From June 24 through August 7 a group of researchers continued their investigations of the Sanctuary of Zeus at Mt. Lykaion, where work has been underway since 2004.
The team included specialists from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, together with a team from the University of Arizona, and in collaboration with the 39th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Tripolis. The co-directors of the project are Dr. Michalis Petropoulos, Ephor of Antiquities of the 39th Ephoreia, Dr. Mary E. Voyatzis of the University of Arizona and Dr. David Gilman Romano of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Our synergates is Anastasia Panagiotopoulou, Director of the Institute for Peloponnesian Studies in Tripolis. The work was carried out under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, and was made possible through the generosity of individuals, foundations and Greek-American supporters from the United States. The financial support of Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Karabots of Fort Washington, Pennsylvania continues to be of major importance to the project. The Greek-American team that numbered up to 61 students and staff over the course of the summer, stayed in village accommodations in Ano Karyes and in nearby Kastanochoroi. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation through the University of Pennsylvania and the Wallace Foundation through the University of Arizona were responsible for supporting many of the students who came from these two universities. The 1984 Foundation was also an important support for the project. The cordial and helpful assistance given to all members of the project by the Patriotic Syllogos of Ano Karyes, and its president, Mr. Christos Koumoundouros, continues to be greatly appreciated by us all.
Four local workmen together with three workmen from the Greek Archaeological Service cleared the site of brush and high grass, and also served as workmen for the trenches that were dug in the lower area of the Sanctuary of Zeus. Several representatives of the 39th Ephoreia participated in the project in addition to Dr. Michalis Petropoulos, including Dr. Anna Karapanagiotou, Dr. Stamatis Fritzilas, Dr. Grigoris Grigorakakis and Dr. Leonidas Souchliras. Ms. Anastasia Panagiotopoulou served as synergates as the Director of the Archaeological Institute of the Peloponnesos, Tripolis. Dr. Petropoulos was in charge of clearing an area of the temenos near the ash altar of Zeus at the southern peak of 2the mountain, and Dr. Anna Karapanagiotou was in charge of the Greek excavation at trench J, near the area of the seats in the lower sanctuary.
Our work was divided into several parts that included a geological survey, topographical and architectural surveys, architectural documentation, a historical survey, landscape studies and stratigraphic excavation. Dr. George Davis of the University of Arizona and a small team continued the geological survey of the area immediately surrounding the southern peak of Mt. Lykaion, defining the structural geology of the region. Two topographical survey teams, under the direction of Mr. Andrew Insua of the University of Pennsylvania, continued the work of documenting the location of every above ground and visible stone block at the site. A team of four architecture students supervised by two architects, Ms. Ximena Valle and Ms. Pam Jordan, continued the documentation of the blocks, by creating a series of hand drawings of every significant architectural block. The architecture students, partially funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, worked on the completion of the documentation of the ca. 39 m. long series of steps or seats to the north of the stoa, the documentation of the east wall of the ‘xenon’ building, and the documentation of the fountain house to the south and west of the ‘xenon.’ The architectural renderings of the blocks at the site now number well over 2500. Dr. Yanis Pikoulas of the University of Thessaly, together with a group of three students, continued the historical study of the area of Mt. Lykaion, identifying ancient roads and towns in the area. Mr. Mark Davison, of the University of Oregon, began to expand his cultural landscape study of the area of the Sanctuary of Zeus to include areas of the proposed archaeological park. Over the last few years there has been a growing interest in the idea of creating an archaeological heritage park that would protect and unify ancient cities and sanctuaries in the area of Western Arcadia, Southern Elis and Northern Messenia. Ms. Terri Moreno of the Arizona State Museum assisted us once again as our conservator, supported by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. Expropriation of land is underway and includes areas in and around the ash altar and in the temenos on the southern peak of the mountain. In the lower sanctuary it comprises the regions around the stoa, ‘xenon,’ fountain house, steps or seats, and the southern part of the nearby walnut grove. Additional plots have been surveyed for expropriation, including the northern hippodrome, the bath building and associated areas, as well as the northern aspect of the walnut grove.
We continued several trenches from 2007 and opened a number of new trenches. In the altar we continued Trench Z, finishing the original trench to bedrock, and extended the trench to the north and also dug to bedrock. Stratigraphic sequences were found in the lower aspects of both trenches probably indicating first use of the altar in the Mycenaean period, characterized by dozens of Mycenaean kylikes and other small finds. Above this level, the stratigraphy includes dark age material, as well as Geometric, Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic sherds and objects, in what appears to be a continuous sequence. Many miniature bronze tripods were recovered as well as silver coins, metal objects, and miniature dedications of various kinds. Numerous examples of Early and Middle Helladic pottery as well as large amounts of Final Neolithic sherds were uncovered again this year in nearly all layers of the altar. Masses of animal bones continue to be unearthed, but no human bones have yet been found. One of the most exciting finds was a piece of ‘fulgurite’, or petrified lightning. In the area of the temenos, a portion of what may be the ancient temenos wall was cleared to the south of the altar.
In the lower sanctuary, trench G was continued in the area immediately to the north of the seats or steps as was trench J to the south of the seats. Trench N was investigated again in 2007 in an area outside the northeast corner of the ‘xenon’ where considerable amounts of Hellenistic pottery were found. A new trench was opened to the north of the ‘xenon’ trench P. We cleared more of the 67 m. long stoa building, including trenches L and M and began a related trench O. Trench Q, to the north of the stoa, was dug to recover information from a stele that had been illicitly uncovered over the course of the winter.
This text summarizes the work of the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project conducted during summer 2008. A full color version of the brochure with Greek and English text, photographs and maps can be downloaded here.