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This webpage reproduces an article in
The Classical Journal
Vol. 10, No. 4 (Jan. 1915), pp147‑154.

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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 p147  Archaeology in 1913. II
By George H. Chase
Harvard University

[Continued from Vol. 10 No. 3]

At Gortyn the Italians devoted themselves largely to the excavation of the so‑called Basilica. This was shown to be in reality the Praetorium, an imposing building with colonnades. Three periods in its history can now be distinguished: first, the early Empire, when it was the residence of the Roman governors of the province of Crete and Cyrene; second, the later Empire, when the building was entirely reconstructed (apparently in the fourth century, since inscriptions contemporary with the second form refer to Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius, and show that Cyrene had been dissociated from Crete and assigned to the Eastern Empire); and third, the Middle Ages, when the Praetorium was abandoned and over it many small houses were constructed. In the neighborhood many parts of statues and monuments in honor of Roman governors and other officials were found, as well as parts of public fountains and the aqueduct that supplied them. North of the temple of Apollo, also, a small temple of Egyptian divinities was discovered, dedicated, as an inscription on the architrave records, by Flavia Philyra and her sons to Isis, Sarapis, and other gods. Statues of Isis, Sarapis, and Hermanubis were found, which had stood in three niches on a podium in the temple, and along with them fragments of a statue of a Roman matron, perhaps Flavia Philyra herself. South of the temple a flight of steps leads down to a sort of crypt with a well, no doubt for those ceremonies of purification which were closely associated with Egyptian ritual. In the walls along this stairway were three niches, one of which contained a terra-cotta statuette of Isis in situ; in the others may have been placed two figures of oxen lying down, fragments of which were found in the well.

A brief report from Delos speaks of the discovery, during the summer of 1912, of two new sanctuaries on the banks of the Inopus,  p148 one dedicated to Sarapis (the third sanctuary of this deity to be found at Delos), the other to Aphrodite. In 1913 the latter was completely excavated and near it new houses and streets were uncovered. Further examination of the theater and its vicinity in 1912 and 1913 revealed the existence, behind the stage building, of a large cistern cut in the rock, and established the identity of the temenos southwest of the theater (which had been partially explored before) as a sanctuary of Dionysus, Hermes, and Pan. In 1913, excavations on the slopes of Mount Cynthus brought to light two "Sacred Ways" leading to sanctuaries on the two summits of the hill and bordered by a series of smaller sanctuaries which were probably stations for the sacred processions. All this accords well with the prominent part that Mount Cynthus played in Delian ritual. Finally, the building between the Gymnasium and the Sacred Lake, which has been called the "Palestre de Granit" from the granite columns rising from a mass of fallen blocks, was cleared, and its plan and all the members of its elevation were recovered, though nothing was found to give it a more definite name. The most important single object found here was a bronze head in excellent preservation.

At Athens the investigation of the Street of Tombs and its immediate neighborhood, which has now been handed over to the German School and is supported by private subscriptions, was carried farther under the direction of Professor Brückner; and the Greek Society conducted excavations on the Pnyx and in the ruins of the earliest temple of Asklepios on the south slope of the Acropolis.

At Sunium Dr. Stais continued his examination of the filling earth in the precinct of Athena and reaped his usual harvest of fragments of the earlier temple and small antiquities of pre-Persian date. His most interesting discovery was a sort of dry well, in which, at a depth of over thirty feet, were many small aryballoi and other objects, quite unbroken. Apparently the well was used as a convenient repository for the offerings which from time to time were cleared out of the early temple. Later it was filled up with stones and débris in the general leveling of the precinct and so these relics were preserved intact.

 p149  In Northern Attica, at the famous shrine of Amphiaraus near Oropus, which was largely excavated in 1884‑87, the Greeks completely cleared several buildings that were left untouched or only partially excavated before. Among the smaller finds were the torso of a statue of Amphiaraus of good style and part of an inscribed block on which were recorded the thanks of patients who had been cured; the block was decorated with representations of eyes and ears and other parts of the human body, in accordance with the custom which is now well attested from many shrines of healing divinities.

At Delphi Mr. Courby of the French School made a very careful examination of the ruins of the temple of Apollo. He found a number of new fragments of the sixth-century building, which make possible a reconstruction of the capitals and the architrave, and elicited many new facts in regard to the fourth-century temple. One curious detail is that on the columns of the later structure only ten or eleven flutings were carved, the rest being added in stucco. This stucco also served to conceal vertical dumb-bell clamps by which the drums were fastened together. Mr. Courby holds that the adyton was probably a separate aedicula about 2.60 meters wide, which stood against the back wall of the cella; through this, he thinks, the Pythia's cave was entered, and this cave was not natural but artificial, as part of a built wall shows. These theories upset many of the received ideas about the arrangements at Delphi, and the publication of Mr. Courby's evidence will be eagerly awaited.

In the neighborhood of Chaeronea Mr. Soteriades continued his investigation of prehistoric settlements; and at Thermon Mr. Romaios uncovered five more houses belonging to the prehistoric settlement near the temple of Apollo and added largely to his collection of pottery from this site. That the vases are of local manufacture is proved by their number and by the great size of some of them; and their assignment to the second millennium B.C. (probably about 1500 B.C.) is confirmed by a comparison with vases from the Shaft Graves of Mycenae and by two imported Cretan vases of the Late Minoan I class.

 p150  In Epirus the establishment of Greek rule resulted in the surface exploration of many districts and in some excavation, especially near Prevesa, on the site of ancient Nicopolis. This was the town founded by Augustus in commemoration of his victory in the battle of Actium, and the most interesting discovery was the site of the temple founded by Augustus on the spot where his camp had been pitched (cf. Dio Cassius l.12, and li.i). According to Dio the temple was dedicated to Apollo, but Suetonius (Aug. 18) says it was dedicated to Neptune and Mars. The temple proved to be badly ruined, but enough was found to show the dimensions, about 53 × 25 meters, and most of the features of the elevation. The order was Corinthian, the columns being built of common stone, stuccoed; fragments of the entablature showed elaborate sculptured ornament. Besides the temple, two villas with colonnaded courts and mosaic pavements were cleared, and many graves were excavated, with interesting contents — coins, glass bottles, rings of gold, silver, and bronze, lamps, and eggs, one of which is reported to have been "remarkably well preserved"!

In the Peloponnesus the German excavations at Tiryns were continued and the relative date of many different parts of the fortress and the palace were made clearer. The plan of the circular building which was mentioned in last year's report turned out to be a complete circle of nearly 28 meters diameter. Some distance east of the citadel a well-preserved beehive tomb was discovered, but unfortunately it had been thoroughly cleaned out in classical times, so that nothing of the original contents remained. The tomb appears to have been open throughout the classical period. In Roman times the chamber was used for pressing olives.

At Orchomenos in Arcadia, two members of the French School discovered the ruins of two temples, the Bouleuterion, a fairly well-preserved theater, and some remains of other buildings. Near the Bouleuterion more than ten decrees of proxeny inscribed on bronze tablets were found. Two other members of the French School made a summary investigation of the well-known temple at Nemea, but I have seen no statement of the results.

From Corfu Dr. Dörpfeld reports that less than usual was done in 1913, since the Balkan War prevented the German emperor from  p151 making his usual spring visit to the island. Further digging on the site of the temple from which the pediment with the Gorgon came brought to light several new parts of the superstructure and fragments of votive figures in terra cotta, but only one fragment that could possibly be assigned to the decoration of the pediment. On Cape Kephali, on the other hand, considerable remains of a prehistoric settlement were discovered, with monochrome pottery similar to that of Leucas and a few fragments of Mycenaean ware, but Dr. Dörpfeld himself admits that these are not as yet sufficient to justify him in declaring that he has found the town of King Alcinous.

In Rome no new work was undertaken in the Forum, but on the Palatine the further investigation of the Flavian palace and the levels below it, under Commendatore Boni's supervision, produced many interesting, and even startling, results.​1 Directly below the palace, with only a slight difference of level, were found parts of a building with the same orientation, which is probably to be attributed to Nero; a semicircular foundation under the triclinium of the Flavian palace is thought to belong to the circular dining-room which formed a prominent part of the famous Golden House. This foundation is very deep and suggests that the level was here raised about thirty feet. At this depth many parts of another magnificent building were revealed, assignable, probably, to Tiberius or Claudius. There are rooms with fine pavements of opus sectile and walls veneered with marble, and a large hall decorated with fountains. This was first discovered in 1721‑25, as is shown by drawings and engravings of the eighteenth century. The frescoes based on the Iliad of which I spoke in last year's report belong to this earlier structure, as well as the two rooms with paintings which are commonly called the Bagni di Livia. Under the so‑called Basilica were found other walls with paintings which were known in the eighteenth century and then covered up again, and elsewhere, also, there were traces of early structures. Under the northeastern part of the central peristyle of the Flavian palace, however, no traces of buildings appeared, but only prehistoric  p152 pottery, traces of huts, and infant burials, and here Commendatore Boni made his most striking discovery — a domed chamber which, he argues, is nothing less than the famous mundus of the Palatine city. The chamber is a tholos, built of the soft dark tufa which was commonly used for early buildings in Rome. From the center a shaft descends to a series of under­ground passages with cemented walls. There were also found and put together fragments of a large square slab of harder tufa with a small hole in the center which Commendatore Boni regards as the capstone or "lid" of the chamber. All this, it must be admitted, agrees well with much of the tradition about the mundus, which appears to have been a pit regarded as an entrance to the lower world and closed by a stone, the lapis manalis, which was lifted only three times a year. The mundus was also used, apparently, as a storage place for grain, and for this purpose the passages below the tholos would serve admirably. Commendatore Boni argues further that the name Roma Quadrata came from the square shape of the lapis manalis, inasmuch as the early city was not square at all. This theory, as Dr. Ashby has well pointed out, is not without its difficulties. According to Festus (p258), Roma Quadrata was in front of the temple of Apollo, as the tholos is not; and it was apparently visible until a late period, since a tribunal for the distribution of incense was erected near it during the Ludi Saeculares celebrated in the reign of Severus, whereas the tholos and its "lid" were deeply buried under the peristyle of the palace of Domitian. But this, after all, is not an essential point in the identification of the newly discovered chamber as the mundus, which seems to have much in its favor. In any case, the discovery is a most interesting one, worthy to rank with that of the lapis niger and destined, undoubtedly, to provoke an immense amount of discussion.

At Pompeii the clearing of the Strada dell' Abbondanza was pushed steadily forward. Houses and shops continued to be found in a good state of preservation, but no unusual discoveries as signalized the two previous years rewarded the excavators. The most interesting things that I have noted are a pair of paintings on the two pilasters at the sides of a doorway, one representing Aeneas fleeing from Troy with Anchises and Ascanius, the other  p153 a Roman soldier carrying a trophy, posed in precisely the same attitude as Aeneas and obviously designed as a pendant; and a curious inscription

Fvllones vlvlam ego cano non arma virumqueº

which looks like the beginning of a poem in honor of the owl of Athena, the patroness of fullers. Some work was done at other points than the Strada dell' Abbondanza, but without remarkable results. It is reported that remains of the harbor of Pompeii were discovered outside the area of the government excavations.

All who have followed the recent work at Ostia will learn with deep regret of the death of Professor Dante Vaglieri, under whose direction it had been carried on. He died at Ostia on December 14, 1913, and the last report in the Notizie degli scavi for 1913 is made up from notes found among his papers. During the year excavations were carried on at many different points — in the main street, the forum, the theater and the square behind it, the Via delle Corporazioni, the necropolis, and the neighborhood of the four small temples of Venus, Fortuna, Ceres, and Spes. In the latter region were found a small temple of Jupiter and a nymphaeum, and excavation to the lowest levels confirmed the evidence from other parts of the site that no city existed here before the third century B.C. In some of the shops of the earliest town the beams which are still preserved suggest the existence of wooden floors, and the whole arrangement is interesting as throwing light on the character of the early shops in the Forum Romanum. It is reported that the houses are entirely different from those of Pompeii. They rather resemble modern apartment houses, consisting of small groups of rooms, each with a separate entrance and many large windows looking into the street. One notable feature of the year was the comparatively large amount of sculpture that was found. Mention may be made of a torso of a Nereid, which recalls the Maenad of Scopas and may be a copy of a figure in the group mentioned by Pliny (H. N. XXXVI.26); the head of an ephebus of a type which has been attributed to Calamis; several interesting portrait heads; and a fine relief of a priest sacrificing. A museum for the smaller objects found at Ostia has now been established in the  p154 castle built by Bacio Pontelli for Giuliano della Rovere, who afterward became Pope Julius II. During the year two good general descriptions of Ostia as it appears since the recent excavations were published, one by Dr. Ashby in the Journal of Roman Studies, II (1912), 153‑94, the other by Mr. J. G. Winter in Records of the Past, XII (1913), 139‑51.

Finally, the beginning of excavations at Veii under the direction of the Museo di Villa Giulia should be mentioned. In 1913 nothing of great importance was found, but the work is to be continued for some years and the site is one from which important discoveries are surely to be expected.

The Author's Note:

1 This account is largely taken from Dr. Ashby's letters published in the London Times of January 8 and February 10, 1914.

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