2006 Preliminary Report

Members of the Ohio State University Excavations at Isthmia worked at the site from 15 May to 10 July and from 13 August to 9 September 2006.  Major work was divided into four basic categories:

  1. Continued study of the Roman Baths, with the goal of full publication of the building.  The work this season focused especially on the gathering of illustrations (photographs and drawings) necessary for the publication and the beginning of a program to render these in digital form appropriate for publication.  Considerable progress was made on this project, especially in terms of securing the photographs, and a significant beginning was made in scanning the very large drawings of various parts of the Baths.

    Figure 1.  Elevated section of Roman Bath
    Figure 1.  Elevated section of Roman Bath

  2. Work continued in the renewed study of the so-called East Field (area East of Temenos), located between the Temple of Poseidon and the Byzantine Fortress, and partially excavated between 1970 and 1972.  This new phase of research is being carried out by Professor Steven Ellis (University of Michigan), assisted by Kevin Cole and Eric Poehler.  Work in 2006 was successful in documenting many aspects of the phasing of the walls of the buildings in this area and showing that in an early period (perhaps dated to the 2nd century AD) the area was dominated by several large structures, probably of a public nature.  This work will be continued in 2007.

    Figure 2. Area East of Temenos, looking east (the Saronic Gulf is visible in the background)
    Figure 2. Area East of Temenos, looking east (the Saronic Gulf is visible in the background)

    Figure 3. Eric Poehler, East of Temenos
    Figure 3. Eric Poehler, East of Temenos

    Figure 4. Silver coin of Marcus Aurelius, found on the surface, East of Temenos
    Figure 4. Silver coin of Marcus Aurelius, found on the surface, East of Temenos

  3. During May and June of 2006 we continued cleaning the edge of the southern boundary of the excavated area of the Roman Bath, in order to stabilize the earth and even out this line, which has been eroding seriously since it was exposed in the 1970s.  This work was begun in 2003 and continued in 2004 and 2005.  Cleaning in 2006 continued almost to the southwest corner of the Roman Bath, leaving only a section of about 4 meters to be completed in 2007.  In addition, it is planned to fill some of the old trenches left exposed since the 1970s and complete work along the south side of the building.
    Figure 5. Students from Mercer University, beginning of Trench 2006-1

    Figure 5. Students from Mercer University, beginning of Trench 2006-1

    Figure 6. Tom Tartaron and Dallas DeForest--in the ash
    Figure 6. Tom Tartaron and Dallas DeForest--in the ash

    Figure 7. End of 2006-1 from north
    Figure 7. End of 2006-1 from north

  4. In 2006 a new phase of investigation was begun in the northeast corner of the Roman Bath, at the point where the Roman-period building meets up with the Byzantine fortifications (the Hexamilion) as they run eastward toward the Fortress.  It has long been known that there were several buildings of Roman date in this vicinity, and a project was begun to record the architectural pieces that remain in this area and attempt to associate them with the existing foundations.  This initiative is under the supervision of Professor Jon Frey of Michigan State University.  The work requires, among other things, the removal of weeds and the considerable mounds of earth from previous excavations.

    Figure 8.  Jon Frey shows he knows how to  move a wheelbarrow

    Figure 8.  Jon Frey shows he knows how to  move a wheelbarrow

    No significant work was done this season on the conservation of the mosaic in the Roman Bath because of the absence of conservation staff able to carry it out.

    In addition to this fieldwork, construction of the second-floor addition to the Excavation House was completed, involving the installation of the electrical wiring, the alarm system, bookcases, work surfaces, doors and windows.  The exterior of the building was painted, along with the interior of the upper floor.

    Figure 9.  Painting of new second floor of Excavation House
    Figure 9.  Painting of new second floor of Excavation House

    Figure 10.  Painting exterior of Excavation House
    Figure 10.  Painting exterior of Excavation House

    Plans for re-storage of the artifacts in the warehouses of the Excavation made it clear that we needed a complete renewal of this system.  Nearly all of the artifacts excavated since 1967 were stored in cardboard boxes, many of which are now beginning to disintegrate.  Accordingly, a completely new study was organized to determine an appropriate storage scheme for the excavation project.  This was done with the assistance of conservator Angelike Kandri, temporarily assigned to the Isthmia Museum by the Ministry of Culture.  Ms. Kandri had previously investigated the kinds of storage systems available and appropriate for the needs of the Isthmia Museum, along with their relevant prices.  She was enormously helpful in allowing us to select a basic storage scheme, based on the use of large plastic boxes (with lids), for our excavated artifacts.  We purchased some 100 of these boxes and carried out a pilot project, over the span of several weeks, in order to estimate the space, number of boxes, and personnel needed to carry out a complete overhaul of the storage system.  This project will be continued in 2007, and funds for its full implementation are currently being sought

    Figure 10.  Boxes for context material storage
    Figure 10.  Boxes for context material storage

    Figure 11.  Working on storage project
    Figure 11.  Working on storage project

    Figure 12.  Susanna and Dallas ready to box up pottery
    Figure 12.  Susanna and Dallas ready to box up pottery

    Finally, discussions were continued with various architects and other specialists in the construction of protective coverings for a building such as the Roman Bath at Isthmia, and it is hoped that progress on that issue will be realized in the near future.

    As always, our work this year was made possible by generous support from The Ohio State University and the Packard Humanities Institute.  Much of the day-to-day work was carried out by students, mainly from The Ohio State University and Mercer University.

    Figure 13. Mercer group 2006
    Figure 13. Mercer group 2006

    Figure 14. Matt Baumann (OSU) and Lita Tzortzopoulou-Gregory (La Trobe)
    Figure 14. Matt Baumann (OSU) and Lita Tzortzopoulou-Gregory (La Trobe)

    Figure 15. Lessons with the dumpy level
    Figure 15. Lessons with the dumpy level

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