Excavations were resumed at the Sanctuary of Zeus in 2016. The Director of the project is Dr. Anna Karapanagiotou, Director, Ephorate of Antiquities of Arcadia and the co-directors are Dr. David Gilman Romano and Dr. Mary Voyatzis, both of the University of Arizona. The work was made possible through the generosity of individuals, private foundations, and Greek-American supporters from the United States. The financial support of Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Karabots of Fort Washington, Pa. and Ms. Annette Merle-Smith of Princeton, New Jersey continues to be of major importance. The project also received important recent support from the National Geographic Society Committee on Research and Exploration, the 1984 Foundation and INSTAP, the Institute for Aegean Prehistory. The Politistikos Syllogos of Ano Karyes and its President, Mr. Kyriakos Karagiannis, and its former President Mr. Christos Koumoundouros, have continued to support all of our efforts in Arcadia. The owner of the Epohes Hotel in the village of Ambeliona, Spyros Angelopoulos, also provided food and accommodation at a greatly reduced price for our entire team. This was our thirteenth continuous year of work at the site of Mt. Lykaion, and our first excavation season after five study seasons, 2011-2015, following five years of excavation, 2006-2010, and two years of preliminary geophysical and topographical survey, 2004-2005.
Preparation and Lab Work
For our first week, June 7-14, seven of us, under the direction of Mary Voyatzis, worked in our apotheke, located at 32 Heroon Polytechnion in Tripolis, opposite the Archaeological Museum, in preparation for our first excavation season in 6 years. We reorganize the storage of antiquities in the apotheke, making preparations for the new finds that the next five years of excavation will produce. Analysis of the terracotta roof tiles from the lower sanctuary was also successfully concluded by Dr. Phil Sapirstein. We lived to the north of the city of Tripolis in Ano Kardara, near Levidi.
Most of the students arrived at the Athens International Airport on June 15 and were transported to Ambeliona to the Epohes Hotel, our residence for the summer. Our typical day included breakfast at 6:15, transportation to the site in vans at 6:45 with work underway at the site or the village by 7:15. We maintained our lab in the Pneumatiko Kentro, the Cultural Center in Ano Karyes, where our registrar, Natalie Gleason, and team worked and Mary Voyatzis, as the Director of finds, processed and catalogued excavated objects during the day. Washing pottery was an important part of the daily activities in the lab. The topographical team under the direction of Matt Pihokker and our architectural team under the direction of Audrey Gusick also utilized lab space during the season. Our conservator, Villy Zafeiri, had her conservation lab in the basement of the same building.
During the afternoons we had occasional lectures and seminars in the lab relating to our database, Kronos, under the supervision of Stephanie Martin. The Cultural Center had a high speed internet connection (see below) which made it the place for database work, research, email activities for every member of the excavation team.
Ministry of Culture, President of the Republic, and the American School of Classical Studies
Our project is a synergasia between the University of Arizona, and the Arcadian Ephorate of Antiquities directed by Dr. Anna Karapanagiotou, under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. Anna Karapanagiotou and her team worked with us during the course of the summer with a very successful outcome. During the season we were fortunate to have the visit of Dr. James Wright, Director of the American School of Classical Studies. Towards the end of the season, we were honored to have a visit from Dr. Maria Vlazaki, General Secretary of the Ministry of Culture. David Romano was delighted to give Dr. Vlazaki and her colleagues a tour of the altar and the lower sanctuary.
Our friend and colleague, Costas Cassios, Emeritus Professor of the Natural Environment at the National Technical University of Athens, arranged for Mary Voyatzis and David Romano to meet with the President of the Republic of Greece, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, in the Presidential Megaron in Athens, to discuss the Parrhasian Heritage Park of the Peloponnesos proposal. President Pavlopoulos promised to work directly with the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey project to bring about a successful outcome.
Excavation in the Lower Sanctuary
During the summer of 2016 the resumption of our excavation work in the Sanctuary of Zeus was conducted both at the altar of Zeus at the southern peak of the mountain and also in the mountain meadow, 200 m lower in elevation. We fielded a team of 35 students and staff and worked together with our Greek colleagues from the Arcadia Ephoreia.
New discoveries were made in the lower mountain meadow, site of the lower sanctuary. Some of the highlights include large scale excavation within the area of the 67m long stoa (colonnaded building) constructed in the 4th century BC, under the direction of Travis Hill and Clare Rasmussen. A number of Byzantine walls were exposed and cleared. Liz Keyser and Pooja Ponukollu excavated two trenches, one near the seats/steps and another on the east side of the administrative building where they were able to dig and document the foundation trench.
A large circular form 23m in diameter, visible from Google Earth, was identified to the west of the Stoa, south of the administrative building, and to the east of the fountain house. Excavations, directed by John Keck and Jake Ashton, revealed two well preserved water channels, a stone water basin, and the beginning of what may be a stone wall, perhaps to be associated with the Sanctuary of Pan, known to be in the area from the ancient author Pausanias.
Within the hippodrome, the only visible example in the Greek world, the racecourse floor was exposed during excavation under the direction of Jay Stephens. Also restudied from the 2009 season, is an area of burning with a large cluster of big rocks. From Carbon 14 dating we know that the burning dates back to at least the 7th century B.C.
Work in the area of the 4th century bath facility, under the direction of Anna Karapanagiotou, has revealed walls from earlier levels. One area was excavated as a result of the physical above ground remote sensing done in the area by Apostolos Sarris. Another area was investigated as the result of the Blouet drawing of 1831.
In the administrative building, excavations revealed the interior eastern wall and floor of this large and diverse building. In addition, a large, painted terracotta sima block, a part of the roof decoration, was uncovered, conserved and removed to our lab and apotheke. Hundreds of roof tiles were recovered from this trench, the apparent result of the collapse of the roof.
Excavation continued in the stone lined corridor, which has been found to be 31m in length. An impressive stone staircase of 9 steps was discovered at the south end of the mid 4th century B.C. structure, and a large stone archway was found at the north end. The corridor was presumably the passageway through which athletes would have descended from the sanctuary towards the hippodrome and stadium.
During late June, following a torrential “100 year” rainfall over the course of a weekend, a number of the polygonal blocks of the corridor fell out of place. As a part of our conservation and consolidation of the corridor and the lower sanctuary, our excellent workmen were able to replace and secure the stone blocks into the walls of the corridor. They also were able to remove were able to remove to the side of the corridor, blocks that had fallen within the walls during antiquity in the first stage of further consolidation and reconstruction. The workmen, all of whom come from the neighboring villages, include Thanasis Xristeas, Panagiotis Halvas, Elias Korolis, Ioannes Kondos, Fotis Tzevelekos, Costas Kostopoulos and Michalis Mantzouras.
High Speed Internet at the Site
For the first time this summer, high speed internet was available to the excavation at the site of the lower sanctuary and in the Pneumatiko Kentro in Ano Karyes. This was the result of the work of Nick Stapp, Assistant Director of GIS and Spatial Analytics, that had been underway for over 7 years. The Greek Research Network (GRnet), representing Internet 2 in Greece, was responsible for setting up a link from Tripolis at the University of the Peloponnesos to the site of the Sanctuary of Zeus at Mt. Lykaion. This link was facilitated by means of a microwave signal that originated in Tripolis and was beamed to a relay station on Mt. Doliana in the southeast Peloponnesos (12.7 miles) and then redirected to the Sanctuary of Zeus across the Peloponnesos (27.4 miles). The total length of the relay was 40.1 miles! The microwave receiver was placed on top of our wooden kiosk at the hippodrome and it was powered by several solar panels. The Greek Research Network found a grant for much of this installation from European Community funding and we are most grateful for this application. Our new Mt. Lykaion supporters from Tucson, Cole and Jeannie Davis, were kind enough to provide us with a generous donation to purchase the solar panels and other associated equipment for the internet installation as well as Ipads and Samsung tablets for each trench so that all of our excavators had access to this onsite high speed internet that is recorded at 80 mbps. Our colleague at the GRnet is Yanis Mitsos who has worked hard to make this happen this summer and we are very grateful to him for this accomplishment. Next year we are planning to install a second microwave receiver and solar panels at the chapel of Profitis Elias at the southern peak of the mountain that would provide internet service for the excavators working at the altar of Zeus. The same high speed internet service was available in our lab in the village of Ano Karyes and where we undertook our registrarial activities during the days.
Excavation of the Altar
From a trench located near the center of the mountain top, and close to a man-made platform of stones, a human burial was found in the sacrificial altar, within a simple border of field stones on the long sides, and with an east-west orientation. The length of the skeleton is 1.52 meters. The central portion of the burial was covered with stone slabs over the pelvis area. Several ancient literary sources mention rumors that human sacrifice took place at the altar, but up until a few weeks ago there has been no trace whatsoever of human bones discovered at the site. Preliminary analysis suggests that the skeleton was that of an adolescent, and the ceramic evidence found with the body suggests that the burial was made during the eleventh century B.C., after the collapse of the Mycenaean palaces at the time of transition from the end of the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age. Scientific analyses of the bones will be undertaken immediately, and although it is premature to speculate on the nature of the death of the individual, the prominent location of the burial within the sacrificial altar, and its east-west orientation, indicate its significance. A press release was made available through the Greek Ministry of Culture website and newspaper stories followed the story from around the world.
We had a large team working at the altar including Stephanie Martin, Trench Supervisor, Stephen Czujko, Lauren Alberti, Bekah McKay and Kyle Mahoney, Assistant Field Director. With the discovery of the human burial it was our immediate objective to find a physical anthropologist to help us excavate the human remains. Through the courtesy of the Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Dr. James Wright, we were able to have the expertise of Dr. Eleanna Prevedorou, a recent Ph.D. from Arizona State University, who works in the Wiener Lab of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Eleanna came to Mt. Lykaion almost immediately and worked with us for 3 weeks.
The excavation of a human burial is a very time intensive process and such was the case with our burial. The largely intact human skeleton lying in a supine position was found in an east-west orientation. Bordered by flat mostly vertical field stones on the sides of the skeleton, there were no stones at the ends. The central portion of the body was covered by stones but it was otherwise exposed. The human skeleton was resting on or close to the bedrock of the altar, and had no evidence of burning.
Immediately to the east of the burial was found an area of ceramic dedications that was on top of a jumble of rocks. To the east of the area of dedications was located the ‘architectural feature’ that attracted us to this area of the altar when discovered in 2009 and 2010. We do not know the cause of death nor the identity of the individual. The date of the burial is also unknown although ceramic evidence under the stones covering the central portion of the skeleton suggest a date in the 11th century B.C. Our architectural team, including Audrey Gusick as Assistant Director, Laura Revelt and Iro Kalagirou all participated in drawing the human burial, the bordering field stones and the stones which comprised the architectural platform.
By the end of July, with the permission of the Arcadian Ephoreia of Antiquities, the skeleton had been removed to the Malcom H. Wiener Laboratory of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens for further study and the field stones of the burial were taken to our apotheke in Tripolis. Scientific study and analysis of the skeleton will be carried out during the course of the year. Scientific tests will include Carbon 14 dating of the skeleton, possibly DNA, and various isotopic analyses of bone and teeth that may lead to an understanding of the diet and place of origin of the individual.
Parrhasian Heritage Park Field School
The sixth Parrhasian Heritage Park Field School was held for ten days between August 3-12 under the direction of Dr. David Gilman Romano. Dr. Nota Pantzou was in charge of Ethnographic Studies and Mr. Mark Davison served as Director of Park Planning. The Field School is supported by the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project and the Parrhasian Heritage Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) in the US. The work of the Park Field School was divided into several categories. The students participated in studies of landscape character, trail blazing, trail mapping, and sign design. A number of the Greek students continued to gather information about community history and ethnography from local residents and from books and periodicals. The main goals of the Field School this summer were to continue to install the wooden posts and kiosks in the landscape and to affix the metal signs to them. We finished the installation of the kiosk in the area of the hippodrome near the Lower Sanctuary of Zeus at Mt. Lykaion and installed a second kiosk in the plataia at Neda in Messenia. Towards the end of the Field School we held a community meeting in Ambeliona which is near the center of the Parrhasian Heritage Park. We had approximately 50 individuals in attendance, including members of the local community, the Parrhasian Park Planning team, representatives of the Parrhasian Heritage Park Society and the student participants of the Parrhasian Heritage Field School.
Meetings and Local Support
A number of meetings were held in Athens during early June in preparation of our 2016 excavation season at Mt. Lykaion. David Romano met with representatives of the Patriotikos Syllogos of Lykaios Dias of Ano Karyes in Athens to talk about the upcoming summer and the arrangements for the village of Ano Karyes. Attending the meeting were Mr. Koumoundouros, Mr. Karagiannis, Dr. Tzebelekos and Mr. Romano. A meeting was held in Psychico, Athens, with Costas Cassios, Dimitris Papakonstantinou, Nota Pantzou and David Romano having to do with the proposal for the Parrhasian Heritage Park of the Peloponnesos. Dimitris Papkonstantinou brought a copy of the two volume study of the area of the Park. Another meeting was held in mid-June in Ano Karyes where Mary Voyatzis, Tom Keating and David Romano met with the leaders of the Local Society of Lykaion Zeus to further discuss the use of the buildings in Ano Karyes. At that time we were give a tour of the newly completed Academy building that includes a high-tech assembly area on the first floor and open space together with bathrooms and showers on the ground floor. Next door is a new dining room and kitchen and a beautiful plataia to be utilized together with the Academy Building. This complex will be available for use in future summers of work. We have proposed and the local society has accepted our name for the building as the ‘Parrhasian Heritage Park Field School Headquarters’ for the years to come.
This text summarizes the work of the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project conducted during summer 2016. A full color version of the brochure with English text, photographs and maps can be downloaded here.
The Ephorate of Antiquities of Arcadia representation included the following personnel:
Λίστα συμμετεχόντων Ελληνικής ομάδας.
· Δρ. Καραπαναγιώτου Άννα Βασιλική, Διευθύντρια του ερευνητικού και ανασκαφικού προγράμματος-Προϊσταμένη της ΕΦ.Α. Αρκαδίας.
· Σωτηροπούλου Ιωάννα, Υπεύθυνη αρχαιολόγος στην ανασκαφή και μελέτη-Ma in Heritage Management
· Χριστοφίλου Θεώνη, Υπεύθυνη αρχαιολόγος στην ανασκαφή και μελέτη-Ma in Heritage Management
· Σωτηροπούλου Δήμητρα, Επιβλέπων πολιτικός μηχανικός-Μεταπτυχιακή εξειδίκευση στο Δομοστατικό Σχεδιασμό και Ανάλυση Κατασκευών.
· Δρ. Καρατζάς Γεώργιος, Επιβλέπων αρχιτέκτων μηχανικός –MSc in Architectural Conservation, Μεταπτυχιακή εξειδίκευση ΜΔΕ Αρχιτεκτονική-Σχεδιασμός του χώρου: Πολεοδομία-Χωροταξία, Διδακτορικό στη Διαχείριση και Ανάδειξη Μνημείων.
· Κωνσταντίνα Γιαννέ, ΔΕ σχεδιάστρια.
· Πλατανίτη Νικολέττα, Υπεύθυνη συντήρησης. Πολιτισμολόγος-Δε συντηρήτρια.
· Τζέμης Γεώργιος, Τερζής Δημήτριος, Καρακατσάνης Χρήστος, Ηλιόπουλος Ηλίας, εργατοτεχνικό προσωπικό.
· Γεώργιος Τσαμίλης, Φοιτητής στο τμήμα Ιστορίας, Αρχαιολογίας και Διαχείρισης Πολιτισμικών Αγαθών του Πανεπιστημίου Πελοποννήσου.
· Γεώργιος Τσούκας, Οδηγός.