Corinth Report: Nezi Field 2009 by William Bruce, Scott Gallimore (2009-04-27 to 2009-05-15)
Collection:   Corinth
Type:   Report
Name:   Nezi Field 2009 by William Bruce, Scott Gallimore (2009-04-27 to 2009-05-15)
Title:   Nezi Session 2, 2009
Context:   Nezi Field, context 6354
    Nezi Field, context 6322
    Nezi Field, context 6350
    Nezi Field, context 6387
    Nezi Field, context 6155
    Nezi Field, context 6159
    Nezi Field, context 6174
    Nezi Field, context 6163
    Nezi Field, context 6276
    Nezi Field, context 6347
    Nezi Field, context 6319
    Nezi Field, context 6280
    Nezi Field, context 6239
    Nezi Field, context 6320
    Nezi Field, context 6253
    Nezi Field, context 6257
    Nezi Field, context 6262
    Nezi Field, context 6156
    Nezi Field, context 6295
    Nezi Field, context 6228
    Nezi Field, context 6331
    Nezi Field, context 6391
    Nezi Field, context 6188
    Nezi Field, context 6340
    Nezi Field, context 6367
    Nezi Field, context 6359
    Nezi Field, context 6266
    Nezi Field, context 6272
    Nezi Field, context 6298
    Nezi Field, context 5508
    Nezi Field, context 6236
    Nezi Field, context 6399
    Nezi Field, context 6161
    Nezi Field, context 6281
    Nezi Field, context 6366
    Nezi Field, context 6323
    Nezi Field, context 6179
    Nezi Field, context 6302
    Nezi Field, context 6214
    Nezi Field, context 6316
    Nezi Field, context 6153
    Nezi Field, context 6150
    Nezi Field, context 6167
    Nezi Field, context 6434
    Nezi Field, context 6246
    Nezi Field, context 6342
    Nezi Field, context 6283
    Nezi Field, context 6332
    Nezi Field, context 6402
    Nezi Field, context 6314
    Nezi Field, context 6207
    Nezi Field, context 6265
    Nezi Field, context 6370
    Nezi Field, context 6243
    Nezi Field, context 6206
    Nezi Field, context 6389
    Nezi Field, context 6289
    Nezi Field, context 6377
    Nezi Field, context 6154
    Nezi Field, context 6203
    Nezi Field, context 6260
    Nezi Field, context 6336
    Nezi Field, context 6318
    Nezi Field, context 6185
    Nezi Field, context 6275
    Nezi Field, context 6339
    Nezi Field, context 6250
    Nezi Field, context 6409
    Nezi Field, context 6219
    Nezi Field, context 6158
    Nezi Field, context 6149
    Nezi Field, context 6271
    Nezi Field, context 6346
    Nezi Field, context 6335
    Nezi Field, context 6382
    Nezi Field, context 6357
    Nezi Field, context 6189
    Nezi Field, context 6151
    Nezi Field, context 6418
    Nezi Field, context 6315
    Nezi Field, context 6304
    Nezi Field, context 6248
    Nezi Field, context 6384
    Nezi Field, context 6373
    Nezi Field, context 6296
    Nezi Field, context 6244
    Nezi Field, context 6287
    Nezi Field, context 6212
    Nezi Field, context 6390
    Nezi Field, context 6293
    Nezi Field, context 6299
    Nezi Field, context 6419
    Nezi Field, context 6344
    Nezi Field, context 6396
    Nezi Field, context 6329
    Nezi Field, context 6429
    Nezi Field, context 6356
    Nezi Field, context 6282
    Nezi Field, context 6259
    Nezi Field, context 6376
    Nezi Field, context 6395
    Nezi Field, context 6392
    Nezi Field, context 6321
    Nezi Field, context 6162
    Nezi Field, context 6290
    Nezi Field, context 6200
    Nezi Field, context 6175
    Nezi Field, context 6313
    Nezi Field, context 6301
    Nezi Field, context 6192
    Nezi Field, context 6177
    Nezi Field, context 6232
    Nezi Field, context 6165
    Nezi Field, context 6218
    Nezi Field, context 6215
    Nezi Field, context 6251
    Nezi Field, context 6269
    Nezi Field, context 6145
    Nezi Field, context 6375
    Nezi Field, context 6268
    Nezi Field, context 6305
    Nezi Field, context 6385
    Nezi Field, context 6328
    Nezi Field, context 10112
    Nezi Field, context 6237
    Nezi Field, context 6178
    Nezi Field, context 6208
    Nezi Field, context 6410
    Nezi Field, context 6294
    Nezi Field, context 6362
    Nezi Field, context 6311
    Nezi Field, context 6423
    Nezi Field, context 6355
    Nezi Field, context 6349
    Nezi Field, context 6182
    Nezi Field, context 6337
    Nezi Field, context 6176
    Nezi Field, context 6341
    Nezi Field, context 6401
Area:   Nezi Field
Site:   Corinth
City:   Ancient Corinth
Country:   Greece
References:   Baskets (139)
North of Nezi (Green) Report 2009 Session II: Scott Gallimore & Will Bruce

The following summarizes results of excavation during the second 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 northwest of the courtyard, and the room immediately west of the courtyard.

The excavations in all three areas were supervised by Guy Sanders (director) and Alicia Carter (field director). Our pickman was Athanasios Magourakis; our shovel-man was Panos Stamatis; our wheelbarrow-man was Sotiris Raftopoulos. For two days (April 29-30) Tasos Kakouros took over as our pickman, while Athanasios Magourakis was away. We began by resuming excavation in the room northwest of the courtyard, where we left off at the end of session one. This room is located between E260.90-E264.60; N1034.85-N1038.75. We excavated this room during the first session of 2009 (April 14-16), and it was previously excavated during the second and third sessions of 2008 by Sarah Lima, and in 1961 by Charles Williams (notebook 253). We then moved to the room immediately west of the courtyard, which is located between E261.10-E264.60; N1030.80-1034.90. This room was previously excavated during the second and third sessions of 2008 by Sarah Lima, and in 1961 by Charles Williams (notebook 253). Overlapping stratigraphy compelled us to move excavation into the southern area of the courtyard, which comprised E264.40-E270.50; N1027.90-N1033.40. This area was excavated in all three sessions in 2008, the first session by Josh Geiske and Laurie Kilker, in the second session by Jody Cundy and Nate Andrade, and in the third session by Jody Cundy and Megan Thomsen. This area was identified in 1961 as Room XII and was excavated by Steven Lattimore (notebook 230, 231), and by William Berg (notebook 229). 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.

Late Byzantine:
An important deposit containing a very unusual number of white-ware kettles was revealed resting on a earth floor in the room NW or the courtyard much like deposit 6129, which overlay it (excavated during Session I). The white-ware kettle deposit was concentrated between E263-264.50; N1037.5-1038.70 and comprised 75-76% of the pottery recovered from this deposit by weight. We determined, based on handles, that there must be a minimum count of 33 vessels. Almost none of these kettles showed any signs of use or burning. We tentatively hypothesized that this deposit represented a newly received shipment (in a box or cabinet?) temporarily stored in this location. The date for deposit 6145, based on the white-ware kettles, can be very accurately estimated at 1100 ±10, which serves as one of our best dating criteria in this area.

The removal of this deposit brought us to the level upon which the white-ware kettles likely stood; however, we decided against excavating this context, as it would have required us to partially dismantle well 5876, a later feature which had been pedestalled. Levels contemporary with the white-ware deposit were also encountered in the southern area of the room. The level of the southern area of the room, based on the pottery recovered from cleaning 6150, made us confident that it was late 11th - early 12th century, and thus roughly contemporary with the northern half. In the south area, several fills of late-Byzantine date (6151, 6153, 6154) had been deposited for an upper floor level, likely excavated in the 1960s since no floor is noted in this area from the 2008 excavations. These fills covered a small semicircular cut (6156), the fill of which (6155) was serving to backfill a tile-built storage pithos. The pithos was truncated by wall 5725. Wall 5725 has not yet been approved for removal by the Byzantine Ephoria, but an application should be made in the future, since this structure post-dates the contexts to its north.

We moved into this room in hopes of clarifying the construction date of wall 5725 and determine its relationship to the contexts in the room immediately to the north.

A series of floors and sub-floor leveling fills were excavated in this space. The fills (6159 + cut 6161, 6162) appear to represent levelings for an unidentified floor, perhaps excavated in the 1960s, since no upper floor surface was noted during the 2008 excavations. Revealed by removal of these fills were two isolated patches of floor, one (6163) in the northeast corner, and the other (6165) in the northwest corner. These two patches perhaps represent the same floor surface, but were kept separate in the Harris matrix, since their elevations do not correspond. Associated with this floor were twelve leveling fills: (6167, 6174, 6176, 6179=6182=6185, 6189, 6192, 6203, 6178, 6207, 6214, 6218, & 6236). These floors and fills were laid up against wall 5725 because they overlay its unexcavated foundation trench. Context 6165 was cut by the foundation trench (5720) for wall 5762 in the west. Thus, this floor surface, if the same, postdates wall 5725, but predates wall 5762.The fills raised the level of the room approximately 30 cm., suggesting that, during the Frankish period, it was customary to construct a thick substructure before laying a floor.

The removal of one of these fills (6203) revealed two distinct courses of wall 6228 (previously labeled 50kj in the 1960s records). The top courses (structure 6206) were much more crudely built and had no associated foundation trench. A mid-late 12th century sherd embedded in the soil matrix of upper courses made it clear that it was a later construction and thus we removed it on April 30th. During the 12th century the inhabitants may have added to the height of the wall on account of the rising floor level created by the addition of fills and floors.

The floor level revealed by the removal of all of the aforementioned twelve fills was context 6237. We were able to excavate one fill below this floor (6239), but we ran into difficulty because robbing trench (6350) located immediately east of this room truncated the surface beneath fill 6239 (as yet unexcavated), and thus we had to shift our focus to the southern half of the courtyard.

In a pit in this room, located in the southern part and truncated by the northeast corner of the Ottoman house, we discovered a small extension of the cut and unexcavated fill, which we excavated as context 6214 (cut 6215). This pit was excavated in the 1960s, but we have not yet identified which of the 1960s notebooks refers to it.

Magourakis believed he could discern the cut and fill of the the foundation trench of wall 5725 in the east scarp of Bothros 9 (NB 235, p.19), which disturbed most of it. Bothros 9 appears to be of Frankish date, based on Guy Sanders’ examination of the lot pottery (Lot 837). This foundation trench cut should be revealed approximately 0.10 m. below the current surface, so at an elevation around 84.45.

We began by removing wall 5508, which dates between the late 13th and early 14th centuries and was pedestalled in 2008 as permission to remove it had not yet been received, making it by far the latest feature in this immediate area. The construction of this wall limited access between the courtyard and the space in front of the rooms immediately to the south. The only point of access after the construction of wall 5508 was in the southwest corner of the courtyard. Directly beneath wall 5508 was a tile fill (6243), which we related to the uppermost context in this part of the courtyard excavated in 2008 (5300). These equivalent contexts were likely leveling fills for a courtyard surface which had been excavated in the 1960s. We encountered another fill (6244) directly below the wall, for which we were not able to find an equivalent context from the 2008 excavation. Below these fills were the remains of two separate surfaces composed primarily of tile fragments. The first of these (6246) can be equated to the 2008 context 5324 in the courtyard and 5630 in the area south of wall 5508. The second (6250) was found directly below 6246 and likely equates to 2008 context 5685. A pattern emerged with respect to these numerous fills and surfaces whereby only shallow fills were laid down in between the numerous surfaces constructed in this part of the house. This is demonstrated by the next surfaces encountered, 6253 and 6259=6260=6262, for which the subsurface leveling fills (6265, 6266, 6268) only seemed to raise the surface level by approximately 6 cm. Another contemporary fill, 6280 which consisted primarily of cobbles and boulders corresponding directly to a 2008 context, 5674 was laid on surface 6289.

The removal of the above fills and surfaces succeeded in also identifying the lowest levels of structure 10112 which was abutted on its eastern end by wall 5508. Structure 10112 was a Frankish addition and had the appearance of a large platform and may have served as a bench. Directly beneath structure 10112 was a fill (6281) which may have served to level the existing surface to accommodate the construction of this feature. Removal of fill 6281 revealed a cut (6283) along the southern and western boundaries of where 10112 had laid which had two overlying fills (6282 and 6287) and overall this could have represented some type of drainage feature. 6283 cut into two superimposed pebble courtyard surfaces (6355 and 6356).

Structure 10112 also overlay several more surfaces and fills to the south (surfaces 6271, 6293, 6289, 6290, 6295; fills 6304, 6316, 6294, 6298). These surfaces lay upon a series of foundation trenches. The first (6314, cut 6135) was the foundation trench on the northern side of wall 5285. Initially, this caused some confusion, since we believed this wall to be Byzantine. However, with the later excavation of pit 6409, abutting the north side of wall 5285, we found another foundation trench at a lower elevation from the wall’s construction, whereas 6314 proved to be evidence of a later addition. Next we excavated foundation 6322 (cut 6323), which was truncated in the south by foundation trench 6314. 6322 was the western foundation trench for wall 6313. Most of the wall appears to have been robbed out at a later period (robbing trench 5510). However, the discovery of foundation trench 6391 (cut 6392) on the south flank of the standing remains of wall 6313 proved that this wall is an older structure, and that foundation trench 6322, which was originally thought to be for this wall and the robbed portion, was in fact for an extension of the wall to the south. The robbing trench (5510) thus represents the removal of the later extension.

Foundation trench 6322 truncated a small foundation trench (6331, cut 6332) for one of two piers placed at the southwest corner of the courtyard. The pier structure is context 6319. North of this pier is a second pier block (6337) with a contemporary foundation trench (6335, cut 6336). These piers appear to have been made for an entrance into the courtyard, a hypothesis confirmed by the fact that a threshold (6347) was uncovered beneath tile fill 6346, which was associated with an earlier wall and entrance. These features were initially believed to be connected with wall 6375, but this relationship is doubtful because the piers run NW-SE, whereas wall 6375 is exactly N-S.

Cut by the foundation trenches of the two piers was a surface (6339) and its leveling fill (6342). A small round posthole (6340, cut 6341) below 6342 was cut into surface 6344 directly north of pier 6319, which may represent the earliest Frankish attempt at a door partition into the courtyard from the southwest. These deposits may represent our earliest Frankish phases, but our pottery does not allow us to firmly determine whether they are early Frankish or Late Byzantine.

Late Byzantine:
The surface (6344) cut by the round posthole and a tile fill directly beneath it (6346) may be the latest Byzantine features in this area. They were laid upon the aforementioned threshold (6347), which indicates that the southwest entrance from the Frankish period had a predecessor in the Late Byzantine period.

Also beneath fill 6346, was a series of fill contained within cut 6362: (6349, 6354, 6366, 6367, 6389, 6390). Several of these fills first appeared to be part of robbing trench 6350 for NS wall 6375. Wall 6375 was revealed by the removal of these fills and, at one point, defined the boundary between the courtyard and the room immediately to the west. The north and south ends of wall 6375 were marked by thresholds 6347 in the south, and 6320 in the north, which was revealed in 2008 by the removal of context 5855. However, it was determined that cut 6362 truncated cut 6350 and that the associated fills were in fact part of the later cut (i.e. 6362). Cut 6362 also truncated two other features in this area. The first was a large bothros located in the western half of the courtyard, south of wall 6072 (fills 6372 & 6376, cut 6377). We have not yet ascertained the function of the bothros, but it seems likely that it is contemporary with the construction of wall 6375. The second, defined by cut 6385, was the foundation trench (6384) for wall 6072 in the western part of the courtyard. This foundation trench can be dated to the first half of the 12th century by stratigraphic relationships. On the north side of wall 6072 there was also a foundation trench identified in 2008 (5905, cut 5907), but it was determined that this was the foundation trench for the upper courses of this wall labeled structure 5443, and dated to the 13th century by stratigraphic relationships.

Investigations of stratigraphic relationships of the contexts in the area directly south of wall 6072 also led us excavate a deep pier foundation, context 6359 (similar to those in rooms to the east and southeast), Excavation of components of this pier had occurred in session one as foundation deposit 6069 for wall 5442. At the bottom of this feature was a cobble fill, which was first believed to be a continuation of one of the fills within cut 6362, but the cobbles were confined to the area of the cut (6061=6055) first defined for foundation 6069. This second foundation (6359) was very deep and terminated at the bottom at what appears to be a Roman wall. Thus, we determined that this feature was a pier foundation, and that the area west of this was roofed at this time, and not part of the open-air courtyard. This hypothesis is supported by 6359’s alignment with wall 6318 to the south, which possibly is another small pier foundation. Its foundation trench (6328, cut 6329) was very deep and could not be fully excavated. It was cut by fill 6399 which was below the fills contained within cut 6362. The stratigraphy, however, suggests that 6359 is later than 6318 and would have been constructed at a time when the occupants of the house wanted to roof part of the courtyard.

Abutting wall 6313 and revealed by the fills contained with cut 6362 was another series of fills (6399, 6401, 6395) covering the area south of wall 5508. These fills were relatively deep (ca. 15-25 cm.) and appear to either represent episodes of dumping or leveling fills for surfaces at a higher elevation. Beneath these fills was a large semicircular bothros (6409, cut 6410) abutting the north side of wall 5285. A possible parallel for this bothros can be found on the north side of the courtyard abutting wall 5741, and is a semicircular bothros designated as context 5704 (cut 5702). It was also determined that bothros 6409 truncated a smaller bothros (6418, cut 6419) in almost exactly the same location. This smaller bothros truncated the foundation trench for wall 5285, which demonstrates that the wall was in place at the time these bothroi were dug, and that they likely do not extend into the room in the south, as was originally hypothesized.

Bothros 6409 also cut into a large reddish fill (6276=6423) which covered much of the area south of wall 5508. Two foundation trenches, however, cut this reddish fill. The first (6275, cut 6272) was located along the southern face of staircase 6296, which itself abuts the southern face of wall 5783. This staircase lay directly upon fill 6276=6423 and thus dates to the late 11th or early 12th century. This feature was pedestalled in order to be able to continue excavation, and will likely not be removed in the future, since it would have to be rebuilt when the house was consolidated for presentation to the public. The second (6301, cut 6302) is the western foundation trench for wall 5783, which appears to be contemporary with the northern foundation (5795, cut 5796) trench for this wall excavated in 2008. Beneath fill 6276=6423 was another fill context, 6429, which was cut into a pebble surface.

All three of the areas excavated by Team Green during the second 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. Our excavations this session have clarified many aspects of the construction history in this area of the house. It appears now that the rooms immediately northwest and west of the courtyard were divided during the Byzantine period by wall 5725, and may have originally been one large space. The relationship between the courtyard and the room immediately to the west has also been clarified by the excavation of robbing trench 6350 for wall 6375. When wall 6375 was removed during the Late Byzantine Period (early-mid 12th century) this opened the courtyard to the west and made obsolete threshold 6320. The removal of this wall seems contemporary with the pier foundations 6359 and 6318, which represent a roofing of part of the courtyard, thus diminishing the open-air area of the courtyard. Access to the courtyard was reduced during the late 13th or early 14th century with the construction of wall 5508, which left only an entrance at the southwest as a point of access.

We made substantial progress in linking the southern part of the courtyard with the rest of the courtyard space to the north with the removal of wall 5508. Further excavation will be needed to bring these two areas down to contemporary levels. Excavation will also be needed in the rooms immediately to the west and northwest in order to make contemporary these three areas of the house, in particular the west room, which is still at Frankish levels. It is also important to clarify the relationship of wall 5725 to the construction history of these two rooms and determine whether it should be removed.