Corinth Report: South Stoa east excavations 2016, by An Jiang and Catharine Judson (April 5 - April 21)
Collection:   Corinth
Type:   Report
Name:   South Stoa east excavations 2016, by An Jiang and Catharine Judson (April 5 - April 21)
Title:   South Stoa Shop I Rear
Area:   South Stoa east
Site:   Corinth
City:   Ancient Corinth
Country:   Greece
An Jiang, Catharine Judson
2016 Corinth Session I
South Stoa Excavation, Shop 1 Rear
Coordinates: N: 1092.3, S: 1084.7, E: 355.9, W: 349.6
Excavation Dates: April 5-21, 2016

This is the final report of the first session of the Corinth excavation for 2016 in Shop 1 Rear in the South Stoa. Guy Sanders (director), James Herbst (architect) and Danielle Smotherman (field director) supervised. An Jiang and Catharine Judson (area supervisors) recorded. The workmen were Panos Kakouros (pickman) and Marios Vathis (shovelman and sieve), Vassiles Kollias and Giannes Oikonomopoulos (wheelbarrow). Photogrammetry has been carried out for every context of the room since April 11, 2016.

In Shop 1 Rear, the area of excavation was bounded by the four walls of the room: Wall 457 to the east (N 1106.511; S 1086.5; E 356.4; W 348.667), Wall 458 to the south (Greek phase; N 1086.379; S 1084.15; E 355.829; W 351.808), Wall 459 to the west (to be measured in Session II), and Wall 461 (N 1092.747; S 1090.634; E 353.638; W 349.193) to the north. The coordinates of the interior space of the room are: NE corner E: 353.85, N: 1092.3; NW corner, E: 349.6, N: 1090.8; SW corner, E: 351.8, N: 1084.7; SE corner, E: 355.9, N: 1086.5.

The goals of the excavation in this room are to determine the chronology of the activities in the room during the use of the Stoa (where these levels are preserved); to investigate the pre-Stoa activities in this area; and to prepare the area for consolidation, conservation, and presentation to the public. The dates during which we excavated are: April 5-21, 2016.

Shop 1 Rear was previously excavated by Oscar Broneer in the 1930s and 1940s. The bulk of excavation was carried out in March of 1934 (Corinth NB 139). Broneer began by removing “fill and rough masonry” across the entire area. On March 3, he records removing rubble foundations (c.70 cm thick) from this specific room. These walls may have been Byzantine in date, based on vague references to the general area in the notebook during this part of March. On March 20, Broneer excavated a trench along the entire length of the west wall between crosswalls Wall 371 to the south and Wall 461 to the north. This trench is identified both by the old excavation photos (Corinth 1.IV, pls.6.2, 7.1 and 27) and by the modern material we found in the fills along the western wall (Contexts 298 and 310). In this area, Broneer reports finding “little except some Early Helladic and Neolithic potsherds and a few Greek sherds” (p.116). On March 21, he reports that the fill close to the west wall goes deep below floor level, and that this produced primarily Early Helladic and Neolithic pottery. This may refer to the very deep sounding that we excavated as Cut 301/Context 298. Broneer also excavated in the SE corner of the room on March 21, and along the east wall on March 22, reporting Neolithic fill, Neolithic and Classical sherds, and several coins (late Classical/Hellenistic [Corinth P/T?], 1 coin of Demetrios Poliorketes, 1 coin of Manuel I). The coin of Manuel I came from the level of the toichobate (NB 139, p.122), and possibly indicates the level of Byzantine occupation in this area that was cleared away by Broneer. The trench dug along the eastern and southern walls was probably an excavation of the foundation trenches. Broneer revisited this area in 1946, but appears to have done little but cleaning in this room, based on his description of work in the notebook (Corinth NB194).

Late Neolithic and Early Helladic pottery is present in contexts across the center and southern part of the room, typically mixed with later (generally Hellenistic) pottery. There is an especially high concentration of prehistoric pottery found in layered fills in the central area of the room (especially contexts 424, 438, and 436). The presence of this pottery and associated finds (e.g. obsidian and chert blades, EH spindle whorl [MF-2016-17]) indicates the presence of prehistoric activity in this area of the site. This is also confirmed by the presence of prehistoric levels in the space of Shop 2 Rear immediately to the east. None of the contents of these deposits are in their primary (prehistoric) context, however: all deposits with prehistoric pottery also contain later material and are indicative of later activities in the area rather than prehistoric ones. The mostly likely scenario is that, during the construction of the Stoa, foundation trenches were dug into prehistoric levels and the resulting soil was immediately redeposited as a fill level in the room’s interior with little time for Hellenistic ceramic contamination (especially Contexts 424, 436, and 438). Other contexts (e.g. Context 411) also contain prehistoric material but in lower concentrations, and are more likely the result of later filling and leveling operations within the space after the initial construction of the Stoa walls and the fill event represented by the almost pure prehistoric contexts.

Based on the appearance of the section in the scarp of Cut 301 compared to contexts in Shop 2 Rear, and the depth that Broneer dug to against Wall 459, it is likely that Broneer (like the builders of the Stoa) cut into prehistoric activity levels. The Neolithic and Early Helladic pottery that he mentions in both the western part of the room and in the southeast corner probably represent the spread of prehistoric activity levels across the space as well as the redeposition caused by Hellenistic construction. A matte-painted terracotta figurine in the museum comes from his excavations along the east wall (MF 13360).

The pottery demonstrates that prehistoric occupation of the area ran from at least Late Neolithic through Early Helladic II. LN matte-painted and grey burnished ware, and EH red and black slipped wares are the most representative pottery types for the deposits in question. Characteristic shapes include LN fruitstands (cf. C-2016-8, C-2016-10), a LN ritual vessel (C-2016-11), a LN shoulder bowl (C-2016-9), EH bowls with incurved rims, and EH sauceboats.

There are some traces of Classical activities in the room. Two deposits of fill (Contexts 456 and 478), located in the southern area of the room, date to the 4th and 5th centuries BC respectively, based on pottery. It is currently unclear what sort of activity these deposits represent, as there are no preserved surfaces dating to this period in this part of the room. One whole vessel containing traces of blue pigment was excavated in Context 456 (C-2016-5), but was resting on stones within a fill level rather than on a surface.

The exact type of activity in the Classical period in this room is difficult to establish, because we currently have too few excavated contexts that can be securely associated with this period. Context 478 and the associated Cut 497 may indicate the location of any stratified Classical activity in the area of the room, but the pottery from 478 is heavily prehistoric and likely represents redeposited prehistoric fill. Broneer probably also excavated part of this same deposit next to the Wall 457, as he mentions a mixture of Neolithic and Classical pottery from this specific area. His trench cuts through the deposit and exposes it in cross-section.

Based on the quantities of Classical pottery present in other excavated contexts across the room, this period does not appear to form a major phase of occupation in this area.

Pre-Stoa phases of activity in the late 4th and early 3rd centuries are most likely represented by a possible floor (or at least well-consolidated surface), removed as Context 449. This context dates to the 4th century BC. Its connection with the 4th century fill Context 456 in the southern part of the room is unknown, as the two deposits are spatially separated and different in appearance and formation. Two pits were dug into Context 449, and probably were meant to hold pithoi (Cuts 389 and 382). These pits were dug into the top of the surface, and therefore are likely contemporary with this 4th century surface.

The construction of the Stoa, currently dated to c.280 BC by Sarah James' 2015 excavations, is marked in the interior of the room by the redeposition of fills (Contexts 424, 436, and 438) in the center of the room (discussed above in the Prehistoric section). Their redeposition in the large cut through the consolidated surface (Context 449) suggests that this surface was highly disturbed during/by this construction project. The remainder of this surface and the pits cut into it in the northern part of the newly formed room were not covered over as part of the Stoa construction, however, and may have remained in use for some time. The pithoi in pits 389 and 382 may have been removed in conjunction with the Stoa construction. Pit 407 was also dug into the surface (Context 449) during the first half of the 3rd century BC and may mark the point at which it went out of use as a surface. Additional leveling fills were added across the southern part of the room sometime in the 3rd century BC (Contexts 411 and 398). Context 398 sealed the contents of Pit 407 (Context 403) and therefore indicates that there were multiple phases of leveling and remodeling within the room, most likely associated with the construction of the Stoa.

Shortly after the construction of the Stoa, Wall 371 (L 2.5 m, W 0.50 m; N 1087.0, S 1085.8, E 353.7, W 351.3) was constructed in order to subdivide the interior space of the room. This wall was constructed in two successive, but closely dated, phases, sometime in the later 3rd century BC (post-275 BC, Context 374). This represents a restructuring of the use of the space. Probably linked with this is the gradual infilling of the two pits next to the northern wall, which had been left open after the construction of the Stoa and the probable removal of their pithoi. Context 383 (the western pit) was filled in by the late 3rd century BC, and Context 376 was filled in by the early 2nd century BC, based on the pottery (Context 376 is dated primarily on the basis of C-2016-7, a bowl with outturned rim). The coins from both pits corroborate but do not narrow this dating, as they provide a terminus post quem of the mid- to late-3rd century BC for both contexts (Context 383: 2016-78 [Ptolemy II, 285-246 BC], Coin 2016-85 [Argos, 352-228 BC], Coin 2016-86 [Argos, 352-228 BC]; Context 376: Coin 2016-63 [Argos 350-228 BC], 2016-64 [Demetrios Poliorketes, 306-283 BC], 2016-67 [Corinth P/T Group VIII, 287-252 BC]). In addition to large numbers of coins, the pits contain high concentrations of pottery and other small finds, including metal fragments (MF-2016-19: bronze handle), lamp fragments, roof tiles, ostrich egg shell (cf. MF 3957, ostrich egg shell from Broneer’s excavations against east wall), bronze rings, and pebble cement fragments. These two pits were covered and closed with a layer of fill covering the NE corner (Contexts 367, 390). The pottery from this fill event provides a terminus post quem date of the late 3rd century BC, but the fill layer was likely laid down sometime in the early 2nd century BC, based on the contents of Context 376. This fill also contains a high concentration of coins, including a Classical coin from Cleonai (2016-50, 471-421 BC), a late Classical/Hellenistic coin from Argos (2016-56, 400-200 BC), and several Corinthian P/T Type VII coins (2016-88, 2016-89, 2016-90, 2016-92: 303-287 BC).

There is limited evidence for the Early Roman modification of the Stoa in this space. Pit 361 and its associated fill 364 date to the 1st century BC and are sealed by Context 360, dating to the Late Hellenistic or Early Roman period. This pit likely represents a change in function of the space, and is the first dateable act of deposition after the early 2nd century BC that we can reconstruct in the room. A thin deposit of fill (Context 346) also dates to the Early Roman period, and lies across the entire area of the room. This represents a further modification of the space after the closing of Pit 361. The date of this context is based on the pottery, but this deposit also contains 16 coins mainly dated to the earlier Hellenistic period (2016-44 [Thasos, 300-200 BC], 2016-33 [Demetrios Poliorketes, 306-283], 2016-38 [Antigonos Gonatas, 277-239 BC], 2016-36 [Lokris, 338-300 BC], several Corinthian P/T). There is one much later coin in this context, however (Coin 2016-39, Late Roman minimus), which may either pull down the date of the context dramatically or be later contamination. This level is the latest stratified deposit across the majority of the room.

Middle Roman activity in the room is only represented by Cut 334 and associated fills (especially Contexts 332 and 337) in the NE corner. This may be a rubbish pit associated with some construction event in the area, as many of the small finds in these contexts are broken building materials (tiles, marble revetment, cement, plastered blocks, wall plaster fragments, pebble cement flooring). The squared shape of the cutting may indicate that this originally had some other function than for trash dumping, however.

We speculate that the later Roman use levels of the room were removed in the post-Roman period (Broneer mentions Byzantine walls in this area) or during early excavations without any comment in the notebook, and all that remained were traces of various filling operations from Roman construction.

The latest activity in the interior of the room is modern backfilling and trampled fills. Cuts 301 and 316, and Contexts 287, 297, 298, and 310 represent Broneer’s activities, including both excavation and backfilling. The bottom of this modern excavation and backfilling has not been clearly identified in the area of Context 298, since we stopped digging along the west wall after the first week of the session. One of Broneer’s goals in this area was presumably to expose the entire eastern profile of Wall 459 in the area of Context 298. This deposit exposed four courses of the wall, with at least one more likely still buried, as known from the excavations in Shop 2 Rear. In addition, the construction of the stone patch (Context 326) in the NE corner of the room also probably belongs to this period because of the modern material found in it. All excavation in the area took place in the 1930s and 1940s. The terminus post quem for the backfilling of the western soundings in the room is provided by coin 2016-6, a 1954 drachma. In all areas of modern excavation, a number of modern glass, metal and plastic objects were found, including a complete modern medicinal bottle (MF-2016-16).

The excavation activities of this session have raised more questions about ancient activities in the room than they have answered. The primary problem that is raised by the types of contexts in Shop 1 Rear so far excavated is that there are no clearly identified floor levels, and therefore no clear idea of activities within the room during different use phases. Most of the deposits represent fill events rather than occupation phases. Various construction phases also severely disrupted earlier levels and therefore caused a high degree of fragmentation of deposits within the space of the room. Nonetheless, we are able to link at least some of the contexts with the construction of the Stoa and therefore can mark chronological points of change to the space (pre-Stoa, Stoa construction, mid- to-late 3rd century restructuring, Early Roman, Middle Roman), even if their function is not always clear.

Future goals
1. To determine the spatial boundaries and nature of prehistoric occupation in this space, and how it relates to similar deposits in Shop 2 Rear.
2. To investigate the type of activities in the room in the Classical period (occupation, redeposited fill, etc.).
3. To determine the date of the construction of the Stoa walls and how this construction relates stratigraphically to other phases of occupation (e.g. relationship with prehistoric levels, Classical levels, Roman levels).

List of Inventoried Objects:
C-2016-2 Corinthian A Stamped Amphora Handle (context 346)
C-2016-5 [pottery with blue pigment] (official name TBD) (context 456)
C-2016-7 Bowl with Outturned Rim (context 376)
C-2016-8 Late Neolithic Fruitstand (context 411)
C-2016-9 Late Neolithic Shoulder Bowl (context 478)
C-2016-10 Late Neolithic Fruitstand (context 411)
C-2016-11 Late Neolithic Vessel: Leg (context 411)
MF-2016-9 Bronze and Iron Boss (context 390)
MF-2016-12 Bronze Stylus (context 360)
MF-2016-14 Conical Loomweight Type X (context 411)
MF-2016-15 Conical Loomweight Type IX-X (context 367)
MF-2016-16 Modern Glass Medicinal Bottle (context 287)
MF-2016-17 Early Helladic Spindle Whorl (context 424)
MF-2016-19 Bronze Vessel: Handle (context 383)

List of Coins (64 in total):
2016-2 (context 284) Byzantine (Manuel I?)
2016-6 (context 287) Modern 1954
2016-21 (context 298) Possibly Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-23 (context 320) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-24 (context 320) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-25 (context 330) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-26 (context 330) Antigonos Gonatas (277-239 B.C.)
2016-27 (context 337) (not a coin)
2016-28 (context 337) Greek, illegible
2016-29 (context 337) Argos (c.350-228 B.C.)
2016-30 (context 337) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-31 (context 346) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-32 (context 346) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-33 (context 346) Demetrius Poliorketes (306-283 B.C.)
2016-34 (context 346) Epidauros
2016-35 (context 346) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-36 (context 346) Lokris (c.338-300 B.C.)
2016-37 (context 346) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-38 (context 346) Antigonos Gonatas (277-239 B.C.)
2016-39 (context 346) Roman minimus (5th – 6th A.D.)
2016-40 (context 346) Greek, illegible
2016-41 (context 346) Greek (Macedonian king?)
2016-42 (context 346) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-44 (context 346) Thasos (c.300-200 B.C.)
2016-45 (context 346) Greek, illegible
2016-46 (context 346) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-47 (context 346) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-48 (context 364) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-49 (context 364) Greek, illegible
2016-50 (context 367) Cleonai (c.371-321 B.C.)
2016-51 (context 367) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-52 (context 367) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-53 (context 367) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-54 (context 367) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-56 (context 367) Argos (c.400-200 B.C.)
2016-57 (context 367) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-63 (context 376) Argos (c.350-228 B.C.)
2016-64 (context 376) Demetrius Poliorketes (306-283 B.C.)
2016-65 (context 376) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-66 (context 376) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-67 (context 376) Corinth Pegasus/Trident Group VIII (c.287-252 B.C.)
2016-68 (context 376) (not a coin)
2016-70 (context 376) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-71 (context 376) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-72 (context 376) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-74 (context 376) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-78 (context 383) Ptolemy II Euergetes (285-246 B.C.) golden coin
2016-79 (context 383) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-80 (context 383) (not a coin)
2016-81 (context 383) Megara (c.307-293 B.C.)
2016-82 (context 383) Greek, illegible
2016-83 (context 383) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-84 (context 383) Greek, unclear
2016-85 (context 383) Argos (c.352-228 B.C.)
2016-86 (context 383) Argos (c.352-228 B.C.)
2016-87 (context 383) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-88 (context 390) Corinth Pegasus/Trident Group VII (c.303-287 B.C.)
2016-89 (context 390) Corinth Pegasus/Trident Group VII (c.303-287 B.C.)
2016-90 (context 390) Corinth Pegasus/Trident Group VII (c.303-287 B.C.)
2016-91 (context 390) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-92 (context 390) Corinth Pegasus/Trident Group VII (c.303-287 B.C.)
2016-93 (context 390) Corinth Pegasus/Trident
2016-98 (context 398) Corinth Pegasus/Trident Group VII (c.303-287 B.C.)
2016-118 (context 449) illegible

List of Contexts (51 in total):
284 Cleaning of dark soil near west wall
287 Removal of pebbly matrix in western half of room
297 Dark soil SE corner of cut exposed by 284
298 Dark soil next to west wall of room
301 Cut of 298 into 310
310 Red Soil in NW + SW corners of room
316 Cut filled by 310
320 Clay across northern center of room
326 Patch of stones in NE corner of room
330 Dark stony soil in NE corner
332 Red stony soil in NE corner
333 Cut filled by 330
334 Cut filled by 332
337 Cobbles filling cut 334 under deposits 330 + 332
342 Fill cut into clay surface in room center
344 Cut filled by 342
346 Clayey layer in center of room
360 Clay patch next to southern crosswall
361 Cut filled by 360 + 364
364 Fill of cut 361 below deposit 360
367 Clay patch next to N wall
371 Late crosswall in S of room—top course
374 Foundation course of structure 371
376 Fill of pit abutting N wall
382 Cut filled by 376
383 Pit abutting N wall
389 Cut filled by 383
390 Clayey patch between Broneer and square cutting in east of room
394 Soil under western block of wall 371
396 Small pebbly patch next to N wall
398 Pebbly matrix in S of room center
403 Small bothros
407 Cut filled by 403
411 Pebbly layer S center of room
421 Cut filled by 396
424 Pebbly matrix in center of room
427 Patch of wash on E Broneer scarp
436 Small clay patch
438 Cobbly layer in center of room
449 Clay deposit in N center of room
456 Clayey deposit in S of room
457 N-S wall/ E wall of Shop 1 (Greek)
458 E-W wall/ S wall of Shop 1 (Greek)
460 E-W wall/ N wall of Shop 1 front
461 E-W wall/ N wall of Shop 1 Rear
468 N-S wall / E wall of Shop 1 (Roman)
469 E-W wall/ S wall of Shop 1 Rear (Roman)
478 Layer of black soil below 456
493 Cut filled to S by 411, 424, 438
494 Cut filled to N by 424, 438
497 Cut filled by 478