Collapsed column drums during excavation at the Temple of Zeus in Nemea

For a century the Department of Classics of the University of Cincinnati has organized and supported archaeological research projects in the Mediterranean. These endeavors reflect a commitment to sustained archaeological research that is paralleled by the efforts of few other academic institutions in the United States. A consistent program of excavations and surveys has contributed to the department's well-deserved reputation as one of the preeminent centers of graduate education in pre-Classical and Classical archaeology in the world, as is attested by the many distinguished recipients of its PhDs. Today the department offers courses of study in Classics with a specialization in archaeology leading to the degrees of Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy. It firmly holds the individual classical disciplines to be interdependent, and control of the entire field to be an indispensable prerequisite for the success of its graduates.

Here we recap the accomplishments of members of its archaeological faculty by drawing attention to the many field projects that the department has supported in the last one hundred years. For each survey or excavation we include a brief summary of the purpose and significance of the project. 

Although the focus of this page is fieldwork, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the faculty of the department have also made significant contributions to the the study of ancient art and to interdisciplinary studies. Two major figures in the history of the department, Cedric Boulter and Peter J. Topping, stand out. Cedric Boulter received his doctorate from the department in 1939 and enjoyed a long and distinguished career as one of the premier historians of Greek art in North America. Boulter contributed to the success of Blegen's expedition to Troy and compiled volumes of the Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum both for the Cleveland Museum of Art (1971) and the Toledo Museum of Art (1976). Peter J. Topping, one of the best known historians of modern Greece played a significant role in the development of regional studies in Greece by analyzing Venetian documentary sources on behalf of the Minnesota Messenia Expedition and the Argolid Exploration Project.

The Beginnings

The first steps toward the creation of a program of archaeological fieldwork in the department were taken in 1921, two years before the University became a co-operating institution of ASCSA in 1923. Edward Perry, secretary of the Managing Committee of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens wrote to Edward Capps, Chairman of the Managing Committee that:

"Those Cincinnati people are very enthusiastic about a Cincinnati excavation. One of their number, George Warrington...proposes to go to Greece next winter with his family with the sole motive of catching up with the School and taking part in the Cincinnati dig, for which we must select a classical site."

It is clear that Rodney Robinson and William Semple were the driving academic force behind this initiative. Perry wrote to Capps on another occasion:

"The two men in classics at the University of Cincinnati whose names are not Burnam and who would seem to be proper objects of your attention are Rodney P. Robinson and William Turstall Semple; but I have no means of knowing which (if either) of them married C.P. Taft's daughter, except writing to them to ask."

Painted portrait of Louse Taft Semple seatedLouise Taft Semple 
Painted portrait of William Semple seated wearing regaliaWilliam Turstall Semple

Semple and Louise Taft Semple's enthusiasm for archaeology provided the essential patronage to nourish archaeological research in the department and today allows archaeology to flourish through support from the Semple Classics Fund, established in 1961 "for the sole purpose of promoting the study of the Classics, such term to be interpreted in its broadest sense as the endeavor to make vital and constructive in the civilization of our country the spiritual, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance we have received from the Greek and Roman civilizations."

Excavations and Surveys

Brief summaries of archaeological projects are included below in chronological order of their accomplishment. Each project was officially sponsored by the department and nearly all were directed by members of its faculty.

Nemea, Greece (1924-27)

In 1924 a small group of philhellenes and friends of archaeology, gathered together by Professor W.T. Semple in Cincinnati, offered to the American School of Classical Studies at Athens a fund to support an excavation in Greece. With the approval of the Managing Committee, Dr. Bert Hodge Hill, Director of the School, welcomed a project of this kind and at once began to look about for a suitable site. He soon became deeply interested in the ruined temple of Zeus at Nemea.
nemeatempTemple of Zeus at Nemea
Three annual campaigns of large-scale excavation were conducted within the Sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea in 1924, 1925, and 1926-27. Carl Blegen, assistant director of ASCSA, took overall responsibility for direction of the project. Special attention was given to the Temple of Zeus. Fallen debris was cleared away from its foundations, exposing for the first time the crypt in the rear part of the cella and the long altar to the east of the Temple. The western end of the Xenon (then called a gymnasium) was excavated, as was the Bath and Oikos 1. The Cincinnati team also determined the location of the Stadium and the Basilica. A full set of plans and elevations of the Temple were prepared by Lewey Lands, an advanced student in the architectural school of the University of Cincinnati; these were later revised for publication by Charles K. Williams.
C. W. Blegen, "The American Excavation at Nemea, Season of 1924," Art and Archaeology 19 (1925) 175-84; C. W. Blegen, "The December Excavations at Nemea," Art and Archaeology 22 (1926) 127-34; C. W. Blegen, "Excavations at Nemea, 1926," American Journal of Archaeology 31 (1927) 427-40; D. W. Bradeen, "Inscriptions from Nemea," Hesperia 35 (1966) 320-30; B. W. Hill, L. T. Lands, and C. K. Williams, The Temple of Zeus at Nemea (1966).

Tsoungiza, Greece (1924-1926)

tsoungizacaveNeolithic Levels in Cave at TsoungizaThe prehistoric mound of Tsoungiza was located in the course of investigating the Sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea. With support from the department the entire top of the mound was explored, as well as a lower terrace on the north side of the hill. On the summit the remains of several houses of the Early Bronze Age were found, one with eight large storage jars and nine querns. An adjacent house contained twelve large storage jars, one deeply set into the floor On the terrace all principal phases of the Bronze Age were superimposed one on top of the other. There were many stone and bronze arrowheads in one house of the Mycenaean period. On the south slope of the mound a deep cavity in the bedrock was filled with Neolithic pottery and a skull that at the time represented the oldest known human remains in the Peloponnese.
C.W. Blegen, Excavations at Nemea, 1926." American Journal of Archaeology 31 (1924) 436-439.





The Odeum at Corinth, Greece (1927-28)

odeumPlan of the Odeum at CorinthThe Roman Odeum of Corinth was located by Hill in 1906. The excavations were adopted by the University of Cincinnati in 1927 and were completed in two major campaigns, directed first by Benjamin Meritt and then by Oscar Broneer. The cavea, with an estimated seating capacity of ca. 3000, was found to be particularly well-preserved. The high vertical scarp that separated the floor of the orchestra from the lowest seats was frescoed. The Odeum was erected toward the end of the first century A.D., but was thoroughly reconstructed in the second half of the second century with financial support from Herodes Atticus. The building was then restored again in the first quarter of the third century when it was used for gladiatorial shows and wild beast fights.

O. Bronzer, Corinth X: The Odeum (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1932).

Hagioritika, Greece (1928)

  hagiorgtikatomeNeolithic Tomb at Hagiorgitika
In 1928 the department supported, under Blegen's direction, a short excavation at the low prehistoric mound of Hagiorgitika, not far to the east of Tripolis in Arcadia. The campaign lasted only about three weeks, but revealed extensive stratified remains of dwellings with stone foundations and fixed hearths, both circular and rectangular. Two stages in the Neolithic period were defined. Several Early Helladic bothroi had later been cut into the site. A Neolithic grave was also explored.
E.P. Blegen, "News Items from Athens," American Journal of Archaeology 32 (1928) 533-534; S.L. Petrakis, Ayioryitika: A Neolithic Settlement in Eastern Arcadia, Greece (Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, 1999).

Prosymna, Greece (1925-31)

  prosymnapdjJug from Prosymna
Directed by Blegen in four campaigns, excavations focused on exploration of the earliest history of the Argive Heraeum. Study of finds and the publication of the results of excavations were made possible by the department after Blegen moved to the University of Cincinnati in 1927. On the terrace above the Temple of Hera, Blegen found the remains of a Middle Helladic and Mycenaean settlement with an undisturbed Early Bronze Age stratum beneath. On the Yerogalaro ridge to the northwest of the Heraeum, several dozen richly appointed Mycenaean chamber tombs were excavated in addition to Early Helladic and Middle Helladic graves. Exploration of these tombs also yielded the first Neolithic pottery to be found in the Argolid. More than a thousand Mycenaean vases were recovered from the tombs, yielding one of the finest collections of complete Late Helladic pots every excavated in Greece. Excavations in the cemeteries also produced geometric and proto-Corinthian ceramics as well as examples of elaborate metalwork of both prehistoric and historical date.
C.W. Blegen, Prosymna, the Helladic Settlement Preceding the Argive Heraeum (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1937); K.S. Shelton, The Late Helladic Pottery from Prosymna (Jonsered: Paul Åströms Förlag, 1996).

Troy, Turkey (1932-38)

Willhelm Dörpfeld and the Semples
Dorothy Rawson Excavating   

Blegen and a team from the department re-investigated the mound of Troy with the blessings of Wilhelm Dörpfeld who had succeeded Heinrich Schliemann. Graduate students who participated in the project and later shared in the publication of its results included J.L. Caskey and C.G. Boulter. Marion Rawson, a graduate of UC in architecture, directed the editing of the publication. The Cincinnati team was able to clarify the stratigraphy of the settlement considerably. In the parts of the mound of Troy left undisturbed by Schliemann and Dörpfeld some 46 distinct strata could be differentiated and these could be divided into nine major layers. In addition such careful excavation made it possible to establish synchronisms with Mainland Greece more accurately than had previously been possible. It was clear that Troy I-V corresponded to the Early Helladic period in Greece, Troy VI to the Middle Helladic and earlier Late Helladic periods, and Troy VIIa and VIIb to the very end of Mycenaean times. Blegen suggested that events resulting in the destruction of Troy VIIa were remembered in historical times as the Trojan War of epic poetry.

C.W. Blegen, ed., with the collaboration of John L. Caskey and Marion Rawson, Troy: Excavations Conducted by the University of Cincinnati, 1932-1938 (Princeton: Published for the University of Cincinnati by Princeton University Press, 1950-58); C.W. Blegen, Troy and the Trojans (Praeger: New York, 1963).

Palace of Nestor, Greece (1939-1971)

Pylos, Palace from the Southwest
Reconstruction of the Megaron

After surface explorations in 1938 and 1939 a joint Greek-American team directed by Konstantinos Kourouniotis and Carl Blegen concluded that a site on the upper part of the Englianos ridge near the modern town of Hora held promise of revealing the palace of Homer's King Nestor. On the very first day of excavations in April 4, 1939, stone walls, fragments of frescoes, painted Mycenaean pottery, and fragments of tablets with inscriptions in the Linear B script, the first to be found on the Greek mainland, were uncovered. These promising beginnings were interrupted by the Second World War and it was impossible for Blegen to resume excavations until 1952. In a series of major campaigns the Cincinnati team then excavated the entirety of a Mycenaean palace, as well as much of the town surrounding it.

Several cemeteries were explored in the vicinity of the palace including four Mycenaean beehive tombs with richly provisioned burials and a small Protogeometric tholos tomb. The palace itself, including its core elements of a throne room and central hearth, was built in its definitive form in the Late Helladic IIIB period. Its archives of Linear B tablets are the most extensive yet found on the Greek mainland, and their discovery contributed greatly to the decipherment in 1952 by Michael Ventris of Linear B as an early form of the Greek language. The site had a long history: deep deposits of the early Mycenaean period, of the Middle Bronze Age, and of the latest phases of the Early Bronze Age were explored in soundings and in limited excavations elsewhere on the ridge. The Palace of Nestor remains the best preserved, excavated, and published palace of the Mycenaean period.

C.W. Blegen and Marion Rawson, eds., The Palace of Nestor at Pylos in Western Messenia I. The Buildings and Their Contents (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966); M. Lang, The Palace of Nestor at Pylos in Western Messenia II. The Frescoes (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969); C. W. Blegen, M. Rawson, Lord William Taylour, and W.P. Donovan, The Palace of Nestor at Pylos in Western Messenia III. Acropolis and Lower Town: Tholoi, Grave Circle, and Chamber Tombs; Discoveries Outside the Citadel (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973)."); background-color: rgb(213, 213, 213); width: 9px !important; height: 9px !important; background-position: center center; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;">

Ayia Irini, Keos, Greece (1960-89)

Ayia Irini
Caskey and Dionysia

Full-scale excavations began on Keos in 1960 and continued until 1968 under the direction of J.L. Caskey. Study of finds on-site continued through 1989, after Caskey's death in 1982 under the direction of E. Schofield. In addition to the prehistoric settlement of Ayia Irini, Caskey's team excavated Kephala, a Final Neolithic settlement and cemetery to the north of Ayia Irini, and Troullos, a prehistoric hilltop shrine nearby. These excavations have resulted in the publication of eight books, each devoted to a phase in the occupation of the site, or to a particular category of artifact. The various phases in the life of the settlement at Ayia Irini have been labeled with Roman numerals, from I (the very end of the Neolithic) through VIII (the Mycenaean period). Still later, in Classical times, there was a shrine dedicated to Dionysus.

The settlement appears to have been abandoned after the end of the Early Bronze Age when ceramics manufactured in an Anatolian style were present. After this it is possible to follow the history of contacts between Keos and Crete from ca. 1900 B.C., when Minoan artifacts were first imported, through the earliest phases of the Late Bronze Age, when Ayia Irini had adopted Cretan fashions in many aspects of its daily life. Both in the Middle Bronze Age and in the early phases of the Late Bronze Age it was protected by strong fortification walls.

J.E. Coleman, Keos I: Kephala: A Late Neolithic Settlement and Cemetery (Princeton, N.J.: American School of Classical Studies, 1977); M.E. Caskey, J.L. Caskey, S. Bouzaki and Y. Maniatis, Keos II. The Temple at Ayia Irini Part I: The Statues (Princeton, N.J.: American School of Classical Studies, 1986); W.W. Cummer and E. Schofield, Keos III. Ayia Irini: House A (Mainz on Rhine: Philipp von Zabern, 1983); A.H. Bikaki, Keos IV. Ayia Irini: The Potters' Marks (Mainz on Rhine: Philipp von Zabern, 1984); J.L. Davis, Keos V. Ayia Irini: Period V (Mainz on Rhine: Philipp von Zabern, 1986); H.S. Georgiou, Keos VI. Ayia Irini: Specialized Domestic and Industrial Pottery (Mainz on Rhine: Philipp von Zabern, 1986); J.C. Overbeck, Keos VII. Ayia Irini: Period IV. The Stratigraphy and the Find Deposits (Mainz on Rhine: Philipp von Zabern, 1989); K.M. Petruso,Keos VIII. Ayia Irini: The Balance Weights. An Analysis of Weight Measurement in Prehistoric Crete and the Cycladic Islands; D.E. Wilson, Keos IX. Ayia Irini: Periods I-III. The Neolithic and Bronze Age Settlements (Mainz on Rhine: Philipp von Zabern, 1999).

Maroni: Vournes, Cyprus (1982-1988)

Excavations sponsored by the department and the British School at Athens investigated the remains of a large ashlar building of the thirteenth century B.C., apparently the principal administrative center of the region of Maroni in southern Cyprus. In the building olive oil had been processed and metals worked. A sanctuary of historical times was built on top of the earlier structure. In addition to the settlement, a large number of skeletons was retrieved from various chamber tombs.

G. Cadogan, "Maroni I," Report of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus (1983) 153-162; "Maroni II," Report of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus (1986) 40-44; "Maroni III," Report of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus (1987) 81-84; "Maroni IV," Report of the Department of Antiquities Cyprus (1988) 229-232; G. Cadogan and M. Dommurad, "Maroni V," Report of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus (1989) 77-82.

Troy (1988-2002)

Brian Rose, Manfred Korfmann, and Hadrian

In 1987 Prof. Dr. Manfred Korfmann of the University of Tübingen developed plans to resume excavations at Troy, and he secured the blessing of Getzel Cohen, the Head of Classics at that time, thereby following the model of Blegen and Dörpfeld fifty five years earlier. Korfmann proposed that Cincinnati join in partnership with Tübingen: he would be Director of the project and would oversee the Bronze Age excavations; Cincinnati would oversee the post-Bronze Age age excavations, i.e. Greek, Roman, and Byzantine. The Cincinnati component was originally headed by Stella Miller-Collett and Brian Rose, although Rose took over sole responsibility after 1990. After his departure from Cincinnati, Kathleen Lynch assumed responsibilities on behalf of the  department. Cincinnati's involvement in the project spanned fifteen years (1988-2002), during which excavation focused in particular on the West Sanctuary, the public buildings on the south side of the citadel, the large Theater, and the Roman houses in the Lower City. Excavation thus far has clarified the rise in the city's fortunes after Alexander the Great, its reconstruction by Augustus and his Julio-Claudian successors, and the manipulation of its legendary heritage throughout the Hellenistic and Roman periods. New light has also been shed on the Protogeometric and Archaic settlements, and the site's trade relations with mainland Greece and the Aegean islands during those periods. Collaborative work with the Canakkale museum (25 km.from Troy) has resulted in the publication of several monumental Graeco-Persian tombs near Biga that contain gold jewelry, musical instruments, and painted marble sarcophagi. 

All excavated material has been published in Studia Troica, an annual journal jointly edited by Tübingen and Cincinnati and printed by Philipp von Zabern in Mainz. Twelve volumes have so far been published, and three monographs dealing with the sacred, civic, and domestic aspects of the Post-Bronze Age periods are projected.

Midea: The Megaron Complex and Shrine Area. Excavations on the Lower Terraces 1994-1997

Gisela Walberg studying finds in the Naplion Museum

Excavations on the Lower Terraces of Midea funded by the Department of Classics and under the supervision of Gisela Walberg, Marion Rawson Professor of Aegean Prehistory, was part of an international cooperative effort with the main goal of discovering the history of the site and its role during the prehistoric, especially the Bronze Age, and historic periods. One object was to establish a stratigraphic sequence for the Late Bronze Age at a major, undisturbed site. The site remained unexcavated until 1939 when A. W. Persson opened 8 trial trenches. Surveys were undertaken in 1961 and 1965.

The 1985-2001 Cincinnati excavations and study seasons revealed remains indicating the presence of a Mycenaean shrine. Finds from the sanctuary include a hearth, food remains, an “offering- table”, fragments of large wheelmade terracotta figures and glass paste jewelry. A building of megaron-type, centered in a larger complex was discovered in 1991 and fully excavated in subsequent seasons.

The foundations of the Midea megaron

The megaron-complex was built and remodeled in LH IIIB. The building itself had a traditional plan, a vestibule, porch and courtyard. Finds from the megaron complex include fresco fragments, jewelry and objects of bronze and ivory. Nodules with Linear B inscriptions suggest the presence of a local administration. After a major earthquake destruction, it was rebuilt in LH IIIC with an altered interior plan and strengthening of walls. A niche built in LH IIIC contained early Mycenaean sword pommels of ivory, alabaster and lapis lacedaemonicus, and a faience necklace. There is also evidence for an earlier MH IIIB-LH II settlement. A water supply system dating from this early period, consisting of two cisterns and a number of ducts or channels leading down to them, throws light on water management in that period. The system may have been in use as late as the Roman period. A fragmentary Mycenaean terracotta snake and other objects suggesting cult activities, were found in the area of one of the cisterns. 
Another object of the Cincinnati excavations was to reconstruct the natural environment and the interaction between the inhabitants of the citadel and the surrounding landscape. Organic material was retrieved by froth flotation and studied by J. and T. C. Shay. Animal bones were studied by D. S. Reese and human bones by A. Ingvarsson-Sundström. A study of the geology was undertaken by R.S. Bullard.

The first volume (G. Walberg, Excavations on the Acropolis of Midea. The Excavations on the Lower Terraces 1985-1991, I:1-2, Stockholm 1998 (Midea I) appeared in March 1999. Another appeared in the autumn of 2007 (G. Walberg, Midea: The Megaron Complex and Shrine Area. Excavations on the Lower Terraces 1994-1997). Students have given papers at the AIA-meetings and written MA-theses using Midea material which will also be included in a number of PhD dissertations.


G. Walberg, Excavations on the Acropolis of Midea. The Excavations on the Lower Terraces 1985-1991, I:1-2, Stockholm 1998; G. Walberg,“Scavi a Midea in Argolide,” L'Universo 68:5, 1988 (1989); G. Walberg,“Excavations in Midea 1987. The Lower Terraces,” OpAth 18:1, 1990 
G. Walberg,“Excavations on the Lower Terraces of Midea in the Argolid,” OWAN 15:1, 1991; G. Walberg,“The 1991 Season at Midea in the Argolid,” OWAN 15:2, 1991/92; G. Walberg,“A Linear B Inscription from Midea,” Kadmos 31, 1, 1992 ; G. Walberg,“Excavations on the Lower Terraces at Midea. The 1989 Season, The 1990 Season,” OpAth 19:2, 1992; G. Walberg,“The 1991 Excavations at Midea in the Argolid,” OpAth 20, 1994; G. Walberg, “The Find-Context of the Pictorial Stirrup Jar from Midea,” JPR 8, 1994; G. Walberg,“Excavations of a Megaron-Type Building at Midea (Greece),” OWAN 18:3, 1995; G. Walberg,“The 1995 Excavations in the Megaron-Area at Midea,” OWAN 19:2, 1996; G. Walberg,“The Excavation of the Megaron at Midea,” Proceedings of the Fifth International Congress of Peloponnesian Studies, 1996; G. Walberg,“The Midea Megaron and Changes in Mycenaean Ideology,” Aegean Archaeology 2, 1995 (1997); G. Walberg,“The Excavation of the ‘ Megaron’-Type Building on the Lower Terraces at Midea”, OpAth 21, 1996 (1997); G. Walberg, “Excavations on the Lower Terraces at Midea in the Argolid”, Atti e memorie del secondo Congresso internazionale di Micenologia, 1, 1996 (1997); G. Walberg, “The Excavations of the Midea Megaron”, BICS 42,1998; G. Walberg,“The 1995 Excavations of the Megaron-Complex at Midea”, OpAth 22, 1997-1998; G. Walberg,“The 1996 Excavations of the Megaron-Complex at Midea”, OpAth 22, 1997-1998; G. Walberg,“The End of the Late Bronze Age at Midea”, Aegaeum 17; G. Walberg,”Two Nodules from the Lower Terraces at Midea”, Minos 31-32, 1996-1997; G. Walberg,“The Megaron Complex on the Lower Terraces at Midea”, Meletemata (Festschrift Wiener), 1999; G. Walberg,“Excavations on the Lower Terraces 1997. The Megaron Complex”, OpAth 23, 2001; A Peek into History (with M. Wehrman and M. France, DAAP), 2001;“ The Dirt on Midea” with J. Hancock and the 2001 Senior Graphic Design Class, The School of Design, University of Cincinnati (video)
See also:
“Midea”, AR 1995-1996, 1996;“ Excavations on the Lower Terraces at Midea in the Argolid,” AR 1989-90, 1991

Pylos, Greece (1991-1995)

Walking at Pylos

The Pylos Regional Archaeological Project is a multi-disciplinary diachronic archaeological expedition formally organized in 1990 to investigate the history of prehistoric and historic settlement and land use in western Messenia in Greece, in an area centered on the Bronze Age administrative center known as Palace of Nestor. The project has employed the techniques of archaeological surface survey, along with natural environmental investigations (geological, geomorphological, geophysical, and paleobotanical). In the summers of 1991-95, approximately 40 square kilometers in western Messenia were examined intensively. These included areas to the north, east, south, and west of the modern town of Hora, and the entirety of the Englianos Ridge (Upper and Lower)-the location of the Palace of Nestor. Fieldwork doubled the number of sites previously known in the area intensively surveyed. In addition, nearly all previously known sites in an additional 30 square kilometers have been reinvestigated; the spatial extent and chronological components of these have been defined with greater precision. The department has provided support for PRAP since Jack Davis, director of the project, assumed the post of C.W. Blegen Professor of Greek Archaeology in 1993.

J.L. Davis et al., "The Pylos Regional Archaeological Project I: Overview and the Archaeological Survey," Hesperia 68:3 (1997) 391-494; E.B. Zangger et al., "The Pylos Regional Archaeological Project II: Landscape Evolution and Site Preservation," Hesperia 68:4 (1997) 548-641; J. Bennet, J.L. Davis, "The Pylos Regional Archaeological Project III: Sir William Gell's Itinerary in the Pylia and Regional Landscapes in the Morea in the Second Ottoman Period," Hesperia 69 (2000) 343-380; W. Lee, "The Pylos Regional Archaeological Project IV: Change and Material Culture in a Modern Greek Village in Messenia," Hesperia 70 (2001) 49-98; J.L. Davis, ed., Sandy Pylos: An Archaeological History from Nestor to Navarino (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998); "The Pylos Regional Archaeological Project: Internet Edition, ""

Apollonia, Albania (1998-2006)

Lorenc Bejko, Jack Davis, Michael Galaty Discussing Finds at Apollonia

MRAP is a multi-disciplinary and diachronic archaeological expedition formally organized in 1996 to investigate the history of prehistoric and historic settlement and land use in central Albania, in an area centered on the Greek colony of Apollonia. The project is directed by J.L. Davis, M. Korkuti, L. Bejko, S. Muçaj, S.R. Stocker, and M.L. Galaty. MRAP is employing the techniques of intensive archaeological surface survey and excavation in conjunction with natural environmental investigations. Several dozen new sites have been defined within the area thus far investigated. At several sites have been discovered the first Paleolithic remains thus far documented in central Albania. Lower, Middle, and Late Paleolithic phases are represented. Small sites of the Hellenistic period are common in the area. Test excavations have been conducted at three sites of different dates: one a small Palaeolithic establishment, one a small hilltop Bronze Age site, and the third, a Hellenistic farmstead. Pollen cores extracted from various locations, but especially from the nearby Lagoon of Narta, will allow reconstruction of the ancient environment.

M. Korkuti, J.L. Davis, L. Bejko, M.L. Galaty, S. Muçaj, and S.R. Stocker, "The Mallakastra Regional Archaeological Project: First Season, 1998," Iliria (1998) 253-273; "The Mallakastra Regional Archaeological Project," ""

Durrës Regional Archaeological Project (2001)

In March-April 2001, a joint Albanian-American team directed by Iris Pojani, Afrim Hoti, Jack Davis, and Shari Stocker explored uplands north of the modern city of Durrës in Albania (ancient Durrachium/Epidamnus) as far as the harbor of Porto Romano (five kilometers distant). In total a continuous area of approximately six square kilometers was intensively surveyed by two field teams in fourteen days of fieldwork. Research was urgently required since antiquities are in great danger of destruction because of illegal uncontrolled expansion of the city of Durrës since 1991. The majority of artifacts collected in the field were of the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods. Fragments of funerary monuments and remnants of grave goods of the Greek period were found in various areas near the modern city. One particularly interesting site may preserve the remains of a hitherto unknown Archaic Greek temple.

From 2004-2006 excavations were conducted at the site of Bonjakët, near Apollonia, where remains of a Greek sanctuary and temple had been noted in the course of survey. A full publication of the results of excavation is in press.

A.D. Wolpert, J.L. Davis , S.R. Stocker, A, Hoti, and I, Pojani, "The Dürres Regional Archaeological Project (Albania)," Archaeological Institute of America Annual Meeting, 2002, Philadelphia.

Bamboula (2001-)

Pillar from the University of Cincinnati excavation in 2001

Episkopi-Bamboula (2001-
The Episkopi-Bamboula Archaeological Excavation Project is an investigation of the prehistoric site of Bamboula near Phaneromeni and Kourion on the south coast of Cyprus under the direction of Gisela Walberg. Its location at the mouth of the river Kouris and finds from early excavations undertaken by J. F. Daniel (1937-1939) indicate that it was an important center of commerce with connections with the Greek mainland as well as Egypt and the Near East. Recent finds in connection with the building of a road suggest that it was also an important industrial center. The site has played a significant role in the interpretation of the Late Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age in Cyprus. It is also referred to in Greek myth (legendary foundation by Argive Mycenaeans). 

During the first season (2001), the area of Episkopi-Bamboula was surveyed and a number of trial trenches were opened in order to determine the exact areas of future excavations. Material ranging in date from the Early Bronze Age to the Roman period were recovered. In one of the trenches, a 9.50 m. deep well was discovered. The finds consisted of Bronze Age ceramics (including Cypriot and Mycenaean wares), hippopotamus tusks, metal and terracotta objects, etc. The unusually complete state of preservation of many of the finds was probably due to the gradual silting up of the shaft of the well. A plundered Late Bronze Age (Late Cypriot) tomb contained an ashlar block and a fragment of a pillar, which suggest the presence of a large Late Bronze Age building in the nearby area.
In 2002, a new Late Bronze Age well was excavated to a depth of 16 m. One of the finds was a fragment of a relief pithos with groups of antithetic, fighting bulls and men crouching behind, probably in an effort to domesticate them. The well also contained skeletal remains of thirty-six dogs - the largest find of dog bones from any site of any period of Cyprus. The bones are being investigated by Dr. D. S. Reese. Among the finds from a large tomb, excavated late in the season, were a jar with unburnt bones, a seal with a bull’s head, gold and bronze ear-rings and almost 200 other objects.

gold looped earring from BamboulaGold earring from tomb excavated in 2002

We hope to throw light on the foreign presence and involvement in the trade at the site and on the relations between residents and foreigners. We also hope to clarify the situation at the Bronze Age and the early Iron Age and to reconstruct the Post Bronze Age history of the site. An environmental reconstruction is planned.

Publications of excavations and finds at Episkopi-Bamboula:

Dziech, B. 2005, 12 June. The Reward of Persistence: Gisela Walberg’s Discovery. (January 17, 2008).

Walberg, G. 2005, 8 January. UC Discoveries this summer reveal history of Cyprus site. (January 17, 2008).

Maugh II, T.H. 2003, 25 January. “Eavesdropping yields archaeologist a rare find.” Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2003: A15.

Walberg, G. 2003. “U of Cincinnati Excavations at Episkopi Bamboula.” CAARI News 27:3-5.

Walberg, G. 2003. “Excavating Episkopi-Bamboula, Cyprus.” Minerva 14.3:3-4.

Kunnen-Jones, M. 2001, 5 July. “Gisela Walberg begins Bronze Age work at Bamboula in Cyprus.” University of Cincinnati News (July 2001) (January 17, 2008).

Kunnen-Jones, M. 2001, 1 June. “Archaeologist to begin excavations at Bamboula on Cyprus.” University of Cincinnati News (June, 2001) (January 17, 2008).

Pilides, D. 2000. Pithoi of Late Bronze Age in Cyprus: types from the major sites of the period. Nicosia: Department of Antiquities, Cyprus.

Christou, D. 1994. “Kourion in the 11th Century B.C.” in Cyprus in the 11th Century B.C., edited by V. Karageorghis. Nicosia: Univeristy of Cyprus.

J. L. Benson, Bamboula at Kourion. The Necropolis and the Finds, Philadelphia 1972

S. Weinberg, Bamboula at Kourion: The Architecture, Philadelphia 1983

Knossos Little Palace North Project (2001 –)

The Knossos Little Palace North Project is an excavation directed by Eleni Hatzaki, now at a post-excavation and publication phase. The project aims to provide a diachronic picture of urban activities from excavation by testing stratigraphical and architectural phasing against older excavations, and by defining the nature of occupation and use of space along the exterior of the Little Palace, an elite building located in the public-elite core of the Late Bronze Age town of Knossos. Of special importance has been the application of microstratigraphic and taphonomic analysis where bioarchaeological remains (studied by Drs. Valasia Isaakidou, Alexandra Livarda, and Sevi Triantaphyllou) are combined with ceramic datasets in unravelling anthropogenic and natural formation processes in detail.

Two seasons of excavation (2001 and 2002) took place in the area immediately north of the Little Palace (excavated by Arthur Evans in the 1900s) and northeast of the Unexplored Mansion (excavated by Mervyn Popham and Hugh Sackett in the late 1960s and 1970s). The project is funded by the Louise Taft Semple Fund through the Department of Classics at the University of Cincinnati, and the Institute for Aegean Prehistory, and runs under the aegis of the British School at Athens. Publication is planned in a series of articles at the Annual of the British School at Athens and other peer-reviewed journals.

The project has provided substantial information about the development of the town of Knossos during both prehistoric and historic times. A complex architectural and stratigraphic sequence for the Neopalatial, Final Palatial and Postpalatial periods (1600-1100 BCE) has been revealed which will clarify the history of the Little Palace, especially in providing firmer dating evidence for the fire destruction responsible for the preservation of its sealings and Linear B tablets. The archaeological material recovered is not only important for the study of the LM IIIA to LM IIIC ceramic sequence at Knossos, but also in defining continuity and change in the use of urban exterior and interior spaces during the Final Palatial and Postpalatial periods. Post-Bronze Age levels include activities dated to the EIA, Greek and Roman periods (studied for publication by Dr. Mieke Prent, Stuart MacVeagh Thorne, and Dr. Peter Callaghan). This data will be linked to the well-excavated and published Unexplored Mansion site and the little known Little Palace site, thus providing a better understanding of the development of the Greek and Roman town in this part of Knossos.

During excavation special emphasis was placed on, context recording, architectural and archaeological section drawing, as well rigorous recovery procedures aimed, among other, at intensive bio- and geo-archaeological sampling. One of the project’s aims is to fully integrate the study of artefactual and ecofactual data in order to study site formation processes. Unlike most excavations at Knossos, which have focused on artefactually rewarding interior spaces, the results of the LPN Project allow ceramic and faunal specialists to study continuity and change in the use of external spaces with a high degree of detail. Approaches to the disposal of biodegradable and non-biodegradable domestic waste, and food preparation areas are subjects of particular interest for a period that coincides with major changes in the political, economic and social structures of Knossos and Crete.


The Little Palace North site after the 2001 excavation season (looking north)


Final publication of the EIA levels:

Hatzaki, E., M. Prent, N. Coldstream, D. Evely, A. Livarda, 2008. ‘Knossos, the Little Palace North Project, Part 1: the Early Greek periods’ Annual of the British School at Athens, 235-289.

Preliminary analysis of LM III building remains:

Hatzaki, E., 2005. ‘Postpalatial Knossos: town and cemeteries from LM IIIA2 to LM IIIC’ in A. -L. D’Agata and J. Moody (eds) Ariadne’s Threads. Connections between Crete and the Greek Mainland in the Postpalatial Period (LM IIIA2 to SM) (Italian School at Athens): 65-95.

Brief reports by Hatzaki have also appeared in Archaeological Reports:

‘Little Palace North 2006 study season’ in J. Whitley, S. Germanidou, D. Urem-Kotsou, A. Dimoula, I. Nikolakopoulou, A. Karnava, and E. Hatzaki 2006. ‘Archaeology in Greece 2005-2006’. Archaeological Reports 52.

‘Little Palace North Project 2002 excavation season’ in J. Whitley 2003. ‘Archaeological Reports for 2002-2003’ Archaeological Reports 49: 81.

‘Little Palace North Project 2001 excavation season’ in D. Blackman 2002. ‘Archaeological Reports for 2001-2002’ Archaeological Reports 48: 107-8.

Isthmia, Greece (2005 - )

Eric Poehler and Kevin Cole at the East Isthmia Archaeology Project

The East Isthmia Archaeology Project was established in 2005 by Steven Ellis and Timothy Gregory to develop an understanding – spatial, chronological, and functional – of the buildings east of the Temple of Poseidon at Isthmia. These buildings, often referred to as the ‘East Field’, were first discovered in the early 1970s by Paul Clement (UCLA) and have since stood in varying states of survival, having evaded all attempts to even delineate one building from the next. By combining on-site architectural analyses with the digitization and reintegration of the site’s legacy data within a GIS, we are now able to define not only individual buildings, but also significant phases of building construction. This redefinition of the shape of space for this area of the sanctuary represents the first phase in our endeavor to develop a more complete understanding of the social infrastructure for the sanctuary at Isthmia, and to clarify the relationship of these structures to the surrounding built and natural environments. The project is jointly directed by Steven Ellis and Timothy Gregory, and is funded by the Louise Taft Semple Fund through the Department of Classics at the University of Cincinnati. The first major publication of the project recently appeared in Internet Archaeology.

Ellis, S.J.R., Gregory, T.E., Poehler, E.E., and Cole, K.R., ‘A New Method for Studying Architecture and Integrating Legacy Data: A case study from Isthmia, Greece’ in: Internet Archaeology 24, 2008.

Pompeii, Italy (2005 - )

Porta Stabia project in Pompeii


Since 2005 the ‘Pompeii Archaeological Research Project: Porta Stabia’ (PARP:PS) has been uncovering the structural and occupational history of what had been a largely forgotten corner of Pompeii (insulae VIII.7 and I.1). Through the full range of archaeological inquiry, we have uncovered a working-class district (modest houses, shops, workshops, and hospitality outlets) which had an intimate urban connection to several adjacent and monumental public buildings, city fortifications, and other major civic networks.  The project was established to measure the structural and social relationships over time between working-class Pompeian families, to determine the role that sub-elites played in the shaping of the ancient city, and to register their response to city- and Mediterranean-wide historical, political, and economic developments.  Close to 50 trenches have been opened which, combined with architectural, artefactual, and geophysical studies, have revealed the full sequence of human occupation in the area – from identifying the important layering of geological events (both natural and artificial) to charting the developmental history of each of the ten properties through to 79 AD.  


PARP:PS is directed by Steven Ellis, and is principally funded by the Louise Taft Semple Fund through the Department of Classics at the University of Cincinnati.  Additional (and generous) support has been received from the National Geographic Society, the Loeb Classical Library Foundation, and several private donors.


Select publications:

Ellis, S.J.R., ‘The rise and reorganization of the Pompeian salted fish industry,’ in The Making of Pompeii: Studies in the history and urban development of an ancient town (Edited by Steven J.R. Ellis, JRA suppl. 85, 2011) 59-88.

Ellis, S.J.R., Emmerson, A., Pavlick, A., and Dicus, K., ‘The 2010 field season at I.1.1-10, Pompeii: preliminary report on the excavations’, in The Journal of Fasti Online 220, Roma 2011, 1-17,  


Myrtos Pyrgos House Tomb Project (2007-)

Myrtos Pyrgos is a Bronze Age site on the South Coast of East Crete, excavated under the auspices of the British School at Athens since the 1970s by Gerald Cadogan. Unique among its archaeological datasets is the House Tomb, a two-storey structure used over a 1,000 years. The early Late Bronze Age ceramic assemblage (LM IA 1600-1500 B.C.) consists of over 1,500 complete vessels, which form an ideal case study for examining ceramic production and consumption, mortuary ritual, feasting practices and burial customs. The use of the tomb during this period is truly unique, since archaeologically visible burials are notoriously rare on Crete. The publication of the Late Bronze Age pottery is preparation by Eleni Hatzaki.

Cadogan, Gerald. 1992. ‘Myrtos-Pyrgos’ in Myers, J. Wilson, Eleanor Emlen Myers, and Gerald Cadogan, eds. The Aerial Atlas of Ancient Crete. University of California Press, Berkeley, 202-209.

Cadogan, Gerald. 1978. ‘Pyrgos, Crete, 1970-77’ Archaeological Reports 24: 70-84.

Hankey, Vronwy. 1985. Pyrgos. ‘The Communal Tomb in Pyrgos IV (Late Minoan I)’ Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 33: 135-139.

A view from Myrtos Pyrgos House Tomb

Palace of Nestor Excavations (2015-)

Excavations at and around the Palace of Nestor were renewed in 2015, under the direction of Sharon R. Stocker and Jack L. Davis. Among impressive finds has been the discovery of the grave of the Griffin Warrior. For further information see and the associated Facebook site.