THE ACROPOLIS

Southeast of the Northeast Building

 

 

TRENCH N-A05 AND N-A07

 

In 1958, Marion Rawson opened “MY,” a long trench northeast of the Northeast Building, running 22 m. to the northeast from the corner of room 99 next to room 98. She divided the trench into sections of 2, 5, 5, 5, and 5 m. In the 10.5 m. farthest from room 99 she hit bedrock ca. 30-35 cm. beneath the surface. In the first 9.5 m. distant from the wall of room 99 Rawson found large quantities of stones that lay in no particular order. The stones lay in black soil that contained very worn pottery and pieces of mudbrick. After cleaning the stones, Rawson removed them, exposing what she believed was the surface on which they had fallen at the time of the destruction of the palace. The outer wall of the Northeast Building here was three courses deep and rested on bedrock. The two trenches were supervised by Csaba Bodnár, assisted by Kevin Hunter.

 

Plan of trenches. 2015-2017. Denitsa Nenova

 

 

Excavations began on Monday, May 15, after a general team meeting on Saturday, May 13, and a practice day on Sunday, May 14, in order to familiarize new members with procedures and policies. Once again, our team was multinational, with many students and scholars returning from previous years. We are grateful to all who again contributed to making the project a success.

 

For a third year, we were unable to open excavations in the Demopoulos field, inasmuch as it was not possible to complete purchase of the expropriated land in good order.

2017

 

In 2017, we opened two other trenches farther to the southeast, also outside room 99, in part to try to relocate and reexamine the destruction horizon. One of these intersected Rawson’s trench MY. In all cases, in our trenches, like MY, we encountered a dense layer of stones, black soil and pottery (including partially mendable cups of Coulson’s DA III/LG). Once removed, the stones were found to be lying on a Mycenaean surface immediately above bedrock, marked by a thin level that contained, among earlier remains, sherds of the final Mycenaean palace period.

 

 

Northwest of the Main Building: (Area PNW and WK)

In 1962, William G. Kittredge, was assigned the task of exploring an extensive area on the northwest edge of the acropolis, in part in order to determine if other pieces of the Early Mycenaean fortification wall could be located, in part to search for additional frescoes in an area near the so-called Northwest Fresco Dump (Kittredge and his wife Caryl were long-term members of Caskey’s team at Ayia Irini on Keos and native Cincinnatians who, in retirement, took classes in the Department of Classics. In 1962, when Caskey decided not to excavate at Ayia Irini, they both joined Blegen at Pylos). The area that he explored measured 15 (north-south) x 39 m. (east-west), and lay northeast of final palace-phase rooms that had been earlier uncovered by Papathanassopoulos; excavation continued until bedrock was reached at a depth of 3 m., in the process uncovering forty walls and five drains, belonging to four principal phases of construction that predated the final palace. Kittredge reported “no substantial floors, except a small piece of stucco in the room 82 building.” He found, in addition, “several trays of plaster, particularly from under room 85,” which he believed were “connected to the cache” uncovered by Rawson in the Northwest Fresco Dump]. Recovered pottery dated from Middle Helladic through LH IIIB, but the strata in which pottery of specific periods was recovered could not be clearly associated with particular walls.

 

In 2017, excavation proceeded in an area east of trench WK1, previously untouched by any excavation.3 Notable finds included a fragment of a Linear B tablet, found while cleaning the southeastern scarp of WK1, and a small pit full of burnt animal bones, like the other pits found northwest of the Main Building, by both Kittredge and Papathanassopoulos (see “Animal Sacrifice, Archives, and Feasting at the Palace of Nestor,” in The Mycenaean Feast, ed. J.C. Wright, Hesperia 73 (2004) 179-195, esp. pp. 182, n. 12, 183, n. 17).

 

 

TRENCH N-A08

 

Excavation reached at lowest elevations a stratum with LH I pottery but no associated walls. Above this level, the earliest constructions uncovered included walls of LH IIB and a drain of LH I/II cut down into the LH I stratum. Two pits were cut into the LH IIB deposit, one with LH IIIA1 late/IIIA2 early pottery and much mudbrick, the other of the same date, with burnt pottery. Sterile soil was not reached.

 

TRENCH N-A09

 

Two walls, one of LH I, a second of MH III/LH I, were revealed at the lowest elevations reached in the trench. Higher up was an LH IIB wall with an LH IIIA1 late/IIIA2 pit disturbing it. The LH IIIA1 late/IIIA2 horizon itself contained much mudbrick. The small pit filled with cremated fragments of animal bones had been cut into it. It contained very little pottery, but nothing is incompatible with a date in the final palace period.

 

The two trenches were supervised by Hüseyin Öztürk, assisted by Jessica Williams and Simone Agrimonti.

 

Plan of trenches. 2015-2017. Denitsa Nenova

 

KITTREDGE TRENCHES

 

We took the opportunity to remove backfill from several of Kittredge’s trenches farther to the southwest. In trench 4 was uncovered an ashlar block, noted by Kittredge as resting on top of what he labelled Wall G on his plans, but almost all traces of that wall are now missing. The block, into which a circular hole was drilled on two sides, still sits on top of a column of unexcavated earth. In addition, we note here several finds from Kittredge’s excavations not published by Blegen in the Palace of Nestor III, including a piece of stone revetment, possible of antico rosso. It was determined that Kittredge’s wall A was likely built in LH IIB and continued in use into LH IIIA.

 

TSAKONAS FIELD

Excavations continued in the Tsakonas field, north of the parking lot for the palace, in several different locations.

 

Area B

 

Excavation in Area B was conducted in two areas, both near the border with the Petropoulos field.

 

In 2016, trenches N-B02 and N-B03 had been opened at the western end of the Tsakonas field, near the terrace wall that separates it from the Petropoulos field. The primary reason for opening these two trenches was to reach Middle Helladic levels, which had previously been found in trench N-B01 in 2015. No in situ stratigraphy was found in N-B02. In N-B03, excavation continued to a depth of 2.85 m. beneath the surface, where an in situ red paleosol was reached, apparently of Paleolithic date. A meter-deep layer of MH I-II through MH III-LH I pottery was found over the paleosol and beneath 1.5 m. of slope-wash.

 

RAWSON TRENCHES

 

In 1959, Marion Rawson opened a trench (Petropoulos I), 20-m.-long, on property of the Petropoulos family, beneath the acropolis of the Palace of Nestor to the north. In it she found walls of Middle Helladic date (Early Helladic and Middle Helladic Pylos: The Petropoulos Trench and Stratified Remains on the Englianos Ridge, Gilles Touchais and Anna Touchais, eds., “Mesohelladica” Conference, École Française d’ Athenes, March 9, 2006 (BCH Supplement 52), pp. 101-106.)

 

In addition to Petropoulos Trench I, in the Tsakonas field Rawson excavated a second, more restricted, sounding, ca. 2 x 1.5 m. and oriented northeast-southwest. The trench was located ca. 15 m. to the east of Petropoulos Trench I, where the property is bordered by an olive orchard that then belonged to the Tsakonas family (and is now property of the Greek state); the stones of the wall were removed, and Rawson determined that it had not been founded on an earlier, ancient, wall. Beneath the topsoil the earth was filled with “little white vein-like particles” that looked like ash, and which she compared to the earth excavated above the Wine Magazine also in 1959; at 0.70 stones were mixed in the earth and there were fragments of bronze. From the surface to a depth of 1.40 the deposit was LH III in character. Beneath 1.40 the deposit was entirely of MH date.

 

Our own trenches east of the terrace wall, in the Tsakonas field, reached MH architecture for the first time in this field.4 This discovery, in addition to the finds in N-B04 and B05, points to the existence of a substantial settlement beneath the acropolis, one that began early in the MH period and remains substantially unknown.

TRENCH N-B07

 

At a depth of 2.20, a well-built wall and a clay-lined hearth were found, associated with later MH I material, not as early in date as finds from Deriziotis Aloni (The Pylos Regional Archaeological Project V: Deriziotis Aloni. A Small Prehistoric Site in Messenia, Hesperia 72 [2003] 341-404). Above it was an MH II fill without minoanizing pottery, and, above that, a later MH II fill. The highest elevations were characterized by Late Helladic slope wash.

 

TRENCH N-B09

 

No architecture was found in this trench, but, instead, beneath slope wash was identified a series of surfaces, one of LH IIIA1, three of LH IIB, and two of LH IIA. In the slope wash was found a fragment of a Linear B tablet.

 

These trenches were supervised by Calla McNamee, assisted by Nolan Wang and Mohammed Bhatti.

 

MH I wall at the bottom of trench N-B07 together with Shari Stocker and Nolan Wang

 

Area C

 

Remote Sensing

Remote sensing in the Tsakonas field, using magnetometry, GPR, and thermal imaging, suggested the presence of several subsurface anomalies. Trenches N-C12 and N-C13 were opened to investigate them, but results were insubstantial.

 

TRENCH N-C12

 

An LH I level was found at the bottom of the trench; above it was an LH IIA level and an LH IIA pit in different corners of the trench. Surface levels contained pottery of the palatial period.

 

TRENCH N-C13

 

No substantial remains were found in trench N-C13. In the northeast corner, thermal imaging had suggested that there was a rectangular feature approximately the size of the Grave of the Griffin Warrior. We found nothing there and reached bedrock almost immediately. Surface levels contained pottery of the palatial period. In the southwest corner amidst stones and darker earth the deposit was deeper and there were pockets of early Mycenaean pottery. (Trench N-C13 is near Rawson’s trench M18, where MH pottery was recognized in the lowest level reached.)

 

These trenches were supervised by Abby Durick, Elizabeth Neill, and Deborah Nadal.

 

 

 

Area E

 

COMPLEX IN N-E08, N-E09, AND N-E10

 

In 2017, several new trenches were opened to the southeast of the path to Tholos IV, adjacent to the area excavated in 2016. In one of these was found most of a large wheel-made terracotta female figure, ca. 35 cm. high. This and other finds confirm our conclusion that the area was used for religious rituals.

Rhyton from trench N-E10

Mycenaean figure from trench N-E10.

 

 

A large area was opened to the south of where we excavated in 2016 at the entrance to the dromos of Tholos IV in trenches N-E01, E02, E03, and E05. (The dromos was originally ca. half of its present length, and was extended by the Ministry of Culture in 1959 when the site was being prepared for visits by tourists.) In 2016, we had continued excavations that had been initiated by the Greek Archaeological Service. These had uncovered several walls but had largely removed the floor deposits associated with them. The walls had been built on top of a substantial deposit of debris that had apparently been discarded from ritual feasts. The deposit in trench N-E02, for example, consisted of abundant potsherds (including cookware), at times more than soil, and moderate quantities of animal bone, particularly from cattle. We concluded that we had found a pit use for discarding rubbish from religious rituals.

Plan of trenches N-E08, N-E09, and N-E10. Denitsa Nenova.

 

TRENCHES N-E08, N-E09, AND N-E10

 

The complex of walls and pavements uncovered in these three trenches was used largely in LH IIIA. Just above bedrock in the southern end of N-E08 was a level with LH IIIA1 late/LH IIIA2 early pottery, equivalent in date to material found in N-E08 and N-E09. A layer of sterile soil above it suggests that the area may have been abandoned afterwards. Higher in N-E08 was a continuation of the pit investigated in N-E02 in 2016, containing pottery of LH IIIA2 early date. We now suspect that these finds do not come from a “pit,” so much as from a depression in the bedrock that was infilled with ritual detritus.

 

Still in LH IIIA2 early, the first walls were built here, defining two rooms. The rooms continued in use into LH IIIA2 middle, the phase to which the large female figure belongs. Highest in these trenches were traces of a third and final phase of construction, built in LH IIIA2 late and out of use in LH IIIB1.

 

 

TRENCH N-E16

 

In the final week of excavation, backfill from trench N-E05 (2016) was removed so that a triangular area between that trench and the concrete sidewalk leading to Tholos IV could be investigated next year. In addition, about 10 cm. of earth between the south baulk of trench N-E05 was removed, where complete vases were visible in the northern scarp of trench N-E08. These vases and any others found above the bottom of the wall exposed at the northern end of trench N-E08 seemed likely to come from a deposit associated with the walls first exposed by the Ministry of Culture in trenches N-E01, E02, E03, and E05.

 

TRENCH N-E15

 

In 1968, John Camp, then a student, was assigned by Blegen to excavate a trial trench in a “hollow” in the Tsakonas field, between the acropolis and Tholos IV. The trench was 85 m. long and 1.5 m. wide and oriented NW-SE. Its southern end was near the modern road to Chora, in what subsequently became and still is the parking lot for the archaeological site. Camp divided the trench into sections of 5 m. each. In three of these at the south end he discovered substantial quantities of stones and ceramics to a depth of nearly 5 m., when bedrock was reached. Elsewhere, relatively little was found, although excavation advanced until bedrock was found. In no place was a wall found. Not all sections of the trench were excavated. We opened trench N-E15 in order to locate Camp’s trench, which was not accurately mapped on any published or unpublished plan. We were successful in locating Camp’s trench at a point about 25 m. from its southern end, where our trench N-E15 intersected it. The following year, in 1969, another trench perpendicular to the 1969 trench, divided into three sections of ca. 10 m. each., was dug to bedrock at ca. 5 m. beneath the surface. A group of complete pots were found near stereo in section A, the nearest of the three sections to the 1968 trench. This trench lay entire within what is today the modern parking lot.

 

 

The trenches in area E were supervised by Piotr Zeman, Anna Belza, Katarzyna Dudlik, and Laura Magno.

 

 

Contact

 

Project Directors:

Sharon Stocker: sharon.stocker@uc.edu

Jack Davis: jack.davis@uc.edu

The Griffin Warrior needs your help!

Webdesign: Takin.solutions Ltd. 2016-2018 | All Rights Reserved |  Web content: Palace of Nestor Excavations (PONEX)

 

2017

 

 

Excavations began on Monday, May 15, after a general team meeting on Saturday, May 13, and a practice day on Sunday, May 14, in order to familiarize new members with procedures and policies. Once again, our team was multinational, with many students and scholars returning from previous years. We are grateful to all who again contributed to making the project a success.

 

For a third year, we were unable to open excavations in the Demopoulos field, inasmuch as it was not possible to complete purchase of the expropriated land in good order.

 

THE ACROPOLIS

Southeast of the Northeast Building

 

 

TRENCH N-A05 AND N-A07

 

In 1958, Marion Rawson opened “MY,” a long trench northeast of the Northeast Building, running 22 m. to the northeast from the corner of room 99 next to room 98. She divided the trench into sections of 2, 5, 5, 5, and 5 m. In the 10.5 m. farthest from room 99 she hit bedrock ca. 30-35 cm. beneath the surface. In the first 9.5 m. distant from the wall of room 99 Rawson found large quantities of stones that lay in no particular order. The stones lay in black soil that contained very worn pottery and pieces of mudbrick. After cleaning the stones, Rawson removed them, exposing what she believed was the surface on which they had fallen at the time of the destruction of the palace. The outer wall of the Northeast Building here was three courses deep and rested on bedrock. The two trenches were supervised by Csaba Bodnár, assisted by Kevin Hunter.

 

 

 

 

In 2017, we opened two other trenches farther to the southeast, also outside room 99, in part to try to relocate and reexamine the destruction horizon. One of these intersected Rawson’s trench MY. In all cases, in our trenches, like MY, we encountered a dense layer of stones, black soil and pottery (including partially mendable cups of Coulson’s DA III/LG). Once removed, the stones were found to be lying on a Mycenaean surface immediately above bedrock, marked by a thin level that contained, among earlier remains, sherds of the final Mycenaean palace period.

 

Northwest of the Main Building: (Area PNW and WK)

In 1962, William G. Kittredge, was assigned the task of exploring an extensive area on the northwest edge of the acropolis, in part in order to determine if other pieces of the Early Mycenaean fortification wall could be located, in part to search for additional frescoes in an area near the so-called Northwest Fresco Dump (Kittredge and his wife Caryl were long-term members of Caskey’s team at Ayia Irini on Keos and native Cincinnatians who, in retirement, took classes in the Department of Classics. In 1962, when Caskey decided not to excavate at Ayia Irini, they both joined Blegen at Pylos). The area that he explored measured 15 (north-south) x 39 m. (east-west), and lay northeast of final palace-phase rooms that had been earlier uncovered by Papathanassopoulos; excavation continued until bedrock was reached at a depth of 3 m., in the process uncovering forty walls and five drains, belonging to four principal phases of construction that predated the final palace. Kittredge reported “no substantial floors, except a small piece of stucco in the room 82 building.” He found, in addition, “several trays of plaster, particularly from under room 85,” which he believed were “connected to the cache” uncovered by Rawson in the Northwest Fresco Dump]. Recovered pottery dated from Middle Helladic through LH IIIB, but the strata in which pottery of specific periods was recovered could not be clearly associated with particular walls.

 

In 2017, excavation proceeded in an area east of trench WK1, previously untouched by any excavation.3 Notable finds included a fragment of a Linear B tablet, found while cleaning the southeastern scarp of WK1, and a small pit full of burnt animal bones, like the other pits found northwest of the Main Building, by both Kittredge and Papathanassopoulos (see “Animal Sacrifice, Archives, and Feasting at the Palace of Nestor,” in The Mycenaean Feast, ed. J.C. Wright, Hesperia 73 (2004) 179-195, esp. pp. 182, n. 12, 183, n. 17).

 

TRENCH N-A08

 

Excavation reached at lowest elevations a stratum with LH I pottery but no associated walls. Above this level, the earliest constructions uncovered included walls of LH IIB and a drain of LH I/II cut down into the LH I stratum. Two pits were cut into the LH IIB deposit, one with LH IIIA1 late/IIIA2 early pottery and much mudbrick, the other of the same date, with burnt pottery. Sterile soil was not reached.

 

TRENCH N-A09

 

Two walls, one of LH I, a second of MH III/LH I, were revealed at the lowest elevations reached in the trench. Higher up was an LH IIB wall with an LH IIIA1 late/IIIA2 pit disturbing it. The LH IIIA1 late/IIIA2 horizon itself contained much mudbrick. The small pit filled with cremated fragments of animal bones had been cut into it. It contained very little pottery, but nothing is incompatible with a date in the final palace period.

The two trenches were supervised by Hüseyin Öztürk, assisted by Jessica Williams and Simone Agrimonti.

 

Plan of  trenches in area A, 2017. (Dredit: Denitsa Nenova)

 

 

KITTREDGE TRENCHES

 

We took the opportunity to remove backfill from several of Kittredge’s trenches farther to the southwest. In trench 4 was uncovered an ashlar block, noted by Kittredge as resting on top of what he labelled Wall G on his plans, but almost all traces of that wall are now missing. The block, into which a circular hole was drilled on two sides, still sits on top of a column of unexcavated earth. In addition, we note here several finds from Kittredge’s excavations not published by Blegen in the Palace of Nestor III, including a piece of stone revetment, possible of antico rosso (Hofstra Dissertation, fig. 30). It was determined that Kittredge’s wall A was likely built in LH IIB and continued in use into LH IIIA.

 

TSAKONAS FIELD

Excavations continued in the Tsakonas field, north of the parking lot for the palace, in several different locations.

 

AREA B

 

Excavation in Area B was conducted in two areas, both near the border with the Petropoulos field.

 

In 2016, trenches N-B02 and N-B03 had been opened at the western end of the Tsakonas field, near the terrace wall that separates it from the Petropoulos field. The primary reason for opening these two trenches was to reach Middle Helladic levels, which had previously been found in trench N-B01 in 2015. No in situ stratigraphy was found in N-B02. In N-B03, excavation continued to a depth of 2.85 m. beneath the surface, where an in situ red paleosol was reached, apparently of Paleolithic date. A meter-deep layer of MH I-II through MH III-LH I pottery was found over the paleosol and beneath 1.5 m. of slope-wash.

 

RAWSON TRENCHES

 

In 1959, Marion Rawson opened a trench (Petropoulos I), 20-m.-long, on property of the Petropoulos family, beneath the acropolis of the Palace of Nestor to the north. In it she found walls of Middle Helladic date (Early Helladic and Middle Helladic Pylos: The Petropoulos Trench and Stratified Remains on the Englianos Ridge, Gilles Touchais and Anna Touchais, eds., “Mesohelladica” Conference, École Française d’ Athenes, March 9, 2006 (BCH Supplement 52), pp. 101-106.)

 

In addition to Petropoulos Trench I, in the Tsakonas field Rawson excavated a second, more restricted, sounding, ca. 2 x 1.5 m. and oriented northeast-southwest. The trench was located ca. 15 m. to the east of Petropoulos Trench I, where the property is bordered by an olive orchard that then belonged to the Tsakonas family (and is now property of the Greek state); the stones of the wall were removed, and Rawson determined that it had not been founded on an earlier, ancient, wall. Beneath the topsoil the earth was filled with “little white vein-like particles” that looked like ash, and which she compared to the earth excavated above the Wine Magazine also in 1959; at 0.70 stones were mixed in the earth and there were fragments of bronze. From the surface to a depth of 1.40 the deposit was LH III in character. Beneath 1.40 the deposit was entirely of MH date.

 

Our own trenches east of the terrace wall, in the Tsakonas field, reached MH architecture for the first time in this field.4 This discovery, in addition to the finds in N-B04 and B05, points to the existence of a substantial settlement beneath the acropolis, one that began early in the MH period and remains substantially unknown.

 

 

 

TRENCH N-B07

 

At a depth of 2.20, a well-built wall and a clay-lined hearth were found, associated with later MH I material, not as early in date as finds from Deriziotis Aloni (The Pylos Regional Archaeological Project V: Deriziotis Aloni. A Small Prehistoric Site in Messenia, Hesperia 72 [2003] 341-404). Above it was an MH II fill without minoanizing pottery, and, above that, a later MH II fill. The highest elevations were characterized by Late Helladic slope wash.

 

TRENCH N-B09

 

No architecture was found in this trench, but, instead, beneath slope wash was identified a series of surfaces, one of LH IIIA1, three of LH IIB, and two of LH IIA. In the slope wash was found a fragment of a Linear B tablet.

 

These trenches were supervised by Calla McNamee, assisted by Nolan Wang and Mohammed Bhatti.

 

 

 

AREA C

 

Remote Sensing

 

Remote sensing in the Tsakonas field, using magnetometry, GPR, and thermal imaging, suggested the presence of several subsurface anomalies. Trenches N-C12 and N-C13 were opened to investigate them, but results were insubstantial.

 

TRENCH N-C12

 

An LH I level was found at the bottom of the trench; above it was an LH IIA level and an LH IIA pit in different corners of the trench. Surface levels contained pottery of the palatial period.

 

TRENCH N-C13

 

No substantial remains were found in trench N-C13. In the northeast corner, thermal imaging had suggested that there was a rectangular feature approximately the size of the Grave of the Griffin Warrior. We found nothing there and reached bedrock almost immediately. Surface levels contained pottery of the palatial period. In the southwest corner amidst stones and darker earth the deposit was deeper and there were pockets of early Mycenaean pottery. (Trench N-C13 is near Rawson’s trench M18, where MH pottery was recognized in the lowest level reached.)

 

These trenches were supervised by Abby Durick, Elizabeth Neill, and Deborah Nadal.

 

 

Area E

 

COMPLEX IN N-E08, N-E09, AND N-E10

 

In 2017, several new trenches were opened to the southeast of the path to Tholos IV, adjacent to the area excavated in 2016. In one of these was found most of a large wheel-made terracotta female figure, ca. 35 cm. high. This and other finds confirm our conclusion that the area was used for religious rituals.

 

 

 

A large area was opened to the south of where we excavated in 2016 at the entrance to the dromos of Tholos IV in trenches N-E01, E02, E03, and E05. (The dromos was originally ca. half of its present length, and was extended by the Ministry of Culture in 1959 when the site was being prepared for visits by tourists.) In 2016, we had continued excavations that had been initiated by the Greek Archaeological Service. These had uncovered several walls but had largely removed the floor deposits associated with them. The walls had been built on top of a substantial deposit of debris that had apparently been discarded from ritual feasts. The deposit in trench N-E02, for example, consisted of abundant potsherds (including cookware), at times more than soil, and moderate quantities of animal bone, particularly from cattle. We concluded that we had found a pit use for discarding rubbish from religious rituals.

 

Mycenaean figure from trench N-E10.

 

Rhyton from trench N-E10

 

 

TRENCHES N-E08, N-E09, AND N-E10

 

The complex of walls and pavements uncovered in these three trenches was used largely in LH IIIA. Just above bedrock in the southern end of N-E08 was a level with LH IIIA1 late/LH IIIA2 early pottery, equivalent in date to material found in N-E08 and N-E09. A layer of sterile soil above it suggests that the area may have been abandoned afterwards. Higher in N-E08 was a continuation of the pit investigated in N-E02 in 2016, containing pottery of LH IIIA2 early date. We now suspect that these finds do not come from a “pit,” so much as from a depression in the bedrock that was infilled with ritual detritus.

 

Still in LH IIIA2 early, the first walls were built here, defining two rooms. The rooms continued in use into LH IIIA2 middle, the phase to which the large female figure belongs. Highest in these trenches were traces of a third and final phase of construction, built in LH IIIA2 late and out of use in LH IIIB1.

TRENCH N-E16

 

In the final week of excavation, backfill from trench N-E05 (2016) was removed so that a triangular area between that trench and the concrete sidewalk leading to Tholos IV could be investigated next year. In addition, about 10 cm. of earth between the south baulk of trench N-E05 was removed, where complete vases were visible in the northern scarp of trench N-E08. These vases and any others found above the bottom of the wall exposed at the northern end of trench N-E08 seemed likely to come from a deposit associated with the walls first exposed by the Ministry of Culture in trenches N-E01, E02, E03, and E05.

 

TRENCH N-E15

 

In 1968, John Camp, then a student, was assigned by Blegen to excavate a trial trench in a “hollow” in the Tsakonas field, between the acropolis and Tholos IV. The trench was 85 m. long and 1.5 m. wide and oriented NW-SE. Its southern end was near the modern road to Chora, in what subsequently became and still is the parking lot for the archaeological site. Camp divided the trench into sections of 5 m. each. In three of these at the south end he discovered substantial quantities of stones and ceramics to a depth of nearly 5 m., when bedrock was reached. Elsewhere, relatively little was found, although excavation advanced until bedrock was found. In no place was a wall found. Not all sections of the trench were excavated. We opened trench N-E15 in order to locate Camp’s trench, which was not accurately mapped on any published or unpublished plan. We were successful in locating Camp’s trench at a point about 25 m. from its southern end, where our trench N-E15 intersected it. The following year, in 1969, another trench perpendicular to the 1969 trench, divided into three sections of ca. 10 m. each., was dug to bedrock at ca. 5 m. beneath the surface. A group of complete pots were found near stereo in section A, the nearest of the three sections to the 1968 trench. This trench lay entire within what is today the modern parking lot.

 

All trenches in area E were supervised by Piotr Zeman, Anna Belza, Katarzyna Dudlik, and Laura Magno.

 

 

 

Plan of trenches. 2015-2017. Denitsa Nenova

Contact

 

Project Directors:

Sharon Stocker: sharon.stocker@uc.edu

Jack Davis: jack.davis@uc.edu

The Griffin Warrior needs your help!

Webdesign: Takin.solutions Ltd. 2016-2018 | All Rights Reserved |  Web content: University of Cincinnati Excavations at the Palace of Nestor (UCEPON)

 

2017

 

 

Excavations began on Monday, May 15, after a general team meeting on Saturday, May 13, and a practice day on Sunday, May 14, in order to familiarize new members with procedures and policies. Once again, our team was multinational, with many students and scholars returning from previous years. We are grateful to all who again contributed to making the project a success.

 

For a third year, we were unable to open excavations in the Demopoulos field, inasmuch as it was not possible to complete purchase of the expropriated land in good order.

 

THE ACROPOLIS

Southeast of the Northeast Building

 

 

TRENCH N-A05 AND N-A07

 

In 1958, Marion Rawson opened “MY,” a long trench northeast of the Northeast Building, running 22 m. to the northeast from the corner of room 99 next to room 98. She divided the trench into sections of 2, 5, 5, 5, and 5 m. In the 10.5 m. farthest from room 99 she hit bedrock ca. 30-35 cm. beneath the surface. In the first 9.5 m. distant from the wall of room 99 Rawson found large quantities of stones that lay in no particular order. The stones lay in black soil that contained very worn pottery and pieces of mudbrick. After cleaning the stones, Rawson removed them, exposing what she believed was the surface on which they had fallen at the time of the destruction of the palace. The outer wall of the Northeast Building here was three courses deep and rested on bedrock.

 

The two trenches were supervised by Csaba Bodnár, assisted by Kevin Hunter.

 

 

Pan of trenches. 2015-2017. (Credit: Denitsa Nenova)

 

 

In 2017, we opened two other trenches farther to the southeast, also outside room 99, in part to try to relocate and reexamine the destruction horizon. One of these intersected Rawson’s trench MY. In all cases, in our trenches, like MY, we encountered a dense layer of stones, black soil and pottery (including partially mendable cups of Coulson’s DA III/LG). Once removed, the stones were found to be lying on a Mycenaean surface immediately above bedrock, marked by a thin level that contained, among earlier remains, sherds of the final Mycenaean palace period.

 

 

Northwest of the Main Building: (Area PNW and WK)

In 1962, William G. Kittredge, was assigned the task of exploring an extensive area on the northwest edge of the acropolis, in part in order to determine if other pieces of the Early Mycenaean fortification wall could be located, in part to search for additional frescoes in an area near the so-called Northwest Fresco Dump (Kittredge and his wife Caryl were long-term members of Caskey’s team at Ayia Irini on Keos and native Cincinnatians who, in retirement, took classes in the Department of Classics. In 1962, when Caskey decided not to excavate at Ayia Irini, they both joined Blegen at Pylos). The area that he explored measured 15 (north-south) x 39 m. (east-west), and lay northeast of final palace-phase rooms that had been earlier uncovered by Papathanassopoulos; excavation continued until bedrock was reached at a depth of 3 m., in the process uncovering forty walls and five drains, belonging to four principal phases of construction that predated the final palace. Kittredge reported “no substantial floors, except a small piece of stucco in the room 82 building.” He found, in addition, “several trays of plaster, particularly from under room 85,” which he believed were “connected to the cache” uncovered by Rawson in the Northwest Fresco Dump]. Recovered pottery dated from Middle Helladic through LH IIIB, but the strata in which pottery of specific periods was recovered could not be clearly associated with particular walls.

 

In 2017, excavation proceeded in an area east of trench WK1, previously untouched by any excavation.3 Notable finds included a fragment of a Linear B tablet, found while cleaning the southeastern scarp of WK1, and a small pit full of burnt animal bones, like the other pits found northwest of the Main Building, by both Kittredge and Papathanassopoulos (see “Animal Sacrifice, Archives, and Feasting at the Palace of Nestor,” in The Mycenaean Feast, ed. J.C. Wright, Hesperia 73 (2004) 179-195, esp. pp. 182, n. 12, 183, n. 17).

 

 

Plan of trenches. 2015-2017. Denitsa Nenova

 

 

TRENCH N-A08

 

Excavation reached at lowest elevations a stratum with LH I pottery but no associated walls. Above this level, the earliest constructions uncovered included walls of LH IIB and a drain of LH I/II cut down into the LH I stratum. Two pits were cut into the LH IIB deposit, one with LH IIIA1 late/IIIA2 early pottery and much mudbrick, the other of the same date, with burnt pottery. Sterile soil was not reached.

 

TRENCH N-A09

 

Two walls, one of LH I, a second of MH III/LH I, were revealed at the lowest elevations reached in the trench. Higher up was an LH IIB wall with an LH IIIA1 late/IIIA2 pit disturbing it. The LH IIIA1 late/IIIA2 horizon itself contained much mudbrick. The small pit filled with cremated fragments of animal bones had been cut into it. It contained very little pottery, but nothing is incompatible with a date in the final palace period.

 

The two trenches were supervised by Hüseyin Öztürk, assisted by Jessica Williams and Simone Agrimonti.

 

 

 

KITTREDGE TRENCHES

 

We took the opportunity to remove backfill from several of Kittredge’s trenches farther to the southwest. In trench 4 was uncovered an ashlar block, noted by Kittredge as resting on top of what he labelled Wall G on his plans, but almost all traces of that wall are now missing. The block, into which a circular hole was drilled on two sides, still sits on top of a column of unexcavated earth. In addition, we note here several finds from Kittredge’s excavations not published by Blegen in the Palace of Nestor III, including a piece of stone revetment, possible of antico rosso (Hofstra Dissertation, fig. 30). It was determined that Kittredge’s wall A was likely built in LH IIB and continued in use into LH IIIA.

 

 

TSAKONAS FIELD

Excavations continued in the Tsakonas field, north of the parking lot for the palace, in several different locations.

 

AREA B

 

Excavation in Area B was conducted in two areas, both near the border with the Petropoulos field.

 

In 2016, trenches N-B02 and N-B03 had been opened at the western end of the Tsakonas field, near the terrace wall that separates it from the Petropoulos field. The primary reason for opening these two trenches was to reach Middle Helladic levels, which had previously been found in trench N-B01 in 2015. No in situ stratigraphy was found in N-B02. In N-B03, excavation continued to a depth of 2.85 m. beneath the surface, where an in situ red paleosol was reached, apparently of Paleolithic date. A meter-deep layer of MH I-II through MH III-LH I pottery was found over the paleosol and beneath 1.5 m. of slope-wash.

 

RAWSON TRENCHES

 

In 1959, Marion Rawson opened a trench (Petropoulos I), 20-m.-long, on property of the Petropoulos family, beneath the acropolis of the Palace of Nestor to the north. In it she found walls of Middle Helladic date (Early Helladic and Middle Helladic Pylos: The Petropoulos Trench and Stratified Remains on the Englianos Ridge, Gilles Touchais and Anna Touchais, eds., “Mesohelladica” Conference, École Française d’ Athenes, March 9, 2006 (BCH Supplement 52), pp. 101-106.)

 

In addition to Petropoulos Trench I, in the Tsakonas field Rawson excavated a second, more restricted, sounding, ca. 2 x 1.5 m. and oriented northeast-southwest. The trench was located ca. 15 m. to the east of Petropoulos Trench I, where the property is bordered by an olive orchard that then belonged to the Tsakonas family (and is now property of the Greek state); the stones of the wall were removed, and Rawson determined that it had not been founded on an earlier, ancient, wall. Beneath the topsoil the earth was filled with “little white vein-like particles” that looked like ash, and which she compared to the earth excavated above the Wine Magazine also in 1959; at 0.70 stones were mixed in the earth and there were fragments of bronze. From the surface to a depth of 1.40 the deposit was LH III in character. Beneath 1.40 the deposit was entirely of MH date.

 

Our own trenches east of the terrace wall, in the Tsakonas field, reached MH architecture for the first time in this field.4 This discovery, in addition to the finds in N-B04 and B05, points to the existence of a substantial settlement beneath the acropolis, one that began early in the MH period and remains substantially unknown.

 

 

 

 

MH I wall at the bottom of trench N-B07.

together with Shari Stocker and Nolan Wang

 

TRENCH N-B07

 

At a depth of 2.20, a well-built wall and a clay-lined hearth were found, associated with later MH I material, not as early in date as finds from Deriziotis Aloni (The Pylos Regional Archaeological Project V: Deriziotis Aloni. A Small Prehistoric Site in Messenia, Hesperia 72 [2003] 341-404). Above it was an MH II fill without minoanizing pottery, and, above that, a later MH II fill. The highest elevations were characterized by Late Helladic slope wash.

 

TRENCH N-B09

 

No architecture was found in this trench, but, instead, beneath slope wash was identified a series of surfaces, one of LH IIIA1, three of LH IIB, and two of LH IIA. In the slope wash was found a fragment of a Linear B tablet.

 

These trenches were supervised by Calla McNamee, assisted by Nolan Wang and Mohammed Bhatti.

 

 

AREA C

 

Remote Sensing

 

Remote sensing in the Tsakonas field, using magnetometry, GPR, and thermal imaging, suggested the presence of several subsurface anomalies. Trenches N-C12 and N-C13 were opened to investigate them, but results were insubstantial.

 

TRENCH N-C12

 

An LH I level was found at the bottom of the trench; above it was an LH IIA level and an LH IIA pit in different corners of the trench. Surface levels contained pottery of the palatial period.

 

TRENCH N-C13

 

No substantial remains were found in trench N-C13. In the northeast corner, thermal imaging had suggested that there was a rectangular feature approximately the size of the Grave of the Griffin Warrior. We found nothing there and reached bedrock almost immediately. Surface levels contained pottery of the palatial period. In the southwest corner amidst stones and darker earth the deposit was deeper and there were pockets of early Mycenaean pottery. (Trench N-C13 is near Rawson’s trench M18, where MH pottery was recognized in the lowest level reached).

 

These trenches were supervised by Abby Durick, Elizabeth Neill, and Deborah Nadal.

 

Area E

 

COMPLEX IN N-E08, N-E09, AND N-E10

 

In 2017, several new trenches were opened to the southeast of the path to Tholos IV, adjacent to the area excavated in 2016. In one of these was found most of a large wheel-made terracotta female figure, ca. 35 cm. high. This and other finds confirm our conclusion that the area was used for religious rituals.

 

 

 

A large area was opened to the south of where we excavated in 2016 at the entrance to the dromos of Tholos IV in trenches N-E01, E02, E03, and E05. (The dromos was originally ca. half of its present length, and was extended by the Ministry of Culture in 1959 when the site was being prepared for visits by tourists.) In 2016, we had continued excavations that had been initiated by the Greek Archaeological Service. These had uncovered several walls but had largely removed the floor deposits associated with them. The walls had been built on top of a substantial deposit of debris that had apparently been discarded from ritual feasts. The deposit in trench N-E02, for example, consisted of abundant potsherds (including cookware), at times more than soil, and moderate quantities of animal bone, particularly from cattle. We concluded that we had found a pit use for discarding rubbish from religious rituals.

 

 

Mycenaean figure from trench N-E10.

 

Rhyton from trench N-E10

 

 

TRENCHES N-E08, N-E09, AND N-E10

 

The complex of walls and pavements uncovered in these three trenches was used largely in LH IIIA. Just above bedrock in the southern end of N-E08 was a level with LH IIIA1 late/LH IIIA2 early pottery, equivalent in date to material found in N-E08 and N-E09. A layer of sterile soil above it suggests that the area may have been abandoned afterwards. Higher in N-E08 was a continuation of the pit investigated in N-E02 in 2016, containing pottery of LH IIIA2 early date. We now suspect that these finds do not come from a “pit,” so much as from a depression in the bedrock that was infilled with ritual detritus.

 

Still in LH IIIA2 early, the first walls were built here, defining two rooms. The rooms continued in use into LH IIIA2 middle, the phase to which the large female figure belongs. Highest in these trenches were traces of a third and final phase of construction, built in LH IIIA2 late and out of use in LH IIIB1.

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