Friday, July 6, 2012

The CIG Summer Road Show, Part III

Jonathan Tomlinson (far left) and David Rupp (third from right) with project directors and local dignitaries at Kastro Kallithea
The annual visitation of the Institute's excavation projects took place last week. This year Jonathan accompanied me to all three of our synergasies. Those of you who follow him on Facebook will have seen his hourly updates!

Excavating Ancient Eleon
The akropolis at ancient Eleon in eastern Boiotia saw the first full excavation season of EBAP. This synergasia of Prof. Brendan Burke (University of Victoria) and his co-researchers has a new synergatis, Alexandra Charami of the 9th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities. Their former synergatis, Dr. Vasilis Aravantinos, retired from the Ministry last fall. This season they expanded the two 5 x 5 m trenches started last year. The LH IIIC walls and associated deposits along with the LH III A-B walls and deposits are impressive and interesting. While it is too soon to talk of specific buildings, the indications so far suggest that the walls are part of substantial structures.

On the curving Lesbian polygonal wall front they uncovered a south tower that matches the known northern one. The width of the wall behind this tower is impressive! Immediately to the south they started to open up what looks to me like a gate structure with simple polygonal masonry. At a very deep level they encountered a LH I wall. So far there are no signs of post Bronze Age remains to go with the later 4th-century BC fortification wall. Brendan will bring you up to date in August when he is a guest blogger here.
Pithoi in Building 10 at Kastro Kallithea
I made my first visit to Kastro Kallithea in southern Thessaly (Jonathan had had the pleasure previously in 2006). Prof. Margriet Haagsma (University of Alberta) and her synergatis, Sophia Karapanou of the 15th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities gave us an extensive tour of this fortified polis site along with the Mayor of Pharsalos, Mr. Aris Karaxalias, and his municipal archaeologist (one of the first in Greece I think!). As the hill is covered in dense and sharp vegetation we had to follow the paths carefully to end up where the excavated parts were located. In the Agora we saw the long stoa that Karapanou is excavating. Then we went to Building 10 where the Canadian component is excavating a large, well-built house constructed at the end of the 4th century BC and in use until the early 2nd century BC. It has an unusual feature. At its center is a small courtyard with a Roman-style atrium impluvium in the center. Four simple, unfluted marble Doric columns supported the sloping roof. The catch basin had a drain that ran to a bathroom to the north. This year the focus of the excavations are on a storeroom that was filled with pithoi of all sizes. Afterwards we visited their work space in the Kallithea village's old elementary school. The finds are varied and interesting. The imported items and the unusual ones show the wealth of the occupants. Margriet will share with us her overview of the season in her guest blog in August.

The economic crisis gripping Greece now, going on five years, revealed itself in the absence of traffic on the National Road. The frequent and expensive tolls are probably one of the factors creating this situation.

Argilos, South East Sector
At Argilos in central Macedonia Prof. Jacques Perreault (Université de Montréal) and his synergatis, Zissis Bonias (now retired from the 18th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities) greeted us warmly. This was my second visit to the site and Jonathan's first. We were first shown their new sector placed in a level area between South East and National Road Sectors. They have discovered a very long and well-built structure dating to the 6th century BC that is divided into a series of rooms of different sizes. Some of them were used to store transport amphorae. In front of this building at much lower level was found a wide wall that must date to the beginning of the colony.

We then toured the South East Sector where they are working on defining details of the houses there. They plan to start constructing roofs over each of the excavated houses. Afterwards we went to the akropolis to see the massive fortified two-storey farmhouse that was built in the later 5th century. Jacques and Zissis shared with us their hopes to restore it and cover it with a proper covering structure. At the Museum in Amphipolis we were shown some of their finds from this year as well as important ones from previous years. Argilos will be represented in the CIG blog in August by two of Jacques' graduate students, Keven Ouellet and Marie Clermont-Mignault. Both gave excellent papers - on the fortification wall and House E at Argilos respectively - at the recent CIG Colloquium in memory of Prof. Frederick E. Winter.

Despite all the driving and the very hot first day Jonathan and I were very pleased to have seen so much in just three days. The opportunity to see and to discuss each project in situ with the excavators, to learn first hand the challenges that they are facing as well as their tentative plans for future research provided me with the requisite contextual information and insights to assist them in accomplishing their goals.

On a personal note I was able to see for the first time a part of Greece, Thessaly, that I had never seen. The rolling, agriculturally rich plains of Thessaly have an extensive archaeological heritage which will require further exploration!

David Rupp

1 comment:

  1. As a student, I was fortunate enough to participate in the excavations at Kastro Kallithea and the land survey of EBAP, so it is great to hear about all the exciting progress that has been made at each site! I'm looking forward to hearing more from each director in their guest blogs. Thank you for all of your informative posts! Keep up the good work!