1997 Preliminary Report

With a permit from the Ministry of Culture and the assistance of the Fourth Ephoreia of Classical and Prehistoric Antiquities (Nafplion) and the Sixth Ephoreia of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Antiquities (Patras), The Ohio State University Excavations at Isthmia carried out a program of study and research at Isthmia for the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, from June23 to August 2, 1997. Funding was supplied by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, The Ohio State University, and many private donors. Special thanks are due to Ms. Zoe Aslamatzidou of the Fourth Ephoreia, Ms. Konstantina Skarmoutzou of the Sixth Ephoreia, and Ms. Maria Pilali and Professors W.D.E. Coulson and James Muhly of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

The primary goal of the 1997 season was the reorganization and consolidation of existing projects and programs. Key to this was the fundamental overhaul and updating of our computer-based information systems. Design and coding of several modules was completed in Microsoft Visual Basic and Access, including ceramics processing, excavation unit recording, inventory, as well as the all-important basic semantic structure of the information system. The design philosophy and actual modules will be shared with colleagues, demonstrated at the AIA meetings this coming December, and modified as a result of ongoing discussion. All of this will be made available to the Archaeological Service at the earliest possible moment. Research continued in the Roman Bath in 1997, led by …mŸr Harmansah (University of Pennsylvania), who worked on the architectural documentation of the building, Jayni Phillip (University of Minnesota), who gathered further information on the marble used in decoration, and Robert A. Seelinger (Westminster College), who is studying the window glass and miscellaneous finds from the building. Mr. Harmansah revised and completed the 12 section-elevation drawings, illustrating nearly all aspects of construction of the Roman Bath. He also completed drawings of the pool at the southeast corner of Room XIII and a series of drawings that illustrate features that seem to date from an earlier phase of construction of the building: these include the door between Rooms III and X, that between Rooms III and VI, and the brick structure that lies under the statue base at the east end of Room VI. Ms. Phillip discovered many new decorative elements in the Roman Bath, including the remains of a marble basin which must have been set up in the apse of Room IX of the building. She refined the categories of marbles removed from the building and made progress in her understanding of the overall decorative scheme. Professor Seelinger has essentially completed his study of the window glass from the Roman Bath and he has now done preliminary work on the some 80 small finds from the structure.

The Hexamilion Spolia Project continued research begun in 1996 to locate, record, describe, photograph, and draw all reused architectural blocks built into the Hexamilion Wall. Progress this year consisted primarily in improving recording techniques, building a sophisticated database, and photographing and drawing many of the blocks discovered last year. Field work was concentrated in the area from the Roman Bath eastward to Tower 15 of the Byzantine Fortress. To date 83 blocks in this area have been fully recorded, photographed, and drawn.

Internet and Electronic materials continued to be developed by Samuel B. Fee. These included the educational program Isthmia 3.0 already being used by many universities and schools, the regular OSU Isthmia web site (http://isthmia.oosu.edu/), and information to be used by schools. In addition, he has been developing interactive versions of much of the Isthmia database, including the so-called Isthmia electronic notebook, available early in 1998.

A program of geophysical exploration was undertaken in conjunction with the Foundation for Research and Technology of the University of Crete and the University of Chicago Excavations at Isthmia. This project utilized electrical resistance, magnetometry, and electromagnetometry in the exploration of the East Field and the unexcavated area southeast of the Roman Bath. In the latter area the resistivity data indicate the presence of several linear anomalies, the most pronounced of which is just southeast of Room XII. Full analysis of the data from this research is being carried out by Apostolos Sarris of the University of Crete.

A preliminary geomorphological survey in the eastern Korinthia was carried out by Professors Jay Noller and Lisa Wells (Vanderbilt University). They were able to gather the essential topographic and geological information necessary to begin the creation of a geomorphological map of the Korinthian coast of the Saronic Gulf, from the Korinth Canal south to Korfos. They made regional observations of natural and agricultural soils (e.g., type, depth, distribution, and relative age), hillslopes (e.g., agricultural terraces, landslides and slumps, soil vs bedrock), In addition, they made important preliminary observations on the evidence for seismically active faults in the region that should have bearing on the pace and location of rapid landscape change.

Research also continued in the area of the so-called East Field, east of the Temple of Poseidon, partially excavated by Professor Paul Clement for UCLA in 1970-1972. It is still not possible to elucidate the precise function of the buildings in this area and their relationship to the sanctuary itself, although progress toward this end has clearly been made and we are in the process of compiling a preliminary report on the excavations in the East Field.

Limited conservation was carried out on the mosaic in Room VI of the Roman Bath under the supervision of Panagiotis Elias This consisted in continued consolidation of the border of the mosaic. In the meantime negotiation was carried out with the Department of Conservation of the Ministry of Culture for construction of a roof to cover and protect the mosaic. Preliminary agreement on this plan was made and we hope that work on construction of the roof can begin as quickly as possible.

Among specialists working at the site this year were Joesph Rife (University of Michigan: human burials), Liane Houghtalin (Mary Washington College: numismatics), and Michael Mills (University of New Brunswick: stamped tiles). Expansion of the excavation's educational program was carried out by the development of a web site for schools in Greece and the US.

Timothy E. Gregory
7 October 1997