Pylos Regional Archaeological Project

THE PYLOS REGIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECT: 8th Season Preliminary Report to the 7th Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Olympia on the Results of Museum Study April-October, 1998

By Jack L. Davis
University of Cincinnati


1. Staff

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

2. Introduction

Goals of the 1998 season were:

  1. To restudy selected published and unpublished finds from Blegen’s excavations.
  2. To improve the storage conditions of artifacts from Blegen’s excavations at the Palace of Nestor.
  3. To gather further information about toponyms no longer in general use, but which are mentioned in an Ottoman cadastral register (dated to 1716) for the territory of Navarino.

Reorganization of the Blegen finds and their study was conducted exclusively on tables behind the second apotheke of the museum, under direct supervision of museum guards and was organized by Sharon Stocker on behalf of PRAP. Stocker describes the program of reorganization of the storerooms below. Reports on specific aspects of the research programs pursued by other members of our team and regarding other activities follow her summary.

3. Reorganization of the Blegen Finds

(Sharon R. Stocker, University of Cincinnati)

The Hora Apotheke Reorganization Project (HARP) operated for 2 weeks in June-July of 1998 (June 30-July 12). The project was directed by Sharon R. Stocker. Participants included Susanne Hofstra (University of Texas at Austin) and Rob Schon (Bryn Mawr College). Paul Halstead was present for a week (June 29-July 5) and, with the help of Jack Davis, examined most of the animal bones from the Palace that were saved from Blegen's excavation (see below). We were also helped by Kalliopi Kalogerakou, in her capacity as representative of the Olympia Ephoreia.

This year's work focused on the back portion of Storeroom (Apotheke) #2 where there appears to be considerable water seepage. We were able to rebag much of the material from the "pantries" of the Palace of Nestor, i.e., Rooms 18-20. This included disassembling several of the large, extremely heavy barrels used for storage by Blegen. The material in these barrels was broken down into its individual lots and placed in separate plastic bags which were then stored in plastic fruit crates purchased for this purpose. All information from each individual label was transcribed directly onto the plastic bag in permanent magic marker and recorded for entry into the HARP inventory.

Work also continued in the front of the main part of the storeroom and along the inner wall. Especially in need of rebagging was the Papathanasopoulos material, which was stored with sheets of newspaper separating large and heavy lots in exceedingly worn cardboard boxes. In addition to separating the material, bones and small finds were removed and placed in areas reserved for each. Extra room was made in this area by shifting numerous boxes so that they were more compactly arranged (without changing their order/organization): this space was then used for the new fruit crates. A list of the material that was conserved this summer is attached to the end of this report.

Still to be completed is reorganization of material stored along the line of inner shelves of the storeroom; these finds include those from the long transverse section dug by Blegen and Camp in 1968 and the much of the material from the Lagou trenches. We did not attempt to rebag any of the human skeletal material as this will require prior evaluation and conservation by a bone specialist. We also did not touch the numerous fresco fragments that are stored in Apotheke #1, which also require specialized treatment by a conservator. Both these issues will be addressed in the summer of 1999, provided sufficient funds can be found.

Finds conserved in 1998: New Room 21

New Room 18 New Room 19 New Room 20 GP lots (**Bones removed from all GP lots).

4. Animal Bone From the Palace of Nestor, Pylos

(P. Halstead, Sheffield University)

During the first week of July 1998, Paul Halstead and Jack Davis worked through the animal bone stored in the basement of the Hora Museum with the twin objectives of: 1) assessing the size of the assemblage and its potential for further study beyond the brief preliminary report of Nobis (1993); 2) rebagging and reboxing the assemblage to conserve surviving context groups and labels. Some 300 kg. of animal bone were located, of which about half (by weight) had previously been examined in 1989 by Nobis. Some containers (boxes, barrels) had disintegrated due to damp and several individual bags in some containers had been shredded by rodents, but very little mixing of contexts had taken place in storage and original labels were mostly legible and intelligible. How far these labels can be related to particular chronological and spatial contexts remains to be explored systematically in the excavation diaries, but cursory examination suggests that the bone is mostly derived from the periphery of the Palace of Nestor and from a few sondages below the floor of the final phase of the palace.

In most contexts, the bone had not suffered severe post-depositional degradation. Retrieval was doubtless incomplete and variable, but the range of material examined suggests an attempt at wholesale recovery rather than the haphazard collection of a few large or well preserved specimens. This rapid assessment exercise suggests that the assemblage comprises in excess of 11,000 identifiable fragments for the more informative body parts (limb bones, mandible, etc.) and is thus roughly comparable in size with that from LBA-EIA Assiros Toumba in central Macedonia.

During rapid scanning to assess the size of the assemblage, it was noted that the faunal remains were dominated by sheep/goat, pig and cattle, with sheep greatly outnumbering goats, smaller numbers were also noted of dog, horse, donkey, boar, red deer, roe deer, and hare (although this last appeared, on the basis of bone texture and color, to be largely intrusive). Other wild mammals noted rarely by Nobis (lion, bear, aurochs) were not noticed but may have been overlooked during scanning. Bones of birds and fish were extremely rare. Remains of the three commonest domesticates, sheep (/goat), pig and cow, were virtually ubiquitous, turning up in most contexts and usually represented by a wide range of body parts. A striking exception to this general pattern, is the discovery of several groups of heavily burnt bone from the upper limbs of cattle: in S2 (W Chasm); S3 (Room of Pithos); EBW; WK6 (fire on top of wall E); WK4 SW (wall E); PNW. These groups (apparently not examined by Nobis) include a few fragments of vertebra, sternum, ulna and pelvis, but are dominated by humerus and femur fragments (representing several individual cattle in each group). These concentrations of meat-rich body parts from several individuals suggest feasting and/or sacrifice on a substantial scale, while the integrity of these deposits (rare fragments of other taxa are unburnt and so apparently intrusive) suggest that the burnt debris held considerable significance and was perhaps displayed. One large group of unburnt bone from MB (Belvedere) appeared to include a more or less complementary range of cattle bones (i.e., parts other than humerus and femur).

The Palace of Nestor faunal material is of particular interest for two reasons. First, the only systematically published faunal assemblage from a palatial site is that from Tiryns (von den Driesch and Bosessneck 1990)-which has yielded virtually no textual evidence. Pylos has a wealth of textual evidence on animal husbandry and Nobis's report implies some significant differences between the Tiryns and Pylos faunal assemblages. Systematic analysis of the Pylos fauna would provide the best opportunity yet to compare Linear B and faunal evidence for animal exploitation and would help to clarify the extent to which the textual evidence offers only a partial and selective picture (Halstead ms.). Secondly, the dumps of charred cattle bone are of particular interest in the light of recent arguments as to the significance of feasting in Late Bronze Age palatial society both in general (Moody 1987; Killen 1994; Wright 1995; Hamilakis 1996) and at the Palace of Nestor in particular (Shelmerdine in press; Killen in prep.; Bennet and Davis in press).

On both grounds, the assemblage warrants more complete and thorough examination, and more detailed publication, than that of Nobis. The next stage is, as far as surviving labels and the excavation notebooks permit, to clarify the provenance of individual bone. Preliminary cleaning and sorting, by P. Collins and 1-2 students helpers, could perhaps begin as early as summer 1999. Assuming that little material is discarded because the excavation context is mixed or unknown, detailed museum would probably take P. Halstead and P. Collins two full summer study seasons (of say 2 months each). Removal of the assemblage (or at least that part to be identified) to the Fitch Lab in Athens, if possible, would allow longer working hours and would give access to valuable reference material.


J. Bennet and J.L. Davis, in press. "Making Mycenaeans: Warfare, Territorial Expansion, and Representations of the Other in the Pylian Kingdom," in R. Laffineur ed., POLEMOS: Le contexte guerrier en Égée à l'âge du Bronze.

A. von den Driesch and J. Boessneck, 1990. "Die Tierreste von der mykenisch Burg Tiryns bei Nafplion/Peloponnese," in H.-J. Weisshaar, I. Weber-Hiden, A. von den Driesch, J. Boessneck, A. Riegerand W. Bö ser, Tiryns Forschungen und Berichte 11. Mainz am Rhein: von Zabern, pp. 87-164.

Y. Hamilakis, 1996b. "Wine, Oil, and the Dialectics of Power in Bronze Age Crete: A Review of the Evidence," Oxford Journal of Archaeology 15, pp. 1-32.

J.T. Killen, 1994. "Thebes Sealings, Knossos Tablets and Mycenaean State Banquets," Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 39, pp. 67-84.

J. Moody, 1987. "The Minoan Palace as a Prestige Artefact," in R. Hägg and N. Marinatos (eds.), The Function of the Minoan Palaces. Stockholm: Swedish Institute at Athens, pp. 235-41.

G. Nobis, 1993. "Archäozoologische Untersuchungen von Tierresten aus dem 'Palast des Nestor' bei Pylos in Messenien, SW-Peloponnes," Zeitschrift fü r Archä ologie 27, pp. 151-73.

C.W. Shelmerdine, in press. "Administration in the Mycenaean Palaces: Where's the Chief?," in M. Galaty and W. Parkinson eds., Rethinking Mycenaean Palaces: New Interpretations of an Old Idea (UCLA, Institute of Archaeology).

J. Wright, 1995. "Empty Cups and Empty Jugs: The Social Role of Wine in Minoan and Mycenaean Societies," in P.E. McGovern, S.J. Fleming, and S.H. Katz (eds.), The Origins and History of Wine. Philadelphia: Gordon and Breach, pp. 287-309.

5. The Formative Stages of the Palace of Nestor

(Sharon R. Stocker)

During the spring, summer and fall of 1998 the process of labelling, cataloguing, measuring, munselling, photographing and illustrating the pre-LH IIIB sherds recovered by Blegen in his excavations at the Palace of Nestor continued. In spite of the fact that this material has been heavily sorted, there is a good deal of information that can be recovered about "pre-palatial" activities and areas of habitation. I have decided to weigh selected groups of sorted lots to compare with those that were not sorted (i.e., the Papathanasopoulos lots). During the early part of the summer I continued to focus on the pottery trays that were selected for photography by Blegen and Rawson: These trays contain what were judged to be the "best" finds from each area. I have also, however, begun to reintegrate on paper the sherds from the trays with the remainder of items from each "lot" in order to obtain a clearer picture of variation and chronological indicators within the "lot" as a whole.

The amount of material that was retained from each "lot", or pottery bag that corresponds to an excavated "level", varies considerably, depending on the excavator and the period represented. For example, Marion Rawson chanced upon early Late Helladic and Middle Helladic levels when she excavated under Corridor 25 in 1960. She chose, however, to save only a few sherds from each level, perhaps because she was not looking for stratigraphic evidence of earlier habitation levels, but rather for the base of a specific wall.

During the spring of 1998, in collaboration with Sebastian Heath, I set up a Filemaker database for catalogued material that will be interfaced with photographs and drawings. I will enter the data and scan the photographs and illustrations when I return to Cincinnati in November. The Blegen notebooks that reside in the Classics Department at the University of Cincinnati are now available on CD-Rom. I have been fortunate to have these in my possession while working in Greece so that, in many cases, I have been able to compare the excavators notes with the pottery under examination. Since this is not yet the case for the notebooks that are in archives at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, I spent several days xeroxing the notebooks most relevant to my work this summer. These include: J. Pedley 1964 (2 volumes), P. Smith 1963, C. Blegen 1958, 1959, 1960, 1965, and 1966.

I have begun to read through excavation notebooks and to make notes on stratigraphy and items of relevance to my work. Not all the excavated material of pre-IIIB date is equally useful for evaluating early occupation areas and activities on the Englianos Ridge since much of the material is from unstratified contexts, primarily "dumps" that were made when the later inhabitants cleared the ridge prior to building the LH IIIB palace. (This unstratified material is, however, useful for the overall view it can help provide of various economic activities, stylistic, shape and decorative changes between the end of the Middle Helladic period and the end of LH II, and there are imported vessels that reflect some type of exchange with other areas of Greece: many of the sherds indeed come from what appear to be imported vases.) By careful examination of the notebooks kept by individual excavators, the sherd material, and the Palace of Nestor publications, I have been able to determine which specific areas, both on the Englianos Ridge and in the Lower Town, will be most valuable for determining the stratigraphy and will be the focus of my study.

These areas which will be discussed in detail in my dissertation include: Under Corridor 26 (Area M, MR 1960); Under Corridor 25 (NW Pit, CWB 1958); Petropoulos Trench (MR, 1959); NW of Main Building (GP 1958 and 1963); Paraskevopoulos (WPD 1956); Tr. 64-3, 64-5 and 64-17 (JP 1964); P13 (P. Smith 1963); W5 and W6 (MR 1959); W9 and W10 and W10, SW ext.(PS 1963); W12 (CK 1962); W13 (MR 1961); W14 (WK Trs I-VII, 1962); W15 (MR 1961); W17a (WAM 1953); W17b (GP 1960); W 20 (= Tr. 64.1 and 64.1, ext., JP 1964, CWB 1965); W31, W32, W33, S10, S12, Tr. 18, 19, and 8, ext. III (CK 1962); Pit outside Room 24 (RH 1955); and Under Hall 65 (EPB 1956); Lower Trenches LI (GP 1959) and LIII (CWB 1959); Tholos IV = Kanakaris aloni (WDT 1953); Vayenas aloni = Grave Circle (WDT 1957).

In addition to work at the Palace of Nestor, my MA Thesis "Deriziotis Aloni: A Small Bronze Age Site in Messenia" is being prepared for submission to Hesperia.

6. Small Finds From the Palace of Nestor

(Suzanne Hofstra, University of Texas at Austin)

This summer I completed my catalogue of the small finds in the basement of the Hora museum, and also did checks (drawings and measurements) of some of the small objects kept upstairs under and in the museum cases, which had previously been catalogued by C. Shelmerdine (that is, listed by Hora Museum Number and location, and in some cases cross-referenced with the Blegen palace of Nestor volumes). I took photographs of many items which had not previously been photographed, and drew all the figurines, stone tools, stone vase fragments, loomweights, spindle whorls (none of which had previously been drawn). Drawings of the latter two categories were especially important since comparanda for textile tools are very difficult to identify on the basis of photographs, and profiles of spindle whorls (which don't normally show up in photos) are ordinarily the means of producing a typology. The stone vase fragments (totaling about 15), which have never before been the object of a special comprehensive study — probably in part because detailed information about them was not available in the publications — include a number which are of exotic stone not found in Messenia, or even on the Greek mainland, and so will be very promising in the study of imports to the palace. There is also one very interesting lug-handled bowl of local stone, a chance find from the area of the palace only discovered in the museum basement as a result of this project, which can be added to this total. About half of the objects in my catalogue (totalling between 100 and 200) had not had photographs in the Blegen Palace of Nestor volumes, and about a quarter had not been published or mentioned at all. Those which were published received only a minimum listing, consisting of a room assignment and brief description consisting of measurements in two dimensions and an identification of material (in some cases, especially with metals, wrong), which did not lend them to systematic study. My catalogue will considerably assist the process of intensive and comprehensive study, if nothing else, in the fact that future researchers will now know that they exist and where they are. I am currently devoting much time to study of the Blegen notebooks in order to locate more precise findspots for these objects, which is important for my study of activity areas within the palace.

In preliminary study during the summer of the small objects above, I located at least two lead weights which had not previously been recognized (doubling the number known from the palace, and published by Petruso). Also, I have found a clay seal impression which as far as I can tell was not noted or published by Blegen, possibly because it was in a box of a half dozen sealings that did not have any impressions (that is, they were used to seal a surface and did not have an impression from a sealstone). This latter find is very exciting given the recent publication of sealings from the Palace by I. Pini. I have also identified a number (something like 10) of tools of antler which were listed in the Palace of Nestor publication as "bone" (these identifications graciously confirmed by P. Halstead). The use of antler for tools had not previously been recognized at the site (though it was anticipated given the results of excavations like that at Ayia Irini and Nichoria and in fact several of the tools show parallels at these sites) and it is very important that the use of deer antler (and deer bone, in some cases) be recognized and studied at Pylos, especially in connection with the mention of deer in the Linear B tablets from the site. I also began a study of the ivory objects from the palace which are located in the Chora Museum. (A few are in the National Museum and have previously been studied by Poursat.) I was interested in the possibility of whether any objects could be identified as hippopotamus ivory, as O. Krzyszkowska has shown for Mycenae and sites in Crete. But so far all the ivory objects studied have proven to be elephant ivory (which confirmation provides helpful information in and of itself). Several pieces of waste ivory were also found, leading to the possibility that there was an ivory workshop somewhere on the site. (As far as I know this is the first time this has been suggested for Pylos.) I also located a great mass of related ivory fragments from the Northeast Workshop, mostly still embedded in four large pieces of soil matrix encased in protective plaster jackets (25cm x 15cm x 10cm) which Blegen apparently had wanted to bring to the attention of a conservator or restorer, but had been unable to find the resources to do. These pieces of ivory inlay, decorated with spiral incisions and painted with red pigment, seem to belong to a piece of furniture, and have lain forgotten in the apothiki since the 1950s.

In addition to the study of the small finds which had already been recognized and sorted out by the Blegen and excavation, a number of "new" small finds from the Palace were recovered and studied during the 1998 season. The repacking and inventory project added considerably to the catalogue of small finds, especially in the categories of bone and stone tools, which were both doubled in number. The Palace excavations up till now had been suspiciously scarce in bone and stone tools compared to other comparable Late Bronze Age sites, but the recovery of these tools from unsorted pottery and bone lots is helping to alleviate this dearth. These are largely objects which were apparently not recognized or sorted out by the Blegen study team at all, and include approximately a dozen objects of worked bone and antler, 20+ stone tools (pounders, grinders and whetstones), a number of chipped obsidian and chert objects, terracotta figurines, painted plaster fragments, and spindle whorls and loom weights. I anticipate that if P. Halstead's study of the animal bone from the site continues in 1999 the number of identified bone and antler tools from Pylos will increase by at least 300%.

In the area of post-Mycenaean objects from the palace, all the coins from the palace of Nestor excavations, which total 13 (plus three chance finds made at the palace site since the Blegen excavations) have been photographed and drawn for the first time. Only two coins of this total had been acknowledged at all by Blegen in the PoN publications, one the Venetian gold ducat found in the Chasm, and one coin from the South Slope, which received only a brief mention in a listing of objects from this area, and no identification other than "Turkish coin." The study of these coins, which on preliminary identification range from the classical to Turkish period (the majority of Frankish to Venetian-Turkish date) has great potential for providing precise dates for post-palatial occupation of the Epano Englianos hill. There is also a charming (if one may be permitted this enthusiasm) silver openwork pendant, probably of Turkish date, which merits study to determine its more precise date and connections.

A number of objects were noted for future conservation and preservation, among them many objects and fragments of bronze, silver, and iron currently housed in cardboard cigarette boxes. Six lots of carbonized wood from the palace, currently either loose in wooden crates, or in plaster jackets, were also recorded and noted. In addition to this, a large number of deteriorating labels and containers were replaced, and four objects in the apothiki which had completely lost their labels and context information (including a fragment of a decorative stone vase, a stone conulus, and a carved poros fragment) were re-identified on the basis of Blegen notebook descriptions and measurements.

7. Palace-Style Pottery

(Maria Antoniou, University of Athens)

During July, 1998, I was able to look at the material coming from the excavations of Blegen's team on the Englianos hill and surroundings; the aim of my study was to identify pieces of pottery decorated in the so-called "Palace Style" (or according to some scholars "Palatial Style"): this term refers to the style of pottery that flourished on Crete during the LMIB period and spread also in the Mainland (although with differences in execution and choice of motifs) during the LHIIA period. This study of mine will be fully presented (together with material from other Messenian sites) in my Ph.D thesis, under the title: "Minoan influences in Messenia and the Contacts between Messenia and Crete through Kythera during the Late Bronze Age" (see "Nestor", issue 25:2, page 3052).

Since this was my first season of studying the Blegen material, I decided that it was better to gain an overall view of the specific "Palace Style" material rather than to focus on the description of individual pieces; for this reason, I went through all the trays in the Storeroom 2 of the Chora Museum. In these trays I was able to locate almost all the "Palace-Style" sherds that are illustrated in the "Palace of Nestor" Vol. III (1973) and a few others that are not. So far, it seems that Marion Rawson who was responsible for the study of the pottery during the Blegen's excavations, picked up the most representative pieces of the "Palace Style" and these were photographed and presented in the final publication. All these sherds, as it was explained to me in detail by Sharon Stocker, are associated with their "Lots", which are stored in several bags and boxes and so it is very possible that there are some more "Palace Style" pottery in there waiting for identification.

The general picture that I have now, after this first study season is that the "Palace Style" pottery from the lower strata on the Englianos hill and from the so-called "Lower Town" is quite fragmentary and there are not sufficient sherds to reconstruct complete vases; apart from some pieces which, because of their thickness, come from quite big jars (Pithamphoreis) and a couple of others of characteristic shapes (e.g., a fragment of a rhyton), for the others we cannot be sure to which kind of vases they belonged. And this is one difference from the "Palace Style" material coming from Crete: there we have whole vases from well-stratified habitation sites; but in Messenia the whole vases come from tombs, while the material from the habitation site of Englianos is fragmentary and comes from disturbed strata. Despite these limitations, when this material is studied in detail in addition to that from the tombs, it will contribute to our understanding of the contacts of the area with Kythera and Crete.

For the next season, 1999, it is necessary that I will examine carefully all the relevant "Lots" of pottery from the Englianos area in order to locate the whole amount of "Palace Style" material and then to continue my study with their full description, drawing, and photography.

8. Ottoman Studies

(John Bennet, Oxford University; Jack L. Davis, University of Cincinnati; Fariba Zarinebaf, University of Illinois at Chicago)

For a week in early July, J. Bennet, J.L. Davis, and D. Harlan visited Hora to continue work on the publication of an Ottoman cadastral survey of 1716. This research did not involve any archaeological fieldwork and was limited to interviewing elder residents of a few communities in the Pylia and in Trifylia in order to gain additional information about the location of toponyms mentioned in the cadastral survey, but no longer in common use. The following is a brief description of the overall research project in which members of PRAP are engaged, as it pertains to the Ottoman period:

It is no longer permissible in the Mediterranean to envision archaeological regional studies projects focussed on the recovery of remains of only a single period of the past. As a mantra, the word “diachronic” is today so commonplace that it may be assumed, if it is not expressed. Archaeological surveys not only claim to collect remains of all periods of the past, but also pay at least lip service to their analysis.

But there is many a slip possible twixt the lips and the press. Since the introduction of the techniques of surface survey to Greece virtually no regional studies project has been entirely successful in putting its principles into practice, both in addressing significant questions relevant to all phases of prehistory and history and in bringing new archaeological data to bear on these. Perhaps nowhere have archaeologists been so delinquent as in the study of the more recent, post-Byzantine, periods of Greek history that followed the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman sultan Mehmed the Conqueror in 1453.

The problem is not so such much a lack of interest in the past five centuries on the part of archaeologists who have organized and published regional studies projects, although in some instances apathy has played a role. More often it has been been the enormous mismatch in the quantity and quality of archaeological data and written testimonia at our disposal. Two principal problems confront the would-be student of Ottoman-period archaeology in Greece.

In the first place, the material culture of these centuries is surprisingly poorly documented, particularly as it relates to pottery and the other sorts of commonplace artifacts that are the bread and butter of survey archaeologists. If it is true, as Bakirtzis could still write only a decade ago, that “Byzantine pottery is a relatively unknown chapter of Byzantine Archaeology,” this statement is all the more true for the post-Byzantine period.[1] While others have joined Bakirtzis in fleshing out our knowledge of Byzantine (and contemporary Frankish wares), so much so that a substantial list of studies can already be added to his already not unimpressive bibliography, studies of Turkish and modern pottery in Greece are still few and far between, particularly those concerned with the coarser, plain, and more plentiful wares. In many instances excavators continue to ignore remains of these periods, considering them to be an unwelcome reminder of the colonial past on which the modern Greek state was founded. Others find them to be too recent to be of interest and of little value when set beside the glories of Greek and Byzantine antiquity. A consequential modern archaeology of Greece has thus yet to emerge among excavators, native or foreign.

A second hindrance is the sheer quantity of written documentation available to archaeologists who are interested in the Ottoman period in Greece. Some regional studies projects have followed the lead set by the Minnesota Messenia Expedition in publishing its results already in 1972: i.e., a professional historian has been enlisted by the project and he has summarized the political, economic, and social history of the region, in particular as it relates to the specific area that has been the target of archaeological investigations. In still other instances anthropologists or geographers whose primary concern is the post-revolutionary history of the modern Greek state in the 19th and 20th centuries have briefly explored their pre-revolutionary foundations. For the most part such syntheses of later Greek history have been based on published documents and histories, for the most part standard in Greece, although often not well known to north American and western European scholars, or on the accounts of western European travellers to the Levant that proliferated in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Only occasionally has an attempt been made to acquire in a systematic manner unpublished data relevant to the interpretation of the artifactual patterns recognized by the archaeological project. But never have the ramifications of such information for our understanding of the processes that created the archaeological record been considered. Thus, for example, Peter Topping’s discussion of landholding in Messenia under Frankish domination, specifically the management of the property of the Acciauoli family, is presented without comment, totally detached from any discussion of specific archaeological discoveries and programs of investigation organized by McDonald and Hope Simpson. Similarly, although Topping managed to acquire detailed cadastral maps of the southern Argolid from the later 17th and early 18th centuries, no attempt has yet been made to relate this marvelously detailed information to archaeological information.

In still other instances attempts to integrate archaeological data and documentary sources have faltered for lack of written information specific to the area of the archaeological investigations. For example, whereas the early modern history of the island of Keos is relatively well-understood and there is a corpus of published documentary sources of moderate size, relatively little of the available information is directly relevant to the history of settlement and land use of the precise parts of the island explored by the Keos Archaeological Survey. Highly detailed information of the sort most needed for the interpretation of highly localized archaeological survey data could only be acquired from unpublished sources in Ottoman or Venetian archives.

Until recently historians of Greece, let alone archaeologists, failed to realize the enormous potential of such archives. Greek historians relied primarily on surviving Greek archives and western sources for the history of the period. On the other hand, Ottoman historians in general considered the history of the territories that comprise the modern state of Greece to be peripheral to the history of the massive Ottoman empire on the while. Yet in the past decade the tide has begun to turn. Greek scholars have gained access to archives in Istanbul and have published regional histories based on them. European scholars have begun to mine archives in Istanbul, sometimes as emissaries of regional archaeological projects, and it has become clear that these archives offer an almost inexhaustible, comprehensible, and detailed source of information permitting the reconstruction of patterns of settlement and land use in virtually all parts of Ottoman Greece from the 15th through early 19th centuries A.D.

Encouraged by these developments, the organizers of the Pylos Regional Archaeological Project (PRAP) decided that it would be important for the project to invest considerable time and energy in the study of the early modern period in southwestern Messenia, the objective of our specifically archaeological fieldwork. With this goal in mind, the help of two collaborators was enlisted, Dr. Siriol Davies of Birmingham University in England, an historian of Venice, and Professor Fariba Zarinebaf Shahr of the University of Illinois at Chicago, an historian of the Ottoman Empire. The latter labored during two sojourns in Istanbul on behalf of our project and her expeditions were successful beyond our wildest expectations. They have thus far provided us with a full record of occupation in all parts of western Messenia explored by our project, from the time of Mehmed the Conqueror until the beginning of the Second Ottoman Occupation of the Morea (Peloponnese) in 1716.

At the same time, however, the translations of parts of these documents by Professor Zarinebaf brought with them new problems, and it soon became clear that their interpretation would be anything but transparent. In part it would be necessary to study the documents carefully for information that they might provide about the older Ottoman feudal organization in which rights to exploit land and the people settled on it had been assigned as timars to warriors in exchange for obligations of military service, a newer organization in which tax farms were sold at auction, and the process of transition between the two systems that occurred in the 18th century.

At the same time we were astounded and initially baffled by the staggering amounts of topographical information included in the documents. Many of the toponyms had not survived in official parlance of the later 20th century. Some remained, however, in use in everyday speech and were easily recoverable. Others were recorded on maps. But still others were highly localized and of the sort likely to be familiar, if to anyone, only to those farmers still cultivating fields in the immediate area. In almost all instances the transliteration or, at times, translation, of Greek names into Turkish written in the Ottoman script presented difficulties as to the correct identification of any particular toponym. It was clear that the topography of these documents could only be deciphered by individuals intimately familiar both with the landscape of southwestern Messenia and conversant with the Greek language and its historical development. On the other hand, this decipherment needed to be accomplished if the documents were to be of any practical use to archaeologists.

For the preceding reasons, a partnership was formed and the plan that evolved was that Zarinebaf should, of course, be responsible for the translation of documents and for their interpretation as they relate to the central, regional, and local administration of the Ottoman Empire. Bennet and Davis would cooperate with her in unravelling the problematic details of the regional toponymy, the common knowledge of which was taken for granted by the Ottoman administrators. Both Bennet and Davis were very familiar with the geography of the areas described by the Ottoman documents as a result of their work with the archaeological survey organized by PRAP. Although they are first and foremost archaeologists specializing in the prehistoric periods each had previously dabbled in the history of the Ottoman period and was broadly familiar with potentially relevant historical studies composed in the modern Greek language. In addition, Bennet could bring to bear a very broad knowledge of Greek historical linguistics, particularly a familiarity with the Greek language as spoken and written before the linguistic reforms of the 19th century cleansed the language of its many supposed barbarisms. Debi Harlan assisted all of us by devising a computer-based system that would facilitate manipulation of the complicated numerical data included in the Ottoman documents.[2] Once the work of unravelling the topography of the documents was in order, it would be possible for Alcock, in her capacity as co-director of PRAP for historical studies, and others to employ the information contained in them for interpreting the archaeological remains recovered by our survey teams in fieldwork between 1992 and 1995. Indeed progress on this front has already been made.

It was ultimately decided that the first objective of the Ottoman research team of PRAP would be the publication of pp. 78-100 from an Ottoman defter, Tapu Tahrir 880, housed in the Bafl bakanl› k Archives, Istanbul and dated early in A.D. 1716 (A.H. 1128), a cadastral survey of the district (kaza) of Navarino, the first effected by the Ottoman administration after the expulsion of the Venetians from the Peloponnese the previous year. Its geographical scope encompasses much of the area that was archaeologically investigated by our teams. A better understanding of the document would allow progress to be made in integrating information from it with artifactual information gathered by our teams. This section of Tapu Tahrir 880 also seemed a good choice for our initial foray since previously published Venetian data and new information gathered by Siriol Davies provided a solid toponymic base line for the immediately preceding years. We had therefore already at hand a general idea of the settlement pattern that had existed in the area while under the hegemony of Venice and we supposed that the Ottoman document would reflect a similar structure of population distribution.

The fruits of our labors will ultimately be published as a short book. In a short introduction Zarinebaf will summarize her involvement in PRAP and the results of her research in the Ottoman archives on its behalf: she will discuss the various types of documents that are available to scholars and list the specific documents that are most relevant to our work. In Chapter One she will continue this discussion, first providing a summary of the contents of TT880 and more specifically of the section relating to the kaza of Anavarin (Navarino), then describing the economic and social picture presented by this document, in comparison to other parts of the Ottoman world at this time. It is clear that TT880 documents fundamental changes in the structure of Ottoman society that were occurring in the 18th c. throughout the empire. Chapter Two will present, for the first time, a full translation of the relevant text of TT880, annotated with explanatory footnotes; an electronic facsimile of the actual text will be included on CD-Rom for the convenience of Ottomanists.[3] In so far as possible we will include in the translations transliterations of Greek proper names, more than one transliteration in cases where the Ottoman script is ambiguous and permits multiple readings; the likely Greek equivalents will be suggested in notes. In Chapter Three, Bennet, Davis, and Harlan discuss evidence for the location of each of the principal toponyms used in TT880 to refer to taxable arable units of land, whether occupied as ç iftliks (farming villages) or towns (karye) or at present deserted but capable of sustaining a community (mazra’a). On the basis established by this analysis, a nearly complete map of settlement in the district of Navarino at the beginning of the 18th century can for the first time be drawn. In the conclusion of this volume we will use this map to discuss micro-regional variations in population density and land use, and will examine the implications of such variation for our understanding of the economic and social processes in operation in the Morea in the early 18th century.

9. The Northeast Workshop

Rob Schon (Bryn Mawr College) will begin a review and analysis of the material from the Northeast Building in 1999. The results of this research will supplement the conclusions reached in his M.A. and will be published, probably as an article in Hesperia.

10. Publications

A general book summarizing the results of PRAP in the context of overall Messenian history and prehistory (entitled Sandy Pylos: An Archaeological History from Nestor to Navarino [Austin: University of Texas Press]) was published in late July.

Technical reports of the results of PRAP have now been published in Hesperia:

A fully illustrated catalogue of PRAP sites and artifacts continues to be available on the WorldWideWeb at “”, and is regularly updated.

Jack Davis, Director, University of Cincinnati. Date: