Excavation of the Greek Pool

Following the removal of the mosaic in Room VI of the Roman Bath, excavation continued down to the floor of the Greek Pool lying underneath. The pool itself is much larger than just the area excavated under the bath. In fact, the Greek Pool measures about 30m. to a side, making it one of the largest known Greek bathing facilities, and suggesting that this bath must have been one of the most important features of the Sanctuary to Poseidon during Greek periods. The construction of the pool dates to the fourth century BC.

portion of a Greek Pool at Isthmia.

A portion of the Greek Pool

From the photo above you can see the floor and north wall of the Greek Pool. The pool is a little over a meter deep, and the pool was able to hold approximately 1,275 cubic meters of water. The Greek Pool was covered with waterproof cement, and the floor was a pebble mosaic. Following excavation, the Greek Pool still held water after a rain storm. This was a fascinating occurrence because the drain still worked as well; so 2500 years after it was built, the Greek Pool still functioned!

There were at two phases of construction during the Greek period, the latter dating to the fourth century BC. Excavations revealed an even earlier Greek water device (perhaps an earlier pool) beneath Room III, although little is known about this first phase. When it was excavated, the floor of the Greek pool was covered only with the soil dumped in by the Roman builders, suggesting that the Romans had probably been using the Greek pool, taking advantage of what already existed on the site. They later built the Roman Bath complex directly on the Greek foundation, although at a slightly different orientation from the Roman Bath structure.

refilling the Greek Pool at Isthmia.

Refilling the Greek Pool

Following the excavation of the Greek Pool, the area under the mosaic was back-filled with debris. In addition, certain items such as plastic and modern coins were placed in the debris. This was done in order to make sure that any future archaeologists would realize that this area had already been excavated.

After the pool had been completely refilled, a new concrete bedding was poured. Then the large monochrome mosaic of Room VI, which had been carefully restored, was finally placed back into its original position. First the large panels were replaced, and then individual tesserae were placed in the remaining gaps to complete the restoration project. The mosaic, as it appears today, can be seen in the photo below:

mosaic as it appears today at the Greek Pool at Isthmia.

The mosaic as it appears today

Conservation work on the mosaic was completed in the summer of 1998, and today the monochrome mosaic rests safely on its new concrete bedding. Plans are being made to construct a permanent roof structure above the mosaic to help preserve it, since small cracks have begun to form on the surface of the mosaic. It is imperative that this roof be built as quickly as possible in order to minimize damage to this important monument.