2000 Preliminary Report

Work at the Ohio State University Excavations at Isthmia focused primarily on study of materials excavated in previous seasons. This study period began on May 10 and ended on August 12, 2000.

The primary goal of the 2000 season was study of material from the Roman Bath in preparation for publication of this important building. Scott Nash (Mercer University) was at Isthmia for the first part of the season, continuing his work on the Roman pottery, which he and Richard DeMaris (Valparaiso University) are supervising. The bulk of that pottery has now been studied and a preliminary catalogue prepared; what remains is the further analysis of the stratigraphic contexts, drawing, and photography.

Jayne Reinhard (Carthage College, Wisconsin, and the University of Minnesota) continued her study of the decoration of the Roman Bath. She made important breakthroughs in the understanding of the interior of the building, especially the marble furniture documented by several surviving pieces. There is now considerably greater understanding of the wall decoration as well as some new information about the exterior appearance of the building. Ms. Reinhard was assisted by Andrew Reinhard, who carried out an ambitious program of photographic recording, focused mainly on the fragments of the decorative program of the Bath. In addition, Ms. Reinhard was assisted by Dana Moore, who made drawings of some of the anta capitals and other architectural decorative elements from the Bath.

Fikret Yegul (University of California, Santa Barbara) spent a month at Isthmia, continuing his study of the architecture of the Bath. Last year he completed the architectural description of about half of the building and during the 2000 season he was able to complete the rest of this basic work, that will form the core of the ultimate publication of the complex. Professor Yegul re-examined several of the hypotheses for the chronology of the building advanced in previous years, and these all seemed supported by the accumulation of additional evidence. In addition, he developed his ideas about the religious symbolism and practices associated with the building, especially the cult of the boy-god Palaimon/Melikertes.

Julie Apley (Ohio State University) continued her work on the 3-dimensionial reconstruction of the Roman Bath. She had especially productive discussions with Jayne Reinhard, who was able to provide her with important details about the interior of the Bath.

Joseph Rife (Cornell University) continued his work toward publication of the Late Roman and Byzantine burials from Isthmia. His work this summer involved further investigation of the stratigraphy of the burials and their finds, important considerations for determining their date. He also investigated certain details from the skeletal remains, including post-mortem deterioration and the incidence of caries, with interesting and important results. He also continued the photographic documentation of the burials. A major undertaking of the 2000 season was the formulation of a long-term plan for the conservation and archiving of the photographic resources of the project, along with plans for digital production of photographs for publication and public display. This project is under the direction of Daniel Curtis, a professional photographer from Minnesota, who drew up the complete plan and made considerable progress in the archiving of photographic negatives from previous seasons.

Many groups visited the site this past season, including the Friends of the National Archaeological Museum, as well as many school groups and the summer sessions of the American School. Cooperation continued with the University of Chicago Excavations at Isthmia toward a plan for the conservation and presentation of the site and the possibility of an improvement of the public displays in the Isthmia Museum.

Timothy E. Gregory
20 October 2000