CAIA Brief Report for 2002 Season at Mytilene and Stymphylos
Study seasons by the UBC teams at Mytilene and Stymphalos in the summer of 2002 concentrated on preparation of final publications at both sites and at conservation work on pottery, coins, small bronze objects, and wall plaster at Stymphalos. We acknowledge with gratitude the financial support of the University of British Columbia and the SSHRCC and the practical support of the K’ Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities at Mytilene and its ephor, Mme. Aglaia Archontidhou,and the D’ Ephoreia at Nafplion and its ephor, Mr. Alexander Mantis. As always the CAIA was of great assistance in every aspect of our work. The high point of the season for me was becoming an honorary citizen of the demos of Stymphalia at the end of August last summer.
At Mytilene work concentrated on starting to build a digital archive of photographs of the thousands of catalogued objects from our excavations between 1984 and 1994 and on completing cataloguing the over 400 loom weights from the Demeter sanctuary and the lower town excavations. We were also able to make further joins in the late archaic fragmentary Ionic column and base found reused in fill in a Hellenistic level on the acropolis; these modest pieces attest for the first time to the Ionic order on archaic Lesbos. By far the majority of the loom weights are pyramidal in form and vary in size from large two kilogram examples to miniatures. A number had oval impressions, probably from finger rings, while others had scratched markings. By contrast at Stymphalos where we also worked on loom weights last year, nearly all weights are conical, a shape typical of southern Greece. We also did further work on archaic context pottery from the lower site, noting a particularly large number of band decorated bowls and a signature of the 6th c. BC Attic cup painter TLESON.
At Stymphalos a much large team worked for over six weeks both in the apothiki and to a lesser degree in the field; Dr. Susan-Marie Cronkite Price recovered more of the painted and drafted fallen wall plaster first revealed in the 2001 season in the domestic area in the southeast part of town. The latter work was particularly critical as the material left in situ had begun to deteriorate due to the wet conditions of the environment in winter; the site is at times under 50 cm or more of lake water…The bulk of the plaster, drafted into ashlar-like forms, comes from an andron, a dining room with raised platform around the edges, but some also came from a nearby room in which we also found over 30 bronze bosses from a wooden door. A critical question is how much of the decoration is Hellenistic and how much Roman—the bosses are typical of 2nd c. BC examples in Macedonia, for example. Much, if not most, of Stymphalos was apparently abandoned after 146 BC with some limited resettlement late in the first century BC, perhaps at the time of Corinth’s great expansion after Roman refounding. The style of decoration is typical of the so-called First Pompeian and usually is dated to ca. 150 BC; the pottery from the destruction level, however, is Tiberian in date and a coin of Gaius indicates the approximate date of the massive earthquake that destroyed the building and led to the abandonment of this area of the site. One important element of conservation work this year was the mending of some of the dozens of shattered but complete Roman storage and kitchenware vessels found in previous seasons. We were also able to restore an alabaster alabastron found burned and broken in the sanctuary of Athena several seasons ago.
Professor Gerald Schaus continued his work on the sanctuary of Athena on the Acropolis, overseeing the study of a number of elements of that part of the project: architecture, coins, pottery, lamps, small finds, etc. Ms. Jennifer Knapp continued her study of the pottery, Ms. Kathleen Sherwood the terracotta figurines, and Dr. Robert Weir the coins. Some limited building of temporary retaining walls at the end of the season aimed at preserving ancient remains threatened by erosion during winter storms. Mr. Ben Gourley continued his work on the fortifications and on planning and topography, assembling material gathered with a Trimble GPS to create a detailed contour map of the acropolis as well as advising on developing a plan for long term conservation and preservation of the excavated remains. Jointly with the new demos of Stymphalia we have been creating a proposal for a tourist path and information panels for approval by the Ministry of Culture.
Work on study and conservation will continue at both sites this summer.
Director, UBC Mytilene and Stymphalos Projects