Corinth Report: Nezi Field 2010 by Dominic Galante, Christina Trego (2010-05-03 to 2010-05-21)
Collection:   Corinth
Type:   Report
Name:   Nezi Field 2010 by Dominic Galante, Christina Trego (2010-05-03 to 2010-05-21)
Title:   2010 Session 2 Green Team Final Report: Rooms North of the Courtyard of the Byzantine House
Context:   Nezi Field, context 7013
    Nezi Field, context 6857
    Nezi Field, context 6944
    Nezi Field, context 7030
    Nezi Field, context 6941
    Nezi Field, context 7028
    Nezi Field, context 6855
    Nezi Field, context 6959
    Nezi Field, context 7012
    Nezi Field, context 6932
    Nezi Field, context 6833
    Nezi Field, context 6889
    Nezi Field, context 6846
    Nezi Field, context 6852
    Nezi Field, context 6881
    Nezi Field, context 6902
    Nezi Field, context 6828
    Nezi Field, context 6945
    Nezi Field, context 6851
    Nezi Field, context 6947
    Nezi Field, context 6845
    Nezi Field, context 6969
    Nezi Field, context 6868
    Nezi Field, context 7032
    Nezi Field, context 7005
    Nezi Field, context 6951
    Nezi Field, context 6970
    Nezi Field, context 6971
    Nezi Field, context 6898
    Nezi Field, context 6909
    Nezi Field, context 7000
    Nezi Field, context 6880
    Nezi Field, context 6859
    Nezi Field, context 6869
    Nezi Field, context 7015
    Nezi Field, context 6877
    Nezi Field, context 6935
    Nezi Field, context 6946
    Nezi Field, context 6836
    Nezi Field, context 7002
    Nezi Field, context 6940
    Nezi Field, context 6865
    Nezi Field, context 6879
    Nezi Field, context 6874
    Nezi Field, context 6839
    Nezi Field, context 7011
    Nezi Field, context 6850
    Nezi Field, context 6957
    Nezi Field, context 6831
    Nezi Field, context 6842
    Nezi Field, context 6991
    Nezi Field, context 6905
    Nezi Field, context 6897
    Nezi Field, context 6835
    Nezi Field, context 6830
    Nezi Field, context 6866
    Nezi Field, context 6983
    Nezi Field, context 6837
    Nezi Field, context 6925
    Nezi Field, context 6973
    Nezi Field, context 6952
    Nezi Field, context 6871
    Nezi Field, context 6872
    Nezi Field, context 6876
    Nezi Field, context 6965
    Nezi Field, context 6978
Area:   Nezi Field
Site:   Corinth
City:   Ancient Corinth
Country:   Greece
References:   Baskets (66)
North of Nezi, 2010: Green Session II Final Report (Dominic Galante, Christina Trego)

The following summarizes Green Team’s excavations in two rooms in the Byzantine house north of Nezi field during the second session of the 2010 excavation season at Corinth. These are the rooms north and northwest of the courtyard of the house. Excavations took place from 4 May to 21 May 2010. Supervising these excavations were Guy Sanders (director) and Martin Wells (field director). The excavation team included Dominic Galante (recorder), Christina Trego (recorder), Athanasios Sakellariou (pickman), Pavlos Senis (shovelman), Panos “Junior” Stamatis (barrowman), and Vangelis Kollias (sieveman).

For the first week of the excavation (4-7 May), work was done in the room north of the courtyard ( N 1035.70-1039.30, E 265.40-270.60); from 10-21 May, work was pursued in the room northwest of the courtyard (N 1035.00-1038.70, E 260.70-264.90). In the room north of the courtyard, our goal was to trace periods of usage and abandonment, especially in regards to the construction phases of walls (e.g. 5562, 6016, 6526, 6321). In the room northwest of the courtyard, our goal was to excavate two tile-built pithoi and their surrounding contexts in order to understand the usage of the room in the Frankish and Byzantine periods, as well as take the room down to the middle Roman levels excavated by Scott Gallimore in the room west of the courtyard in the first session of 2010.


During the first session of the 2010 season, Scott Gallimore excavated a ramp abutting the southwest junction of walls 6526 and 6016 (6491), which was covered by a dumped fill (6516, excavated in May 2009). The ramp is dated to the the 9th-10th centuries. Gallimore believes that these two contexts could represent a period of post-abandonment for this space prior to its reorganization as part of the Byzantine house. Second session work in this room concentrated on the southern half of the room, with some work being done in the NW.


The earliest activities encountered in the room north of the courtyard in the Byzantine house were fills in the southern half of the room (6869, 6871, 6872, 6874). These fills are dated to the Late Roman (5th-6th century CE) and contain ash, iron, bronze, and nails. One item, parts of which came from 6872 and 6874, is particularly intriguing. It needs cleaning for more exact study, but it may be a lamp stand comprised of a central iron shaft connected to arms by means of a wooden joint; the arms appear to have iron hooks at their ends that may have been used to hang lamps.
Rubble wall foundations (6876) were revealed during excavation of 6842 and 6850, running E-W on the southern side of the room. A block appeared under contexts excavated to the north of this wall, and perhaps represents a robbed out wall that joined with 6876 and ran N-S. The foundations were not excavated, and neither superstructure nor foundation trench was found; however, stratigraphically we might date 6876 to the 5th century CE.
Previous excavations had discovered Late Roman pottery in a pit fill on the northern side of this room, between (and disturbing) walls 6526 and 5562 (cf. cut 6536 and associated fills 6539, 6543, 6459, and 6460). This cut goes deeper than was excavated and possibly fills a cistern.


Little from the Early Byzantine period remains in the northern half of the room, although we did not do extensive excavation in this area. A cut dated to the 7th century CE (6836 and its fill 6835) may be a robbing trench for wall 6526, indicating that the wall was in existence by this time period.
There appears to be something of a gap in activity in this room from this robbing trench until the tile-built grave discussed below. There is one context dated by pottery to the 8th-9th centuries, 6846; however, this context stratigraphically is above a 10th century deposit (6868) and therefore must be updated. As explained below, we believe that the construction of the grave caused some disturbances in the stratigraphy.


A tile-built grave was discovered at the SW junction of walls 6526 and 6016. Four tiles were placed on top of the tile-lined grave on an E-W orientation in the corner of the two walls. The structure itself was 1.09m long, and contained the burial of a child. The skeleton was well-articulated and missing the left leg below the knee and all foot bones. Water sieving the grave fill revealed no grave goods. The fill inside the cut for the grave (6865 in cut 6859) can help date this grave: it is dated to the Middle Byzantine period (NPD). This fill is above 6868, which is 10th century in date; therefore we suggest a 10th century date. The amount of earth moved for the construction of this grave may have contributed to the stratigraphy of this part of the room: e.g., 6868 (10th century) appears below 6850 (6th century). The existence of this grave, placed deliberately in the corner of walls 6526 and 6016, demonstrates with certainty that these walls were constructed before the date of this grave.

The 9th-11th centuries saw a significant amount of activity in this room, as revealed by our excavations and 2009 excavations. The southeastern area of the room, including the grave, was covered by a ramp (6491) of the 9th-10th centuries that was used to assist in dumping material in this room. Several fills dating to the 10th-11th centuries contained high amounts of boulder inclusions (6516, 6532, 6550, 6554), which may have come from dismantling walls 6526 and 6016. It is possible that these fills were used to level the area. A foundation trench (6831 with fill 6830) of wall 5562 is dated to the Middle Byzantine period (NPD) and possibly belongs to a second construction phase of the wall. We reconstruct two phases of this wall based on the usage of larger boulders on the upper sections of the wall, contrasting with sections of the wall below. Foundation trench 6567 (with fill 6568), excavated in June 2009, was also clearly a foundation trench of wall 5562. Based on the presence of two distinct building materials and two distinct foundation trenches, we propose two phases for this wall. The first of these must have been Middle Byzantine in date and the second in the 10th-11th centuries.


The room northwest of the courtyard was last excavated during the 2009 season; this work covered all areas of the room, centering around a tile-built pithos on the east side of the room (6881), another tile-built pithos on the southern side of the room (on the northern side of Wall 5725) (6991), and a rubbish dump in the northwest part of the room (6112).


The earliest construction in the room northwest of the courtyard in the Roman period is a plaster floor and rubble wall foundations (7032), also coated with plaster (the same as the floor on the west side, and painted plaster on the east side), in the northeastern half of the room. The floor surface continues under Wall 10111 and on the southern side of the cut of the built pithos (6881), as well on the eastern side of Wall 7031. As these features have not yet been excavated, the date of their construction is uncertain, but they were covered and associated with a destruction debris of burnt mud brick (7015) that is dated to the 5th-6th centuries CE, most likely from the superstructure of Wall 7032. This wall is cut by the later built pithos (6881), but continues to the south of the pithos (unexcavated, but visible in the scarp), and may be connected to the robbed out N-S wall (6817), the robbing trench only of which was excavated in the room west of the courtyard (cut 6762), and which was also associated with fallen/slumped mud brick. The earlier phase of construction indicated by this wall perhaps dates to the Middle Roman period, and may be associated with ashlar blocks in the room north of the courtyard (underlying walls 6526 and 6016, as well as the N-S spur running from 5562 and below 6526). The farthest south ashlar block (N 1036.00-.50, E 267.20-70) uncovered between walls 6526 and 5463 had plaster on its western face, perhaps indicating the area to west was interior space, if the block is in its original location in association with the plaster.

The Late Roman period is represented by a destruction debris (7015) of burnt mud brick, as noted above, and contained large amounts of burnt pottery, iron and bronze, glass, and painted wall plaster. Again, this may be connected to the slumped mud brick uncovered in the room west of the courtyard, as it appears these two room were one large space in the Late Roman period, and walls 10111, 6321, 5725 and 6130 were not constructed until the Byzantine period. The nature/cause of the destruction is unknown, but it does appear to signal the end of the Late Roman phase of use in this structure. The burnt mud brick layer was covered by several fills of compacted, unburnt mud brick (7030, 7013, 7011, and 7002), which in turn were cut by 7012 (filled by 7005). Although the purpose of this cut is unknown, the odd wave pattern at the western bottom of the cut suggests perhaps it was used to remove something from the destruction and subsequent layers of mud brick. A floor was constructed atop these mud brick fills (7000), most likely a compaction of the topmost mud brick layer, and was truncated by a foundation trench for a later phase of Wall 5562 (6970, cut 6971), an earlier version of which seems to date to the same period as the plaster floor and Wall 7032, as indicated by plaster on the lowest visible blocks in association with the floor and 7032.
In the southern half of the room, a leveling fill (6983) at the northwestern juncture of wall 5725 and 5724 and what may be the foundation trench of Wall 10111 (fill 6978) represent the Late Roman period. More excavation is necessary to determine if the Late Roman phase has actually been reached (as indicated by 6983), and if the 6978 does indeed represent the fill of the foundation trench of 10111, and if it should be dated by the pottery (dated tentatively to the 5th century CE), or if it dates instead to the Early Byzantine period (since it was covered by fills dating to the 7th century CE, see below), and the fill represents earlier fills cut into and redeposited with the construction of 10111. More excavation is necessary to securely date this, as 6978 was taken about 75 cm farther down than the fills to the south of it before excavation was terminated.


As with the room north of the courtyard, the Early Byzantine period is not very well represented in this room. There are several dumped/leveling fills (all in the southern half of the room, 6969, 6925, 6932, 6905) that may date to this period. 6969 and 6932 were dumped fills, extending over a large portion of the room south of the east pithos (6881), and cut by both pithoi. 6925 and 6905 were deposited against walls 10111 and 5724 and may represent leveling fills. It is unclear if these fills should be taken to indicate use of the site in the Early Byzantine period (although 6925 and 6932 overlaid fill 6983, the possible foundation fill for Wall 10111), or if there was a period of abandonment from the end of the Late Roman period, until the Middle Byzantine (9th-10th century), as suggested by the lack of Early Byzantine remains in the house overall.


The Middle Byzantine period sees the resumption of construction and use of this area, with several foundation trenches for Wall 5562, the E-W wall extending along the northern boundary of the rooms north and northwest of the courtyard (cut 6959, 6957; cut 6945, 6951), Wall 6130 (cut 6947, 6946), and several dumped fills.

In the northern section of the room, under floor 6600, several leveling fills were excavated (6604, 6935, 6941, 6944), which all indicated activity in the 10th-11th centuries, and were cut by foundation trenches for Walls 5562, 6130, and 6321. The earliest trench appears to be that for Wall 6321, and may be part of the original foundation trench (6973, fill 6965). 7030, the fill that contained mud brick and was associated with the destruction layer, appears to run under wall 6321, and also underlies the fill of this foundation cut. It would appear that Wall 6321 (under which Wall 10111 also runs, perpendicularly) dates to the 10th century, although the construction of the east pithos (6881), as well as the robbing trench for Wall 6375 make the stratigraphy in the area directly abutting the western face of 6321 somewhat confusing. A foundation trench for an earlier phase of Wall 5562 in the Byzantine period, 6959 (fill 6957), which was later cut by 6945 (fill 6951), cut these leveling fills. A similar pattern emerged along the south face of wall 5562 in the room north of the courtyard, and seems to be on equal elevations and have similar dimensions (6568, 6831). This would seem to indicate at least two phases of construction of Wall 5562 in the Middle Byzantine period – the first (associated with 6957, 6831), uses smaller, unworked stones with tile used to level the courses, and the second, later phase (associated with 6951, 6568) uses larger, roughly squared blocks.
A foundation trench for Wall 6130 (6947, fill 6946) also cut these leveling fills, and appears to be a bit high for the original foundation of the wall, but may relate to a second phase of use/construction (much like with Wall 5562), occurring the 11th century.
In the southern half of the room, much disturbed by the two pithoi, several fills extending across the entirety of the southern half of the room were uncovered, dated to the 10th century. These may have been leveling fills for the construction of the rubble foundations (6100), removed in the 2009 season of excavation. These fills were characterized by moderate amounts of animal bone, charcoal, and seem to confirm the hypothesis that this area was used for cooking/a tavern in the Byzantine period.


The Late Byzantine period in the room NW of the courtyard is dominated by the presence of two built pithoi. The first of these, structure 6991, was located in the southern part of the room and had been built over by wall 5725; half of it lies in the room W of the courtyard. It was built of corbelled tile with a tile bottom over a leveling fill. No plaster was used in the construction and it was bonded with mud. The fill inside this pithos (6512) was first excavated in May 2009, and on the basis of pottery the associated cut (6513) was dated to the 12th century. However, excavations of this season revealed fill of the 10th-11th centuries (6880, 6897) within the pithos and excavation of the structure yielded pottery of the 11th century. We therefore propose a construction date of the 11th century, with use of the pithos extending into the early 12th century and terminating with the construction of wall 5725 in that period.
The second pithos is structure 6881, which has been identified by previous excavations as a well. Work of previous seasons excavated parts of this structure: a stone “well head” (5876) and tile corbelling lined with plaster (6493). Our excavations of 6881 and its fill also yielded tile corbelling lined with plaster. Therefore we reconstruct two construction phases, the later stone head and the tile corbelling. The former is dated to the third quarter of the 13th century, in the Frankish period. 6493’s pottery is 10th-11th century, the same as 6881. Two holes in the tile and plastering were observed on opposite ends of the interior of the structure, approximately 10cm wide; we believe these were to allow access (perhaps during the pithos’ construction), which was about 2m deep in this first phase. Excavation of the tile revealed some reused material, including a terracotta sima with egg and dart moulding from the South Stoa. Wall blocks, probably from wall 10111, were also reused in the construction of the pithos. Blocks were observed on the west side of the interior, repositioned to the curve of the structure (but still generally aligned with wall 10111) and with plaster applied to them. Similar blocks were observed on the east side of the interior of 6881, and more stone blocks were observed on the north and south sides of the scarp left from the excavation. These latter may represent yet another wall, and the northern projection of these blocks has been opened as context 7032. The pithos had a cement and plaster bottom, which was built over a leveling fill of tiles (6889).


The rooms N and NW of the courtyard in the Byzantine house represent different spaces, perhaps differently oriented in various time periods and not all of which were strictly domestic in use throughout the periods excavated this session. One of the most complicated aspects of these spaces is the number of walls that have been found. Just within the confines of the room N of the courtyard, there are three walls (6016, 6526, 6876) and there could be yet another. Because these walls have not been excavated and not precisely dated, it is difficult to say anything about their chronology and use with any certainty. However, it is probably that 6526 was built in the 7th century, and we do not believe that wall 6321 existed at that point. Furthermore, ashlar blocks were found under parts of 6526, apparently in a N-S line towards wall 5562. Some plaster was found on these blocks. These may have formed a room in conjunction with 7032. The area of the room north of the courtyard may also have been used as a workshop during the Late Roman period, based on finds recovered from 6872 and 6874.

In the room NW of the courtyard during the Late Roman period there was a destruction, as evidenced by 7015. This seems connected to slumped mud brick and robbed out N-S wall excavated in Session I of 2010 in the room W of the courtyard. This is further evidence that these two rooms were connected before the construction of wall 5725 (early 12th century), a supposition also supported by the existence of pithos 6991 directly under 5725. The destruction fill 7015 probably extended over most of the room, and certainly under wall 10111. This destruction may have contributed to the decline in use of this space during the Early Byzantine period.

The Early Byzantine periods sees a noticeable slacking of activity in these two rooms. There is some pottery from the 7-9th centuries, but these were all found in stratigraphically later contexts. Therefore, the actions these contexts represent must be Middle Byzantine in date. This may represent an abandonment of these areas, and this may be as a result of the Late Roman destruction (fill 7015) found in the room NW of the courtyard.
In the Middle Byzantine period, we believe that pithos 6991 may be contemporary with the floor and white ware kettles (6145) and that it may have been built to service a cooking or tavern area. Pithos 6881 was constructed close in date with wall 5725 (which marks the end of use of pithos 6991), and that 6881 was a replacement for 6991. At this point, then, the room NW of the courtyard was divided from the room W of the courtyard.
In the room N of the courtyard, the tile-lined grave of a child of the 10th century marks the resumption of activity in this room after little evidence of the 7-9th centuries. By this point both walls 6016 and 6526 have been built. It is likely that wall 6321 is built during the Middle Byzantine period and separates the room N of the courtyard from that NW of the courtyard. The 10th-11th century sees dramatic changes in the space, with a ramp (6491) being constructed over the area of the grave to facilitate dumping boulders from the superstructures of surrounding walls for leveling fill. These actions have been interpreted by previous excavators as part of the effort to organize the spaces around Nezi into a house.