Report on the 1996 Season

Elizabeth R. Gebhard, Director

The season began June 1 and continued to the end of September. Major attention was devoted to restored drawings of the Rachi Settlement and to conservation and landscaping in the Sanctuary of Poseidon. Isthmia VII (I. Raubitschek, Metal Objects) and VIII (C. Morgan, Mycenaean Settlement and Early Iron Age Sanctuary) are in press; volumes on the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman pottery, Arms and Armor, the Archaic Temple, and the Rachi Settlement make excellent progress at the hands of several authors.

Rachi Settlement
Virginia Anderson-Stojanovic; Thomas Morton, architect

(Fig. 1) An unusual feature of the small settlement on the ridge above the Sanctuary of Poseidon is the presence, in six of the houses, of cement-lined working floors and vats adjacent to the courtyard. Although they were originally interpreted as dye-works, these installations now seem more likely to have been used for processing olive oil. In each case, the sacks of olives were pressed on the floor by the use of a winch and lever press; one of the two adjacent vats served as a container for the mixture of oil and water from the press floor and the other for the oil after separation. Reconstructions were made of the working areas in Houses III and IV (Fig. 2).

Houses II, X and XI with the adjoining streets, stairways, and well were restored as examples of structures that preserve details most characteristic of the settlement (Figs. 3, 4).

A catalogue of terracotta beehives from the settlement and from the sanctuary will be published in conjunction with a forthcoming article by Richard Evershed on the evidence of beeswax found in samples of the vases. The hives have the form of an open vessel with a small opening at the base and grooves on the inside. Lids covered the top. At this point they seem to constitute the only example of the top bar hive known fom antiquity.

Archaic Temple of Poseidon
Frederich Hemans

A block belonging to the south wall of the pronaos was discovered to be in its original position, thus adding to the very few blocks of the temple that remain in situ. Another block, this time from one of the end walls of the cella, was identified near the Southeast Gate of the Roman temenos.

In conjuction with conservation work in the temple, two new sections were drawn through the building, and sections were made of the pilaster cuttings and post holes.

North and East Gateways
Frederich Hemans

Hemans identified blocks and painted roof tiles belonging to two small buildings of appropriate scale and date to have stood on the foundations for the north and east entrances to the temenos in the 4th century B.C. Restored drawings were made (Figs. 5, 6).

John Hayes, Martha Risser, Kees Neeft, Anneka Aarts

John Hayes put the catalogue texts for selected vessels from the period ca. 300 B.C. to ca. A.D. 600 into final order and added over 151 drawings to the 21 pages of figures for his volume. Tables were prepared to show percentages of local and imported fine wares, cooking wares, and coarse wares; the sequence of selected dated deposits was documented.

The Southwest Reservoir produced evidence for use of the system in the Classical period. Its abandonment around 180-160 B.C. was marked by a dumping of table and cooking wares that give a representative picture of Corinthian household pottery after ca. 200 B.C.

From deposits of the later 1st century A.D. a variety of Corinthian thin-walled wares and their various Italian and Asia Minor counterparts was documented. The Late Romen (post-cult) material, relatively rich in imports, seems to show an impoverishment of the local workshops. The moment of abandonment of the Theater Caves in the late 4th century A.D. is represented by a complete coarse ware jar found where it had apparently been left on one of the dining couches.

Martha Risser joined the staff this summer to work with Julie Bentz on the study of ceramics from ca. 550 B.C. to ca. 300 B.C. She refined dates of selected deposits from the 5th and 4th centuries in sanctuary, and conferred with Anderson-Stojanovic concerning the chronology of certain Conventionalizing pottery styles on the basis of deposits from the Rachi.

For the publication of Archaic pottery under preparation by Karim Arafat, Kees Neeft drew and entered on computer the complex figure scenes. Profiles and other designs were drawn by Anneke Aarts.

Jamie Morton; Michel Huijsing, photographer

The 446 loomweights from the Rachi Settlement and the sanctuary were photographed and detailed pictures taken of 259 stamps and incisions. Study of profiles, forms, and patterns of wear on the weights clarified the method of manufacture and use on the loom.

Site studies
E. Gebhard, F. Hemans, Matthew Haysom

Problems of Isthmian topography were reviewed with special attention to the contours of the central plateau. A series of constructions identified by Broneer as belonging to a Mycenaean fortification wall were re-examined together with previously excavated remains west of the Rachi Settlement and in the Southeast Valley.

Stella Bouzakis, Nikolas Didaskalou, Aristomenes Arborores, E. Gebhard

The West Waterworks, a small sunken bathing area of Classical date lying west of the Temple of Poseidon, was conserved by removing and resetting the waterproof cement that lined the cistern and adjacent floor, bench and stairways (Figs. 7, 8). Since excavation by Broneer in 1953-55, the marl from which the features were cut has been eroded and should be covered. Plans were drawn for a light roof that would protect the monument.

Removal of the excavation dump (1953-60) from the northeast end of the central plateau of the sanctuary has opened up the site so that the Roman bath and theater are visible from the Temple of Poseidon. In the east and north temenos, trenches were filled to Roman levels and visitors can now move easily around the site. Roman piers in the Northeast Cave were repaired, as were other walls throughout the sanctuary.

Isthmia Museum
F. Hemans, Jean Perras, Lael Hannerfeld

Severe leaks in the roof require immediate attention to prevent damage to the antiquities. The ephor, Mrs. Phani Pachyianni, has assured the project that steps will be taken to repair the museum.

In anticipation of a new roof that will very likely close the sky lights, preliminary plans were drawn for renovation of the sanctuary exhibits (Figs. 9, 10).

A video installation that will give visitors a brief history and tour of the site in several languages is in preparation. As part of the presentation, restorations of the sanctuary at nine points in its history are being entered into AutoCAD (Figs. 11, 12).

All records for objects on display in the museum were updated and entries made in the database.

In the museum office, computer and database facilities were upgraded.