Corinth Report: Nezi Field 2009 by William Bruce, Scott Gallimore (2009-03-30 to 2009-04-16)
Collection:   Corinth
Type:   Report
Name:   Nezi Field 2009 by William Bruce, Scott Gallimore (2009-03-30 to 2009-04-16)
Title:   Courtyard of Byzantine house and rooms to north and northwest, Late Roman to Frankish levels
Context:   Nezi Field, context 6011
    Nezi Field, context 5963
    Nezi Field, context 6106
    Nezi Field, context 6103
    Nezi Field, context 5944
    Nezi Field, context 6077
    Nezi Field, context 6072
    Nezi Field, context 5955
    Nezi Field, context 10111
    Nezi Field, context 6050
    Nezi Field, context 5921
    Nezi Field, context 6067
    Nezi Field, context 6074
    Nezi Field, context 5923
    Nezi Field, context 6009
    Nezi Field, context 5990
    Nezi Field, context 6084
    Nezi Field, context 5962
    Nezi Field, context 5931
    Nezi Field, context 5948
    Nezi Field, context 6039
    Nezi Field, context 6099
    Nezi Field, context 6135
    Nezi Field, context 6045
    Nezi Field, context 5998
    Nezi Field, context 5936
    Nezi Field, context 6113
    Nezi Field, context 6044
    Nezi Field, context 6003
    Nezi Field, context 5933
    Nezi Field, context 6069
    Nezi Field, context 6108
    Nezi Field, context 5993
    Nezi Field, context 6038
    Nezi Field, context 6026
    Nezi Field, context 6053
    Nezi Field, context 5976
    Nezi Field, context 6014
    Nezi Field, context 5442
    Nezi Field, context 5930
    Nezi Field, context 6097
    Nezi Field, context 5911
    Nezi Field, context 6128
    Nezi Field, context 6112
    Nezi Field, context 6033
    Nezi Field, context 6061
    Nezi Field, context 6056
    Nezi Field, context 5939
    Nezi Field, context 6001
    Nezi Field, context 5958
    Nezi Field, context 6016
    Nezi Field, context 6115
    Nezi Field, context 6125
    Nezi Field, context 6021
    Nezi Field, context 6107
    Nezi Field, context 6129
    Nezi Field, context 5977
    Nezi Field, context 6134
    Nezi Field, context 6059
    Nezi Field, context 5927
    Nezi Field, context 5973
    Nezi Field, context 6078
    Nezi Field, context 6018
    Nezi Field, context 5942
    Nezi Field, context 6000
    Nezi Field, context 6085
    Nezi Field, context 6093
    Nezi Field, context 6109
    Nezi Field, context 6064
    Nezi Field, context 6130
    Nezi Field, context 5945
    Nezi Field, context 5865
    Nezi Field, context 5994
    Nezi Field, context 5975
    Nezi Field, context 6133
    Nezi Field, context 6116
    Nezi Field, context 6096
    Nezi Field, context 5969
    Nezi Field, context 6137
    Nezi Field, context 6055
    Nezi Field, context 5914
    Nezi Field, context 6090
    Nezi Field, context 5980
    Nezi Field, context 6015
    Nezi Field, context 6100
    Nezi Field, context 6041
    Nezi Field, context 6060
    Nezi Field, context 6110
    Nezi Field, context 5941
    Nezi Field, context 5989
    Nezi Field, context 5960
    Nezi Field, context 6020
    Nezi Field, context 5926
    Nezi Field, context 5981
    Nezi Field, context 6086
    Nezi Field, context 5473
    Nezi Field, context 5961
    Nezi Field, context 5913
    Nezi Field, context 5970
    Nezi Field, context 5443
    Nezi Field, context 6019
Area:   Nezi Field
Site:   Corinth
City:   Ancient Corinth
Country:   Greece
References:   Baskets (101)
North of Nezi (Green) Report 2009: Scott Gallimore & Will Bruce

The following summarizes results of excavations during the first session of 2009 at Corinth in three areas north of Nezi Field in the area previously excavated in the 1960s under the direction of H.S. Robinson: the courtyard of the Byzantine house, the room immediately north of courtyard, and the room immediately northwest of courtyard.
The excavations in all three rooms were supervised by Guy Sanders (director) and Alicia Carter (field director). Our pickman was Athanasios Magourakis, our shovelman Kostas Arberoris, and our barrowman Panos Stamatis who replaced Sotiris Raftopoulos in the first week. The main priority for this session was the room north of the courtyard which is located between E265.30-E270.50, N1035.60-1039.20. This room was excavated in 2008 during the second session by Nathaniel Andrade and Jody Cundy, and had been previously investigated in 1961 by Steven Lattimore as part of Room 12 (NB 230, f.170). It became necessary for us to excavate parts of the courtyard, which is located between E265.20-E273.50, N1027.85-1035.70, in order to reach Byzantine levels within the room north of the courtyard, as deposits and other features in these two spaces are related stratigraphically.
The courtyard was excavated in all three sessions in 2008 and was originally uncovered during the 1961 season (Room 12 NB 230; NB 235; NB 229). After reaching earlier levels (possibly Roman) in the room north of the courtyard, we moved excavation to the room northwest of the courtyard, located between E260.90-E264.60, N1034.85-N1038.75, in order to reach contemporaneous levels. This room was excavated during the second and third sessions of 2008 by Sarah Lima, and also during 1961 by Charles Williams (NB 253, f.10). The goal of this year’s excavation is to expose the walls and features of the Byzantine house for future consolidation and presentation. Our report will be organized chronologically by room.

ROOM NORTH OF COURTYARD (March 30-April 8; April 13-14)

Most of the Frankish levels of this room had been previously removed and were only encountered at the very beginning of excavation. The first action of this session was an archaeological cleaning, which removed pottery and materials dating to the late 13th century (5911). The only other Frankish features encountered in this room, were three superimposed walls (5473, 5913, & 5914) which were removed according to a permit obtained this year. These three contexts were actually all components of the same wall from different phases: 5473 was the superstructure, with 5913 & 5914 as foundation levels. If any floor levels were associated with these walls, they must have been excavated during the 1960s, since the earliest floor from the 2008 season (5585) is late Byzantine.

Middle-Late Byzantine:
Late Byzantine levels were encountered throughout the entire room, the latest being from the 12th century. Twelth century levels extended in both the eastern and western halves of the room. In the western half, following the removal of the Frankish walls, the first 12th century context we encountered was leveling fill 5921. Also removed in this area was a small tile platform (5930), which had been revealed by the 2008 excavation. The majority of the 12th century contexts found in the western half of this room consisted of a series of small leveling fills (5921, 5927, 5931, 5933, 5936, & 5962). A floor surface which may have been associated with these leveling fills was excavated in 2008 as context 5585.
The northern foundation trench (5960, cut 5961) for wall 5463 was also encountered during excavation; a portion of this feature was also identified in 2008 as context 5573. Beneath some of these leveling fills, context 5963, however, was part of an intact floor surface, which dated to the late 11th - early 12th century. We took samples for flotation from this floor as part of a new vigorous strategy of flotation analysis initiated this year at Corinth. Recovered from this sample was a large quantity of bone, some eggshell, and even fish scales (specialist report not yet compiled).
In the eastern half of the room, 12th century levels included a small pit (5926), several small leveling fills (5939, 5941, 5942, 5944, 5945, 5948, 5955, & 5958), and a threshold block (5865), which was removed. The floor surface with which this threshold could have been associated is context 5800, stretching from the doorway into the courtyard.
The last 12th century context in this room was a leveling fill (5948) located in the northeast part of the room, the removal of which revealed an intact clay hearth (5975, 5976, cut 5977). The contents of this hearth were also water sieved, but nothing substantial was recovered. The only plausible floor surface, which could be associated with hearth 5975 would be context 5963. This floor was greatly truncated and did not come into contact with the hearth itself, but could conceivably agree stratigraphically.
The majority of the contexts encountered in this room dated to the late 10th – 11th centuries. This seems to indicate that this was a period of intense activity in this room. Many of these contexts were apparently leveling fills (5969, 5970, 5973, 5980, 5981, 6001, 6003, 6009, 6015, & 6026), the most remarkable of which was context 5981, a large assemblage of broken tiles, originally thought to have been evidence of a roof collapse, but later determined to be a substantial leveling fill, since the tile assemblage did not cover the entire floor surface and the tile fragments did not join; the small size of the tile fragments and the fact that none of them were intact led us to believe this did not represent a destruction event.
Two more partially intact floor surfaces (5989 & 6033) were recovered from this area. The first, 5989, covered the entire southern half of the room and consisted of compacted earth. The second, 6033, is believed to have been a construction floor (i.e. a compact floor surface created during a construction phase, on top of which an actual floor was laid), and covered the western half of the room. Numerous small finds, including many nails, were recovered from these two contexts. We also uncovered the western foundation trench (5993, 5994) for wall 5990. Wall 5990 was previously labeled W38, as a part of the plan from the 1960s.
Two robbing trenches were identified near the entrance of the room, in the southeast corner. One (5998, 6000) may represent the removal of a threshold block in the 11th century. The second robbing trench (6011, 6014) is likely evidence of the removal of part of the superstructure of a late-Roman wall running N-S, which is now labeled 6016. Within this robbing trench was stone feature (6020), which contained a fragment of marble sculpture (S2009-1).
More of wall 6016 was revealed when context 6026 & 6093 were removed. The entire course of this wall was left unexcavated, since it predates the chronological focus of this excavation. However, the E-W jog of this wall appears to be a continuation of wall 10111 in the room northwest of the courtyard. The relationship of these two walls will be discussed further in the section below re: Room Northwest of Courtyard.
We expected to find the foundation trench for wall 5562 at the northern limit of this room. With the excavation of context 6093, what appeared to be the foundation was exposed, which indicates that this wall was built without a foundation trench, but was constructed as a terrace.

Early Byzantine-Late Roman:
After reaching 10th century levels in the room north of the courtyard, contemporary with the construction period of the house, and the stated goal of the excavation, the decision was made by Guy Sanders to see whether 8th or 9th century levels existed beneath the 10th century occupational level. This decision was made to try and recover useful pottery assemblages from this period, which is poorly represented at Corinth. After excavating two contexts (6090 & 6093) we determined that the 8th & 9th centuries were absent, and we had reached a late-Roman level. Thus, excavation ceased in this room.


We moved excavation into the courtyard, and we excavated some two dozen contexts in this area when it became clear that the exposed surface of the courtyard overlaid one of the deposits (6077) in the room to the north of the courtyard.
Our excavation of this area shed some light on the construction history in the courtyard. The latest features we encountered were two walls. We removed a small N-S wall (5442), its foundation 6069, and their two foundation trenches (6056 in the east, and 6060 in the south). These walls and their foundation trenches appear to have been constructed during the 13th century. We also removed two leveling fills (6064 & 6067) west of wall 5442, which were likely deposited in the 11th or 12th century. We removed the superstructure of E-W wall 5443, which abutted 5442 and is likely contemporary. Both of these walls were slated for removal in the aforementioned permit. We encountered the foundation (6072) of wall 5443, but we did not remove it because it appeared to be much earlier. The foundation trench for wall 5443 was excavated in 2008 as context 5905 (cut 5907).
We also revealed more of the southern foundation trench (6038, cut 6039) for wall 5463. Part of this context was excavated last season as context 5903. Another significant feature we encountered in the courtyard was a pit (6044) truncated by well 5684, which contained another fill 6050, dated to the 11th century by stratigraphy.
We excavated two leveling fills (6074 & 6077) which may be related to a pebbly surface excavated last year as context 5909. Context 5909 was one of several superimposed pebble surfaces, including contexts 5900 & 5902. This season’s context 6086 appears to be an earlier example of this phenomenon in the courtyard. This pebbly surface was truncated by pit
6084/6085 cut to contain a small partially intact amphora, originally thought to have been a pitcher. This vessel was carefully excavated and its contents removed for sampling.
When we removed context 6086, which was truncated by wall 6072, wall 5463, and well 5684, we sampled its contents for water-sieving, and the remainder was dry sieved.


After completion of excavation in the room north of the courtyard, we shifted our focus to the west to the room northwest of the courtyard. Here we excavated leveling fills, a wall foundation, and fill inside a tile-built pithos, all dating from the Frankish period.
The latest feature in this room was a cobbled wall foundation (6100), the superstructure of which was removed last year as context 5604. Beneath this context was a firmly packed soil surface.
We performed a cleaning inside a pit excavated last year as context 5644 to determine whether last year’s excavation had reached the bottom of this context. Within pit 5644 was a small fill (6097) and a robbing pit (6103, cut 6106) associated with wall 10111. We continued excavating pit 5644 as context 6115 (cut 6116), and it became clear that this was the fill of a subterranean tile-built pithos with a depth of ca. 1.10 meters. None of the actual structure of the pithos was discovered, but the fill and the cut made its identification certain. A comparandum lies in the room north of this one (context 5504), excavated in 2008. Within the fill of 6115 were found a well-preserved late-Roman Ionic capital, a stone mortar, and a large assemblage of Frankish pottery. As for reconstructing the use life of this pithos, our excavations up to this point can only inform us that the pithos was out of use by the Frankish period.
Removal of the pithos fill (6115) also gave us insight into the construction history of two walls (10111 & its N-S jog 6130), which predate the construction of the pithos. These two walls extend to at least the full depth of the pithos (El. 84.63. 84.48). A portion of 6130 was uncovered during the removal of 6099 & 6107, but was not identified as a wall until 6115 was excavated. We hypothesized that wall 10111 is a continuation of the E-W wall (yet unnumbered) uncovered in the room north of the courtyard.
Apart from the excavation of pit 6115, the majority of the contexts excavated in this room was several fills from the Frankish period (6107, 6108, 6110) and several fills from the Late Byzantine period (6125, 6128, 6129, 6133, 6134, 6135, & 6137) in the western portion of the room. We did not encounter any floor surfaces, nor were any documented in last year’s excavation. If any such surface did exist at a higher elevation, perhaps it was excavated in the 1960s.
The fill context 6129 which was the final context excavated this session contained substantial amount of whiteware kettles which appear to continue into the deposit below. The date for this deposit based on these kettles (1100 ± 10) provides the best chronological marker for the construction history of the levels excavated in this room which must be Late Byzantine or later.


All three of the areas excavated by Team Green during the first session are components of the Byzantine house under investigation in the area north of Nezi Field. They represent three independent, but interconnected spaces which appear to have undergone substantial modification during their use. Several late walls removed from each room demonstrate degrees of subdivision of these spaces which occurred in post-Byzantine times. Contemporary levels have not been reached in all three rooms making it difficult to offer any overarching conclusions about the relationships between these spaces, but the fact that several contexts stretch between rooms (eg. 6077 between the courtyard and the north room) suggests that during periods of construction they were not always necessarily treated as isolated areas.
With respect to the room immediately north of the courtyard, there is likely no need for further excavation as the level associated with the construction of the house has been identified and the current revealed surfaces most likely represent Late Roman contexts. The next step for this room should be the consolidation of the features in this space and backfilling it to a level of Byzantine occupation in anticipation of presenting this site to the public. As for the courtyard, this session’s excavations have helped to provide some clarification of the construction history in the north part of this room. The southern half of the courtyard requires more investigation before any excavation can continue in the northern half and this should begin with the removal of walls 10112, 5508, and 5784 in order to better define the boundaries of the courtyard and enable the excavation of the numerous fills and surfaces which are currently visible. In the room immediately to the northwest of the courtyard Late Byzantine levels have been reached and excavation in the next session should continue with the removal of the fills in the north and south parts of this room to attempt to reveal floors and to bring the level of this room down to its original construction. An additional goal of the next session should be to continue excavating in the room immediately west of the courtyard which would provide a clear picture of the history of the entire northwest corner of the Byzantine house.