1999 Preliminary Report

Work at the Ohio State University Excavations at Isthmia began on May 10 and continued until August 6, 1999. Investigation this year focused entirely on the study of material from the Roman Bath, which will soon lead to the full publication of the building. Scott Nash (Mercer University) and Richard DeMaris (Valparaiso University) continued their cataloguing of the Roman pottery from the building, a task that will complete the work of the late Jeanne Marty in this regard. During the 1999 season they completed the first draft of a catalogue of this pottery and contributed to the preparation of the stratigraphic reports that will form one of the major parts of the volume on the Roman Bath. Robert Seelinger (Westminster College) has completed his study of the window glass from the Bath and he worked this season at Isthmia on the miscellaneous finds. He has completed preliminary catalogues on all the glass, jewelry, metalwork, and other material found in the Bath and has written drafts of introductions for each of these categories.

Fikret Yegul (University of California, Santa Barbara) was at Isthmia for a month this summer, working on his narrative synthesis of the architecture of the Bath that will form the fundamental part of the publication. He had earlier gathered most of the measurements and notes needed in this regard and the 1999 season was devoted to the detailed description of the building, a task that was nearly completed. All that remains is the analytic chapter that will discuss the Baths at Isthmia in their broader context, comparing the architecture of the building with other known specimens of the type. As in the past, Professor Yegul was assisted by Omur Harmansah (University of Pennsylvania), who completed the preparation of the drawings necessary to illustrate the publication of the Baths. Jayne Reinhard (University of Minnesota) continued her study of the decoration of the Roman Baths. She had previously defined the various marble types used in the building, and this year she compiled a preliminary catalogue of all the decorative pieces that have been identified from the Baths. These included the well-known decorated antas and the other moldings, but she also discovered fragments of important marble furniture from the building as well as some important new information about the decoration of the roof. Julie Appley (Ohio State University) worked briefly at the site, gathering information for a 3-dimensional computer-based reconstruction of the building.

Timothy E. Gregory (Ohio State University) continued his study of the stratigraphy of the building, which will help to provide the basis for the history of the construction, use, modification, abandonment, and destruction of this important ancient complex. In his work he made use of information provided by all other members of the team. He also continued negotiation with the Department of Restoration of the Ministry of Culture concerning the construction of a roof to protect the restored figural mosaic in Room VI of the Roman Baths. Several plans for the roof were discussed and a general agreement was reached about the type of roof to be built. Small cracks have begun to form on the surface of the mosaic and it is imperative that this roof be built as quickly as possible in order to minimize damage to this important monument. The mosaic was covered at the end of the field season with sheets of plastic and layers of pumice and sand. Important reports were received from four members of the publication project who could not come to Isthmia this year: Birgitta L. Wohl (California State University, Northridge): lamps; Liane Houghtalin (Mary Washington College): coins; Michael Mills (University of New Brunswick): stamped tiles; and Joseph Rife (Cornell University): human skeletal remains. All of these scholars have essentially completed their contributions to the publication of the Roman Baths, although they still need to complete some details of their research. Martha Risser (Trinity University) spent some time at the Ohio State University Excavations familiarizing herself with the record-system and planning her work on the study and publication of the archaic and classical pottery from the West Cemetery at Isthmia.

Work continued on the expansion and the modernization of the computer-based recording system of the excavation and the incorporation of categories of finds that had not previously been included. Finally, significant improvements were made in the workrooms of the excavation with the construction of new, heavy-duty shelves for the storage of ancient objects and records.

Timothy E. Gregory
20 October 1999