Friday, March 8, 2013

The Untold Stories of Late Roman Pottery from Ancient Corinth, A General Assembly and Elections, and Reconstructing the Stoa of Attalos in the Athenian Agora

Imitation African lamp, late 6th-early 7th c., found in Panayia Field
For anyone who has ever visited, or even better worked on, an excavation in the Aegean basin the most common type of find that one sees coming out of the ground is broken fragments of ceramic vessels, or pottery sherds. These ubiquitous remnants of the fired clay containers used to produce, store, cook, serve and consume food and drink are the primary data sets for many aspects of archaeological research that focus on dating, function(s) of spaces, rooms and buildings, life ways, socioeconomic status, intercultural interactions as well as trade. The interpretation and synthesis that one reads in archaeological publications usually is based on the foundation of such ceramic studies.

Mark with a 'fruit amphora', made in the NE Peloponnese coarse fabric
On Wednesday, March 13th at 7:30 PM, in a lecture entitled “The ‘Fabric’ of Economic Activity: Tracing Systems of Ceramic Distribution in Late Roman Panayia Field, Corinth”, Mark Hammond will show his audience what a ceramic specialist can do with tons of sherds from an excavation. Mark, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Missouri at Columbia, is a former student of mine at Brock University.

Plan of Panayia Field, Corinth. 5th to 7th c. (courtesy of the ASCSA)
Ancient Corinth, like any other metropolitan city in the late Roman Empire, utilized ceramics imported from multiple sources, whether regional or long-distance, in addition to any locally-made products. Although the long-distance imports have long been recognized, it is only now that a clear picture of the various local and regional wares of the late Roman period (late 4th to 7th centuries BCE) is emerging, thanks to detailed study of the ceramic fabrics and petrographic analysis. Using the excavated area of Panayia Field (southeast of the Forum) as a case study, Mark will first present a near-complete picture of both the various sources that supplied Corinth with ceramics, and the types of products available from each. Then he will focus on examining the longevity, variability, and limits of distribution for each regional production center to reconstruct Corinth’s place within its previously understudied regional networks. Prosaic sherds have so many fascinating stories to tell!

The activities of the Syllogos Filon tou Istorikou Archeiou tis Archaiologikis Iperesias
This Sunday, March 10th at 11 AM at the Historical Archive of the Hellenic Archaeological Servie at Psaromylingou 22, on the edge of Kerameikos and Psyrri, the Syllogos Filon tou Istorikou Archeiou tis Archaiologikis Iperesias will hold its annual General Assembly for current members. After the meeting there will be the elections for the new Board of Directors and for the Financial Oversight Committee, both of which are for a two-year term. The Syllogos Filon warmly welcomes new members to join this bilingual organization which supports the work of the National Archive and the pursuit of archival research in archaeology. One can join before the General Assembly starts on Sunday! For more details please contact me at:

The Story Behind the Reconstruction of the Stoa of Attalos II in the Athenian Agora.
What catches everyone’s eye upon entering the archaeological park of the Athenian Agora is the reconstructed Stoa of Attalos II. Its size, its range of colors and its unusual form, to the modern eye at least, draws one to contemplate it and then to go into its broad porticos in order to “experience” a complete ancient building first hand. How did this building come into existence?

The completed building
The manner in which this project came to fruition between 1953 and 1956, immediately after the end of the Greek Civil War, is a most intriguing story as well as a case study on how one can go about reconstructing an ancient building and developing a planting program for an archaeological site. Dr. Niki Sakka of the 3rd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of the General Secretariat of Culture will share the results of her archival work in the Blegen Library of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, at the National Archive of the Hellenic Archaeological Service and from other sources on Monday evening, March 11th at 6:30 PM at the Historical Archive at Psaromylingou 22 near Odos Peiraeus in Kerameikos.

The building's inauguration
Dr. Sakka will contextualize this major undertaking by the American School in terms of the theoretical foundations for such work, the role of the major donors, the reactions of Greek archaeological community, the interrelationships of the major Greek and American players in this undertaking, and the views of the general public. The “backstory” in the late 1920s to the excavation permit given by the Greek government to the American School to start the excavation of the Agora is behind many of these actions and responses. If you thought archaeology was dull and tedious come to this lecture in Greek to learn “the rest of the story”!!!

David Rupp

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