5th Season Preliminary Report to the 7th Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Olympia and to the 5th Ephoreia of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Antiquities, Sparta on the Results of Fieldwork July 1-August 8 1995


Susan E. Alcock
John Bennet
Jack L. Davis
Yiannos Lolos
Cynthia W. Shelmerdine
Eberhard Zangger

The following is a preliminary report of archaeological studies [1]conducted in the summer of 1995 in the Pylos area under the terms of a permit granted by KAS (UPPO/ARC/A3/F2/1433/28732) and under the immediate supervision of the 7th Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities. We are particularly grateful to the Ephor of Antiquities, Mrs. Xeni Arapoyianni, and to her representatives in Hora, Ms. Maria Antoniou, Ms. Kalliope Kaloyerakou, and Ms. Evangelia Malapani. This report was composed in the field by the principal directors of the research and is intended to provide the responsible Ephoreias with an unofficial timely summary of our research. In the fall of 1995 an official report will be submitted to the American School of Classical Studies, where it will be translated and forwarded to the Ministry of Culture.

I. Nature of the Project

The goal of the Pylos Regional Archaeological Project (PRAP) in 1995 was to re-examine, both in the field and in the museum, data collected and recorded in our major field campaigns of 1992-94. Our research program comprised the following principal objectives:

1) Simple revisitation of the archaeological remains in areas investigated in 1992-94.

2) Mapping of soils in the valley of Metaxada, in the vicinity of Maryeli, and on the ridge of Englianos.

3) Geophysical investigations at Englianos, Bouka, Dialiskari, and Ordines.

II. Project Staff and Funding

PRAP was funded in 1995 by awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute for Aegean Prehistory, as well as by contributions from the University of Cincinnati, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Michigan, the Kelsey Museum of the University of Michigan, the University of Texas--Austin, and the University of Wisconsin--Madison.

Our team this year was again international in composition; some 24 universities or research institutions and six nationalities (American, British, Egyptian, German, Greek, and Irish) were represented.

Dr. Jack Davis is responsible for overall direction of PRAP. The following principal co-directors continue to participate in PRAP, as in 1992-94:

Dr. Susan E. Alcock, Department of Classical Studies, University of Michigan.
Dr. John Bennet, Department of Classics, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Dr. Yannos Lolos, University of Ioannina.
Dr. Cynthia W. Shelmerdine, Department of Classics, University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Eberhard Zangger, Department of Geography, Heidelberg University.

Geophysical work was carried out in 1995, as in 1994, by a team led by Dr. Falko Kuhnke of the University of Braunschweig, Germany. Soil mapping continued investigations initiated in 1994 by Dr. Michael Timpson of the University of Northern Arizona at Flagstaff. Dr. Günter Wagner of Heidelberg University, Dr. Yiannis Pasiakos of the Dimokritos Institute in Athens, and Dr. Joost Knauss of the Technical University of Munich revisted various archaeological sites and offered us their evaluations of the age of associated soils and the extent to which landforms at the sites have changed since Antiquity.

In accordance with the terms of our permit all research this summer was restricted to the simple revisitation of sites. No artifacts, soil, or sediment samples were collected at any sites. Geological research was conducted in the company of Ms. Maria Antoniou, representative of the 7th Ephoreia of Preclassical and Classical Antiquities at Olympia.

III. Summary of Archaeological Research in 1995

Preparations for fieldwork began in Chora on June 28. Fieldwork and museum studies were conducted from July 1-August 7.

Revisitation of Sites

All sites defined by our teams in 1992-94 were systematically revisited by Alcock, Bennet, and Davis. Typically several hours was spent at each. The purpose of revisitation was as follows:

a) to write clear instructions and to draw an accompanying sketch assist members of the Ephoreia and other legitimate archaeologists hto reach the site This information will not be published. We will assemble a booklet with all descriptions and maps, a copy of which will be sent to Olympia, Sparta, and ASCS in the fall of 1995 to be deposited in their archives.

b) to draft a description of each site that can be included in an illustrated descriptive gazetteer of sites to be published by PRAP. This gazetteer is now virtually complete and we plan to make public a working draft of it in fall 1995.

c) to take supplementary photographs on-site.

d) to prepare additional drawings of architectural features on sites.

e) to inspect sites to determine if there has been any substantial change in their condition since the time of initial collection. Evangelia Malapani, as representative of the Olympia Ephoreia, was informed in cases where sites were found to be in immediate danger of destruction.

f) to evaluate, without collection, the date and function of any new artifacts noticed on the surface in the course of revisits

Definition of New Sites

Sites are generally defined by PRAP as locations in which quantities of surface artifacts are substantially higher than in surrounding areas. Revisitation and reinspection of our data led us to revise the status of two locations from possible to definite sites. The two new definite sites are the following:

M4. Gargaliani Ayios Konstadtinos

The church of Ayioi Konstadtinos kai Eleni was completely rebuilt between the summers of 1994 and 1995. In the course of this reconstruction the top of the knoll was graded by bulldozer and stones from the foundations of the old structure were pushed into the maquis that surrounds the clearing in which the church stands. Among the stones are several large ashlar blocks, probably reused from an ancient building. Pottery ranges from Hellenistic to Early Modern in date; none was collected in 1995. Hellenistic ceramics are well represented and include fragments from a ribbed kantharos, a molded bowl, and a stamped plate. The Byzantine period is represented by thickened cookware rims. No pottery was collected from the site in 1995.

M5. Gargaliani Analipsi

Beneath the cliffs southwest of the modern town of Gargaliani is a single-aisled vaulted church, built in part within a natural cave reinforced with walls of well-cut limestone. Traces of wall-painting are visible in the southwest of the nave where the vault springs from the wall of the church. Farther south are various cuttings in the limestone, including small rooms now used as stables for livestock, and, in several cut bedrock scarps, small apsidal niches.

Pottery observed at the site, but not collected, ranges from Roman to Early Modern in date and includes Early Roman sherds, Byzantine types as early as the 13th c., Turkish wares of the 15th and 16th c., and pottery of the 19th c.. Also observed in 1995, but not collected, was an early Roman altar. A Hellenistic bronze coin was found at this same location in 1994.

Study of Artifacts

Photography, drawing, and cataloguing of pottery and small finds from 1992-94 occupied our museum staff for the entire season. Our goal this summer was to complete the study of all finds with the exception of collections from a few of the larger sites examined by our teams. Artifacts were dated and described and a representative sample was selected from each site for publication. A catalogue of these sherds will be incorporated into the gazetteer of sites that will be circulated in the fall of 1995.

Study of finds was conducted by the following specialists:

Andrea Berlin, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Roman pottery.

John Cherry, University of Michigan: Lithics.

Sharon Gerstel, University of Maryland-College Park and Dumbarton Oaks: Byzantine Pottery.

Ann Harrison, The J.P. Getty Center for the Study of Art History and the Humanities: Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic Pottery.

Yiannos Lolos, University of Ioannina: Early Prehistoric Pottery.

Bill Parkinson, University of Michigan: Lithics.

Kim Shelton, Archaeological Society in Athens: Early Modern Pottery.

Sharon Stocker, University of Cincinnati: Middle Helladic Pottery.

The following personnel were responsible for illustration of finds:

Roberta Dupuis-Devlin, University of Illinois at Chicago: Photography.

Whitney Powell, Freelance Archaeological Illustrator: Providence RI, Drafting.

Rosemary Robertson, Cornwall Archaeological Unit: Drafting.

Study in the Hora Museum

In accordance with the terms of a decision issued by KAS in 1993 (UPPO/ARC/A3/F2/8431/115/18-4-94) and with the permission of the 7th E.P.K.A (1877/9-6-95), Sharon R. Stocker re-examined several ceramic groups from Blegen's excavations at Derizioti Aloni. The finds from this excavation and its stratigraphy have now been completely restudied by Stocker and will be published this fall in her M.A. thesis to be submitted to the University of Cincinnati. A copy will be deposited with the Olympia Ephoreia.

IV. Geoarchaeological Research

Soil Studies

In July, Timpson, with help from Zangger, completed the mapping of soils in the Englianos area and in the valley of Maryeli.

The purpose of the work at Englianos was to evaluate further the extent to which erosion has effected the spatial distributions of cultural deposits in the vicinity of the Palace of Nestor. Special attention was directed toward the mapping of "slope slumps" (i.e., locations where, in a single episode, masses of earth have suddenly slid down the slope of the ridge). To this end, cross-sections were drawn across the ridge showing the steepness of the slopes and the thickness of soils. At one location northeast of the Palace of Nestor, particularly large quantities of Mycenaean pottery of the palatial period were found buried within a deposit of colluvium several meters deep. It is clear that catastrophic erosion of this sort has severely displaced cultural deposits in many parts of the Englianos Ridge.

The purpose of fieldwork in the Maryeli Valley was to study the agricultural potential of its soils. Since World War II most of the valley has been abandoned for cultivation; until that time virtually all of its slopes were planted with grain, currant vineyards, or olives. We are exploring the factors that have determined which land has remained in cultivation today, and the extent to which natural environmental, rather than cultural, factors have influenced this choice. This study is directly relevant to our evaluation of the distributional patterns of archaeological sites detected by our teams in the Maryeli Valley in 1994: i.e., to the extent to which modern patterns of cultivation have created the artifactual distribution patterns that were mapped by us in 1994. In conjunction with this study, information was collected by Wayne Lee and by Bill Alexander about the history of agriculture in the Maryeli Valley, through interviews with residents and the examination of agricultural and population statistics in Athens, Kalamata, Maryeli, and Papaflessas.

Geophysical Investigations

In late July Dr. Falko Kuhnke and a large team of faculty and students (a total of seventeen) from the University of Braunschweig conducted geophysical prospections at four sites: Bouka, Dialiskari, the Englianos Ridge, and Ordines. Work at Bouka and Dialiskari was very limited, with more extensive investigations at the other two sites.

A few hours work at Bouka clarified a detail of the research conducted there in 1994. We are now confident that we have recovered much of the plan of a large Hellenistic building (early 2nd century B.C.), apparently built and destroyed within one or two generations. This building is intervisible with the approximately contemporary Hellenistic tumulus excavated by the Archaeological Service in the 1960s at Tsopani Rahi. Alcock, Berlin, Harrison, and Kuhnke are now writing a special article on the results of our researches at Bouka. A copy will be submitted to the Olympia Ephoreia within the coming year.

At Dialiskari magnetometric investigations in 1994 discovered the buried remains of a well-preserved Roman hypocaust bath, a small part of which is exposed in the edge of a terrace 100 m. north of the church of Ayios Nikolaos. In 1995, a geoelectrical cross-section was made across the hypocaust system in a field north of that in which the hypocaust of the bath had previously been traced in 1994. These new data have not yet been analyzed.

At Ordines, gradiometric investigations were conducted in 1995 for the first time within an area of approximately four stremmata. No resistivity or electromagnetic studies were possible because of very resistive bedrock and a thin sheet of dry soil omnipresent on the site. Although soil cover is relatively thin at the crest of the ridge, deposits are deeper on the slopes; research on the eastern slopes produced particularly interesting results. The signals of the gradiometer were weak but indicated several linear anomalies that are visible in preliminary plots of data, some with other linear anomalies at ninety or forty-five degree angles to them. These anomalies are probably the remains of buildings; the structures may be of prehistoric date, as are many the surface remains collected by our teams, but at least one anomaly correponds to a concentration of Hellenistic tile on the surface.

Most effort was devoted to the exploration of fields southwest and northwest of the Palace of Nestor. A large area of approximately 10 stremmata was examined by electric resistivity, gradiometry, and electromagnetic methods. Many remains of structures are apparent in preliminary plots of data, the most striking of which is what appears to be the remains of a deeply buried wall, at least 50 m. long, with an estimated thickness of three to four m. It is very probably that we have found here a fortification wall that surrounded the lower town that existed around the Palace of Nestor. Cross-sections measured perpendicular to the suspected wall will supply more information about its depth beneath the surface and its thickness.

Attached to this report are several preliminary plots of geophysical data. Full analysis, clearer diagrams, and the composition of a more detailed report require the assistance of more powerful computers than we have available in the field. Kuhnke and his colleagues have promised that a final report will be submitted to us in early October. We will then prepare maps that relate the grids used with geophysical prospection and surface artifact collections to the local topography at all sites. We will supply the Olympia Ephoreia with these maps and a detailed report in November.

Hydraulic Studies

For five days in mid-July, Knauss examined the topography of the area lying between the base of the Englianos Ridge and Bouka, in an attempt to evaluate two hypotheses: Kraft's suggestion that the Selas River had been artificially diverted from its course in Mycenaean times, and Zangger's argument that an artificial port basin had existed on the present Kokkevis estate at Romanou. Knauss and Zangger concluded that the course of the river had changed as a result of natural processes, probably at, or near, the end of the Mycenaean period. There appears to have been a single fjord-like port basin on the Kokkevis estate in the Late Bronze Age. With the natural diversion of the Selas River, the basin was filled with sediment and by historical times it could have no longer functioned as a harbor. It is unlikely that the river itself was navigable at any time in the Bronze Age.

V. Sites In Urgent Danger of Destruction

There follows a list of sites that are in imminent danger of destruction:

Gargaliani Ayia Sotira (Site K2). Young olives were planted earlier this year on the flat plateau around the church of Ayia Sotira. The planting of these trees greatly disturbed the prehistoric deposits at the site. Around them are substantial quantities of Middle Helladic and Late Helladic pottery, at least several ground stone tools, and fragments of human bone.

Hora Zoodohos Piyi (Site B4). Two chamber tombs have been partially destroyed and recently disturbed by would-be looters. Evangelia Malapani (24/7/95) was escorted to these tombs by us and was supplied with a sketch map showing the easiest route to the site.

Koryfasion Portes (Site I3). The site of Portes was long-ago bisected by the asphalt road to Hora. Extensive bulldozing both north and south of the road now threatens to destroy the little of the site that remains.

Marathopolis Dialiskari. (Site G1). The field northeast of Ayios Nikolaos in which geophysical investigations were conducted this year is currently being rented to a farmer who has planted it with tomatoes. He informed us that the owner is not local, and we presumed from our conversation that the owner's intent was to build on the property in the future. If this were to happen, great damage would be done to a major Roman site.

Romanou Bouka. We were informed by the owner of the field in which Site E1 lies that she is considering selling the property for development as a hotel.

Vromoneri Ayia Sotira (Site G2). Villas are beginning to be built around the substantial Roman site of Ayia Sotira. Building here over the next few years could inflict major damage on the archaeological remains.

Vromoneri Nozaina (Site I20). EBA remains are exiguous and the soil is shallow. We were informed that the owner is now attempting to sell the site for development as a beachfront villa. If this were to happen the site would certainly be destroyed in its totality.