1995 Preliminary Report

Fieldwork during the 1995 season again focused on study and conservation in various parts of the site. A primary concern, as past seasons, was the Roman Bath to the north of the Temple of Poseidon. Architectural study and recording was coordinated by Fikret Yegul of the University of California at Santa Barbara, assisted by Omur Harmansah and Elizabeth Hornbeck. The full architectural documentation of the building was virtually completed, including a total of some eleven sections through the bath, all done at a scale of 1:50. These, along with the various plan drawings and details of individual features, will form the primary basis for the final publication of the structure. Further consideration and study by Professor Yegul has raised the question of whether the extant remains might not represent two major construction phases, both probably in the second century after Christ.

Men Relaying Mosaic
Relaying the mosaic in the Roman Bath.

 

Conservation of the large monochrome mosaic in the Roman Bath, begun in 1990, reached an important stage this year, as all of the panels raised in 1980 and 1990--a total of 148--have now been successfully re-laid. This work, as in the past, was carried out under the direction of Ioannis Daglis of the Department of Conservation of the Ministry of Culture. We wish to thank Mr. Daglis for his assistance, hard work, and skill. Much of the physical work was accomplished by Ioannis and Panagiotis Elias and Christos and Nikolaos Venetsanos, all of Kyras Vrysi. Much detailed work of consolidation still remains to be done on the mosaic, as something under half of the re-laid panels still must be sealed around each of their four edges, and a protective roof must be constructed over the mosaic. We are pleased, however, that the basic task of conservation of this important work of ancient art is now complete.

Replacing the last panel
Replacing the last panel of mosaic.

Conservation was also carried out as part of a project with the University of Delaware and the Winterthur Museum, sponsored by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. As part of this project, two conservators, Brenda Smith and Julie Trosper (both then of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum, University of California), carried out an extensive program of object conservation. This involved the examination and conservation of all metal objects and coins, and the complete rehousing of the miscellaneous (small) finds, in proper archival-quality containers according to material and size. In addition, a major program was begun to rehouse all the miscellaneous finds (glass, stone, and organic material) now stored with context pottery, in order better to protected it from long-term deterioration. Finally, a conservation database was set up to record and allow access to information about conservation treatment of all objects. This has, as a special feature, a means to indicate when an object should again be subject to conservation treatment.

Further study was conducted this year in the so-called East Field, in the area between the Temenos of Poseidon and the Byzantine Fortress. This study included the examination of large quantities of material excavated in 1970-72 in an attempt to understand this enigmatic area of apparently domestic structures. Considerable progress was made this year in the identification of specific architectural complexes, indicating that several spaces once though to represent separate buildings were in fact rooms in larger architectural complexes. It is now possible to suggest that the central part of the area was originally dominated by two rather large complexes, with a courtyard or open space between them. At a later date the ground level was raised considerably and several other structures were built and the existing structures apparently subdivided.

Joseph Rife, of the University of Michigan, continued his work this season on the skeletal material from previous excavations (nearly 200 individual burials in all). He cleaned and investigated two burials in the area of the Byzantine Fortress originally excavated in 1969. These investigations allowed further observations on the nature of the burials and their chronology.

Finally, the preliminary stage in the investigation of the so-called 1969-72 Dump was completed this year. This dump, discovered in 1993, contained pottery and other objects that had been excavated and then discarded, apparently in 1972. The discovery of the dump provided us with an opportunity to study large quantities of excavated material from earlier years, perhaps approaching a 100% sample, and to discuss issues and methods of object disposal and storage. All the objects recovered from the dump were sorted into 74 categories, counted, weighed, and placed into temporary storage for further analysis and study. A total of 131,047 artifacts were counted, and these weighed some 4,020 kg. This project was under the direction of Jeanne Marty of the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

Stephen Lattimore's volume, Isthmia VI, Sculpture 1967-1978, presents a catalogue of sculpture excavated by the UCLA Excavations at Isthmia. It will appear this autumn from the American School in Princeton. Also appearing in Hesperia this autumn is a preliminary report on the excavation and study of the Roman Bath, 1972-1992.

Major support for this year's season of conservation and study was provided by a grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, whom we warmly thank. The Director would also like to thank an unusually large and cooperative staff, and Richard Rothaus, Assistant Director, and P. Nick Kardulias, Field Director, for considerable care, insight, and cooperation.

Timothy E. Gregory
October, 1995

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