Report on the 2000 Study Season

The season began in late April and continued until late November.

Major progress was made on several volumes in preparation for publication in the Isthmia series with a particular effort on photography. Conservation of metals in the capable hands of Stella Bouzakis included a number of pieces in the large but fragmentary collection of arms and armor. On the site, the waterproof plaster covering the purification installation known as the West Waterworks was conserved, but continuing penetration of ground water made it necessary to cover the entire monument.

The Minister of Culture, Mr. Pangelos, visited the Museum in June and considered activities that could be held at the site to interest the general public. The advent of the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004 and the “Cultural Olympics” being planned by the Ministry raises the question of Isthmia’s contribution to the program, in view of the fact that the Isthmian Sanctuary was the site of the ancient panhellenic Isthmian Games. The University of Chicago and the Ohio State Excavations at Isthmia look forward to cooperating with the Ministry of Culture and the Fourth Ephoreia of Classical Antiquities in their planning and preparations for popular events at the site and enhancement of the Museum.

Summer School Sessions I and II from the American School of Classical Studies in Athens were given lectures and tours of the site, and other visitors came through from time to time.

Alastar Jackson lectures to the American School Summer School in the Museum

Rachi Settlement, Virginia Anderson-Stojanovic

Deposit lists were finalized and photography of objects completed. Approximately 60 new ceramic vessels were added to the inventory, primarily from the shrine to Demeter and Kore that predated the settlement. In preparation for a functional analysis of the rooms and outdoor spaces in the houses groups of objects found within the houses were arranged in tabular form.

Indication of an unrecorded battle in and around the Rachi Settlement between Roman forces and Corinthians (controlled by Philip V of Macedon) is found in the significant number of weapons that are apparently not related to the life of the settlement but may have been deposited during an armed engagement. Their form and the archaeological context agree with a date ca. 200-198 B.C. Drs Jackson and Stojanovic are collaborating on the presentation of a likely scenario for the battle.

Late Archaic and Classical Pottery, Martha Risser, assisted by Peter Tessner and two students.

Martha Risser continued work on the volume of Late Archaic and Classical ceramics that was initially begun by Julie Bentz. Examination of the context pottery was completed this season and 516 pieces removed for inventory. Bentz’s preliminary notes were revised and corrected. Consultation with Karim Arafat solved problems of overlap in objects from the 6th century. Material from the Ohio State Excavations was examined for parallels.

Archaic Pottery, Karim Arafat

Work on the volume progressed during a sabbatical year in Athens with occasional trips to Isthmia. Profiles were drawn by Milo Verhamme.

Hellenistic and Roman Pottery, John Hayes

The volume nears completion. Descriptions for Lots and deposits in the Palaimonion area were finalized. Drawings for the plates are nearly finished.

John Hayes prepares drawings of Roman pottery

Arms and Armor, Alastar Jackson

Extensive groups of material were photographed by Iman Heystek, including shin guards and Illyrian and Decorated Corinthian helmets, and weapons from the West Foundation and the Rachi Settlement. Joining fragments were conserved by Stella Bouzakis. Discussion of weapons from the Rachi will be included in the Rachi volume.
Alastar Jackson and Iman Heystek consult on photography of arms and armour

Palaimonion, Roman Shrine of the Hero Melikertes-Palaimon, James Hanges

Study of excavation records and objects (inventoried and context pottery) clarified the plan and stratigraphy of Palaimonion phases III – V.
The most striking discovery came in the recognition of two walls removed in 1956 but recorded by the excavator and in contemporary photographs, that provide the link between the earlier phases of the shrine and the crypt of Palaimon that was incorporated into the hero’s temple in the later 2nd century. It is now evident that the shrine of Palaimon, probably from its beginnings in the mid-1st century and certainly by the mid-2nd century included a place that was considered the resting place of the deity. Thus, the entire sanctuary was larger and more unified than previously thought, providing spaces for other rites to the hero in addition to the holocaustic sacrifices held in the burning pits.

Archaic Temple of Poseidon, Frederick Hemans

The volume nears completion. Deposit descriptions including inventoried objects and context material were finalized and related to the stratigraphy of the site. Detailed plans of all trenches and sections of deposits were made. The chronology of the functional phases of both Archaic and Classical temples was revised.

Material in the construction deposits revealed that the blocks were finished to a considerable degree before being brought to the site.

Many phases in the sima of the Classical temple were identified, and it was found that the remains belong almost entirely to the 4th century B.C. when the roof was rebuilt after the fire of 390 B.C. and to Roman repairs and reconstructions in the 2nd century.

Isthmia Museum, Elizabeth Gebhard and Peggy Sanders

A series of illustrations and phase plans, restored drawings, computer reconstructions and photographs of objects and excavations in progress was prepared to accompany the museum displays as they are now arranged. These have been given to the Ephor of the Fourth Ephoreia of Classical Antiquities, Elisabeth Spathari, for her use in the proposed remodelling of the museum and redesigning of the exhibit.

A short video is planned for the Museum entrance hall to provide an orientation for visitors. This summer considerable time was devoted to photographing the site on video, including close-ups of the major monuments. To these views will be added restored drawings and plans to help the visitor relate existing remains to the original buildings.

Peggy Sanders shooting a video from the Museum roof

Peggy Sanders designed a brochure providing a brief introduction to the site and Museum. It has been printed and is available for students and others interested in the site.

Respectfully submitted by Elizabeth R. Gebhard
Director, University of Chicago Excavations at Isthmia
December, 2000