two week season is needed, but there is little point in organizing this project until the water problem in the apotheke is solved. The following material was transferred and studied during the 2002 season:

4. Contexts of Animal Bones

by Sharon R. Stocker and Jack L. Davis (University of Cincinnati)

For several days (10-17/9/02) Stocker and Davis examined ceramics from deposits excavated by Blegen, from which the bones currently being examined by Paul Halstead and Valasia Isaakidou, were retained. Our objective in doing so was to clarify the dates and contextual associations of each of these, in preparation for a full publication of the faunal remains from the Palace of Nestor. Nearly all of the relevant ceramic deposits have now been examined. It is anticipated that the entire task can be completed in one more study season in 2003. One paper concerned with this project was published this year in the journal Antiquity (see below). Two others, one in the proceedings of the Sheffield Colloquium in Aegean Prehistory and another in a collection papers from a colloquium concerning Mycenaean feasting, have been submitted for publication.

In 2002 the following contexts were examined:

All retained pottery from the Belvedere trenches.

1965 Tr E3 + 11A
All retained pottery.

MW Wall Hunt
All retained pottery

MR 1960
All retained pottery.

Anas Trenches
All retained pottery.

EBW 1960
All retained pottery.

43: 9.7.56 HS cut A EPB p131 EBW 65 [underlined]
42: Cut at S. edge of Hall HS.
43: Sherds from inside S wall. Cut A. Ptd kept and samples.
44: Ptd. sherds from Cut A.

Room 81
18.7.56 Rm 81 along + under wall W EPB p. 139 EBW 82 [underlined]. [The notebook reference says that this is Basket 51.]
EBW 18.7.56. Room 81 S half. Sherds from along walls. 51.
EBW. 18.7.56. Room 81. Room 81. Deposit by Wall X. EPB, p. 139.
EBW. 17.7.56. Room 81. Layer across floor. 50, EPB, p. 138.

5. Museum Study of Animal Bones

by Paul Halstead (University of Sheffield) and Valasia Isaakidou (University College London)

This year we worked three weeks in Chora Museum, longer than in previous years, but were not allowed to work seven days per week as last year, so the available study time was not increased. This year we identified and recorded two further contexts from the Belvedere area studied in 2001:

We also studied and recorded a series of groups of bone from PNW, with labels of variable precision:

Finally, we started recording a group of contexts from the Petropoulos area:

The same general observations can be made from this year’s work as were made last year: the material is strikingly more mixed anatomically, taxonomically and taphonomically than the big groups of burnt bone studied in 2000; by far the commonest taxa are pig and sheep; and red deer continue to be the commonest wild animal. Ultimately, it will be interesting to explore whether taxonomic composition changes through time. We continue to record butchery marks in some detail, and this year acquired a digital camera capable of capturing such features as close-up images; we hope to clarify whether methods of butchery differed between the burnt sacrifice groups and other bone refuse.

Three discoveries made this year are of particular note. First, we have now located some bone fragments identified to lion and bear by Nobis; these had been removed from their original contexts, but Nobis’ notes on their provenance survive. One of his bear bones is plainly a correct identification and the second may be; his lion bone is more doubtful and, together with the uncertain bear, we have taken photographs for checking with reference material in UK.

Secondly, one of the PNW contexts studied this year (box PNW 1958 Trench 11 Depth 0.55-0.80 6.5.58 P 58 S 101) contained several pieces of burnt cow bone, from the same body parts (mandible, humerus, femur) identified in the burnt sacrifice deposits. In addition, two such fragments were also found in ‘box PNW 1958 Trench 1?’ and one each in ‘box PNW 1958 Trench 1/8 9.6.58 + PNW Trench 11 7.6.58 Depth 0.80-0.95 S 107’ and PNW Trench 9 Tmima A Depth 1.00-1.30 zembilia 1-6, 130, 131, 184. 10.6.58, 11.6.58, 23.6.58’. We have been able to join the single fragment from the mixed group from trenches 1/8 and 11 with a piece from the larger group of burnt bone from Trench 11; these two fragments are derived from the unfused diaphysis of a right proximal femur of cow and this in turn matches very plausibly an unfused right proximal epiphysis from the ‘?PNW’ burnt bone studied in 2000. Thus we now have a very probable source for the hitherto most poorly provenanced of the burnt sacrifice groups.

Incidentally, it is now clear that most of the bone housed in the Chora storeroom was more precisely provenanced than were some of the burnt sacrifice groups; these had evidently been stored separately, presumably because their interest and/or fragility had been recognised at the time of excavation. This arguably strengthens the grounds for believing that the burnt bone groups located in the storeroom can indeed be matched with those mentioned in the site publication and excavation notebooks.

Thirdly, research on bone contexts has led Stocker and Davis to argue that the ‘S2/West Chasm’ burnt sacrificial group had, prior to the wall-robbing that created the ‘West Chasm’, originally been part of the burnt bone deposit on the floor of the Archive Room. Accordingly, we went back to these two deposits this summer and eventually found a physical join between two fragments, confirming the Stocker-Davis hypothesis and so clarifying the provenance of a second burnt sacrifice group.

It is worth emphasizing that the need to search for physical joins betweens contexts of uncertain provenance has been a major cause of slow progress in this study. This time-consuming activity has paid real dividends, however, most obviously in 2002 with the PNW and S2 burnt groups, but also in 2001 with several of the more enigmatically labelled bone groups from MB Belvedere.

The reorganization work by Stocker has revolutionized the state of the Chora storeroom and it is now clear that the assemblage is considerably larger than estimated in 1998 and, of course, commensurately more valuable. Material remaining to be studied includes the following groups;

Together these amount to 6 large, 5 medium and 7 small boxes. On the twin assumptions (1) that Stocker and Davis succeed in assigning a sufficiently precise date and context on all this material to justify study and (2) that we continue to work in Chora Museum for 2-3 weeks each year, we estimate that completion of this study will take at least two, and probably three, further seasons.

6. Pottery from Pantries

by Julie Hruby (University of Cincinnati)

My work with the pottery from the pantries (rooms 18-22) of the Palace of Nestor has thus far consisted of two components: washing, and initial study. As listed below, over 100 kilograms of pottery, all from Room 19, (the room of kylikes) have been washed. I have begun to study the material from Room 22 (cups and dippers), which were washed by the original excavation team. This study has included the identification of fingerprints, of which I have to date found nearly 100; of these, as many as 11 may be sufficiently well preserved to be matched. Metrical data has been obtained from all prints. Initial observations of production techniques, fabrics, spatial distribution of types, and breakage patterns, have also been made on material from rooms 19 and 22.

Contexts of washed and studied pottery:
Room 19, East Corner

Room 19, West Corner, (1) Room 19, 0.15 m to pavement Room 19, South Corner Room 22, Section M-C Room 22, Southeast

7. Late Helladic IIIA Pottery

by Elena Kountouri (9th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Thebes)

My project concerns the study and publication of Late Helladic IIIA pottery recovered from various trenches dug in many places on the hill of Epano Eglianos, both under the LH IIIB palace and in the lower town. In some of these trenches LH IIIA pottery can be associated with certainty with substantial architectural remains. In particular, remains of a LH IIIA construction have been traced under the South-West Building; sherds from below Hall 65 in this complex date the lifespan of the earlier building to LH IIIA1. A complex of walls under southwestern side of Court 63 belong to an earlier building, probably dated to the 14th century B.C. To the northeast of the Wine Magazine, as well as between the latter and the Palace Workshop, ruins of many walls that form a complex maze indicate that a large area had been occupied by houses before the LH IIIB palace was built. Below the palace on the north-west, south-west and south-east slopes of the hill, trial trenches have traced the remains of the lower town. A deposit of LH IIIA1 sherds, which mended up into many whole pots, was found in houses just outside the wall of the South-West Building of the palace; the houses showed signs of the fire which probably destroyed the Lower Town at this time.

Messenia has been one of the most systematically explored provinces of Mycenaean Greece and has become particularly well known for its early tholos tombs. It has been investigated both extensively and intensively. The results of the recent excavations of the Archaeological Society of Athens and the Archaeological Service are proof that Messenia is inexhaustible in Mycenaean finds. It may be noted, however, that the number of publications of LH find groups from this province is still rather limited and only archaeological reports have appeared in print. Therefore, the study and final publication of the Late Helladic IIIA pottery recovered from trenches dug on the hill of Epano Eglianos, under the LH IIIB palace and in the lower town, will enable us to shed light on the 14th century B.C. developments at Messenia, and their comparative study with similar sites on the Mainland and in the Aegean.

This research will produce evidence for the 14th century B.C. history of Messenia, its cultural level, and the extent of its relations with other Mycenaean centers. All wares produced in the vicinity of the palace during LH III will be treated. A number of certain or probable imports into Messenia will also be given treatment. The bulk of the material, which includes a wide range of shapes, wares, decorative patterns and variety of motifs, will reveal certain local idiosyncrasies and will indicate whether Messenian potters have evolved a certain degree of stylistic independence.

My PhD thesis concerning the Late Helladic IIIA pottery from the chamber tombs at Volimidia and in the vicinity of the palace, and more generally concerning the production of Late Helladic IIIA pottery inMessenia, makes possible a full comparison of my research material with that of Volimidia and other relevant sites excavated under the auspices of the Archaeological Society of Athens. In addition, comparisons with the LH IIIA ceramic material from the NE and NW Peloponnese and other provinces of the mainland will enable us to assess the extent to which our local LH IIIA pottery diverges from the contemporary wares of other Mycenaean provinces. Observations will be made on similarities and differences that reflect patterns of production technology, trade and exchange networks.

8. Preliminary Selection of Ceramics Suitable for Residue Analysis

by Maria Roumpou (University of Bradford)

This past summer I spent 3 days in the Hora museum selecting pottery sherds that might be suitable for residue analysis. I isolated for sampling roughly 20 sherds, primarily from storage vessels such as pithoi and stirrup jars. I am applying for a permit to submit these sherds to analysis using gas chromatography and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Such an analysis could provide information on storage goods and patterns, bearing in mind that there is evidence regarding storage provided by the Linear B archive. It is my intention to explore the state of preservation of lipids in storage vessels, as well as any differences in the lipid content between vessels used for the storage of liquids and those used for the storage of solids (cereals etc).

Organic residue analysis primarily aims to enlighten aspects of ceramic function, but can also provide insights into technological features of a period, indicating possible coating mediums and sealant. The information provided from the findings of the Palace of Nestor will be studied along with the results obtained from sherds from other Bronze Age settlements throughout Greece.

Organic residue analysis in vessels is a minimally destructive method. In general we just need a few grams of a sherd (2-5 gr.), depending on the quantity and quality of preservation of the residue preserved on the sherd. The rest of the sherd remains intact. In most cases it is possible to scrape the inner surface of the sherd to obtain the necessary 2-5 gr. of powder. If there is a visible residue, then usually this is scraped and sampled.

It is necessary to undertake the sampling procedure in a laboratory, as organic substances are extremely sensitive to alteration and can be easily contaminated. Everything has to be carefully cleaned with organic solvents, especially the scalpel blade or drill used to extract the sample.

8.1. Preparation of Samples from Pithoi

Pithoi are vessels with thick walls that are made of relatively rough fabric an are thus ideal for section sampling. A 2 mm. thick section (inner to outer surface) is taken from each sherd. This methodology is thought to be appropriate, since differences in lipid composition between the different sections could indicate burial and post-excavation contamination, re-use of the vessel, and coating techniques that are detectable along with the type of goods stored in them. The residue is removed with the aid of an abrasive tungsten bit in an electric drill set at the slowest speed. Approximately 2g of powdered material are sampled from each section. The powdered ceramic that is produced by the drilling is weighed after being collected into a vial that has previously been rinsed with dichloromethane.

8.2. Preparation of Samples from Visible Residues

Any visible residue is separately scraped from the interior surface and transferred to a sample vial that has previously been cleaned with dichloromethane. Approximately 0.5 g of material is sampled each time. The rest of the analytical protocol is identical to the one utilised for samples that are being taken from the sections of the sherd under the form of powdered material.

8.3. Extraction and Derivatization of Organic Fractions from Archaeological Samples

A solution (2:1 v/v) of dichloromethane and methanol is added to samples from visible residues (c. 0.5g) and to powdered samples. A blank extraction is included for each one of the archaeological samples to check the intra-laboratory contamination. The samples are sonicated (15min x 2) and then centrifuged (2000 r.p.m. for 6 min.) to remove the ceramic. In each case the supernatant organic extract is being decanted into a pre-cleaned vial and the remaining solvent is being evaporated off under a stream of nitrogen and then stored at -15° C to avoid alteration of the lipid extracts. The total lipid extracts from archaeological samples are being derivatised to enhance chromatographic separation of groups of compounds.

8.4. GC and GC/MS Analysis of the Samples

GC (Gas Chromatography) is the main technique utilised for the analysis of lipid extracts from archaeological ceramic containers. It is feasible to identify components of complex samples by their retention times. In the Bradford University laboratory GC analyses are performed on a Hewlett Packard 5890 series II gas chromatograph equipped with a flame ionisation detector (FID) that is capable of detecting a wide range of compounds, as well as a wide range of levels of concentration. Some samples are being submitted to GC/MS (Gas Chromatography couples to Mass Spectrometry) analyses, in order to obtain more detailed descriptions of their components. GC/MS are carried out on a Hewlett Packard 5890 series II gas chromatograph with a 5972 mass selective detector.

Both GC and MS are amongst the more appropriate techniques for the detection and separation of volatile and semi-volatile materials. Their coupling offers a particularly effective technique for the characterisation of the components of very complex mixtures, even if they are present in a nanogram scale.

Unfortunately, there is no laboratory in Greece performing organic residue analysis of archaeological materials. Thus, it is required for the archaeological material to be transported abroad to an appropriately equipped laboratory, in this case the archaeometry laboratory of the University of Bradford.

9. Analysis of Carbonized Wood

Samples of wood for 14C dating were transported from Hora to Athens in September 2001 under the terms of a permit issued by the Ministry of Culture, but because of the tragic events of 11 September, we did not consider it prudent to export these immediately to Cornell University. The samples were transmitted by DHL courier in late winter, 2002, and are now in the hands of Professor Peter Kuniholm. Work on their analysis has already begun.

10. The Wall-Paintings

by Harcilia Brecoulaki (American School of Classical Studies at Athens)

The following individuals participated in study and conservation of frescoes:

They were assisted for a shorter period of time by:

The major activities of this year’s session may be summarized as follows:

10.1. A. Conservation and restoration interventions

10.1.1. A.1. Safeguarding and documentation of the wall-paintings Creation of New Drawers and Shelves

As it has already been pointed out in my previous report, one of the major goals of our project is the proper documentation and safeguarding of the entire corpus of the wall-painting fragments stored in Apotheke 1 of the archaeological museum of Hora. In the past two years our primary concern was to remove the wall-painting fragments from the wooden boxes where they were wrapped in newspapers and stacked, and to transfer them into newly built drawers, especially designed for their storage. Last year we unwrapped approximately one third of these fragments, brushed off the superficial dust on their surfaces, documented their state of conservation, and placed them into the new drawers, either in a single layer (especially in the case of the large pieces), or grouped inside smaller cardboard boxes to creating a second floor inside the drawer.

The storage conditions of the wall-paintings are dramatically improved since they have been placed in the new drawers, and as a result of re-arrangement of finds in the apotheke. Air-circulation was enhanced by removing various objects from the floor and cleaning the space properly. No signs of extensive humidity or of any kind of alteration or biological attack were noticed inside the new drawers during this year’s inspection. However, the bottoms of the lowest array of old drawers were affected by rising damp and their interior surfaces were entirely covered by fungus.

This year a series of 55 new drawers were installed on the NW wall of the apotheke 1, after old pieces of furniture were removed. We decided to replace this old furniture, firstly because the bottom of the drawers was heavily damaged by moisture and would thus affect the condition to the wall-paintings. Secondly, we created more storage space by building lower drawers where pieces of wall-paintings could be laid out in single layers so that it was not necessary to place fragments on top of each other.

In the new drawers (double the number of those in the furniture that we removed) we stored fragments that had temporarily been left unwrapped inside the drawers that were built last year, and the fragments that had been piled in two or three superimposed layers in the old drawers we removed. We should note here that fragments removed from a single old drawer now occupy two and sometimes three new drawers, since all are arranged in a single layer. Every single piece of a wall-painting is now visible and accessible, and superficial abrasion and further powdering of their paint layers is avoided. In addition, the new drawers are easily removable and can thus serve as trays for transporting fresco fragments so that we can search for undetected joins.

Finally, a new series of shelves was inserted in the space between the pre-existing shelves on the SW wall, in front of the entrance door, so that large pieces of wall paintings could be grouped together and in order to free up space for the storage of the boxes containing archaeological material from the excavations of Prof. G. S. Korres. Identification, Re-arrangement and Recording of the Wall-painting Fragments Inside the Drawers

A major task that we decided to undertake this year, in order to control and document properly the entire corpus of the wall-paintings preserved in the museum of Hora, consisted of:

  • a. The identification of most of the published wall-paintings since labels bearing indications have been very often lost or have been damaged by moist and micro-organisms. Mabel Lang’s publication and the note books of the various excavators were consulted. However, there are still drawers where the identification of their contents remains uncertain. This overall inventory of the published material permitted us to identify unpublished fragments that are not mentioned in the PON II.
  • b. The re-arrangement and grouping together of a large number of the wall-painting fragments by provenance. This operation has not yet completed for all the rooms/areas of the palace).
  • c. The creation of an inventory in which is indicated the number of the drawers and their contents (see Appendix). This is a preliminary catalogue, since we will try to group together all the fresco fragments that belong to a same room/area. Our final goal is to document the exact position of each fragment or group of fragments in a given drawer or shelf, so that future scholars may be able to locate immediately by room or area the fragments that interest them, without having to go through all the material in the apotheke.
  • d. The photographic documentation of all the wall-paintings preserved into the Museum show-cases, using a digital camera. This is an operation that has to be done for the entire corpus of the frescos, or at least for the wall-painting fragments decorated with geometric and/or figural representations.

The help of F. Evenson and M. Menichetti in the completion of the preceding operations was very significant.

10.1.2. A.2. Restoration Treatments

The restoration treatments that were carried out this year, consisted of :

  • The unwrapping of sheets of newspapers containing small wall-painting fragments that we placed in new drawers last year, after removing them from the boxes
  • Brushing off the superficial dust and dirt
  • Treatment of the fragments with distilled water using cotton tabs
  • Gluing together fragments that were found broken inside the newspapers using a cellulose nitrated based glue (UHU Hart)
  • Reinforcing the adherence of the paint layer of the support where flaking occurred using an acrylic emulsion (Primal AC33) diluted in distilled water (10%). The application was made either with a brush or/and with a syringe (fragments from drawers 35, 54, 55, 63 and 64). In some cases, where decommission of the support was also noticed, a facing consisting of one or two layers of cotton gauze was applied over the predetermined fragile area in order to prevent further decommission and powdering (fragments from drawer 46, 54)
  • Reinforcing the cohesion of the pigment layer itself, weakened by the disintegration of the binding medium or by surface action, using a copolymer of acrylates and methacrlylates (Paraloid B72) diluted in acetone (3%), applied with a brush (fragments from drawer 46)
  • Preliminary tests to eliminate dust hardened by carbonatation, saline efflorescences and other inorganic deposits either mechanically, using scalpels and abrasives in cake form, or/and chemically, using a mixture composed of: distilled water, slightly basic salts (ammonium and sodium bicarbonate) reinforced by surfactants and fungicides (Desogen of 10% strength) applied with an organic gel (carboxymethyl cellulose) in the form of compresses, that gives the mixture an appropriate density (this mixture acts as a non-polar system disrupting the molecules of the salts so that solution is then possible). We also used a cationic surfactant (Amber SH), also applied with carboxymethyl cellulose.
  • Attempts to eliminate modern plaster (gypsum based) that was used during the excavation to lift the wall-painting fragments in order to preserve their relationship to each other.

10.1.3. A.3. Reassembling and Reconstruction Attempts of the Wall-painting Fragments

During the reassembling and cleaning of the wall-painting fragments in order to store them and inventory them properly, we also tried to check their integrity by determining if any pieces were missing or if they presented serious chromatic alterations, compared to their color illustrations in PON II. In a few cases, we also tried to compare a number of reassembled pieces with the restored drawings by Piet de Jong, which attempted to reproduce the original state of the decoration. In the course of this preliminary examination, the restorer B. Amadei identified more pieces that belonged to the nautilus frieze 4F nws (plate R M. in PON II) and proposed a different reconstruction scheme for at least four pieces of the frieze. We suggest that this is an operation that will have to be carried out for all the scenes reconstructed by Lang.

10.2. B. Technical Examination of the Wall-paintings in Situ by Means of Portable XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence) Equipment

A non-destructive examination of 97 locations on wall-painting fragments was performed by means of XRF measurements by A. Karydas (see attached report). This operation proved to be extremely useful since, without touching the pictorial layer, it permitted us to identify a large number of inorganic pigments that were used by Mycenaean painters. In fact, this non-destructive and multielemental in-situ analysis eliminates the need for transportation of the valuable archaeological items into specialised laboratories, requires no sampling and practically ensures no limitation in the number of the locations analysed on a given pictorial surface.

The results obtained through this examination of the wall-paintings from Pylos permit us already to describe in a preliminary manner the gamut of pigments that was applied in various rooms of the palace and to single out the presence, in certain occasions, of rare materials that may also reflect the importance of specific areas (such as the presence of malachite n the Throne Room, position PY8, PY9). From a preliminary evaluation of the XRF spectra the following pigments seem to have been used: calcite, kaolinite, gypsum, red and yellow ochres (natural iron oxides), Egyptian blue, malachite, carbon black, pyrolusite. Of major importance is the mixing of pigments by Mycenaean painters, as this was revealed from the present analysis, in order to achieve new hues, such as mauves, greens, and pinks. It is very likely however, that this array of pigments will be further enriched after the completion of the technological examination of the wall-paintings, conducted also by means of other complementary techniques that will provide us specific information on the crystalline phases of the minerals (XRD) and on the nature of organic colorants (GC-MS, HPLC).

10.3. C. Preliminary Establishment of a Data-base System for the Documentation and Comparative Study of the Wall-paintings

The preliminary establishment of a data-base system has been carried out this year thanks to the expertise of A. Santoriello and to the help of B. Amadei and C. Zaitoun. We took this step in response our recognition of the need to document and record in a comprehensive and comparative way the maximum amount of information that will be obtained from the study of the wall-paintings of Pylos: e.g., old and new information concerning the iconography, the technology, the conservation/restoration treatments, the reconstructions of the painted scenes of the palace, and photographical documentation. The first step in this operation would be the creation of a unified system of coding (inventory number) for each fragment or for groups of fragments that would then serve as a reference for any specific research one would undertake.

10.4. Appendix 1: Catalogue of drawers/shelves (the number is indicated outside each drawer) and area of provenance of the wall-painting fragments they contain

Newly Built Drawers to Left of the Entrance and to the SW Area of Apotheke 1
N.B. From 1 to 50 new drawers to the left of the entrance door and from 51 to 136 new drawers in the SW area of the apotheke (the numbers in the parenthesis indicate the old numbers given to the rooms of the Palace). The majority of the floor plaster fragments have been temporarily stored in new wooden boxes.

  1. Exterior Propylon SE, Trench S4 (Room 1 ?)
  2. Inner Propylon (Room 2 ?)
  3. Inner Propylon (Room 2 ?)
  4. Portico, Area D1-D2 (Room 4), Court 3, South of Portico 4
  5. Vestibule
  6. Vestibule ?
  7. Prodomos NE wall ?
  8. Vestibule (Room 5)
  9. Vestibule
  10. Throne Room (Room 6), NE of doorway, SE of Doorway
  11. Circular plaster from old shelf 13III
  12. Throne Room, NE wall
  13. Throne Room, NE wall
  14. Throne Room, NE wall
  15. Throne Room, NE wall
  16. Room 10 (Waiting Room)
  17. Room 11, 12, 13, 15
  18. Room 16 (12)
  19. Room 16 (12)
  20. Area R, Room 17 (11 ?)
  21. Room 2 (?), 3 (?), Area R
  22. Throne Room, NW Wall, Trench S2 (Big pieces)
  23. Throne Room (Trench S3, S6, S7)
  24. Throne Room, SE Wall
  25. Throne Room, SE Wall, NE of Doorway
  26. Throne Room
  27. Ext. Propylon
  28. Ext. Propylon
  29. Empty
  30. Empty
  31. Area M, F202, Trench 2E2, NE of ashlar wall
  32. Room 48, courts 58 and 47
  33. Court 88 (old no), 32HSW
  34. Room 88, Room 73
  35. Room 46 (70)
  36. Room 64
  37. Hall H 49
  38. Rooms 47, 49, 58, 59
From 39 to 42 Empty

Old Drawers in Front of the Entrance
N.B. The pre-existing numbering of the drawers has been temporarily retained. Wall-painting fragments from the lowest and most damaged shelves have been placed in new drawers.

  1. Area R, room 4 (?), Room 20
  2. Rooms 7, 8, 9
  3. Empty
  4. Room 30 (52)
  5. Room 48, Area M (old no ?), Room 32
  6. Room 47, 58 (?)
  7. Room 43
  8. Room 43
  9. Empty
  10. Room 44 NE stoa, Area M, trench CED
  11. Rooms 43, 44 NE stoa
  12. Empty
  13. Room 46 (70)
  14. Room 46 (70)
  15. Room 46 (70)
  16. Room 46 (70)
  17. Empty
  18. Empty
  19. Room 53
  20. Room 54
  21. Empty
  22. Corner HS2-35 (64 ?)
From 41 to 43 Empty From 47 to 57 Empty Provenance of the Fragments of Wall-paintings on Public Display in the Museum

10.5. Appendix II: XRF Analysis of Fresco Fragments

by Andreas Karydas (Democritus Institute, Athens)

A portable XRF spectrometer was used for an in-situ survey of wall-painting pigments fragments at the museum of Chora in Pylos. During a five days measuring period, 97 different samples (locations) were analyzed. Concerning the analysis it should be stressed that XRF is an elemental technique and thus it determines elements, not compound forms of the constituents or minerals. By detecting specific elements or combinations of specific elements, fingerprints of the presence of some minerals, conclusions can be drawn about the pigment composition. For example, the detection of mercury indicates the presence of cinnabar red pigment, copper and silicon the presence of the Egyptian blue pigment, barium and sulphur the presence of barite, iron of natural ochre etc.

The XRF results are presented in tables 1 and 2. In table 1 the results have been sorted with respect to all the pigments analyzed from the same wall-painting fragment and in table 2 according to the measured color 2. The elements detected by the XRF technique have been grouped according to their elemental content as major, minor or trace elements (see corresponding columns in both tables). Using these data, the mineral/compound composition of the pigments was estimated and is presented in the last column of both tables. The instrumentation used in this survey was composed by a portable silicon PIN thermoelectrically cooled X-ray detector having a resolution of 240 eV at Mn-Kα, an air-cooled side window Rh-anode X-ray tube (50 Watt, 125 μm Βe window) and portable data acquisition devices.

11. Hunting Scenes in the Frescoes

by Freya Evenson (University of California at Los Angeles)

In her 1969 publication of the wall paintings from the Mycenaean palace of Pylos, M. Lang suggests that there are two distinct hunting scenes present in the fresco material: a fragmentary scene from the collapsed area in and around Room 27 (the pithos storage area); and a larger, more complete scene from a large room on the second floor above the small megaron, Hall 46. My current restudy of this material, undertaken with the kind permission of the University of Cincinnati, brings to light new information that changes our interpretation of these two interesting scenes, and makes possible a new reconstruction of the large scene from the room above Hall 46.

The fragmentary fresco material from Room 27, with its high quality of fine surface plaster, striking Egyptian Blue background, and fine detail work was likely part of the previous decorative program of the palace and was not on the walls at the time of the final destruction at the end of the LH IIIB period. In technique, color and style the Room 27 material is identical to the thousands of fragments discovered in a large plaster dump outside the palace (called the plaster dump of the northwest slope) which were most likely also from this earlier decorative program, stylistically dated to the LH IIIB period as well. Lang argues that this earlier material was used, after its fragmentation and removal from the walls, as wall and ceiling fill to provide an even surface for the new plaster layer. Nevertheless, Lang argues that the highly fragmented material from Room 27 belongs to a single, coherent scene involving hunters with spears (cat. no. 34a,b,cH27), horses (cat. no. 10C27), dogs and a wild boar (cat. no. 11C27).

My aim in restudying the Room 27 material was twofold: first I wanted to see first hand the fragments that Lang published, since the photographs are too murky to distinguish the scene she proposes; and second I hoped to find the other fragments belonging to this scene that Lang mentions but does not catalogue or photograph in order to more fully understand the hunting scene. I was successful in both counts, finding, in addition to the catalogued pieces, four additional male figures, the head of an animal (?), and the legs and a hoof of another horse. A further curious piece may be part of a wheel of a chariot.

It seems however that these fragments and those catalogued by Lang do not make up a hunting scene but rather a scene or scenes of warriors either in procession or preparing for battle. The first reason for this conclusion is that the “boar’s eye” fragment (cat. no. 11C27) is of a larger scale than the human figures and thus, given that these fragments were all found in a secondary use context, it is unlikely that this fragment belongs to the same scene. Second, the human figures themselves are less convincing as hunters than as warriors, especially if the prey, the boar, is removed from consideration. Three of the seven human figures wear shaggy cloaks, a garment associated in iconography more with warriors than hunters who typically wear tight tunics and kilts (cf. the hunting scene from above Hall 46 at Pylos). One wears a plain cloak (cat. no. 34cH27) while another wears a white kilt with red polka-dots and border decoration, a more elaborate costume than would be expected in a hunting scene. Two of the figures are recognized by their legs and feet only, one wearing the typical boots (“greaves”) of Mycenaean hunters as in the scene from above Hall 46 at Pylos, but the other leg and foot (cat. no. 34bH27) are depicted unshod. Third, the horse hooves indicate that there was a procession of horses (cat. no. 10C27 shows the tail of a second horse in front of the horse whose hoof is preserved) that moved from right to left, while at least one horse, in a fragment which Lang did not photograph, moves in the opposite direction. While horses may be associated with hunting as at Tiryns, the presence of horses moving in two opposite directions is more suited to a processional scene. Furthermore, the stances of the male figures and the horses are static; even the spears carried by the men are held vertically against the body as if they were not intended for use. These observations, together with the fact that the fragments were found in secondary use and not in their original context, make the identification of the scene as a hunt unlikely.

The large and complex hunting scene from the room above Hall 46 is, on the other hand, quite clearly just that: hunters with dogs attack at least one deer while companion panels show a procession of men bearing cauldrons and a feast most likely following the successful hunt. Lang has more extensively published this scene with black and white and color photographs and drawings by Piet de Jong. In de Jong’s reconstruction, the hunting scene is divided into panels of dark brown and light brown background where hunters holding spears move left accompanied by large black and white hunting dogs (cat. nos. 17,19,20H43 and 12,13C43). A lone hunter from the light background turns and faces to the right, poising to spear a stag who is running left towards him across the wavy zone-change line (cat. no. 16H43). These central opponents are, in de Jong’s reconstruction, the only figures who strike active poses, the other hunters and dogs moving in processional form across the panels. This staid composition is striking when compared to the hunting scenes from Tiryns and Orchomenos, where not only the prey but also the hunting dogs are depicted in flying gallop, their mouths open and their heads turned to bite their quarry.

In restudying the fragments from this scene, it became clear that de Jong left out many relevant pieces in his reconstruction that actually change the character of the scene. Most importantly, there are several animal fragments that neither de Jong nor Lang included which must belong to the hunting scene, and show that there were probably more deer and certainly more dogs involved in the hunt than represented in the publication. In particular, one fragment shows either the front or hind legs of an animal most likely in flying gallop against a light brownish yellow background. The treatment of the legs with markings for hair and the knobby knees are so similar to the well preserved stag (cat. no. 19H43) that it seems most likely that the animal is another deer belonging to this scene, and the fact that it is on the light, rather than the dark background suggests that the hunt took up a larger area in the painting than previously published. Another fragment of the torso of a similar animal, this time on a dark brown ground, and a small fragment with the leg of one white animal overlapping the haunches (?) of a tan one on a yellowish brown background indicate that as many as four, and possibly more, deer may be depicted, and, as in the fragment just mentioned, one may be attacked by hunting dogs as in the Tiryns and Orchomenos boar hunt scenes.

That there were several hunting dogs actively pursuing the deer is indicated by a well preserved but unpublished fragment showing the hindquarters of a dog in flying gallop. This dog, depicted with a white body accentuated by brown hairs, is moving left, the same direction as the original deer, but is on the lighter background. Perhaps he is associated with the legs of the deer also in flying gallop on light ground.

This dog in pose and style is quite different from the large dogs being led stately by the hunters as in cat. nos. 12,13,14C43 and I argue that those static dogs actually belong to a separate panel, depicting perhaps the procession of hunters and dogs to the area where the hunt is to take place. In this panel, as in the hunting scene proper, the background color alternates between a light yellowish brown and a darker brown, separated by wavy zone-change lines. Hunters and, I would argue, hunting dogs are represented in at least two registers processing left. In Piet de Jong’s reconstruction drawing, the hunters are in several registers but the large black and white dogs are reconstructed just in the top register, being led by one of the hunters. It appears however that the large fragment (cat. no. 12C43) which shows the hind part of a black dog in front of a white dog (who also wears a collar and is therefore probably led by the hunters) on light background also shows the curl of a tail of another black dog on a lower register just below the upper black dog. De Jong reconstructs this second black tail as part of the wavy zone-change line, which is visible behind the white dog, but in order to make this reconstruction, he had to change the angle of the fragment and bend the zone-change line too much to the left to be convincing. It is more likely that the dogs, as the hunters, were depicted on several registers and were led by the hunters painted in front of them.

Several more hunters can also be identified as belonging to this scene, or to the panels of cauldron bearers from the same room. One fragment which preserves the upper border of the hunting scene shows the incised and painted shaft of a hunter’s spear passing over a wavy zone-change line. The angle of the spear indicates that the hunter was most likely moving left, and the light background, though poorly preserved, may put this hunter in the same panel with the shield bearer of cat. no. 18H43. Two further fragments show the boots of hunters moving left, one on a light background, the other over what appears to be the white zone in the middle of a wavy zone-change line. In style and size these boots compare more to the cauldron-bearers than the hunters, who are slightly smaller, but within each scene there is enough variation in proportion to make the assignation difficult.

As a result of the restudy of the fragments of the hunting scene from the second story room above Hall 46 the following reconstruction is offered: first, a group of hunters leading hunting dogs arranged in two or three registers move steadily to the left over both a dark and light background; second, the hunt itself is represented with more energetic stances where hunters aim at deer in flying gallop while dogs surround the prey and drive them towards the hunters; and third, hunters leave the hunting area leading their dogs (cat. no. 21H48) and perhaps carrying the spoils of the hunt to a separate location where they are joined by others bearing cauldrons and where a feast takes place.

The fact that the fragments were from an upper floor room of unknown but probably large dimensions makes the placement of the scenes on the walls difficult, but it is worth noting the distribution of the fragments within the lower rooms in which they fell. Fragments from the cauldron bearing scene and one of the newly discovered hunter’s boots comes from Room 48, to the south of Hall 46, while the processional hunters and hunting dogs come from Room 43, to the north of Hall 46. The deer and dogs of the active part of the hunting scene come from both Room 43 and Hall 46. This arrangement allows the tentative placement of the processional scene on the northwest wall of the room, the cauldron bearing scene on the southeast wall, while the hunting scene itself was between these two, either on the northeast or the southwest walls of this upper room.

The restudy of the hunting scenes from the Mycenaean Palace of Pylos has added to our understanding of Mycenaean hunting iconography in general and has changed the interpretation of the Pylos scenes in particular. Though admirably published by Lang in 1969, the important material from Pylos is in need of new investigation, especially as more comparative data are now available from other Mycenaean centers, and new techniques of conservation and photographic reproduction allow for non-destructive yet accurate reconstruction.

In my restudy of the hunting scenes from the Mycenaean Palace of Pylos, I examined the fresco fragments housed in the apotheke and vitrines of the Hora Archaeological Museum in Hora, Messenia. In the publication of the wall paintings from the palace (Lang 1969), hunting scenes were reported from Room 27 and from the complex of rooms in and around Hall 46, the “Queen’s Megaron” of the Palace of Nestor, and so for this study I examined all the fragments from rooms 27, 43, 46 and 48 in order to locate the published material and any other fragments that may belong to these scenes.

The entire material from Room 27 was located in the apotheke and was placed in newly constructed drawers to better preserve the fragments. The material from Room 43, 48 and Hall 46 was more dispersed, located in both old and new drawers in the apotheke (by the end of the study period, most of the material in the old drawers was cleaned and stored in newly constructed drawers) and in vitrines 11 and 12 in the second room of the Hora Archaeological Museum. All fragments used in this study were cleaned by professional conservators, photographed by the staff photographer and examined by me to be included in my doctoral dissertation “Hunter and Hunted in the Bronze Age Aegean”.

12. Human Osteology

by Lynne A. Schepartz (University of Cincinnati) and Sari Miller-Antonio (California State University, Stanislaus)

Analysis of the human skeletal material from the Palace of Nestor and associated chamber and tholos tombs was conducted from August 19 through September 8. The objectives of the season were 1) completion of the detailed analysis and description of the Tsakalis Tomb E8 sample, 2) detailed analysis and description of the Kondou and Tholos III tombs, and 3) analysis, continued cleaning, and preparation of the Vayenas (Grave Circle) material.

12.1. Tsakalis Tomb E8

The analysis of Tsakalis Tomb E8 was completed. According to the excavation description, the tomb was used over an extended period and contained at least 16 recognizable individuals designated Burials A-P. These remains, excavated in 1966, were not previously studied. Unfortunately, the material was not clearly sorted by individual as described in the tomb report. Individuals from two pits were mixed with other unlabeled bones. In light of these difficulties, the best estimate of the MNI is 16. The following is a list of the Tomb E8 individuals:

  1. female, young adult
  2. female, young adult over 25 with possible mastoid infection
  3. not found
  4. ?female, adult
  5. female, adult- based on postcrania
  6. male, adult- mixed with D remains
  7. ?male, old adult with left proximal humerus trauma
  8. young adult
  9. male, young adult
  10. not found
  11. male, adult 25-35 with small cranial lesion
  12. not found
  13. not found
  14. -subadult, 15-18 This could be individual I.
    -old adult, 35-50
    -postcranial material for 5 adults and the subadult
  15. not found

Although individuals C, I, K, L, and O could not be positively identified, the pit and miscellaneous material did contain 5-6 adults (depending upon whether the cranial remains are counted as a separate adult) and one subadult. If the figure of 6 adults is used and the subadult is identified as the ‘child’ I, then the results of this analysis are in agreement with the excavation description of 16 interments.

The individuals from this tomb were mostly young adults, although two were older (35-50 years). These age estimations are based on the amount of dental attrition, evaluated in conjunction with the amount of sutural closure. Neither of these age methods is as reliable as other methods that use skeletal elements that are generally not preserved in the Palace of Nestor collection. In addition, several individuals exhibit heavier wear on their anterior teeth. This may bias some of the dental wear aging estimates, although differential wear was factored into age estimation when possible.

With the possible exception of B, these individuals were relatively healthy or had minor pathologies. Many individuals have numerous caries and premortem loss of teeth from these infections.

In total, twelve Tsakalis burials were analyzed in 2002, thirty-one in 2001, and nine were analyzed in 2000. The entire Tsakalis tomb sample of 52 individuals has now been studied.

12.2. Tholos Tomb III

E. Blegen excavated this tomb in 1939. She suggested that as many as 16 burials were present, yet only one individual can now be located in the Hora Museum.

Female adult, 20-25. Green staining from bronze on the frontal & right zygomatic.
Cranial thickening, possibly due to anemia; and femur cortical bone thickening.

12.3. Kondou Tomb K1

This material comes from a chamber tomb located 0.5 km west of the Palace. Five burials were described by the excavators. Angel studied four crania that were designated PY 31-34. PY 31 & 32 were identified based on Angel’s descriptions, and a possible identification of PY 33 & 34 was made. In addition to those four crania, there are remains of at least two other crania and 6 groupings of mixed material. The following is a conservative identification/association of the individuals in this tomb, yielding an MNI of 9:

  1. PY 31: Female adult, 35-45. (Contra Angel’s identification as a male). Evidence of healed porotic hyperostosis in the left orbit.
  2. PY 32: Male adult, 40-50. Cranial porosity, possibly related to anemia.
  3. PY 33: Female adult. Cranial thickening.
  4. PY 34: Male adult.
  5. Palate of a possible male, possible subadult. ?Association with subadult postcranials from Group 5a. Shows healed porotic hyperostosis in orbit and cranial thickening.
  6. Pit in Dromos: subadult cranium. Not associated with other subadult.
  7. Group 2: female young adult. Foot has lesion or osteoclastic region involving metatarsal 1 and the proximal phalange. ?Trauma-related.
  8. Group 2/5: female adult cranium, older than other Group 2 female
  9. Group 5a: female adult

Other pathology: Two individuals have foot lesions, and one hand has healed fractures of the 2nd and 3rd metacarpals. Two adjacent cervical vertebrae show lipping, erosion of the cortical surface and osteoclastic lesions; one set of thoracic vertebrae show osteoarthritic lipping. Several individuals have extensive premortem tooth loss.

The Kondou individuals represent some of the older adult studies thus far. Both males and females show traces of anemias, and the adult males were large and powerful.

12.4. Vayenas Grave Circle

The Grave Circle interments were found 145 m. south of Englianos hill and the Palace. Unlike most of the tomb burials, the Grave Circle interments were undisturbed. Angel identified 27 individuals (20 males and 7 females).

Analysis of the Vayenas material is complicated by the poor preservation of the collection, which is almost entirely covered with wax or left in matrix. In 2002, eight crania were removed from the matrix and cleaned. The collection was reorganized according to the excavation description, as few of the Angel numbers (often written in pencil on notepad strips) are retained. It may be possible to further identify individuals if a thorough study of the field notebooks is conducted.

12.5. Immediate Presentation and Publication Plans

The colloquium “New Developments in the Skeletal Biology of Ancient Greece” will be held at the 2003 meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America. Schepartz is a co-organizer of the session (along with Sherry Fox, Director of the Wiener Laboratory). She will present the work on the health and gender of individuals from the Tsakalis tombs and will submit the paper to Hesperia.

12.6. Future Research Plans

The work completed in 2002 involved analysis of approximately 1/4 of the sample housed in the Hora Museum. The work progresses slowly due to both the poor preservation and the mixing of specimens through secondary burial in the tombs. We estimate that a minimum of two months will be required to complete the analysis of the remaining Vayenas materials and the Kokkevis tomb. This does not include the time needed to consult the excavation notebooks in order to determine the context of the Vayenas burials, or efforts to located the remainder of the Tholos III sample and the Tholos IV Kanakares material.

After completing the skeletal analysis, we will 1) analyze the skeletal data in conjunction with the archaeological data on burial treatment, and 2) compare the Palace of Nestor sample with other Mycenaean and Mediterranean skeletal series, beginning with those housed in the Hora Museum. This will also involve use of published data or direct study of other collections.

13. Publications

The following major reports of the Pylos Regional Archaeological Project are now available:

A book and two additional articles have been accepted for publication:

Another report has been submitted for publication:

Jack Davis, Director, University of Cincinnati. Date: