The second season of the archaeological survey of Thisve (Byzantine Kastorion) and its natural harbours lasted from September 1st to 23rd, 2006. It continues as a collaboration between the 9th Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, the 1st Ephoreia of Byzantine Antiquities, and a team from the University of Birmingham. The withdrawal of the Ephoreia of Underwater Antiquities from the approved and fully funded survey of the floor of the great natural harbour, the Ormos Dhomvrainas, last year, entails a more circumscribed approach to the archaeology of Thisve-Kastorion’s loci of maritime traffic. But our aim continues to be the integration of the study of the ancient and Byzantine town with that of its harbour and of the small plain which links them. Meanwhile the team has concentrated entirely in 2006 upon (1) the topographical survey, (2) the architectural survey, and (3) the geophysical survey, of the urban site and of its suburbium. The present phase of the project is concerned with the visible remains of ancient Thisve and medieval Kastorion, but also records examples of post-medieval or early modern structures which may illuminate either the discussion of Byzantine urban topography or of pre-industrial agricultural production in and around the plain.
1. For the urban topographical survey (the responsibility of Mr Christopher Mavromatis) all of Thisve-Kastorion’s in situ visible archaeological remains have been first registered using a Global Positioning System (whose readings typically erred up to three metres either side of the true). Readings were then entered into the Greek military maps at a scale of 1:50,000, which the project has digitised and has geo-referenced so that “GPS” readings can be added. The corners or “footprints” of archaeological features selected for detailed study were then fixed using an Electronic Distance Measurer in relation to several re-identifiable points, including points identifiable on the Greek military maps at a scale of 1:5,000. The project has also digitised and geo-referenced this series so that “GPS” readings can be added. However, at this scale GPS-based readings of the footprints of features selected for detailed study (for which see 2a and 2b) should eventually be obtained using a high-resolution (“Differential”) GPS.
In 2006 the team completed, for present purposes, the search for in situ visible archaeological remains within the study area defined by the Permit issued in 2005. In the process twenty-seven more features or associations of features were registered (LOCI 51 to 77). These additional features are: fragments of the eastern and western curtain walls which linked the twin acropoles, including substantial remains of an externally projecting tower on each of these walls (one of which is hidden inside a modern shed, but was probably described by the Classicist and translator of Pausanias, J.G.Frazer, in 1895); an important fragment of the Lower Acropolis (Neokastro) not recorded on the German Archaeological Institute’s sketch-plans of 1956-58; large manmade dumps (ancient or Byzantine) of the murex purpurea group of molluscs recorded by the British ambassador Sir Thomas Wyse ca.1858; the position of the church of the Panagia (Koimêsis tês Theotokou) on the village square, as the site of a demolished medieval church which was described in the 1870s by Archduke Ludwig Salvator von Habsburg ; a probable parekklêsion of the ruined Middle Byzantine church of “Agios Loukas”; the single-aisled post-Byzantine chapel of “Prophêtês Êlias”, which is associated with several massive ashlar orthostates of the kind always found in the masonry of Thisve’s Byzantine churches and chapels; the spolia-built ekklêsaki of Agios Konstantinos; five monumental wine fermentation-vats with exterior stone-framed niches (making a running total, probably incomplete, of seven around the village); eleven cobbled threshing floors (certainly an incomplete running total); and substantial fragments of a lime mortar-bonded phase, or phases, of fortifications extending all around the hill of “Palaiokastro” (the Upper Acropolis), perhaps Justinianic, which are clearly to be connected with the single large fragment of a curtain wall recorded there in the German Archaeological Institute’s sketch-plans. Palaiokastro’s fortifications, of which there are at least four phases (in contrast to Neokastro’s two apparent phases) are unstable and are collapsing.
2a. The identification, registration, and mapping of visible in situ features of the urban site therefore continued throughout the season. Meanwhile the recording of the architecture and masonry of selected churches and secular monuments registered in 2005 proceeded. Eight churches (seven Byzantine, including Byzantino-Frankish, and one post-Byzantine), a tower with Hellenistic and medieval (probably Frankish) phases, and one of the monumental wine-fermentation vats, were recorded using a CYRAX High-Definition Three-Dimensional Laser-Scanner. Meanwhile top-plans of the Hellenistic fortifications of the Lower Acropolis (Neokastro), and of substantial walls of post-Roman type which were revealed by removal of vegetation in the geophysical survey area, were made by Mr Christopher Mavromatis using an electronic distance measurer. See 2b for further details.
3a. Geophysical survey took place in a part of the wider defined and demarcated study area, 160 metres N/S by 80 metres E/W, where three substantial lime mortar-bonded walls are visible at ground level (in one of which Greco-Roman disjecta membra predominate). All walls are of typical post-Roman types. The area chosen is the nearest to the Hellenistic city walls in which geophysical survey is practical: immediately to the south of “Neokastro”. The area is, like the twin acropoles, associated with a relatively high density of rubble, constructional terra cotta, and pre-modern sherds, including Late Roman and medieval. Geophysical survey is completely impractical within the original walled town, which is occupied by the modern village, and on Neokastro, whose surface, whilst artefact-rich, consists of bedrock and manmade stone features founded upon bedrock. The area chosen for geophysical survey offers therefore a unique opportunity to explore non-destructively a relatively large section of the urban settlement (technically the suburbium) other than the visible fortifications and churches.
2b. THE ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
The Byzantine Ephoreia concentrated upon the cleaning of monuments that were selected for detailed architectural survey, and focused also upon a search, in the archives of the Christian Archaeological Society and the Byzantine Museum (Athens), the Archaeological Museums of Thebes and of Thespiai, and at the Makariotissa Monastery (Dhomvraina), for elements of the architectural sculpture of Thisve’s Byzantine churches. A Middle Byzantine capital with the motif of an eagle carved in low relief on its four faces (very worn) was reported to the British team, by whom it was recorded. The architectural survey of ten monuments (by Mr Michael Lobb, assisted by Mr Kevin Colls) was effected using the laser-scanner, which, on the basis of a single recording operation, can generate ground-plans, top-plans, sections, elevations, stone-plans, and architectural models viewed from any angle. The following structures were recorded over the course of six days:
Locus 1: remains of a Middle Byzantine church which would have had a central dome carried on four piers, and which reveals traces of a minor secondary phase.
Locus 2: Agios Vlasios, a single-aisled chapel, possible post-Byzantine, in which both lime mortar and mud bonding appear to have been used in a single building phase.
Locus 3: Agios Loukas, remains of a Middle Byzantine church with two important phases which affect the naos and narthex, and sub-phases which affect the narthex and the northern side (Locus 74). In both major phases there would have been a central dome over the naos carried on piers. Its southern façade and other probably Byzantine structures were this year identified in the road which currently defines the south and east sides of the monument, but could not be recorded.
Locus 4: Agia Triada, remains of a Middle Byzantine church of whose interior spaces there is no visible trace at the surface today. Its dimensions suggest that it would have been domed.
Locus 9: single-aisled building on an east-west orientation, within Neokastro, probably originally a chapel (Byzantine or Frankish), of the same construction as 74 (See below).
Locus 16: Agios Konstantinos, a single-aisled chapel whose masonry of opus incertum, and of spolia deployed as jambs and quoins, is Middle Byzantine or later. The apse is excavated into the cliff-face of Neokastro.
Locus 18: Agioi Taxiarkhai, single-aisled chapel, post-Byzantine, in one corner of a walled yard which contains architectural elements possibly derived from a Byzantine church. The Hellenistic city wall may cross the yard (topographically recorded).
Locus 21: one of seven recorded wine-fermenting vats; encased within freestanding or partially engaged stone structures which have niches in one of their four sides. This planned example has three such niches instead of the usual pair, which could have contained inscribed plaques and religious objects.
Locus 25: a tower of the Hellenistic lower acropolis (Neokastro), restored as a freestanding tower in Byzantine or later medieval times (freestanding to the extent that it was no longer entered directly from the Hellenistic battlements, although the precise means of access to its masonry platform remains unclear). It is the only part of the lower acropolis’s defences to show evidence of medieval restoration. The exposed floor above its internal vault could not be recorded this year.
Locus 74: annexe (a parekklêsion?) attached to the north side of Agios Loukas, whose relationship to the identifiable phases of the naos and narthex is not established. Its masonry, as preserved, is the same as that of the chapel on Neokastro ( Locus 9).
3b. THE GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
This was carried out by Ms Photeini Kondyli (assisted by Mr Kevin Colls) who reports that the three visible post-Roman walls reported above fit coherently inside linear anomalies, probably representing walls, which enclose or cross the eastern half of the 160-by-80 metre targeted area. The western half of the targeted area meanwhile is devoid of detectable features (in terms of the magnetic readings). Given the quality of the readings, which were taken every 100 centimetres using a GEOSCAN Fluxgate Gradiometer, Kondyli’s report advocates that Resistivity be applied to the anomaly-rich area while the axis of the transects be shifted through 90 degrees. By doing this, and by collecting artefacts within the geophysical survey’s 20-by-20-metre quadrats, in next year’s proposed programme, we suggest (a) that this year’s results (obtained by Magnetometry) can be usefully tested, (b) that the Ohio State University’s Thisve Basin Survey can be usefully complemented, and (c) that a unique description of the remains of a colonnade or colonnades at this spot, which was made in 1895, can be better evaluated (J.G.Frazer, Pausanias’s description of Greece translated with a commentary, London, 1913, vol.5, p.162).
Fieldwork planned for 2007:
The team from Birmingham University’s responsibilities are: completion of the topographical survey of the monuments of Thisve-Kastorion; completion of the architectural survey of the pre-Classical, Hellenistic, Late Roman, Byzantine, and Frankish monuments; re-survey using Resistivity of the post-Roman extramural complex surveyed by means of Magnetometry in 2006; completion of the vegetational survey of the Thisve Basin effected in 2004-5. The team from the American School of Classical Studies (Athens)’s responsibilities are: re-analysis of the pottery of the “Thisbe Basin Survey” and “Corinthian Gulf Islands Project” [Bay of Thisve-Dhomvraina] in collaboration with Dr Ioanita Vroom; re-evaluation of the Thisve Basin Survey’s topographic data; merging of the British and American teams’ topographic data within GIS. The Greek Archaeological Service’s responsibilities are: preparation of the urban monuments for further architectural and topographical survey; the search in museums and other offsite locations for the sculptural furniture of the Byzantine churches; analysis of samples from the murex purpurea middens.