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Summary of Research at the Palace of Nestor Between September 2005 and October 2006

Jack L. Davis

Sharon R. Stocker

Ministry of Culture

"Archaeological Reports"

"Chronique de Fouilles"

Study of finds from Blegen's excavations at the Palace of Nestor and from the Pylos Regional Archaeological Project again proceeded on several fronts in 2006.

Sharon Stocker and Jack Davis completed study of Middle Helladic finds from two soundings conducted on the property of Yioryios Petropoulos in 1939. Headway was also made in examining post-Bronze Age remains found in Blegen's excavations. The Englianos Ridge, including the site of the palace, was the locus of activity in several periods after the Bronze Age.

Additional study of fragments first identified in 2004 as part of a "Naval Scene" has allowed significant parts of three ships to be restored. It has now been determined that this composition was originally located on the wall to the right of the doorway between Hall 64 and Lobby 66.

Preparation by Joanne Murphy and Lynne Schepartz of a comprehensive published report on human skeletal remains and their contexts continues to progress. The results of recently completed Stable Isotope analyses of samples of human bone from graves show that males from higher status burials at Pylos consumed greater amounts of meat. Paul Halstead and Valasia Isaakidou's examination of faunal remains is nearing completion. Deborah Ruscillo studied all shell this year; the majority consists of murex that seems to have been crushed for the production of pigment.

Several new publications resulting from research supported by PRAP have been submitted for publication. These include a report on Middle Helladic finds from the Petropoulos trenches (in Mesohelladica); a full report on the previously unpublished "Archer Fragment"; and a report on human skeletal biology at Pylos in a forthcoming volume to be issued under the auspices of ASCSA.

Figure: Wall-painting depicting an archer from the Palace of Nestor.

THE PYLOS REGIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECT: 16th Season Preliminary Report to the 38th Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Kalamata, on the Results of Museum Study, September 2005-October 2006

Collaboration with the Ephoreia

We were delighted to collaborate with the ephoreia this summer in order to effect repairs to a storage container brought to Hora from Kalamata and set behind the Museum. After the insertion of a metal floor and improvements to the doors, the container was found to be secure and waterproof. Human bones previously stored in Apotheke 1 were able to be moved to the container, thus improving considerably work conditions in the area of the storeroom where fragments of frescoes are stored. Arrangements were made with the Archaeological Institute of America for back issues of the AJA to be mailed directly to Kalamata for the new library of the ephoreia. Similarly, past issues of Hesperia were mailed from the Publications Office of ASCSA to Kalamata, and an on-going complimentary subscription entered in the name of the ephoreia. Finally, arrangements have been made with the ephoreia for Lynne Schepartz to study new Pylian skeletal material from the Kokkevis chamber tomb excavations of epimeletria Litsa Malapani.

Middle Helladic Pottery

Sharon R. Stocker and Jack L. Davis

>Stocker and Davis's study of the Middle Helladic levels from two soundings made by Marian Rawson on the Petropoulos property in 1959 was completed in June and July, 2006, with the exception of several drawings of potsherds that remain to be prepared. A complete catalogue of all pottery and small finds from the excavation is ready, and a synopsis of results was presented to the "Mesohelladica" Conference, École Française d' Athenes, March 9, 2006, entitled: "Early Helladic and Middle Helladic Pylos: The Petropoulos Trench and Stratified Remains on the Englianos Ridge" (see Appendix I).

Post-Destruction Englianos

Jack L. Davis

A full publication was begun of finds of historical periods uncovered by Blegen and Rawson. This project was initiated, somewhat belatedly, in response to a call several years ago by Mervyn Popham, for a study of unpublished finds and their context that might shed further light on the date of the final destruction of the Palace of Nestor and any reoccupation of the Englianos Ridge during and after the Dark Ages.

For this purpose all excavation records were examined in order to determine the locations where post-LH IIIB finds were discovered and their stratigraphical relationship to the remains of the Mycenaean palace. Post-BA artifacts preserved in the storerooms of the Museum of Hora were dated and photographed. A preliminary report on the results of this research, conducted by Davis with assistance from Stocker and from Kathleen Lynch of the University of Cincinnati will be presented on November 10, 2006, at the Finnish School of Archaeology in Athens as a memorial lecture in memory of Iohannes Sundwall.

A summary of deposits examined and a discussion of their character is included in Appendix II.

Skeletal Biology

Lynne Schepartz

Bone and tooth samples collected by Lynne Schepartz and Anastasia Papathanasiou in 2005 were analyzed by Michael Richards, Max Planck Institute, Leipzig. Of the 50 samples submitted for analysis, only 30 yielded valid results, indicating that much of the Pylos bone sample is in fairly poor condition for carbon and nitrogen isotope studies. The isotope analysis was undertaken to test the predictions of the Schepartz et al. work on health, sex and status: based on the statistically significant differences in dental health at Pylos, where overall females were found to have poorer health, and health differences varied by status (distinguishing tholos and chamber tomb individuals); it was predicted that dietary variation might play a role in these health disparities. The results of the analysis fully supported the dental health results. Males and females at Pylos were eating significantly different levels of animal protein, and these levels also varied significantly by grave type. Interestingly, there is little evidence to suggest that Pylians ate marine resources, a somewhat surprising result given the coastal location and the numerous depictions of sea creatures in the palace frescos and ceramics.

These findings were presented as part of a larger comparative study of Greek Neolithic and Bronze Age diets in a special stable isotope session “Stable Isotope Studies in Greece” at the 2006 European Paleopathology Meeting in Santorini (see attached abstract). An important point made in the presentation was that the Pylos and Mycenae samples show similar patterns of greater meat consumption for males from higher status burials. The papers from the session will be assembled for publication. Schepartz,Papathanasiou and Richards also plan to publish the Pylos results separately.

In future, Schepartz, Papathanasiou and Richards plan to collaborate with Paul Halstead and Valasia Isaakidou on a study of the stable isotope concentrations in faunal remains from Pylos. These will serve as an important comparative sample for interpreting the results of the human bone analysis.

Schepartz, Joanne Murphy and Sari Miller-Antonio’s paper on dental health, sex and status at Pylos is a chapter for the volume “Skeletal Biology of Ancient Greece” that has been accepted for publication in the OWLS series of ASCSA. The external reviewers and the publications committee singled out the Pylos chapter as an outstanding contribution to the volume.

2007 plans for skeletal biology fieldwork: Schepartz and Miller-Antonio have been invited to study the new Pylian skeletal material from the Kokkevis chamber tomb excavations of Litsa Malapani. In addition, they will continue the study of the dental and skeletal health of Mycenaeans buried in the Athenian Agora. This work, which received partial support from INSTAP, is specifically designed to provide comparative data for the Pylos samples.

Comparing Greek Neolithic and Bronze Age Diet

Papathanasiou, A.1, Schepartz, L.2 & Richards, M.P.3

1Ephory of Speleology and Paleoanthropology, Greek Ministry of Culture

2University of Cincinnati, 481 Braunstein Hall, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA

3Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany

This study compares the diet of published and unpublished Greek Neolithic and Bronze Age populations to determine the relationship between diet and nutrition and possible changes through time. Stable isotope analysis of carbon and nitrogen from human bone collagen was used on sites representing various populations, namely three coastal Neolithic (Alepotrypa, Franchthi, Kephala) and three inland Neolithic (Theopetra, Tharrounia, Kouveleiki), another four inland Bronze Age (Sykia, Kalamaki, Spaliareika, Mycenae), one coastal Bronze Age (Pylos) and yet another coastal Neolithic/Bronze Age (Proskynas). In addition, animal bones from some of the aforementioned sites were analyzed to be used as a comparative standard. The results — the very negative carbon values, the low nitrogen values and the intermediate values of the difference between carbonate and collagen carbon readings — strongly indicate the consumption of a diet focused on C3 terrestrial resources, including mainly agricultural plants and almost certainly some animals. Marine foods were a minor part of the diet of most sites. Furthermore, the small range of values implies homogeneity in their diet. The analysis suggests that Neolithic and Bronze Age Greece, regardless of geographic location, was occupied by agricultural groups with primarily terrestrial subsistence strategy with only occasional exploitation of animal and marine protein resources.

Reexamination of Finds and Stratigraphy from Tombs

Joanne Murphy

During the summer of 2006, Joanne Murphy continued the study of the objects from the tombs excavated by Blegen's team around the Palace of Nestor. She spent four weeks in the Chora Museum (May 16 – June 14), during which time she was joined by with three students from the University of Akron (Kalli Connor, Bonnie Stipe, Sandra Waggoner), a photographer (Marie Mauzy), a photographic assistant (Carl Mauzy), and an artist, Rosemary Robertson. Murphy also spent one week (August 3 – August 11), in the National Museum in Athens with an assistant, Nora Brown, studying objects that are stored there. The primary objectives of the season were met. At the Chora Museum she finished recording Bronze Age sherds, whole pots, and non-ceramic artifacts; photographed artifacts; and produced drawings of a selection of them. At the National Museum she catalogued all the whole pots, studied a large percentage of the small finds, and took study photographs of the artifacts.

The work completed for this study would not have been possible without the financial assistance of INSTAP and the University of Akron, and help from the ephor in Kalamata, Xeni Arapogianni; from museum guards in Chora; from Kostas Paschalides and Eleni Konstantinidi at the National Museum; and from the director of the prehistoric collection of the National Museum. I also thank the conservators at the National Museum for their assistance.

In Chora all sherds, whole pots, and the non-ceramic artifacts from tombs have now been recorded. Data was entered into an electronic database in evenings. Approximately 192 complete pots were recorded this year, as well as more than 3000 non-ceramic artifacts. Non-ceramic artifacts included beads of glass, faience, and blue paste; stones; loom weights; spindle whorls; projectile points; gold jewelry; bronze swords; bronze knives; bronze scales; bronze cauldrons; and a bronze ring. Beads were most numerous. All of the artifacts were identified, described, and weighed, when possible.

One of the prime objectives of this project is to create clear and useable images of the artifacts from the tombs and make them available to the scholarly community: in the original publication the artifacts were poorly illustrated. But in the process, new discoveries are being made and Blegen and Rawson's conclusions being modified: there is, for example, here is much less LH III B, and more LH III A and LH III C material in the tombs than one might conclude from their publications.

Marie Mauzy photographed all complete pots, all the non-ceramic artifacts that were on display in the museum, and a sample of small finds and sherds that were in storage. Photographs now exist both in black-and-white and color. Rosemary Robertson drew 33 complete pots (of which 22 are now inked) and edited 48 study drawings from the 2005 season. With the drawn illustrations it was possible to get much more detailed data on the pottery than the photographs would allow. Bonnie Stipe drew a selection of the small finds included 61 beads and a representative selection of projectile points.

In the national Museum, 18 whole pots were catalogued together with more than 1200 non-ceramic finds from Tholos III and Tholos IV (for the most part strands and thin sheets of gold, and beads). Two of the vessels listed in PON III have not yet been found in the museum. It was not possible to remove some objects from display cases during high tourist season and a return trip to Athens during the winter will be necessary.

In 2007, finds from the Protogeometric tholos will be studied; drawings of artifacts from Bronze Age tombs will be completed, both in Athens and in Chora, and additional objects in the National Museum will be photographed and drawn.

Faunal Remains

Paul Halstead and Valasia Isaakidou

The following comprises reports for study seasons in both 2005 and 2006.


Halstead and Isaakidou worked for three weeks in Chora (July-August 2005). For about a week, temperatures were so high that the computer could only be used outdoors, where the light is good, until mid-morning, but we made good progress. IN 2005 we recorded over 2500 identified specimens – substantially more than in previous years. The improvement in efficiency is essentially due to the use of an assistant last year to wash and mark much of the material. The contexts recorded this year were from EBW (1956, 1960, 1961, including GP) and Lagou. The latter includes three largish groups of material labelled as ‘palatial period’, ‘pre-palatial period’ and ‘earlier than pre-palatial period’, which are fairly similar in terms of taxonomic composition (sheep>pig>cow/goat), but there are evident contrasts between individual contexts, for example in the abundance of wild animals. Many observations made in previous years have been repeated: e.g., cattle seems to be mainly adult females (or, at any rate, small in size compared to those found in the burnt ‘sacrificial’ deposits); some contexts include articulating specimens, indicating relatively undisturbed deposits; some contexts exhibit repeated examples of very similar butchery marks, suggesting that they represent specific episodes of carcass processing and deposition. In addition to standard numerical recording, we have taken numerous digital photographs of butchery marks and pathological specimens. The EBW material includes a few very burnt specimens that may help to confirm the context of the EBW ‘sacrificial’ deposit.

Material remaining for study in 2006 comprised four boxes: 1 small box of material from numerous tiny contexts within the palace; 1 large box of WGK+CKK 1962; 1 small box of PNW; and 1 large box of Lagos + EBW.

In 2006, Halstead and Isaakidou spent an additional two weeks in Chora, recording about 1500 identified specimens. This represented less rapid progress than in 2005 but was satisfactory given the more restricted strewing space due to their coinciding with the fresco team. The contexts recorded were from EBW and Lagou, as well as small quantities of material from various palace rooms. Also recorded were some fragments retrieved this year from small finds by Stocker and attempts were successful in reassigning to context further ‘interesting’ specimens that Nobis had previously extracted. Once again, some cattle bones were from very small adults (presumably female and strengthening the impression that those in the burnt ‘sacrificial’ deposits were male). Some contexts contained material with well-preserved surfaces (unlike much of the material studied in previous years) and yielded large numbers of butchery marks. Once again, we observed repeated examples of very similar (i.e., apparently standardised) butchery marks, suggesting that some contexts represent specific episodes of carcass processing and deposition or at least butchery by one or two specialists.

Material remaining for study comprises:

1 bag of dental fragments from Lagou (unfinished business from this year);

1 large box of WGK+CKK 1962;

1 small box of PNW;

a few bags of burnt bone from EBW - these look like fragments of ‘burnt sacrifice’ material and should be checked for possible joins with the existing EBW burnt group to confirm the latter’s context.


We should be able to complete the bulk of the outstanding material in one further season, but there will be at least loose ends requiring a further visit. This estimate assumes that both the WGK/CKK 1962 and PNW boxes are from contexts sufficiently dateable to warrant study.

Murex Remains from the "Belvedere"

Deborah Ruscillo

All shell retained by Blegen and Rawson has now been examined by Deborah Ruscillo (see Appendix III). The following records her thoughts on the murex shells that constitute the majority of the finds:

Murex remains were recovered from excavations conducted in the 1950s and 60s in the area of the Belvedere in the Palace of Nestor. All of the Murex remains are Murex trunculus species, known for producing the ‘Royal Purple’ dye used for dying textiles in the Bronze Age through to the Byzantine period in the Aegean region. The dye is extracted from the snail living in the shell by breaking the main whorl and separating out the hypobranchial gland, the organ responsible for producing the photo-sensitive mucus. When first extracted, the gland is beige and the mucus is clear, but when exposed to light, they turn a deep purple. The concoction of the glands, mucus and a bit of water must be steeped for a few days to produce a ‘Royal Purple’ color. If diluted, colors as light as lavender and even light pink can be produced. If not diluted at all, and not steeped, but used immediately, a navy to light blue color is produced. Experiments conducted by the author in Crete, using Murex trunculus, confirmed that a ‘Royal Purple’ textile industry thrived the Middle Bronze Age period in Kommos, Crete (MMIB-II). Other dye-producing species, Murex brandaris and Thais haemostoma, can produce a deep crimson to pink color. Archaeologically, sites from the Bronze Age Aegean, however, primarily recover remains from Murex trunculus, suggesting a preference for the colors it produces in that time period.

One of the earliest written accounts of purple dye made from Murex originates from Linear B texts from Pylos and Knossos from around 1250 BC. The Knossos tablets refer to po-pu-ro2 which has been interpreted as ‘purple’, and to po-pu-re-ja possibly meaning ‘female purple dyers’ (Palmer 1963: 292, 297, 447). The term wa-na-ka-te-ro-po-pu-re in the Knossos tablets likely indicates textiles of ‘purple befitting the wanax or king’ (Burke 1999), producing an early beginning for what we still call today “Royal Purple”. While we do not have evidence from excavations at Englianos for a textile dying industry (most ancient Murex dying installations were established close to the shore for practical purposes), there are Murex remains that have been brought up to the site for purposes other than textile dying.

There is no evidence that Murex trunculus was ever exploited for food. Archaeological contexts in which this species is recovered in the Aegean are rarely associated with dumps of food refuse. Even in the present day, villagers frown at the idea of eating this species. Most fishermen today clear their nets and throw Murex back into the sea. The smell (and sight) of these creatures is offensive even to the most ravenous person. This is due to their habit of eating rotting fish along the sea floor. Even when freshly broken, these creatures emit a fowl odor, tempting to no one. The same would have been true in the Bronze Age. The fact that Murex trunculus are rarely found in food refuse in Bronze Age deposits, supports the idea that this species was not commonly exploited for food. Murex, in large quantities, are most often associated with industry.

Many Murex were recovered intact from excavations in the Belvedere, while others were purposefully broken. Examination of the material revealed that many of the intact specimens of Murex were collected dead, and so could not have been used for dye extraction. This is probably why they were not broken. Yet, examination of the broken Murex remains suggests gland extraction. There are not enough remains to warrant an interpretation of a textile dying industry, but the Mycenaeans at Pylos were using the Murex dye for other purposes.

In the megaron of the Palace of Nestor, Murex purple was identified on the wall paintings (Brecoulaki and Colombini). Visual examination of these purple fragments by the author confirmed that the color was correct to have been made from a Murex pigment. Since no other wall-painting from the Minoan or Mycenaean era has been identified yet with Murex purple on it, it seems fitting that the only example (to date) should be found in a throne room. There are enough Murex remains from the Palace to have been used to extract purple pigment for use in a limited area on a wall painting. The contexts of the Murex in the Belvedere also support this idea. From the same boxes and bags of the Murex were found and identified worked bone pieces and metapodials from animals common in the use of bone tools (Halstead and Isaakidou). The refuse seems to be industrial rather than food refuse. The date of the Murex from the Belvedere is LH I-III which is not inconsistent with the LH IIIB date of the megaron wall painting.

So why are there Murex that were collected dead in the assemblage? Firstly, shells that are collected dead are identified by the wear from the sea or from the parasitic organisms that grown on or in the shell (e.g. Vermetus sp.). Marine shells renew their structures while the original creature is alive. After the creature dies, the shell is vulnerable to water and sand erosion, as well as to parasitic organisms needing the shell, including hermit crabs. Secondly, a person diving for Murex shells with no mask would just collect Murex shells without checking for creatures within. I, too, collected some dead specimens without realizing it until I returned to the dye extraction site. This means that the Murex were hand-collected rather than baited (i.e. a dead creature cannot crawl into a trap). Thirdly, I believe that the person who was commissioned to bring the Murex to the site was not the same person who used the Murex to paint the walls. Acquiring Murex is a difficult and sometimes dangerous task. It is believed that slaves worked in purple dying installations. Perhaps then, it is unlikely that a specialist, such as an artist commissioned to paint the king’s megaron, would be sent down to the shore to dive and to haul back Murex to the site. Furthermore, if a person(s) was sent from the palace to acquire Murex, he/she may not have been trained to recognize that there should be a snail inside, or a crab, or nothing (sometimes the operculum of the snail can be retracted deep inside the shell to appear as if there is nothing there). He/she may not have been a specialized Murex diver, which is plausible since there are few Murex remains at the site to warrant experienced divers available.

Wall-Paintings from the Palace

Hariclia Brecouki

Participants in the project in 2006 included:

Hariclia Brecoulaki (PhD Archaeology/Conservation, ASCSA,     Athens - University of Sorbonne, Paris)

Emily Egan (Graduate Student, University of Cincinnati)

Jen Glaubius (Graduate Student, University of Missouri, Saint-Louis)

Vassilia Kliafa (Restorer, TEI, Athens)

Shannon Lafayette (Graduate Student, University of Cincinnati)

Eleni Kottoula (Restorer, TEI, Athens)

Luigi Musella – Restorer, Archaeological Museum of Naples, Italy)

Lindsey Miller (Intern, Dennison University)

Sotiris Oikonomou (Undergraduate Student, University of Athens)

Kori Pasternak (Graduate Student, Tufts University)

Alex Pasternak (Volunteer)

Krista Reese (Intern, Dennison University)

Rosemary Robertson (Illustrator)

Stephanie Rozman (Intern, Dennison University)

James Saul (Intern, Dennison University)

Arthur Stephens (Photographer)

Jennifer Stephens (Photographer)

Assimina Tzavara (Graduate Student, University of Athens)

Panagiota Vounissiou (Restorer, TEI, Athens)

Jennifer Wilson (Graduate Student, University of Melborne)

Alexandros Zohos (Restorer, TEI, Athens)

Improvements in Storage of Wall-Paintings

With the support of the Ephor Dr. Xeni Arapoyanni, it was possible to improve our working conditions further. A large showcase containing skeletons and sherds was transferred from Apothiki 1 to a large freight container that has been permanently installed behind the Museum of Hora; in its place were set two tables newly built to hold the reconstructed "Naval Scene" from Hall 64. A third table was employed as an extension for two old tables, since more space was needed in order to search for joins among fragments from Room 6.

Assignment of Inventory Numbers and Digital Imaging


Each fragment in the entire corpus contained in drawers (a total of 208 drawers, ± 50,000 fragments) has been assigned an inventory code on its back.[1] The back of each fragment was superficially cleaned, a gesso layer isolated and consolidated with Paraloid B72 was applied, and then an inventory number was written on top of it. Large fragments on the shelves and the fragments on display in the museum remain to be assigned a code. 1515 fragments were digitally photographed and added to the database:

-       301 fragments and bags of fragments were rephotographed.

-       75 high quality RAW images of the “Archer” fragment were taken for publication.

-       89 high quality RAW images of fragments from the “Naval Scene” were taken for publication.

-       88 high quality RAW images of the “Battle Scene” were taken for publication.

-       51 images of the “Two Women in Procession” fragments were taken for research purposes.

Multiple RAW images were taken under different lighting conditions and with close-ups of certain parts of fragments. Of the RAW images, 23 were edited and enhanced in Photoshop.[2]

There still remain in drawers ca. 5000 fragments that need to be photographed, in addition to large fragments on shelves.

Restoration and Mending of Wall-Paintings

Restoration this year was largely concerned with cleaning, consolidating, and joining fragments of the "Naval Scene" and other fragments from Hall 64.[3] The other fragments belong both to the "Battle Scene," restored in part by Lang, and to a very puzzling scene with indistinct forms of brown, purple, pink, and bluish hues. Many fragments that had indistinct traces of color and forms were joined to the "Naval Scene" and added significant information to it.

Surfaces of fragments were cleaned of dust and earth deposits and old gesso backings were removed; fragments were then glued together and their surfaces consolidated where necessary (Figs. 1, 2). The materials used for these purposes and details of the procedures followed have been described in detail in previous reports.

Egan worked with restorers on a group of non-identified fragments from Hall 64, trying to determine what the scene represented. She found many new joins among these fragments, but the iconography remains unclear (Fig. 3, 4, 5).

Zohos was in charge of cleaning and searching for joins among fragments from the Vestibule (Room 5) and Throne Room (Room 6). This was a particularly difficult task, first because these fragments had already studied in detail by Lang and others, and, second, because the percentage of the preserved surface of the original composition is very small. Fragments from neighbouring rooms were also examained. The results of this enquiry are as follows:

038.01-6 joins 020.03-20 (join found in 2004)

020.03-20 joins 040.30-6, 040.11-6, 039.11-6

6NEwall 4/4 (fragment from shelf 15 I) joins: 058.07-20,     060.04-20

036.18-6 joins 036.14-6

035.06-6 joins 035.14-6 and 037.06-6

034.02-6 joins 029.145-6

060.01-20 joins 060.03.20

036.12-6 joins 036.09-6 and 036.10-6

060.08-20 joins 060.07-20

039.20-6 joins 040.15-6

039.22-6 joins 030.14-6, 030.10-6, 039. 49-6, 040.74-6,      040.71-6

027.02-5 joins 027.01-5

028.10-5 joins 028.03-5


The most significant join is one between 035.06-6, 035.14-6 and 037.06-6. 035.06-6 corresponds to fragment 6NE (Q3?) C9 that Lucinda McCallum identified in her dissertation (Decorative Program in the Mycenaean Palace of Pylos: The Megaron Frescoes, Ann Arbor 1987, p. 156) as a “part of a white bull with brown dappling above a red table or platform. It is reconstructed with the Bull Shoulder as a sacrificial bull on altar.” Her identification no longer seems valid, nor does it seem that a sacrificial bull was represented. Also of particular interest are three small fragments that join the “bull shoulder” (020.03-20 joins 040.30-6, 040.11-6, 039.11-6). A reconstructed drawing is now needed to facilitate further study of this composition. Another important join comes from Room 5 (028.10-5 and 028.03-5): the form of a nautilus (never previously documented) is clear, adding a new element to the iconography of this room.



The Reconstruction of the "Naval Scene" from Hall 64


Significant progress was made this year in reconstructing the "Naval Scene" and in determining its location on the walls of Hall 64. More fragments were identified and liberated from old gypsum backings; these were cleaned and treated by restorers as last year. All fragments that have so far been identified were found in drawers 130, 135, 141 and 142, corresponding to trench HS7, extensions 5, 6 and 7. A tracing of assembled fragments was completed by Robertson. Currently the fragments may be divided into two major groups:

A) Joining fragments that were removed with gesso backing at the time of excavation, and additional individually joining pieces:

1) 141.05-64 (large group of joining fragments) +135.26-64

2) 141.04-64 (large group of joining fragments) +141.01-64+135.03-64

3) 142.01-64 (large group of joining fragments)+135.74-64 (small joining fragment that helped determined the provenance of the larger group)+135-73-64 (probably joining but not a precise contact) + large fragment composed of 142.02-64+142.03-64+130.05-64+130.07-64 (probably joining) + a large fragment composed of 141.03-64+135.48-64+135.02-64+142.04-64 (parts of the stern) + 135.34-64+135.08-64+135.39-64

4) 130.04-64+141.02-64 (fish)

B) Individual fragments belonging to the "Naval Scene," but non-joining:

130.08-64, 130.09-64, 130.10-64, 130.11-64

133.36-6, 134.02-64, 134.14-64, 34.176-64

135.04-64 (upper border ?), 135.07-64, 135.09-64, 135.12-64, 135.15-64, 135.18-64 (the last three fragments joining to each other)

135.21-64, 135.23-64, 135.24-64, 135.27-64, 135.28-64, 135.29-64, 135.31-64, 135.32-64, 135.35-64 (border with checkerboard pattern), 135.37-64 (border), 135.40-64, 135.41-64, 135.42-64, 135.43-64, 135.46-64, 135.49-64, 135.53-64, 135.54-64, 135.55-64, 135.57-64, 135.58-64, 135.60-64, 135.75.64, 135.76-64, 135.77-64,

     143.22-64, 143.158-64


Fragments identified as belonging to the "Naval Scene" had numbers on their gypsum backing; comparison of these with a transcription of Bill McDonald's field notebooks prepared by Jeff Kramer allowed us to determine the original position of the paintings on the walls of Hall 64 (despite the fact that accurate records of levels and the relative positions of fragments was not recorded; see McDonald's notebook June 29, 1953). The following fragments of the "Naval Scene" could be identified with plaster fragments recorded in the field notebooks: 49-26 (130.04-64), 49-27 (130.07-64), 49-34 (130.01-64)., 49 (135.08-64), 49 (135.02-64), 49-29 (135.04-64), 49-30 or 50. Fragments in tray #49 were found in trench HS7 extension 6 in front of wall HSW. It may thus be presumed that "Naval Scene" originally decorated the northwestern section of the northwestern wall of Hall 64.

Blegen and Rawson described this wall as follows (The Palace of Nestor at Pylos in Western Messenia, vol. I, p. 249):

The north-western wall of Hall 64 consists of two sections separated by a doorway that leads into the domestic quarters of the building. The northwestern sections, 3.20 m. long and ca. 1 m. thick, is preserved to a height of 0.55 m. Three slots for vertical and transverse timbers are recognizable at intervals of 0.65 m. On the interior face of the wall its original plaster was preserved to a height of 0.52 m. above the floor and a length of 2.32 m. Mr. Kanakis removed this strip, bearing the same kind of decoration as the corresponding dado on the northeastern wall, from its position for conservation.

The dimensions of the wall (3.20 m. in length), seem to be correspond to the total length of the "Naval Scene."

It is convenient here to add relevant transcriptions from field notebooks (italics our own):

June 26, 1953, HS7 Ext. 6

"Here the technician is removing the plaster fragments fallen on the floor - most are likely from wall HSW, but some are probably from Wall S - they are being numbered 49 and I am trying to give a running number to the larger ones starting with those furthest west and therefore most likely to be from HSW - we have removed mostly what was on the floor here, but there are few in the NE and next to wall S which we are leaving of the time being".

June 29, 1953, HS7-Ext. 6

"Final clearing of fresco frags. on floor and on lower walls here - on wall S near corner a fine section which is 1.10 m. long and 0.32 m. maximum in preserved height - onwall HSW there is a length of fresco also preserved but in much poorer shape - the maximum length is 1.43 m. and height is 0.49 m. - this will be numbered 6 - it is badly broken but will probably be removed in one piece if possible…"

June 29, 1953, HS7-Ext.6

"… the same appears to the fragments apparently coming from wall HSW to which we gave #49 - again the running no.'s were meant to show relative distance from corner - but accurate records of levels and relative positions of frgs. have not been kept - it would be a tremendous job since many many hundreds have been removed from this area in the last 4 days…"

July 4, 1953, Section HS7-Ext7

"… Section 6 comes from wall HSW contiguous to wall S - pieces numbered 49 probably come from higher on this section HSW, though possibly from near corner on wall S - pieces numbered 60-S came from slightly higher on wall S in central section opposite 5B and 5C - pieces numbered 60 are more scattered from same general area - pieces numbered 57 come from hall S nearer HSW and some possibly from HSW - pieces numbered 35 come from wall S are quite scattered and are in general from area S.E. of those numbered 60…"

The new fragments that have been joined to those known from previous years. This has permitted a better understanding of the arrangement and orientation of those and now allows us to reconstruct a composition with three large ships depicted paratactically (Figs. 6, 7, 8, 9).


It is not for the moment entirely clear what the scene was intended to represent or even if the ships are in a harbor or in the open sea. Many interpretations are possible: e.g., an exhibition of the Pylian fleet as a demonstration of its power; a religious festival; a sea battle; or a naval expedition. In the case of the Theran miniature ship procession[4] it has been argued that the ornamentation of the ships suggest a religious festival, a ceremonial procession rather than a nautical venture[5] The 'use of paddling' for the large boats has there been interpreted as an archaic form of propulsion and therefore a ritual performance[6], although it also seems possible that the paddle was a matter of contingency, needed to negotiate tight spaces as the large ships crowed into the harbor.[7] If so, it could also be possible that the theme of the Theran fleet is a naval expedition.[8]

The Pylian seem to have a number of features common with the Theran ships, but there also are significant differences. Each of the three Pylian ships should measure ca. 0.85 - 0.95 m. in length. The total height of the composition should be ca. 0.60 – 0.70 m., the same height as the "Battle Scene" on the northeastern wall of the room. The ships are appropriately long and svelte for seafaring, with a high prow and lower stern. Only the rightmost has decoration on its hull: a zigzag pattern of extraordinary regularity and presumably a reflections of its function and position in the naval hierarchy (two LHI sherds from Iolkos depict fragmentary ships with a zigzag ornament on the hull.)[9].

The stern of the leftmost ship is preserved and crosses the prow of the middle ship, which follows it (Fig. 10). Such an arrangement, common in Egyptian painting, is not found in the Theran procession. In Thera, large ships have three features added at their stern to mark the occasion being celebrated: a stern figurehead, a projection above the water line, and a stern cabin.[10] In the Pylos ship a form can be distinguished that most probably corresponds to a stern cabin, suggesting the high status of its occupants, but there is no projection above the water line. It is unclear if the ship had sails, since no masts have yet been detected, but two rudders (a leeward and a windward oar) are very clearly visible; these may be indicative of a sailing ship that frequently needed both in order to retain steering power under a strong wind.[11] A rudder is also visible on the stern of the rightmost ship.

The rudders are massive and oar-like with a blunt blade characteristic of representations of LH III. We can distinguish painted on the hull of the leftmost ship at least four oars but oarsmen are not visible because the area is severely damaged. Traces of a dark color could, however, possibly correspond to bodies of a helmsman standing in front of the stern cabin and to at least one oarsman. Technical photography (UV and IR) may clarify the issue. Oars are also visible on the hulls of the other two ships.

The prow of the leftmost ship may bears a circular motif on its preserved bowsprit (solar motif, rosette?), possibly an emblem as on the Theran ships. The long pikes of the Pylian ships (cf. Iliad xv. 388-389, 677-678) also recall the Theran ones. The prows of the middle and rightmost ships seem undecorated, although the prow of the latter is not entirely preserved. Central cabins with vertical posts are visible on the leftmost and rightmost ships, but no figures can be detected inside them. Technical photography and additional cleaning should in the future also reveal more details.

At least four fish (possibly dolphins) are visible beyond the hulls of the ships, where there are no oars depicted; the lower edge of the composition repeats the checkerboard frieze of the battle scene.

The search for fragments of the "Naval Scene" now seems complete. The places of many small fragments within the larger composition is still, however, unclear. On one large fragment incisions are visible; these are probably depictions of a mast device with attached lateral rings that was used for rigging.[12]

The final reconstruction of the "Naval Scene" will certainly shed more light on the function of the Hall 64.[13] In the case of Pylos we are not, as in Thera, in a private domicile were the main occupant probably held a position of maritime leadership, but in an building that held an eminent political and religious role within the palatial complex. [14] It is now imperative to investigate further the use of maritime themes in the Palace of Nestor. Maria Shaw has previously identified the mast and the associated rigging of a ship on two fragments (Figs. 11 and 12) that were found outside the palace (ne).[15] We have now also identified an unpublished fragment from room 31 that is clearly associated with the two fragments discussed by Shaw; it depicts part of a mast from a second ship. Six additional fragments, depicting part of the hull of a boat on a blue background and parts of the rigging of a ship, were found this year (Figs. 13 and 14). These fragments (208.31) were also found outside the palace, in trenches excavated in 1964.

Apart from the iconography of the composition, the use of color is also of great interest, despite the very badly damaged surfaces of the paintings, particularly as far as the color of the sea is concerned (Fig. 15). Traces of purple are visible here and there, dispersed within a plain gray which originally was the color of the sea. Analysis of this color has confirmed the presence of murex purple, while grains of Egyptian blue suggest a mixture of purple and blue was employed in order to obtain the color of wine or violet that Homer describes (e.g., Odyssey 5.56, 5.132, 5.221, 5.349).

>Additional Fragments from Hall 64

Numerous joining fragments of purple and pink shades were found along the ne wall of Hall 64. The exact location of these fragments could be determined on the basis of descriptions of the excavation of extensions HS2 and HS3 in field notebooks):

"Some plaster frags. found in this area - HS2 and 3- are worth mentioning. They bear color - light blue and rose shades, with bands, and a suggestion of triangle on one. On the reverse, most of the frags. show grooves, as if they had covered reeds, perhaps on the floor or even on the walls, except that the plaster is almost 0.03 thick, rather heavy for walls" (June 12, 1953, p. 77).

Also associated is a large fragment with purple shades 145.01-64, although much thicker. The thickness of the mortar is by no means a criterion that would discourage the location of the fragments as a wall decoration. Considerably thicker plasters have been used on other rooms of the palace (rooms 1, 5 etc).

June 23, 1953

"Section HS 2 and 3 …the technite is taking out some large pieces from the floor…. Preliminary cleaning , both of the plaster in place at the base of Wall "S" and that on the floor, presumably faller from higher up, on the wall, revealed bright colors - reds, blacks, blues - and intricate patters" (p. 109).

Despite a large number of colorful joining fragments, it has not yet been possible to determine their subject. Lang did not mention them. It is tempting to assign them to an upper story wall, presumably a mudbrick construction considering the appearance and color of their reverse. The difference in the consistency and appearance of mortars compared to the "Battle Scene" and "Naval Scene" should be noted. They seem much more friable and less homogeneous. In addition it should be observed that a large and heavy fragment with purple color and decoration with no distinct pattern overpainted on it seems to be from a pavement. This is true of all fragments to which McDonald assigned #52, suggesting that they came from the frame of a window.


Technical Studies

The most interesting results of technical studies this year came from the analysis of a subset of 16 samples of purple colors of various hues, ranging from light pink to violet and dark purple; these were taken from plaster found in a variety of locations. Such hues are not represented on fragments found in the fresco dump in area nws. Analysis confirmed the use of murex purple on all.

The discovery of additional evidence for the use of murex purple is extraordinary, since this precious dye seems rarely to have been used in Aegean wall-painting. Apart from Santorini, where a very tiny quantity of purple was used to indicate details, only at Pylos has the use of murex purple as a pigment for wall paintings been identified. From a first set of analyses performed two years ago, it seemed that in Pylos, as on Thera, the use of purple was very limited and was confined to the paintings of the Throne Room. From these first analyses it was impossible to identify the purple and pinkish hues from other parts of the palace as murex; they appeared to derive instead from a plant.

We now must revise our earlier conclusions and we can explain how we were earlier led astray: the principal problem was that it was extremely difficult to dissolve the paint layer for GC-MS analysis. Now, however, the analysis of these samples with FTIR, a non-destructive method, has identified with certainty the coloring agent as murex purple. We are still working to improve our ability to dissolve the paint layer, because GC-MS analysis will in he end help us to understand the species of the murex and the relationship between color-hue and species.

There follows a list of samples analyzed; these come from Rooms 1, 2, 5, 6, 10, 20, 44, 64 and from a trench excavated outside the palace in 1959):









drawer 210/1959








Experimental burning of modern samples simulating Mycenaean painting techniques using the same materials (mortars, pigments and binders) in order to evaluate the color alteration of the palace’s wall paintings will be completed by the end of 2006. Results will then be discussed.

Lafayette began a program of research on the floors of the palace. The project consists of accurate documentation and study of a large body of an unpublished plaster. A representative group of samples of floor plaster was selected for analysis in order to determine their composition and study their stratigraphy. Analysis will be conducted at IGME and at the Wiener Laboratory.


Fig. 1


Fig. 2


Fig. 3


Fig. 4


Fig. 5

Fig. 6

Fig. 7

Fig. 8

Fig. 9

Fig. 10


Fig. 11


Fig. 12


Fig. 13


Fig. 14

Fig. 15

Appendix I

(Stocker and Davis)

Early Helladic and Middle Helladic Pylos: The Petropoulos Trenches and Pre-Mycenaean Remains on the Englianos Ridge

Despite the fact that Carl Blegen excavated for twenty years on the Englianos Ridge, relatively little is known about settlement in times prior to the Late Bronze Age. Early and Middle Bronze Age remains were detected in several soundings beneath floors of the LH IIIB palace and in trial trenches opened in nearby areas; results were, however, only briefly described in final publication of the Palace of Nestor. A detailed analysis by the authors of this paper of Blegen's notebooks and of retained artifacts now stored in the Museum of Hora is contributing to a more nuanced picture of the prehistory of western Messenia in pre-Mycenaean times. In this presentation we discuss one aspect of our study: the so-called Petropoulos trenches.[16]

Between June 8 and June 17, 1959, Marian Rawson excavated two soundings on the property of Yioryios Petropoulos, northwest of the citadel of the Mycenaean palace (Fig. 1). These included one major trench, called by her Petropoulos I, and a second, the Petropoulos-Tsakonas Wall Hunt, that was more restricted in scale.[17] It was clear to Rawson that in both soundings she reached very early levels. Here we describe the stratigraphy that she found and, in the case of Petropoulos I, the architectural remains.

Petropoulos Trench I was 23-m. long and 1.5-m. wide. Rawson excavated it in a complicated manner, dividing it initially into five sections (Fig. 2). In the two northernmost sections (Ia and Ib), each 4-m. long, she exposed remains of three successive architectural phases. The earliest architecture was identified in Section Ia — a wall "laid on stereo…in a straight line" and visible for a length of 1.20 m.; the northern face of the wall lay under the northern scarp of the trench and was not visible.

This wall was for the most part constructed of small rounded stones and pieces of local bedrock; on top of it there appeared to be a piece of mudbrick, still in situ. Several stones, perhaps from an eastern wall of a room, may have formed a corner with its eastern end. Other stones immediately to the south lay in a "haphazard fashion" and seemed to have fallen onto a floor. Apparently on the floor were fragments of bronze and pieces of an unbaked clay crucible with bronze adhering to it, finds of significance in the history of metal-working in Messenia that accord well with evidence from Nichoria, where clay furnaces and cupreous slags were present in Phase A.[18] Pottery retained from associated deposits suggests that these walls were built in EH III.[19]

Another wall, approximately 70 cm. wide and ca. 45 cm. high, was built on top of the EH III deposit; it, like the EH III wall on bedrock, may well have supported a mudbrick superstructure, although no traces of bricks were found. The wall was built, according to Rawson's description, with "small rubbly stones like pieces of bedrock laid with even edges." Deposits associated with the wall, excavated both in Section Ia and If, suggest that it was constructed in the earlier part of the MBA.

Sometime later, a third architectural complex was laid on top of the deposits associated with the broad wall. Part of the corner of a room was uncovered, its walls built of large smooth stream cobbles. Excavation inside the room reached a "reddish stratum" that was "vaguely visible in connection with the wall and must represent whatever deposit there was." Finds from deposits associated with these uppermost walls also date to the earlier MBA.

Mycenaean remains were found only in surface levels above the highest walls.

In contrast to excavation in the northernmost 8 m. of the trench, excavations in the three 5-m.-long sections to the south (Ic, Id, and Ie) yielded no traces of walls. The bedrock sloped gradually from south to north, such that the most deeply stratified deposits were found in Sections Ic and Id. Section Id, in contrast to the remainder of Petropoulos I, produced evidence for post-prehistoric activities. There Rawson encountered a pit that, at its center, reached a depth of some 65 cm.; it was entirely confined to Section Id. She described the soil in this pit as "black dry" and the pottery from it as being coated with "black filth like the deposit found elsewhere with late sherds." In the center of the pit were stones, and elsewhere in the trench were "chunks of burnt brick."

Rawson and Blegen suggested in their final report that the pit had been dug in the Geometric period. The black-glazed sherds are however, of Archaic or Classical date and the presence of a bronze coin also points to a time later than the Geometric period for the formation of this deposit.

In her second, more restricted sounding (only ca. 2 x 1.5 m.), the Petropoulos-Tsakonas Wall Hunt, the deposit from the surface to a depth of 1.40 m. was LH III in character. Beneath 1.40 m. it was entirely of earlier Middle Helladic date.

Retained pottery from the soundings on the Petropoulos property consists principally of burnished wares, for the most part with dark surfaces, of fine and coarse varieties. Open shapes, cups and bowls, are most common. Matt-painted pottery is uncommon, and is characteristic of higher levels, as are incised wares of the well-known "Adriatic Ware" type. Ceramics from stratified prehistoric levels appear entirely to date to the very end of the Early Helladic period and to the earlier parts of the Middle Helladic period, and find their best parallels in the published pottery from Deriziotis Aloni, and in Groups A and C at Nichoria.[20]


Almost all of the pottery seems to have been produced locally. Important exceptions are several solidly painted fragments that may be Minoanizing and an actual import from Crete from Level MP15 and Level MP16 in Section d of Petropoulos I (Fig. 3).[21] If the latter can confidently be dated to the Old Palace period, as we propose, it would be the earliest Cretan vessel yet documented in Messenia, and it offers an important, if generalized, synchronism between the Middle Bronze Age Peloponnese and Crete.[22] The "new" find from Englianos should, perhaps, be considered alongside the necklace with four bronze double-ax pendants excavated in MH I graves by Jörg Rambach at Kastroulia, north of Kalamata.[23]

Little else from these trenches is indicative of contact with the outside world. Only a couple dozen small finds from the Petropoulos soundings are today stored in the Hora Museum, the overwhelming majority of which are fragments of chipped stone. Rawson considered these to be obsidian, but it seems clear to us that all are chert, mostly dark gray, black, and greenish. Other small finds included pierced terracotta disks and whorls, a miniature bowl, a stone disk, fragments of bone pins, pieces of lead, groundstone implements, and several worked boar's tusks.

The finds from Rawson's soundings on the Petropoulos property, although modest, are of interest in that they, when considered in light of recent fieldwork by the Pylos Regional Archaeological Project and the evidence from the Nichoria excavations, point to a considerable expansion in small-scale settlement in Messenia at the turn between the Early Bronze Age and the Middle Bronze Age. Specifically on the Englianos Ridge, it is now clear that several small independent "settlements" or homesteads had been established around the acropolis of the later Palace of Nestor by the end of the EBA. Finds similar to those from Deriziotis Aloni, as well as ceramics of the Middle Helladic period, were recovered as surface finds by PRAP teams, particularly in areas to the west and south of the later Mycenaean palace (Fig. 1).

List of Illustrations

Fig. 1. Petropoulos Trench, Palace of Nestor, and Findspots of Deriziotis-Type Pottery in the Vicinity. R.J. Robertson.

Fig. 2. Petropoulos Trench I. Plan and Section with Excavated Deposits. After Marion Rawson 1959, I, p. 129-130, 171-172. Courtesy of the University of Cincinnati. R.J. Robertson.

Fig. 3. Minoan vessel from Petropoulos Trench I. R.J. Robertson.

Fig. 1, 3

Fig. 2

Appendix 2


Post-Bronze Finds Studied in 2006

It is clear from a reexamination of the strata of the Palace of Nestor and inspection of groups of contextual pottery preserved from the excavations that Blegen and his team in no way attempted to disguise the amount or misrepresent the nature of the extent of later activities on the acropolis. Indeed, we have been impressed how diligent he and Marion Rawson, in particular, were in ensuring that sufficient evidence was preserved not only to document the conclusions they draw in the first volume of the Palace of Nestor, but also to allow us, their successors, to reevaluate the evidence and define the character of Dark Age and historical finds with greater precision.



Courts 42, 47, and Their Vicinity

It seems, in fact, that from the various rooms on the northeast side of the palace the excavator retained a considerable amount decorated pottery, no matter how small or fragmentary it was. Even thumbnail-sized body sherds are preserved and labeled with their precise excavation unit. In many other parts of the Palace, sherds selected from particular contexts have been preserved in separately labeled bags. In the case of the deposits in Courts 42 and 47 and their vicinity, it seems that at some date later than the initial sorting and papsing of the finds, more material was discarded, individual sherds were labeled, and sherds from the same court, room, or area were stored in common bags. It is possible to compare the approximate quantities of material originally excavated (as recorded in Rawson's 1956 pottery notebook) to the amounts now preserved. Several things seem clear: there were not large quantities of post-Mycenaean pottery in the first place; in all places but Room 42, the pottery was very fragmentary; in Room 42, much of the pottery came from just a few complete or nearly complete vessels, four of which are mended and on display in the museum.

There follows a summary of Blegen and Rawson's conclusions about the distribution of historical finds; a description of the retained artifacts follows, including observations drawn from excavation notebooks and our own catalogue descriptions of finds from Court 42.

Rooms 39-40

Under the southeasterly part of the room in surface levels was found a "very black layer with stones" that marked the northwestern limit of what Blegen and Rawson (1966, p. 175) considered to be an "intrusive deposit of Late Geometric times." This oily earth continued in the southeast of Room 40, and in the northeast part of the room continued deeper and was considered to have been responsible for pitting and, in places, total erosion of the surface of the ashlar limestone blocks that here formed the outer wall of the palace. They again speak of finding scattered sherds of the late Geometric period in the black layer, but date these to the seventh century, ca. 600 B.C. They imagined that the black layer was formed by olive oil that seeped into the ground from a pressing facility of that date. Blegen and Rawson speak of "a good deal of Geometric ware for the most part coated with black or brownish glaze."

Preserved Context Pottery: "Numbered Sherds: M-Rooms 30, 31, 32, 33, 36, 38, 39, 40."

Gateway 41

The same black layer was discovered in the northwestern half of the gateway, and it was supposed by Blegen and Rawson that oil seepage had discolored the upper destruction horizon of the 13th century B.C, They speak of "much Geometric ware" among the sherds.

Courtyard 42

In the center of the room "oily waste" penetrated deeply in the destruction deposits of the 13th century, causing pitting to the ashlar limestone blocks, as in Room 40, and in places reaching the stucco floor of the court. Among the Mycenaean pottery from the black stratum were "a not inconsiderable number" of pots of later date, and it was possible to reconstruct four vessels, in whole or in part. In addition, four spikes or nails were recovered high in the black stratum. The four restored vessels include: 615, 616, 617, and 618 (CM1426). Pottery from the black stratum, Mycenaean and later, was very encrusted with blackened lime and were in poor condition.

Preserved Context Pottery: "Court 42: Numbered Sherds"; "Court 42 and Room 43: Numbered Sherds."

Courtyard 47

Small stones were found in black earth over most of the area of the court, as in Courtyard 42. The later pottery from the room is described as "Geometric ware (almost all from upper black earth; numerous fragments, for the most part coated overall with black or brownish-black glaze; a few bands.

Preserved Context Pottery: "Court 47: Area ME, Court C, ME13-ME24."

Court 58

Large ashlar blocks, fallen from the southeastern palace wall were surrounded by black earth and stones with "some sherds of the Late Geometric Period" (Blegen and Rawson 1966, p. 230). The black earth contained two iron spikes (Blegen and Rawson 1966, p. 230).

Preserved Context Pottery: "ME 37, 39-64, Court 58."

Area 101

Blegen and Rawson noted the presence of "a good many pieces coated with glaze of late Geometric period" in the surface layer (1966, p. 329).

Preserved Context Pottery: "Numbered Sherds: 91-101-102."

Other Relevant Preserved Context Pottery:

"Numbered Sherds M: 38-41, 41, 42-43."

Only the finds from the largest concentration of Iron Age and historical pottery ("Court 42: Numbered Sherds" and "Numbered Sherds: Court 42 and Room 43" have yet been studied in detail. The sherds in each of these bags were previously labeled with the number of the excavation unit from which they were retrieved.

Appendix III


Shell from the Palace of Nestor Excavations

The following summaries Deborah Ruscillo's identifications of shell retained by Blegen and Rawson. Contexts of shell are discussed in a report by Davis and Stocker entitled "Shell Contexts 2006", on file at the University of Cincinnati.

1. MB Belvedere Box 3

     3 dead Murex trunculus

     48 frags Murex trunculus

     2 joining Spondylus gaederopus oyster - possibly fossilized, geological

     1 Glycymeris sp. water worn - collected dead, lots (2000)* at Kommos V in S area from House X shrine (LMIIIA) and at Knossos Temple Repositories, possibly burned. Associated with cult? Found on beach.

     1 Cerastoderma edule - geological?

     4 Pinna nobilis. ornamental as inlay or earrings

     Rest = Murex trunculus - crushed at gland - if making lime, would be more crushed. If cooking, would put whole shell in.

*Probably used for fresco pigment because not enough to dye textiles with.

2. MB Belvedere Box 1

     3 Pinna nobilis

     7 dead Murex trunculus

     20 frags Murex trunculus

3. PoN Belvedere (W13) south end B1, 2, 3, 19, 20, 21, 25, 32 (Petropoulos)

     2 fossilized oyster - geol

     1 Cerastoderma sp. fossil - geol

     1 Venus verrucosa fossil - geol

     14 Murex trunculus frags

4. Belvedere (W13) from Street between walls (2 bags combined)

     1 Cerastoderma sp.- prob. geol

     7 dead (one hit with pick axe) Murex trunculus

     3 Murex trunculus frags

     1 dead

     1 Patella caerulea (limpet) (not geol.)

     1 Ostrea edule (not geol.)

     1 unknown

     9 fragments

5. Belvedere (W13) Topsoil

     1 Acanthocardia sp. (geol)

     7 frags. Murex trunculus

6. Shell from Bone - EBW 61-16

     2 frags Murex trunculus

7. EBW July 4, 1961, Tr. 28S early deposit

EPB p. 125, Basket 49 (PH/VI 164)

     1 fr. large mammal bone

     1 worn Acanthocardia sp.(geol?)

8. EBW June 27, '61, Tr. 33-35 4th layer

EPB, p. 20, Basket 47 = PH/VI 166

     1 fr. Murex trunculus


9. EBW July 13, 1960, VIII, 2nd layer

86 = PH/VI 180

     4 valves Arca barbatia (food or bait)

     1 Acanthocardia sp.(geol.)

10. EBW July 4, 1961, Tr. 30S, 2nd layer

EPB, p. 125(?), basket 52, PH/VI 155

     1 fr. Murex trunculus

11. EBW June 21, '61, Tr. 31-33 south end

EPB, p. 115, basket 41 = PH/VI 167

     1 fr. Murex trunculus

12. EBW July 6, 1961, Tr. 30S

EPB, p. 127, basket 53 = PH/VI 163

     1 Cerithium vulgatum

     2 Murex trunculus fragments

     3 fragments Pinna nobilis

13. EBW 1961-12 samples PH/VI 170

     1 fragment Murex trunculus

14. EBW July 10, 1961, Tr. 36S, 2nd layer

EPB, p. 130, basket 60 = PH/VI 154

     1 frag. Murex trunculus

15. EBW May 28, 1960, GP14, p. 103, basket 110

     1 Pinna nobilis fragment

16. Belvedere MB Box 1 (N.B. "TR. S5" was written in pen on the Glycymeris glycymeris shell")

     1 Glycymeris glycymeris

     1 Arca noae

     1 Murex trunculus

17. Trench 1A 1939, Ano Englianos, April 4, 1939

Trench 1, Section A 3rd layer

0.25-0.35m, WAM p. 10

Trench VI Section A 1st layer, Surface to 0.20m, WAM p. 60

Archives Room. Under room 7? Pieces of early pithos

     1 Murex trunculus collected dead

     5 Murex trunculus

18. PNN 20

A, TafoV 3a, 2.40-2.60, 20-7-63

     1 worn Murex trunculus

19. Mag D, Box 5, Rooms 104-105

DF 1958, 5)67"

     1 fr. Cerastoderma edule

20. EBW 19-07-1960, Tr. 28, First layer, Basket 101

EPB, p. 78

     1 Spondylus gaederopus valve

21. Trench 64.10, Basket 69.3, 4-7-64

     6 frags Murex trunculus, probably acided with pottery.

22. R. Lagou, Trench 1, Pre-Palace Stratum

     1 Cerithium vulgatum

23. Tr. 64.6, Baskets 34-57; 60 & below

     1 Arca noae

     1 Tapes decussata

24. EBW, 23-5-1960, G.P., Trench 1BD, 0.80-1.10

p. 87, basket 82

     1 frag. Pinna nobilis

25. EBW, GP1960, basket 17, G.P. 3

0.50-0.70, kitrino stoma

     1 frag. Murex trunculus

     1 Arca barbatia

26. EBW, July 6, 1960, Tr. 6, SW, between walls L and I

Basket 70 = PH/VI 174

     4 frags. Arca barbatia

27. R. Lagou, Trench 1 - Bones from Pre-Palace Strata

     1 Pinna nobilis frag.

     1 worn Cerithium vulgatum

     3 frags. Murex trunculus

28. EBW, June 1, 1961, Tr. 31-40

brown [?] yellowish.....earth, EPB, p. 96

basket 3 = PH/VI 161

     1 fossilized oyster frag.

     1 Pinna nobilis frag.

     3 frags. Murex trunculus

29. EBW, July 8, 1961, Tr. 32S, Third layer, yellowish stratum with gray bones

EPB, p. 129, basket 56

     5 frags. Murex trunculus

30. JP, 64-6, Shell from bone

     4 Arca barbatia

31. R. Lagou, 6-6-59, Trench IB¤ID, 0-0.30, p. 130

Basket 190

     1 frag. Murex trunculus

32. R. Lagou, Tr. 1, earlier than Pre-Palace

     1 frag. Pinna nobilis

     1 geol. Cerastoderma sp.(2 frags.)

     1 worn geol. Cerithium vulgatum

     5 frags Murex trunculus

33. PNW, basket 48, Trench 30, Section G2, 1-1.15

5/20/59, p. 51

     1 Cerastoderma edule


[1] Reese, Miller, Rozman and Saul were engaged in inventorying fragments.

[2] Jennifer and Arthur Stephens took photographs this year; Eagan entered photographic records into the project's database.

[3] Restorers Musella, Vounissiou, and Kottoula made important contributions to these efforts.

[4] For a reconstruction of the wall-paintings see C. A. Televantou,"New Light on the West House Wall-paintings," in D. A. Hardy (ed.),Thera and the Aegean World III. Proceedings of the Third International Congress, Santorini, Greece Sept. 1989, London 1990, 309-326; Ακρωτήρι Θήρας:Οι τοιχογραφίες της Δυτικής Οικίας, Athens 1994.

[5] L. Morgan, “The Ship Procession in the Miniature Fresco,” in C. G. Doumas (ed.), Thera and the Aegean World I. Papers Presented at the Second International Scientific Congress, Santorini, Greece, August 1978, London 1978, 624-644; The Minature Wall Paintings of Thera: A Study in Aegean Culture and Iconography, Cambridge 1988.

[6] L. Casson, "Bronze Age Ships: The Evidence of the Thera wall paintings," International Journal of Nautical Archaeology and Underwater Exploration 4 (1975) 3-10.

[7] A. F. Tilley and P. Johnstone, "A Minoan Naval Triumph? International Journal of Nautical Acheaology and Underwater Exploration 5 (1976) 185-292.

[8] M. C. Shaw, “Sea Voyages: The Fleet Fresco from Thera, and the Punt Reliefs from Egypt,” in S. Sherratt (ed.), The Wall Paintings of Thera, Proceedings of the first International Symposium, Aug.-Sept. 1994, I, Athens 2000, 267-282.

[9] D. Gray, Seewesen, (Archaeologia Homerica I G.), Göttingen 1964, 43, fig. 8c.

[10] Morgan 1978, 638.

[11] G. C. L. Clowes, Sailing Ships: Their History and Development I. Historical Notes, London 1922, 22-23; Morgan 1978, 630.

[12] H. S. Georgiou, "Bronze Age Ships and Rigging", in R. Laffineur and L. Basch (eds.), THALASSA: L'Egéee préhistorique et la mer. Actes de la troisième Rencontre égéenne internationale de l'Université de Liège, Station de recherches sous marines et océanographiques, Calvi, Corse (23-25 Avril), Aegaeum 7, Liège 1991, 61-71.

[13] Cf. J. L. Davis and J. Bennet, “Making Mycenaeans: Warfare, Territorial Expansion and Representations of the Other in the Pylian Kingdom”, in R. Laffineur (ed.), Polemos. Le contexte guerrier en Egeée à l’âge du bronze, Actes de la 7e Rencontre égéenne internationale, avril 1998, Aegaeum 19, 1999, 105 – 120.

[14] Marinatos believed the person shown in the largest and most decorated ship of the south frieze was the admiral of the fleet (S. Marinatos, Excavations at Thera VI, Athens 1974, 54).

[15] M. Shaw, "Symbols of Naval Power at the Palace at Pylos: The Evidence from the Frescoes.," ITHAKI: Festschrift für Jörg Schäfer zum 75. Geburtstag am 25. April 2001, Böhm, Stephanie and Klaus-Valtin von Eickstedt (eds.), Würzburg, Ergon Verlag, pp. 37-43.

[16] We are grateful to all those who have facilitated our research of pre-Mycenaean Englianos since 1998, particularly Xeni Arapogianni, director of the Kalamata Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities. We thank Yioryia Hatzi and Evangelia Malapani of the Greek Archaeological Service, as well as the guards of the Hora Museum, especially Yioryia Sarantapoulou. Finally, we appreciate the support we have received from Maria Pilali, James Muhly, and Stephen Tracey of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. A comprehensive study of finds from Petropoulos Trench I is nearing completion.

[17] The progress of the excavation of Petropoulos Trench I and initial assessment of finds are recorded two notebooks: Marion Rawson 1959, I, p. 91-93, 96, 98, 101-102, 108, 111-112, 116, 118-119, 121, 125, 128-130; II, p. 162-171. For the Tsakonas Wall Hunt, see Marion Rawson 1959, I, p. 97, 103, 122; II, p. 171-173. The excavations were described in C.W. BLEGEN and M. RAWSON, The Palace of Nestor at Pylos in Western Messenia III: Acropolis and Lower Town. Tholoi and Grave Circle, Chamber Tombs, Discoveries Outside the Citadel (1973), p. 63-64.

[18] R.J. HOWELL, « Middle Helladic Settlement: Stratigraphy and Architecture », in W.A. MCDONALD and N.C. WILKIE (eds.), Excavations at Nichoria in Southwest Greece: The Bronze Age Occupation (1983), p. 18; see also W.A. MCDONALD, O.T.P.K. DICKINSON, and R.J. HOWELL, « Summary », in MCDONALD and WILKIE (infra) p. 759.

[19] See S.R. STOCKER, « Pylos Regional Archaeological Project, Part V: Deriziotis Aloni: A Small Bronze Age Site in Messenia », Hesperia 72, p. 341-404.

[20] HOWELL (loc. cit., supra n. 3) p. 17-18, 20-21; STOCKER (loc. cit., supra n. 4).

[21] Fragments of this vessel include CM4735 (from MP15), MP15-33, and MP16-85.

[22] We are grateful to Gerald Cadogan, Colin Macdonald, Jennifer Moody, Lucia Nixon, and Jeremy Rutter for discussing this sherd with us.

[23] J. RAMBACH, « The Excavation of Two MH I-Burial Mounds at the Site of Kastroulia near Ellinika (Ancient Thouria) in Messenia », abstract at http://www.sciem2000.info/Aigina/abstract/rambach.html (last accessed: 3 August 2006).