Report on the 2002 Study Season

The season extended from 15 June to 30 September. Staff members: Elizabeth Gebhard, Fritz Hemans, Jonathon Stevens and Genevieve Waller. John Hayes continued study of the late Hellenistic and Roman pottery; Alastar Jackson the arms and armor. Jean Perras is the site manager and archivist; Stella Bouzaki the metals conservator; and Nikos Didaskalou ceramics and stone conservator. Clary Palyvou undertook an evaluation of conservation needs in the excavated area. Issues of site presentation to the public were addressed in consultation with the 4th Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities.

Roof tiles from the Archaic Temple: Fritz Hemans, J. Stevens
Two methods of manufacture have been suggested for the large early archaic roof tiles. Christian Le Roy (FD 2) in 1967 proposed that archaic tiles (in particular simas) were manufactured using a “gabarit” (template) rather than a press mold. Gebhard and Rostoker in 1978 demonstrated the use of a mold to form the upper surface (JFA 8 (1981) 211-227). This year experiments were carried out to test the template method, since examination of the bottom surface suggested that it had been formed by being pressed from above onto an earthen or pebbly clay surface. Problems encountered with the clay and firing the finished tiles delayed the project. The template method seems possible but its use is not certainly proven.

Palaimonion: E. Gebhard
Study continued on the chronology and function of the shrine based on the archaeological, numismatic, and literary sources. The possibility that a roofed building stood in the central section of Phase III was explored in relation to the construction sequence of the buildings that replaced it. The width of the area seems too great to have been spanned by timber beams, and it is probable that the area functioned as a corridor between the east and west precincts of the shrine. The Temple of Palaimon that was built in Phase V appears on coins of Lucius Verus (A.D. 160-167) and thus provides a terminus ante quam for its construction. Materials in the archaeological record place the end of Phase II ca. A.D. 100/120.

Isthmia Museum: F. Hemans, Iota Kassimi (4th Ephoreia)
Final plans were prepared for the reorganization of the Isthmia museum exhibits, based on an earlier proposal by Elizabeth Gebhard and Peggy Sanders (2000). Plans were included for adding handicapped accessible facilities, paving the musuem terrace to convert it into an outdoor display area, and converting the light well in the apotheke into a research/office facility. Hemans made sketches to show the proposed layout in perspective views.

Site Conservation and Presentation to the Public: E. Gebhard, R. Hemans, C. Palyvou, Iota Kassimi
The condition of the site, both architectural remains and the natural surface, requires that a plan for conservation be undertaken as soon as possible. In consultation with the 4th Ephoreia and the Chicago Excavation staff, C. Palyvou has prepared a proposal for a short-term and a more extensive multi-year project. Areas needing particular attention include the Early Stadium Reservoir (=Palaimonion tunnel), which is a place where the natural clay surface is eroding and the underground chamber is in danger of collapse.

Respectfully submitted by Professor Elizabeth R. Gebhard
Director, University of Chicago Excavations at Isthmia
9 October 2002