Fieldwork in Tegea 2010
By Linn Trude Lieng, IAKH, University of Oslo
(Archaeological remarks are based on Knut Ødegard’s report from the excavations of 2010)
In the course of four weeks from the 14th of June 2010 to the 10th of July 2010 the Norwegian Institute at Athens, in collaboration with the 39th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and the 25th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities carried out a third campaign of excavations at the ancient site of Tegea.
The excavation team consisted of a Greek, Norwegian, Italian and Danish crew made up of students and researchers from the Peloponnesian University, Greece, the University of Oslo, Norway and the University of Aarhus, Denmark.
Prior to the excavation two trenches opened in the 2009 season were extended by surface stripping the area in between and widening the investigation area to 15 x 40 meters. This gave the team the opportunity of clarifying some of the questions that remained from the 2009 excavations. Within the area investigated during the course of the excavations four specific areas of interest emerged.
The most recent documented activity at the site was a flood channel that flowed in a south to north direction across the site, most probably during periods of high rainfall and floods. The plain is still today very wet during winter, and the team noted that flooding had in the past seriously disturbed the stratigraphy of the site.
The flood channel was clearly visible as a band of dark greyish deposits running northwards from square D15 to D12 (see fig.1).
During excavation it became clear that the layer deepened towards the north of the excavation area. A trench was dug through the channel in square D12, and despite having removed more than one meter of deposits the bottom was not reached by the end of the season. The stream fill consisted of silt, mixed with pottery and tile fragments as well as stones, probably redeposited from the house structures in square D15.
So far we have no indication on the date of the stream, but a post-Byzantine date is the most probable as the stream’s action had over time demolished part of a late Byzantine wall.
Byzantine house structures and a road
During the 2010 season a number of Byzantine wall bases were uncovered: They were simple, narrow and made of roughly hewn stones of uneven size, and have been interpreted as foundations for mud-brick-walls. None of the walls have so far been securely dated, but finds connected to the walls in square D17 suggest that they were in use in the 12th, possibly even into the 13th Century AD. These walls thus represent the last building phases recorded at the city of Tegea.
The walls have the same orientation as the presumed city plan, based on the Norwegian magnetometer survey from 2003-2006. The survey and the subsequent excavations show that the main axis of the ancient city was respected in later periods and also in the final phases of Byzantine settlement at Tegea and so far confirmed by the 2010 excavation.
A tile-covered surface that was partly excavated in 2009, and thought to represent the last paved phase of the agora, was reinterpreted as a road surface in squares C-D16.
After having extended the area in 2010 it was clear that the paved area was not as extensive as first assumed. The corner of a larger structure made up of rough stone blocks seen in D17, runs parallel to what the team now considers to be a road.
This building was probably abandoned in the 12th century, and it is thus thought that the road might be contemporary with and connected to the Basilica of Thyrsos. A goal of the 2011 season will be to clarify the relationship of these two parts of the city.
Early Byzantine and Late Hellenistic contexts
Already in 2009 a solid, concrete-like floor and a rough N-S wall were uncovered in square D-E10 in the northernmost part of the excavation area. In 2010 the whole floor was uncovered, together with another wall in D11 running E-W perhaps connected to the N-S wall further east.
The pottery found in the contexts immediately above the concrete floor as well as in the contexts connected to this structure, is dominated by small storage vessels and larger jugs and jars, and suggests a date from the early Byzantine period, more precisely between the end of the 4th to the beginning of the 5th Century AD. The concrete floor itself is very likely earlier, and perhaps even Hellenistic. It was later reused in the Byzantine period when the N-S wall was laid across the Hellenistic floor.
To the east of the wall in square E10 a very different archaeological context appeared. An almost square area consisting of sooty soil with pieces of charcoal contained several whole vessels.
The finds, including a Megarian bowl and some Roman terra sigillata, suggests that the context can be dated to the 1st Century BC. The character of the finds in this area indicate that this floor was in use in the 1st Century BC and not reused in later periods, unlike the concrete floor to the west.
This is important as it shows that not all areas of the ancient city were reused after the early Roman period.
The northern trial trench
A small trial trench, 5 x 10 meters, was opened in the far northern part of the field, in squares B-C 3-4.
This trench was opened mainly to check whether the stratigraphy was similar to the main excavation area. However it turned out to be considerably different. Despite the trench having been excavated down to a depth well below the rest of the excavation area no building structures were uncovered. The stratigraphy was very complex, with large numbers of different cuts and fills. It seems that some of the fills might be the result of industrial activity, with remains of charcoal, and layers of clayey silt. One possible explanation is that this area was used as a clay pit for the production of tiles or pottery.
The main part of the pottery found in this area is from the Roman period, including several Corinthian lamp fragments probably from the 2nd-3rd Century AD. The excavation needs to be extended in this area in order to gain a clearer idea of the use and chronology of this area in relation to the city centre.
In the 2010 season the project had a strong focus on digital documentation. The excavation also functioned as a field course, for students from Oslo and Aarhus Universities and so a GIS and practical survey element was included.
The two last weeks of the campaign two archaeologists trained the students in practical use of a total station by surveying the previously excavated areas in the archaeological park of Palaia Episkopi.
The students surveyed the altar of the Roman emperor, and the Hellenistic stoa with its drain and statue bases at the Agora.
In addition to this, the team was allowed to survey within the building that houses the mosaic from the so-called Basilica of Thyrsos.
After the field course, the Norwegian surveyors mapped the rest of the Byzantine structures and buildings at the agora, and started
surveying the stones of the Hellenistic theatre one by one. So far the stones to the west of the bridge have been mapped.
Many more stones are thus left to survey for the students attending the field course in 2011. The Temple of Athena Alea will also be digitally surveyed in 2011.
After the 2010 season we can be reasonably certain that the last phase of human activity at the site was in the 12th-13th Century AD.
For the season of 2011 it is planned to expand the excavation area further towards the southeast and thus closer to the Basilica of Thyrsos.
By doing this, we hope to further explore the Byzantine buildings and the road in the southern part of the trench more thoroughly.
By Linn Trude Lieng, IAKH, University of Oslo
(Archaeological remarks are based on Knut Ødegard’s report from the excavations of 2010
Fieldwork in Tegea 2009
Hellenic-Norwegian Excavations at Tegea
Pressrelease, Excavations at Tegea in 2009.
The Greek Ministry of Cultures website, www.culture.gr.
The 39th Ephoria of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, firstname.lastname@example.org
By Linn Trude Lieng, Institute of Archaeology, University of Oslo.
This report will present the preliminary results from the first season of the scheduled 5-year excavation program at Ancient Tegea, Greece. Included here will also be a description on life outside the excavation trenches and excursions we undertook during the three weeks of the excavation. The account of the archaeological excavation and the closing remarks are based on the Norwegian Institute at Athens’ press release on the result from the excavations.
The Hellenic-Norwegian Excavations are undertaken as cooperation between the 39th Ephoria of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, the 25th Ephoria of Byzantine Antiquities and the Norwegian Institute at Athens under direction of Dr. Anna Vassiliki Karapanagiotou, Dr. Dimitris Athanassoulis and Dr. Knut Ødegård respectively.
The background for this report is the generous research stipend I was granted from the Norwegian Institute at Athens. The stipend will be used for a month of research at the institute in Athens in connection with my Master’s thesis.
The research history of Tegea began over 130 years ago. Most of the research activity has been concentrated on the sanctuary and the first excavations took place in 1879 under direction of A. Milchhöfer where roughly 300 terracotta and bronze artefacts were uncovered. In 1882 W. Dörpfeld took over the work at Tegea doing a study of the Classical temple.
At the start of the 20th century the French school at Athens obtained the rights for doing research in Tegea, and several campaigns were held from 1900 to 1902 where more of the temple’s foundations, architectonical fragments and fragments of sculptures and inscriptions and also bronzes and pottery shards were found.
Greek archaeologists carried out an excavation in 1908, and the French school at Athens under direction of Charles Dugas carried out excavations in the years of 1910 to 1913. After this, research in Tegea came to a halt until the 1960s where the American School of Classical Studies at Athens did research on the temple proper, and 1976-77 when the Greek Archaeological Service conducted excavations at the site (Hammond 1998:8-9; Voyatzis 1990:20-21; Østby et al. 1994:89-90).
In the 1980s Dr. Erik Østby worked on identifying the foundations inside the foundations of the Classical temple, and in 1990-94 he, on behalf of the Norwegian Institute at Athens, directed an excavation that confirmed the identification of the foundations of the Early Archaic temple inside the foundations of the larger Late Classical temple (Hammond 1998:13-14; Voyatzis 1990:22; Østby 1986; Østby et al. 1994:94-95).
The Norwegian Institute at Athens has thus been involved in research on Tegea since its foundation in 1989, but up to the mid nineties research had mostly been restricted to the temple area.
These investigations collected detailed information on the sanctuary. However little was known about the surrounding landscape, and no modern investigations had been made in the city of Tegea.
To be able to understand the development of the sanctuary within a wider context there was need for more information of a regional kind, and an archaeological survey was directed by Dr. Knut Ødegård from 1998 to 2001 (Ødegård 2005:209-11). The Norwegian Arcadia Survey focused on the size and extension of the ancient city through documenting the density of archaeological material on the surface and this formed the background for a magnetometer survey of the ancient urban area in 2004 through 2006. The magnetometer survey documented important remains of the city plan and a regular street grid, a large rectangular marketplace and possible traces of the fortifications were indicated.
Left: Density of pottery fragments from the surveyed fields, showing probable extension of the city of Tegea.
Right: Plan from the magnetometer survey with possible street grid and the agora indicated.
The main aims of the first season of the scheduled 5-year excavation program at Tegea were to gather information on the stratigraphical and chronological sequence in the centre of the ancient city of Tegea and to check the results of the magnetometer survey mentioned above (Ødegård 2009).
The participants in 2009 was Ole-Christian Aslaksen (Archaeologist/GIS surveyor, University of Oslo), Dr. Vincenzo Cracolici (Archaeologist, University of Palermo), Lene Os Johannessen (Archaeologist, University of Oslo), Lise-Marie Bye Johansen Archaeologist, NIKU – the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research), Dr. Harald Klempe (Geologist, Telemark College), Linn Trude Lieng (MA student in archaeology, University of Oslo), Mari Malmer (BA student in archaeology, University of Oslo), Panagiotis Riganas (BA student, University of Peloponnese), Jo-Simon Frøshaug Stokke (Archaeologist, University of Oslo).
In addition to Dr. Karapanagiotou and Dr. Athanassoulis from respectively the 39th Ephoria of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and the 25th Ephoria of Byzantine Antiquities, Vasilliki Papadopoulou (the 39th Ephoria) and Peny Koliatsi (the 25th Ephoria) supervised the excavations. Lina Karavia and Nikos Govitsas from the Ephoria of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Arcadia provided the total station and worked with the Norwegian GIS surveyor.
The area of excavation is where it for more than 100 years has been presumed the centre of Ancient Tegea would be situated, i.e. at Palaia Episkopi, where a Middle Byzantine town was constructed on top of the remains of the Hellenistic theatre. The excavations in 2009 were conducted on property belonging to the Hellenic Ministry of Culture to the west of the ancient theatre and the urban centre and immediately north of the 5th century AD Basilica of Thyrsos. Two trial trenches of 1 by 5 meters were opened this year, and they were laid out over what was presumed to be the agora and a road crossing using the plan from the magnetometer survey as a guide. The trial trenches were dug approximately 1 meter deep using pickaxe, shovel and hoe, and the topsoil contained mixed archaeological material from the Classical to the modern period. In the southern trial trench we encountered a layer with a dense concentration of broken roof tiles. The two trenches were extended to 5 x 10 meters using a mechanical digging machine. We laid
out a grid in 2 x 2 meter squares, and excavated stratigraphically.
Left: The mechanical digging machine extending the northern trench to 5 x 10 meters (photo: Linn Trude Lieng).
Right: The tiles in the southern trench (photo: Knut Ødegård)
In the southern trench, the ‘tile fall’ we first believed belonged to a collapsed building, rather seems to be the last of a long series of pavements of a large square. The pavement most likely belongs to the ancient agora of Tegea, and is probably to be dated to the 12th century AD and thus signifies the last phase of urban life at Tegea.
Trial trenches excavated through this pavement documented several similar surfaces from the Byzantine period, probably carried out to raise the ground level because of poor drainage. In the far north-western corner of this trench we exposed large amounts of slag from a metal workshop of the Byzantine period. The excavation in the northern trench showed no remains of the agora. It was expected that the agora did not stretch this far north based on the magnetometer survey conducted in 2004. Instead remains of Byzantine buildings were found. One of them, so far of uncertain date, had a concrete floor, perhaps a pressing-floor that once formed a part of an agricultural unit.
Left: Photo towards south of the two trenches. The Basilica of Tyrsos upper left in the photo (photo: Knut Ødegård).
Right: The Byzantine floor in the northern trench (photo: Knut Ødegård)
Total station survey
Parallel to the archaeological excavations a total station survey was conducted. Surveyors from the Ephoria of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Arcadia worked together with the Norwegian surveyor, and they used a Leica 400 total station to map the area.
A coordinate system was laid out and named with Greek letters along the north-south axis and numbers along the east-west axis.
In addition to this all finds and structures were digitally surveyed, and digital maps over the excavated areas has been made using ArcGis. Fixed points for geo referencing our maps were laid out by George Orphanos with an inaccuracy of 1 cm.
|Left: Surveying special finds in the northern trench (photo: Lene Os Johannessen)
Right: Plan over the excavated area (illustration: Ole Christian Aslaksen)
Finds were processed by the Ephorate. Whenever special finds like metal or coins were made, the Ephorate registered it,
bagged and tagged it, and brought the finds to the museum in Tripolis for safekeeping. Pottery was bagged according to
sector and context at the end of each day, and brought to the apotheke in the village of Alea by the Ephorate. The finds bags
with pottery were signed out the next day, and washing, sorting, photographing and interpreting of the pottery could take place.
Left: Washing pottery in the apotheke (photos: Lene Os Johannessen).
Right: An earring found close to the Byzantine metal workshop (photo: Jo-Simon Frøshaug Stokke)
Dissemination and media contact
During the three weeks of excavation at Tegea, we had a film crew following us. The background for this was that a movie producer was making a movie on the region of Arcadia, and an ongoing archaeological excavation was interesting to include in this documentary. The whole archaeological team were interviewed for this production that eventually will be aired on Greek national television. A journalist in a local newspaper wrote two stories on the archaeological project, and this led to some interest in the local community with people visiting the site.
The Municipality of Tegea provided the accommodation for the excavation team. Since we were such a large group the students and archaeologists were placed in the Peter Orphanos medical centre of Kerasitsa, a small village not too far from the excavation site. Dr. Ødegård and the survey team from the University of Bergen which joined us after a week lived in cottages in the village of Ano Doliana, overlooking the Tegean plain.
The Municipality of Tegea had made the medical centre habitable by installing showers and providing beds. In addition to this the Norwegian Institute provided necessities like kitchen equipment and linen from the Norwegian guesthouse in Athens.
The medical centre and the village of Kerasitsa proved to be a good home for us archaeologists. We ran a well-functioning household with teams for cooking and cleaning. Everyone contributed with what they did best. The early birds bought bread before the communal breakfast, and some preferred washing up to cooking and this arrangement made everyone happy.
We enjoyed some great, home cooked meals together and the good atmosphere at home made it easier to live and
work so closely together.
Left: The Peter Orphanos medical centre in Kerasitsa (photo: Lene Os Johannessen).
Right: The excavation team at home (photo: Linn Trude Lieng)
Excursions and life outside the trenches
Thanks to the generosity of the Norwegian Institute at Athens, we were let to use the institute’s 8-seater car “The Lion”.
The name derives from the Coat of Arms of Norway that adorns the side doors of the old Fiat. Having a car made things a lot easier for us, both getting to and from the field, shopping for groceries in Tripolis, and getting around, visiting sights in the Peloponnese during weekends.
As a recreational trip in the afternoons going to the coastal town of Astros for a swim was popular after a long, hot day in the trench. Driving around we got to see large parts of the different regions of the Peloponnese with its wild and beautiful nature. We visited many of the major sights around the Peloponnese like Argos with its Heraion, Mycenae, Sparta, Asea, Bassae and Olympia, and also the beautiful towns of Nafplion and Zaxaro. Being able to visit places like these on our time off made our stay in Tegea even more rewarding and interesting.
The final dinner for the participants in the project were held in the village of Ano Doliana, and with its breathtaking view over the Tegean plain this was the perfect place to round up the 2009 field season in Tegea.
Left: ‘The Lion’ on a road trip in Arcadia (photo: Linn Trude Lieng).
Right: The excavation team in the theatre of Argos (photo: Lise Marie Bye Johansen)
Due to the short, three-week field season of 2009 the results are limited. It should be emphasised however that we now possess certain archaeological information on the last phase of urban life at Tegea. We have also ascertained that the urban history of this site is long and complex, and that the next seasons of field work will provide insight into the development of the city from a probable foundation in the Late Archaic Period through the Classical and Hellenistic periods and into the later history of the city in the Roman and Byzantine periods.
Through excavations this year we have collected finds from all these periods from the topsoil and from Byzantine contexts.
Since our excavations are conducted right in the centre of the ancient city, Tegea could provide an example on how the city changed character from the Roman to the middle Byzantine period.
The presence of Slavic pottery from the excavations marks one important phase of this transition (Ødegård 2009).
We wish to thank the Greek Ministry of Culture and especially the 39th Ephoria of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and the 25th Ephoria of Byzantine Antiquities that with all their help and cooperation made this excavation possible.
We wish also to thank the Mayor of Tegea and the Municipality of Tegea that have been most helpful with all practicalities and showed great interest in our project.
Finally we wish to thank the Norwegian Institute at Athens. Director Dr. Panos Dimas and the administrative staff have arranged everything locally in Greece so this project could run as smooth as possibly, even though planned from Norway.
Linn Trude Lieng
Oslo, the 7th of December 2009
for The Norwegian Institute at Athens
Excavations at Tegea in 2009 – Press release
The first season of a scheduled 5-year excavation program at ancient Tegea was carried out in june/july this year by the 39th Ephoria of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, the 25th Ephoria of Byzantine Antiquities and the Norwegian Institute at Athens.
The main aims of this first season were:
1. To gather information on the stratigraphical and chronological sequence in the centre of the ancient city of Tegea and
2. To check the results from the magnetometer survey conducted by the Norwegian Institute at Athens at the site 2004-2006.
The area of excavation is where the centre of ancient Tegea has been presumed to be situated for more than 100 years, i.e. at Palaia Episkopi, where the Middle Byzantine metropolis was constructed on top of the remains of the ancient theatre.
The excavations in 2009 were conducted on property of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture to the west of the ancient theatre and the metropolis and immediately north of the 5th century AD Basilica of Thyrsos.
Two trenches of 5×10 meters were opened up this year.
After initially digging through about 1 meter of topsoil with mixed archaeological material from the Classical to the modern period, we encountered in the southern trench a surface with a dense concentration of broken rooftiles.
This does not seem to be a collapsed building, as we first thought, but rather the last of a long series of pavements of a large square, very probably the ancient agora of Tegea.
This last pavement is probably to be dated to the 12th century AD and signifies the last phase of urban life at Tegea.
Trial trenches excavated through this pavement documented several similar surfaces from the Byzantine period, probably carried out to raise the ground level because of poor drainage.
In the far north-western corner of this trench we encountered copious slag from a metal workshop of the Byzantine period.
In the northern trench, no remains of the agora was found, but based on the magnetometer survey conducted in 2004 it was expected that the agora did not stretch this far north.
Instead remains of Byzantine buildings were found, one of them, so far of uncertain date, had a concrete floor, perhaps a pressing-floor that once formed a part of an agricultural unit.
In the summer of 2009 only a short fieldseason of 3 weeks was carried out and the results are for this reason limited. It should, however, be emphasized that we now possess certain archaeological information on the last period of urban life at Tegea.
We have also ascertained that the urban history at the site is long and complex and that the next seasons will provide interesting insight into the development of the city from a probable foundation in the Late Archaic Period through the Classical and Hellenistic periods and into the later history of the city in the Roman and Byzantine periods.
We have already collected interesting finds from all these periods from the topsoil and from Byzantine contexts.
Since our excavations are conducted right in the centre of the ancient city, Tegea could provide a very interesting example on how the city changed character from the Roman to the middle Byzantine period. The presence of Slavic pottery from the excavations marks one important phase of this transition.
The joint project is directed by Dr. Anna Vassiliki Karapanagiotou of the 39th Ephoria of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Dr. Dimitris Athanassoulis of the 25th Ephoria of Byzantine Antiquities and Dr. Knut Ødegård of the University of Oslo and the Norwegian Institute at Athens.