Corinth Report: Temple E, Southeast excavations 2015, by Danielle Smotherman and Tim Brannelly (May 4 - May 22)
Collection:   Corinth
Type:   Report
Name:   Temple E, Southeast excavations 2015, by Danielle Smotherman and Tim Brannelly (May 4 - May 22)
Title:   2015 Session II, Frankish activity in Unit 2, Room 9
Area:   Temple E, Southeast
Site:   Corinth
City:   Ancient Corinth
Country:   Greece
Danielle Smotherman
Timothy Brannelly
Temple E, Southeast Excavations
Session II
Unit 2, Room 9
N: 1086.73, S; 1079.10 N, E: 132.85 E, W: 126.83 E
4-22 May 2015

2015 Session II, Frankish activity in Unit 2, Room 9

This is the final summary of the second session excavation for 2015 in Room 9 of Unit 2 in the Frankish quarter, Temple E Southeast. Guy Sanders (director) and Larkin Kennedy (field director) supervised. Danielle Smotherman and Timothy Brannelly (area supervisors) recorded. The workmen were Thanasis Sakellariou (pickman), Christos Sakellariou (shovelman), and Panagiotis Rontzokos (barrowman, sieve).
Excavation work focused on Room 9. In Room 9, the area of excavation was bounded by the walls of the room: the East wall (Wall 659: N. 1087.97; S. 1079.86; E. 133.18; W. 130.68), the North wall (Wall 700: N. 1087.11; S. 1086.23; E. 126.99; W. 130.93), the West wall (Wall 720: N. 1086.14; S. 1079.21; E. 128.46; W. 126.48), and the South wall (Wall 729: N. 1079.62; S. 1078.48; E. 132.11; W. 128.35). Excavation in room 9 was done in order to clarify the dating and the relationship between the walls of this room to the other areas of Unit 2 in preparation for the area being presented to the public as part of the Frankish Quarter. Especially of interest was the relationship between the church and the construction of Room 9.

Excavation in Room 9 was begun in Session I 2015, prior to that it had not been excavated since 1996 (NB888 P1-46). The final two days of Session I excavation, 27th and 28th of April, were spent in Room 9. In Session II, Room 9 was excavated 4th-22nd May 2015. The majority of the excavation time in Session II was dedicated to the removal of a very large pit cut into the space, which produced an enormous amount of soil, pottery, bones, and small finds. On the 11th of May, there was a significant amount of rain, which necessitated putting aside soil to dry on the morning of the 12th prior to sieving and created a backlog on the sieve. This soil was not completely sieved until the 15th. The large pit has been a massive endeavor and the team has been greatly aided by Angela Stamati (sieve), Vasillis Kollias (barrowman), Kostas Arberoris (acting as shovelman), Wesley Bennett (sieve, pottery, small finds), Kurtis Tanaka, and Emilio Rodriguez-Alvarez (sieve).

Unit 2, Room 9, excavated 4/5/2015-15/4/2015

Frankish Period (AD 1210-1458):
All contexts excavated in the Session II excavation in Room 9 date between the late 13th and 14th centuries by pottery and coins.
During the third quarter of the 13th century, it is most likely that the space of Room 9 was outdoor. A courtyard surface (Context 772) is preserved in the eastern half of the room, cut by several pits. That courtyard surface is securely dated to the second half of the 13th century by three William Villehardouin coins (coins 2015-227, 2015-228, and 2015-230) all of the CORINTVM type that date AD 1250-78. The courtyard surface was prepared by a leveling fill (Context 792) that was probably put down at one time, even though the pottery represents a mix of periods, because the fill is homogenous throughout. The fill contained three minor finds: a marble stopper (MF-2015-18), a fragment of a glass bracelet (MF-2015-17), and a glass tessera with gold leaf (MF-2015-34). The leveling fill was above an earthen surface, which was not excavated this season. The fill is also securely dated to the second half of the 13th century by three definite William Villehardouin coins, two CORINTI (coins 2015-266 and 2015-313), the other a CORINTVM (coin 2015-312), and two other coins that are most likely also Villehardouin CORINTVM or CORINTI (coins 2015-316 and 2015-320).

A large pit (Context 733/717/726/747, L. 5.7 m, W. 3.1 m, N. 1083.88; S. 1079.99; E. 130.80; W. 127.50) was dug into the courtyard surface during the fourth quarter of the 13th century and filled with a mix of pottery, animal bones, industrial rubbish such as iron crucibles, part of a glass kiln, and domestic refuse including crochet hooks. The middle layer in the pit, Context 726, contained a stamped amphora handle from Zakynthos (C-2015-1), and the following minor finds: an iron weight (MF-2015-11), an iron door handle (MF-2015-10), an iron knife (MF-2015-35), an iron blade (MF-2015-38), a square iron buckle (MF-2015-36), a pierced bronze disc (MF-2015-37), a bone die (MF-2015-30), a bronze pendant (MF-2015-33), a glass bead (MF-2015-39), a silver pendant (MF-2015-9), and a silver necklace with a coral pendant, silver cross, bronze cross, and glass bead (MF-2015-21). The top level of the pit, which spills outside of the cut of the pit, included a pilgrims’shell (MF-2015-19) and a bronze earring (MF-2015-40). The pit most likely represents a trash dump that may not reflect the use of nearby spaces. Excavation of the pit also revealed the side of a cistern, which was not excavated this session as it remains under nearly a meter of fill in the eastern half of the room.

Numismatic finds in the pit were numerous with a total of 40 coins found, several of which securely date to the Frankish period. In addition to several Byzantine coins, several of which belong to Manuel I, AD 1143-1180 (coins 2015-143, 2015-161, and 2015-204), Context 726 yielded several Frankish coins belonging to William Villehardouin as well as several French Royal coins also belonging to the 13th century. Coins 2015-124 and 2015-127 are Villehardouin CORINTI coins, Coin 2015-139 is a Villehardouin CORINTVM coin (both dated c. 1250-1278). Coin 2015-138 is a French St. Martin of Tours coin utilizing the imagery of the castle Tournois, which Villehardouin also used on some of his coins, dated to the 13th century, while coins 2015-145 and 2015-201 belong either to the reign of Louis VIII or Louis IX and are dated 1223-1270. In addition, coin 2015-149, although illegible, is most likely either a French royal or a Frankish Villehardouin coin. Likewise, Context 747, the lower sense of the large pit, yielded a similar assortment of coins, albeit a smaller number. Several of the coins from Context 747 were unfortunately illegible, but are most likely Frankish, including coins 2015-184 and 2015-186. The only secure Villehardouin coin from context 747 is Coin 2015-164, a CORINTVM type. Furthermore, the deposit at the bottom of the pit (Context 773), which, according to pottery, is actually not part of the pit and represents the level to which the pit was cut, has a date of the fourth quarter of the 13th century, indicating that the pit must have been cut and filled during the later part of the fourth quarter of the 13th century. Context 773 also yielded a single Villehardouin CORINTI coin (Coin 2015-215), which may have found its way into this lower level when the pit was cut. For a list of all the coins by their respective contexts and with their dates, see the attached chart. It is worth noting that none of the coins postdates William Villehardouin and 1278.

In the fourth quarter of the 13th century, the area ceased to be used as a trash dump and became an indoor space. The first wall definitely constructed in the space of Room 9 was the North wall (Wall 700: N. 1087.11; S. 1086.23; E. 126.99; W. 130.93). The pottery from the foundation trench for the N. Wall, Context 706, indicates a date of the fourth quarter of the 13th, and the three Villehardouin CORINTVM coins from the trench, Coins 2015-111, 2015-112, and 2015-113, can be dated 1250-1278, thus confirming the date from the pottery. A leveling fill which covers the foundation trench also dates to the late 13th century by the pottery (Context 696) and indicates the beginning of the indoor use of the space. The floor itself was excavated in 1996 (NB888 B38 P42; NB888 B41 P45-46), at a higher elevation. The East wall (Wall 659: N. 1087.97; S. 1079.86; E. 133.18; W. 130.68) and its respective foundation trench (Contexts 673/672) is only generally dated to the early 14th and late 13th centuries by the pottery. The West wall (Wall 720: N. 1086.14; S. 1079.21; E. 128.46; W. 126.48) rests on the bottom of the large pit (Contexts 733/717/726/747), which could have served as the foundation trench for the wall in the late 13th century and was partially robbed out in the later 13th/early 14th centuries, so the foundation and the robbing out of the wall may be very close in time (Contexts 664/663). Excavation thus far has not indicated a date for the South wall (Wall 729: N. 1079.62; S. 1078.48; E. 132.11; W. 128.35), but it may be contemporary with Wall 720 because they do meet at the SW corner of the room along with Wall 156. It is not clear how the walls bond, so their stratigraphic relationship is in question. In general, the corners of the room are obscured or the walls appear to rest against one another without clear stratigraphic relationships: the Northwest corner of the room is obscured by a robbing trench (Walls 700 and 729), the Northeast corner includes touching walls (Walls 659 and 700), the Southeast corner is disturbed by the pit in the corner (Walls 659 and 729), and the Southwest corner (Walls 720 and 729) meet. It is possible that the relationship at the corner of 729 and 720 could be clarified by further excavation, but it is not clear at the current level of excavation. Wall 729 was later extended to the west by Wall 156, which dates to the mid- to late-13th century (cf. Bennett Session I summary), indicating that Room 9 was an interior space prior to either the creation of an enclosed passageway north of the Church or prior to the enclosure of the southern end of Room 8.

Multiple layers of fill, unevenly distributed in the room, were excavated and represent multiple depositional activities in the space during the late 13th - early 14th centuries, dated generally by the pottery (Contexts 652, 674, 676, 679, 683, 685, 699, 694, 704, 712, 715). These layers of fills appear to be contained within the walls, with only the unexcavated earthen surface appearing to go under the east wall (Wall 659). In part, some of these could be leveling fills to raise the floor level, possibly to the 14th century floor level excavated in 1996, a small portion of which was excavated in Session I (NB888 B38 P42; NB888 B41 P45-46; Contexts 628 and 634). Among the levels of fill, a bronze hinge comes from a layer of ashy fill (MF-2015-32, Context 652), a lead mending strip was recovered from Context 712 (MF-2015-20), a lead seal was recovered in the trench 692/695 (MF-2015-31), and another bone die in the fill directly above the pit (MF-2015-29, Context 685). It is possible that the space went out of use for a short period of time when two small and relatively shallow circular rubbish pits (Contexts 660/665 and 661/666), a small post hole (Context 689), and a larger rectangular trench of unknown use (Context 695/692, L. 1.87 m., W. 1.0 m., D. 0.20 m., N. 1083.60; S. 1083.00; E. 129.50; W. 127.68) were cut into the fill.

Above the tile floor removed in 1996, the previous excavators also encountered a layer of destruction debris, primarily tiles, which was originally dated to the late 13th-early 14th century and now thought to be 14th century in date (NB888 B32 P36, NB888 B37 P41) providing evidence for when the room went out of use.

Early Modern:
The pit in the center of Room 9 is a later intrusion (NB888 B18 P22-23; NB888 23 P26; NB888 B24 P27; NB888 B25 P28). It was excavated in 1996 to a total depth of 0.80 m and the material of the fill dated primarily to the 18th and 19th centuries, with some earlier materials included (a 12th century coin, Coin 1996-150, and some 16th century pottery). The final lense in the pit contained 13th century pottery, but this most likely indicates material disturbed by the cut of the pit rather than the date of the pit itself. This pit cut through a portion of the large pit (Contexts 733/717/726/747) excavated in Session II.

Future goals:
1. Full inventory of all the minor finds from Room 9. As time was limited, not all minor objects were fully inventoried by the end of Session II, although all were noted. These objects can provide more information on the use of the space in the late 13th-early 14th centuries.
2. Try to find a foundation trench for the South wall (Wall 729) of Room 9 to help clarify the construction dates of the wall as well as to identify the relationship between Wall 729 and Walls 270, to the North, and 156, to the West.
3. Explore the cistern under the courtyard, the side of which was revealed by the excavation of the large pit, and which needs to be excavated and filled prior to the final consolidation of Room 9.
4. Further excavate the room to get a better understanding of its function prior to becoming an indoor space and its relationship to the church.

APPENDIX I: COINS

Context 639
Coin 43 (sieve) Byzantine (1204-1261)

Context 647
Coin 49 (sieve) Not a coin
Coin 51 (sieve) Frankish (1223-1250)
Coin 53 (sieve) Frankish (1200-1299)

Context 652
Coin 56 (sieve) Illegible
Coin 57 (sieve) Not a coin
Coin 62 (sieve) Frankish (1250-1278)
Coin 63 (sieve) Frankish (1250-1278)
Coin 64 (sieve) Not a coin
Coin 65 (sieve) Byzantine (1143-1180)

Context 663
Coin 75 (sieve) Byzantine (1143-1180)

Context 676
Coin 91 (sieve) Byzantine (1204-1261)

Context 679
Coin 93 (sieve) Byzantine (1204-1261)
Coin 94 Illegible
Coin 95 Frankish (1223-1270)

Context 683
Coin 96 (sieve) Not a coin

Context 688
Coin 97 (sieve) Frankish (1223-1270)

Context 692
Coin 98 (sieve) Byzantine (1143-1180)

Context 696
Coin 100 (findspot) Frankish
Coin 106 (sieve) Frankish (1250-1278)

Context 704
Coin 109 (sieve) Frankish (1250-1278)

Context 706 (foundation trench for Wall 700)
Coin 111 (findspot) Frankish (1250-1278)
Coin 112 (findspot) Frankish (1250-1278)
Coin 113 (sieve) Frankish (1250-1278)

Context 715
Coin 130 (sieve) Frankish
Coin 117 (sieve) Byzantine (1143-1180)
Coin 132 (sieve) Not a coin

Context 717 (top of large pit?)
Coin 118 (findspot) Greek (400-300 BC)
Coin 119 (sieve) Frankish (1223-1270)
Coin 120 (findspot) Byzantine
Coin 121 (sieve) Byzantine (1143-1184)
Coin 122 (sieve) Greek
Coin 123 (sieve) Byzantine (1204-1261)
Coin 125 (sieve) Frankish (1250-1278)
Coin 126 (sieve) Frankish

Context 720 (Wall, under a loose rock)
Coin 212 (findspot) Illegible

Context 726 (large pit)
Coin 124 (findspot) Frankish (1250-1278)
Coin 127 (findspot) Frankish (1250-1278)
Coin 128 (findspot) Roman Imperial
Coin 129 (sieve) Frankish
Coin 137 (findspot) Byzantine (1204-1261)
Coin 138 (findspot) Frankish (1235-1278)
Coin 139 (sieve) Not a coin
Coin 141 (sieve) Frankish (1250-1278)
Coin 143 (sieve) Byzantine (1143-1180)
Coin 144 (sieve) Byzantine (1143-1180)
Coin 145 (findspot) Frankish (1223-1270)
Coin 149 (findspot) Frankish (1223-1270)
Coin 152 (sieve) Byzantine (1150-1190)
Coin 153 (sieve) Byzantine
Coin 154 (sieve) Frankish (1250-1278)
Coin 155 (sieve) Not a coin
Coin 156 (sieve) Illegible
Coin 159 (sieve) Not a coin
Coin 160 (sieve) Illegible
Coin 161 (sieve) Byzantine (1143-1180)
Coin 162 (sieve) Not a coin
Coin 194 (sieve) Illegible
Coin 201 (sieve) Frankish (1223-1250)
Coin 203 (sieve) Byzantine (1143-1180)
Coin 204 (sieve) Illegible
Context 747 (large pit)
Coin 163 (sieve) Not a coin
Coin 164 (sieve) Illegible
Coin 180 (sieve) Byzantine (1082-1118)
Coin 181 (sieve) Byzantine (1075-1080)
Coin 183 (sieve) Illegible
Coin 184 (sieve) Frankish (1250-1278)
Coin 185 (sieve) Illegible
Coin 186 (sieve) Illegible
Coin 187 (sieve) Illegible
Coin 196 (sieve) Byzantine (1078-1081)
Coin 199 (sieve) Byzantine (1070-1095)
Coin 202 Not a coin

Context 772 (courtyard paving)
Coin 227 (sieve) Frankish (1250-1278)
Coin 228 (sieve) Frankish (1250-1278)
Coin 229 (sieve) Illegible
Coin 230 (sieve) Frankish (1250-1278)
Coin 231 (sieve) Byzantine (1143-1180)
Coin 232 (sieve) Byzantine (1143-1180)
Coin 261 (sieve) unread

Context 773 (level at bottom of large pit)
Coin 213 (sieve) Byzantine
Coin 215 (sieve) Frankish (1250-1278)

Context 792 (leveling fill under courtyard paving)
Coin 261 Frankish (1250-1278)
Coin 262 (findspot) Greek Imperial (193-217)
Coin 266 (findspot) Frankish (1250-1278)
Coin 268 (findspot) Byzantine (1081-1118)
Coin 270 (findspot) Byzantine (1204-1261)
Coin 291 (sieve) Roman Imperial
Coin 293 (sieve) Frankish (1250-1278)
Coin 309 (sieve) Not a coin
Coin 310 (sieve) Byzantine (1204-1261)
Coin 311 (sieve) Roman Imperial
Coin 312 (sieve) Frankish (1250-1278)
Coin 313 (sieve) Frankish (1250-1278)
Coin 314 (sieve) Roman Imperial
Coin 315 (sieve) Roman Imperial
Coin 316 (sieve) Frankish (1250-1278)
Coin 317 (sieve) Illegible
Coin 318 (sieve) Illegible
Coin 319 (sieve) Not a coin
Coin 320 (sieve) Frankish (1250-1278)
Coin 321 (loose dirt in Wall 659) Frankish (1250–1278)