The Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project conducted the third of tis five-year series of excavation seasons from June 14 to July 31, 2018 as a synergasia project between the University of Arizona and the Ephoreia of Arcadian Antiquities in Tripolis, working under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the Greek Ministry of Culture.
The co-directors of the project are Dr. Anna Karapanagiotou, Director of the Ephoreia of Arcadian Antiquities, 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 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 1984 Foundation and continued funding from INSTAP. 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. For the third year, the owner of the Abeliona Retreat in the village of Abeliona, Messenia, Mr. Spyros Angelopoulos, also provided food and accommodation at a greatly reduced price for our entire team. This was our fifteenth continuous year of work at the site of Mt. Lykaion, and our third 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
In preparation for the season, between June 10-14 nine students and staff worked in our apotheke, located at 32 Heroon Polytechnion in Tripolis, opposite the Archaeological Museum. We worked to finish the washing and cataloguing of pottery from the end of the 2017 season as well as to host several of our scholars in the apotheke studying their assigned material for publication. We lived to the north of the city of Tripolis in Ano Kardara, near Levidi.
Excavation Season - Altar
During the summer of 2018 we resumed our excavation work in the Sanctuary of Zeus, 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 total team of 40 students and staff, including faculty, and we worked together again with our Greek colleagues from the Arcadia Ephoreia of Antiquities. We used the Pneumatiko Kentro in the Village of Ano Karyes as our lab and our headquarters during the season, as we have done in the past. The Greek team lived in several of the houses of Ano Karyes.
We continued our excavation from 2017 and 2016 in the area of the human burial close to the center of the altar of Zeus, where we uncovered a great deal of Neolithic, Bronze Age and Early Iron Age pottery, and many offerings, including more fragments of Mycenaean terracotta figurines. We were able to further define the area of the ‘architectural foundation’ at the summit of the southern peak, which appears to have been a major focus of activity on the altar. The Greek Ephoreia worked nearby, continuing to clean one of Kourouniotis’ trenches from the early 20th century (see below).
George Davis completed his geological trench on the south side of the southern peak, revealing additional information about the tectonic faulting in the area of the Ash Altar and Temenos.
Excavation Season - Lower Sanctuary
In the mountain meadow, site of the lower sanctuary, we continued our work in several areas at the western end of the stoa, where we have been working since 2016. We found a series of walls at a higher elevation, and to the south, several rooms of Late Roman and Early Byzantine date.
We initiated a new trench to look for the so-called ‘Hemicycle Building’ that was discovered by Kourouniotis in the early 20th century. Digging to the west of the west end of the stoa we discovered elements of this building which is characterized as Ionic and with marble architectural elements. We will continue to work in this area to uncover the entire building.
In the 31 m long stone open-air corridor, extending from the eastern wall of the administrative building towards the north, we continued to clear a 3 m section in the middle of the structure. We found a good deal of Hellenistic pottery, roof tile fragments animal bone and at the lowest levels Classical pottery. Also discovered was a chipped limestone surface, likely the pavement for the corridor. We initiated a trench beyond the north end of the corridor to look for the ground level outside of the stone arch so that we can excavate towards the corner of the arch next year.
In the space between the stoa, the fountain and the administrative building, we continued excavating a deep trench looking for what may be the Sanctuary of Pan, described by Pausanias in the second century C.E. We have found more parts of a hydraulic system as well as large limestone blocks and Classical pottery. We dug a trench in the interior of the administrative building looking for the floor surface and the levels of use. During four days of heavy rain in our first week of excavation, we were obliged to bail out our deep trench of more than a meter of water several times. A pedestrian surface survey was initiated in a limited area, roughly 100 x 500 m immediately above the Krambova Spring outside the village of Ano Karyes.
We have proposed to undertake a conservation and restoration project to maintain and preserve the architectural integrity of the east wall of the administrative building and the neighboring stone corridor to take place during the summers of 2021 and 2022. This will call for a dedicated team of architects, and historic preservation specialists to study the many stone blocks and propose a restoration and conservation project to be carried out to completion. We initiated the preservation project this summer with the installation of a wooden lattice as support on the northeast corner of the building.
Arkadian Ephoreia Excavation
The Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project is a Greek - American research program, conducted under the auspices of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports. The Greek side of the project is conducted by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Arcadia, directed by Dr. Anna-Vassiliki Karapanagiotou, Director of the Ephorate.
In 2018, the Greek team continued their excavation work at the altar of Lycaeus Zeus, while at the same time they resumed the excavation of the ancient Agno fountain one hundred meters lower in elevation on the southern peak.
At the altar of Lycaeus Zeus the Greek team completed excavation in the test trench ZK, where the Greek archaeologist K. Kourouniotis excavated early in the 20th century. At the end of the excavation in trench ZK, bedrock was revealed with two similar holes that were probably manmade and were likely used as post holes. The holes were located in the south and northeastern section of the trench along an east-west axis. During excavation in trench ZK, pottery and tiles were collected which date from the Neolithic to the Roman period. Fragments of lamps with decoration were found, as well as a great number of miniature ceramic vessels. Moreover, various metal votive objects, a silver coin, and animal bones were collected. The Greek team then continued with excavation in trench ZS, where the staff of the former Ephoreia of Laconia and Arcadia had excavated in the late 90’s. This trench is located south-southeast of trench ZK at a distance of 2.10 m. A small section of the originally excavated trench was investigated down to bedrock. No architectural elements were found in this trench.
The pottery found during excavation in trench ZS comes from different chronological periods, dating from the Neolithic to the late Classical period, and includes sherds from miniature offering vessels, lamps and ceramic vessels with decoration. Various metal offerings such as bronze tripods and coins were also found.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Greek archaeologist K. Kourouniotis also excavated architectural remains of the famous Agno fountain where, according to Pausanias, religious ceremonies were held related to the altar of Lycaeus Zeus. In this area, preliminary excavation work was carried out in the previous five-year excavation program during the years 2006 - 2010. This year, the Greek team excavated areas around the Agno fountain, focusing on cleaning all localized architectural blocks as well as recording, photographing and updating the plans of the remains.
During the excavation of the fountain, the boundaries of the construction were revealed to the south and east. It was ascertained that the water drainage groove which had been found on the west side of the structure runs around the edge of the floor of the construction. Also a subsequent floor layer was revealed, which demonstrates the continued use of the fountain over time, since there was a need for repair. An important finding of this year was the location of the geological layer that explains why the spring was formed at this point. We thank here Professor George Davis for his thoughtful remarks on this point.
Additionally, the technical staff of the team, headed by Ms. E. Soroli, contributed to the study and to refilling trench HA, as well as buttressing the eastern corner at the Xenon - Administrative building which was carried out at the end of the excavation season.
For the successful implementation of the 2018 research excavation program the permanent and temporary staff of the Ephorate of Antiquities contributed to all the efforts made. Last but not least, once more, the support and the hospitality of the president, Mr. Kyriakos Karayiannis, the Board of Directors and the associates of the Cultural Association “Lycaeus Zeus” of Ano Karyes, were crucial for the Greek team’s efforts.
Parrhasian Heritage Park Field School
The eighth Parrhasian Heritage Park Field School was held for nine days between August 2-11 under the direction of Dr. David Gilman Romano. Dr. Nota Pantzou was in charge of Ethnographic Studies. This year we had a total of nine students, two Greek and seven from the US. The Field School is supported by the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project and the Parrhasian Heritage Foundation. Most of the effort of the Field School this year was devoted to installing wooden way-finding and trail-head signs on the Trail of Pan, between Ano Karyes in Arcadia and Neda in Messenia and to affixing new metal signs to the wooden posts. This included the area of the Temple of Pan at Berekla.
A group from the Field School under the direction of Nota Pantzou explored the area of the Boutouna Bridge in the area of the village of Lykaio. With the guidance of the President of the village, Elias Korolis, and together with volunteers from the villages of Lykaio and Lykosoura, the trail was cleaned of overgrown bushes and trees to reveal the path to the Bridge of Boutouna.
Several speakers came to the field school in Ano Karyes to present topics related to the future of the area. Kostis Philandros, the editor of the Megalopolis News, Ta Nea, spoke about issues of relevance to the greater Megalopolis area including the future of the electrical plant.
Elias Angelopoulos came to speak to the Field School about the neighboring village of Isioma at the base of Mt. Lykaion and the new paleontological museum that is now under construction in their community.
During July, David Romano and Dimitris Papakonstantinou travelled to Patras to meet with Mr. Nikolaos Papatheodorou, the Administrative Coordinator of the Peloponnese, Western Greece, and the Ionian Islands, to present to them the environmental study of the area of the Parrhasian Heritage Park and to ask for his support.
On August 10, Nota Pantzou and David Gilman Romano made a formal presentation for the creation of the Parrhasian Heritage Park of the Peloponnesos to the Council of the City of Megalopolis where it was unanimously accepted and approved. Discussions are also underway with the Mayor’s office about a future archaeological museum to be built in Megalopolis.
This text summarizes the work of the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project conducted during summer 2018. A full color version of the brochure with English text, photographs and maps can be downloaded here.