[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

This webpage reproduces an article in
The Classical Journal
Vol. 12, No. 3 (Dec. 1916), pp200‑208.

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

 p200  Archaeology in 1915
By George H. Chase
Harvard University

A year ago it seemed to me that a report on archaeology in 1915 would probably consist of a blank page and the motto, Inter arma silet archaeologia. It has been one of the surprises of the first full year of the war that not a few of the enterprises which I had occasion to mention in last year's report have been carried on without interruption, that some new undertakings have been begun, and that the war itself has been directly responsible for some discoveries. That the great struggle has checked the progress of research in many ways cannot be denied, but the amount of archaeological news from classic lands is certainly remarkable. It is probable, indeed, that much more has been discovered than is suggested by the scanty bits of information that I have been able to gather, for the difficulties of communication caused by the war have made it impossible to use several sources of information which I have found helpful in former years. Nevertheless, when I looked over the notes that I had collected, it seemed to me that they contained enough to justify the labor of putting them together, especially if they were accompanied by a warning that the report is, in the nature of things, most incomplete, and must be supplemented in many ways when the world returns to more normal conditions.

One notable feature of the year's developments has been the way in which, in the general mobilization of the resources of the nations, advantage has been taken of the special training provided by the "foreign" schools in Athens. Several members and former members of the French and British schools have been assigned to service as interpreters with the expeditionary forces of the Entente Allies in the Eastern Mediterranean and have there found opportunities for investigation in the midst of military activities. I have recently heard, for instance, that Professor Ernest Gardner is now stationed at Salonica, where he is busily  p201 engaged, during his spare time, in the study of the monuments of the neighboring district. No doubt the Germans, the Austrians, and the Italians have made a similar use of the special knowledge of individuals, although, as it happens, I have heard of few such cases. A darker side of the picture is shown by almost every archaeological journal that reaches this country from Europe, in the notices of professors and students of archaeology "killed in action" or "reported missing." The growing list of names, many of them those of men who, though young, had made their mark, is an ill omen for the progress of archaeology in the near future.

Among the discoveries directly attributable to the war, the most interesting of which I have seen reports are those made on the peninsula of Gallipoli in the course of the unsuccessful attempt of the British and French troops to force the passage of the Dardanelles. In May, 1915, soldiers of the French expeditionary force, in digging trenches on the plateau of Eski-Hissarlik, a few miles from the extreme western end of the peninsula, came upon several tombs constructed of stone slabs. These were destroyed, but some of the contents, including vases and terra-cotta figurines, were preserved by the officers in command. Later, in June, a communication trench hit upon several sarcophagi near the same spot, and it was decided to attempt more careful exploration. The work had to be conducted very slowly, with not more than four men digging at any time, owing to the proximity of the Turks, whose suspicions would have been aroused by any considerable concentration of men. From July 8 to August 22, the excavations were superintended by Sergeant Dhorme, a priest who, at the outbreak of the war, was a professor in the College of St. Joseph at Beyrut. He was afterward cited in the order of the day for having "dans une position avancée, soumise au bombardement ennemi, accompli sa tâche avec une ardeur inlassable et un mépris constant du danger" — probably the first time this honor has ever been conferred for such services. From August 23 to September 26, the interprète stagiaire, J. Chamonard, a former member of the French School in Athens, took charge and prepared a general report for the Bulletin de correspondence hellénique; and a careful catalogue of the contents of the tombs was drawn up by Sergeant Courby, another  p202 former member of the school. In spite of the unfavorable conditions, no less than 37 sarcophagi and 17 clay jars which had been used for burials were recovered. The objects collected included vases, ranging all the way from an Attic black-figured cylix to Hellenistic forms; some terra-cotta figurines of archaic style, especially figures of Demeter, others of Tanagra types, and many of the third and the second centuries B.C., with Aphrodite and Eros as the favorite subjects, similar to the figures found by Pottier and Reinach at Myrina in Aeolis; and jewelry of a rather cheap sort, mostly in bronze, glass paste, and shell. The necropolis dates from the sixth to the second century B.C. Still later, on October 7, the work was resumed, under the direction of Lieutenant Leune, and only abandoned with the withdrawal of the troops on December 12. Much of this later digging was carried on by Senegalese soldiers. More tombs were opened, and among the vases were found some Corinthian wares of the sixth century.

The town with which this graveyard was associated was very surely the Athenian colony of Elaeus, famous in antiquity for a mound which was believed to be the tomb of Protesilaus, the first Greek to fall in the expedition against Troy. One cannot but wonder what were the feelings of the shade of the hero, if he still haunts the region of his tumulus, as he watched these strange beings from Western Europe and Africa destroying the resting-places of those who, to him, must have been very modern inhabitants of the shores of the Hellespont.

Elsewhere in Turkey no archaeological work appears to have been done. All the larger undertakings, at Pergamum, Sardis, Miletus, and Didyma, as well as the lesser enterprises at Phocaea, Colophon, and elsewhere, have been brought to a complete standstill by the war.

In Northern Africa conditions appear to have been less disturbed. I have seen frequent notices of explorations on a small scale by French scholars in Tunisia and Algeria. On the site of Carthage, in March, 1915, was found a well-preserved mosaic showing a race of four chariots and giving many interesting details of the arrangement of a circus. The construction of military works on the acropolis of Cyrene led to a number of discoveries, including  p203 ruins of buildings, inscriptions, and statues. Among the latter is a figure of Zeus in Parian marble over two meters high, which is an excellent example of the Hellenistic type of Zeus Aigiochos, wearing the aegis over his left arm. This, it is announced, will be published in a newly established periodical, the Notiziario Archaeologico, which will be published by the Ministero delle Colonie — a sort of Notizie degli scavi for the Italian colonies. One of the inscriptions records the adornment of Cyrene by the Emperor Hadrian.

In connection with Cyrene, mention may also be made of a colossal figure with the head of Alexander the Great, which was found in the summer of 1914 on the spot where the now famous Aphrodite was discovered (Classical Journal, X, 99). This new statue has already been considerably discussed, especially on account of the peculiar attribute, a horse's head, which is carved on the base. Because of this the subject has been thought to be Alexander as Helios or a Dioscurus made into an Alexander by a change in the type of the head. The figure, so far as can be judged from small line drawings, appears to combine certain qualities of Polyclitan and Lysippic style and to be a work of the Roman age.

In the Aegean islands little was done in 1915. I have seen notice of only one discovery during the year, a fragmentary statue of "Eros bending the bow," of the type which is often thought to go back to an original by Lysippus. This was found in Lemnos by French soldiers on the site called Palaiopolis, which represents the ancient town of Hephaestia. It may be worth noting, however, that there is some evidence of activity, at least, among the Italians in Rhodes and the neighboring islands. On November 23, 1914, there was published a decree, signed by the "Colonel in command of the Army of Occupation," establishing at Rhodes in the Hospital of the Knights the "Reale Museo dello Spedale dei Cavalieri," for classical and mediaeval monuments of Rhodes and the islands of the Dodecanese. For the reception of the museum, the ancient Hospital of the Knights has been considerably restored. It will serve as a center for all archaeological activities in the islands occupied by the Italians during the Italo-Turkish War.

On the mainland of Greece, the most important excavations were those conducted in both spring and fall by the American School  p204 at Corinth. Further investigation of the region where the Roman portrait statues were found in 1914 (Classical Journal, XI, 200) brought to light several more fragments, some of which serve to complete the figures discovered in the previous year. Even more important was the discovery, on a slight elevation near the shore of the Gulf of Corinth and close to the railway line from Corinth to Patras, of plentiful traces of prehistoric settlements. These were found by Mr. Blegen, the secretary of the school, who had general charge of the exploration of the site. Among the results are clear traces of a building of the megaron type and many fragments of pottery. A deep trench, sunk to hard pan, produced a regular sequence of potsherds, dating from neolithic times to the end of the Mycenaean period — a most interesting discovery in view of the general belief that the prehistoric Aegean culture had left no important traces at Corinth. One passage from Mr. Hill's report on the excavations furnishes a striking commentary on conditions in Greece:

In one aspect our work has a new character — as a recognized means of saving the poorer people of one small community from acute distress. The economic stagnation due to the European war coming before recovery had more than begun from the great strain of the two Balkan wars, together with the increase in the cost of necessaries of life — due also to the European war — has made conditions very difficult throughout the country. The Excavation Fund this year comes very near being a War Relief Fund.

At Athens the Germans continued their work in the Ceramicus (Classical Journal, XI, 201) until the end of March, 1915. Among the interesting results were the uncovering of a considerable portion of the city wall built in 337 B.C. (cf. Aeschines Ag. Ctesiphon 27; Demosthenes De Corona 299 f.); many relics of the potteries for which the Ceramicus was famous, including potsherds of many varieties, molds, and architectural terra-cottas; a colossal marble head representing an actor in the rôle of the ἡγεμὼν θεράπων (cf. Robert, Die Masken der neueren attischen Komödie); a terra-cotta relief with a male portrait, of Hellenistic date; and many fourth-century terra-cotta figurines. It is planned to arrange a special Ceramicus museum, to contain a collection of typical graves and other things of value for study in connection with the excavations.

 p205  At Nicopolis, Mr. Philadelpheus continued in the summer of 1915 the explorations which he began in 1913 (Classical Journal, X, 150), but as his attention was devoted to a Byzantine church, these excavations hardly fall within the scope of a report devoted to classical archaeology. The church contained a great number of well-preserved mosaics, which are obviously of great importance for the history of Byzantine art.

These are all the excavations in Greece of which I have seen notices of any value. The daily papers have occasionally mentioned the discovery of antiquities in the neighborhood of Salonica as a result of the occupation of that city by the Entente Allies, but I have not been able to obtain any definite information in regard to them. For most of the foreign institutions in Greece the year was clearly one of little accomplishment, at least so far as archaeological activities were concerned. With all the European nations which maintain schools in Athens involved in war, most of the younger men were engaged in some sort of government service, either as conscripts or as volunteers. The one open meeting of the Italian School is mentioned in the official Cronaca delle Belle Arti as if it were a most unusual event. In the French School, only the director and two Belgians were in residence. Even the American School was affected by the disturbed conditions: the series of lectures which are usually given by the directors of the foreign schools naturally were not attempted, and for the session of 1915‑16 only one new student braved the dangers and discomfort of the journey to Athens.

In Italy conditions were more nearly normal. The government excavations at Pompeii and at Ostia were carried on as before, and the Notizie degli scavi, which was published with the customary regularity, recorded the usual number of lesser enterprises and chance discoveries.

In Rome Commendatore Boni continued to work on the Palatine, investigating the remains of the Imperial palaces and the Republican structures under them, especially in the neighborhood of the Villa Mills, but I have seen no detailed account of the results. In Trastevere the examination of the lower levels of the Church of San Crisogono yielded, besides important mediaeval frescoes,  p206 a large fragment of the Acts of the Arval Brothers. This dates from the year 240 A.D. and mentions for the first time the distinction between the two summits of the Aventine Hill.

The reports from Pompeii record no startling novelties. The cryptoporticus mentioned in last year's report was completely cleared; some further work was done along the Via dell' Abbondanza; and in the street which separates Regio II, Insula III, and Regio III, Insula III, the upper parts of the houses were freed of débris, preparatory to the exploration of the whole district.

At Ostia the excavation of the apartment house of which I wrote last year, and which is now officially called the Casa di Diana from a terra-cotta relief in the central court, was completed. Among the interesting details mentioned by Dr. Calza is the existence of balconies supported by vaulting on the level of the second story. These may be the solaria Romanensia which are suggested by an edict of the Emperor Zeno, prohibiting balconies of wood and prescribing those τῷ τῶν λεγομένων ῥωμανισίων σχήματι (cf. Codex Theodosianus, VIII, 10, 12, 5). In the northwest angle of this building a new mithraeum came to light.

In the continuation of the work along the road which has been named Via della Casa di Diana, some well-preserved shops were found. In one, a thermopolium, a water-basin lined with marble, proved to have as part of its lining a slab with a damaged dedicatory inscription to C. Fulvius Plautianus, the famous favorite of Septimius Severus, whose daughter, Fulvia Plautilla, became the wife of Caracalla. Besides the name of Plautianus, the slab contains the name of his son, C. Fulvius Plautius Hortensianus. As the stone has been cut in two, it is a plausible conjecture that it originally contained the name of Plautilla and served as part of a base for three statues.

The building next to the Casa di Diana has now been completely excavated. This is a large structure known as the Edificio delle Pistrine, three rooms of which were cleared about 1860. It proves to contain no less than sixteen rooms, which, with the exception of two shops of the ordinary sort, formed a double series of large tabernae connecting with one another. In two of these there are still several mills for grinding grain, and two others contain large  p207 ovens, so that a considerable part of the building was occupied by a large bakery, the first to be found in Ostia, though a corpus pistorum is mentioned in an inscription (CIL, XIV, 101). It is noteworthy, too, that in the fourth century after Christ a cheap sort of bread was called panis Ostiensis. In this building were found many bronzes, which Dr. Calza calls "certainly the most conspicuous collection that has come to light since the government excavations at Ostia were begun." The list includes two candelabra, four lamps, statuettes representing Athena, Mercury, Hercules, Priapus, a Dioscurus, and a Lar, and several small figures of animals. The narrow alley between the Casa di Diana and the Edificio delle Pistrine was found to be completely blocked by a small shrine. Figures of several divinities are still preserved on the stucco of the walls, which was renewed at least twice. All the figures seem to be copied from models of a good period, though the execution is careless and obviously of late Imperial times. The most striking is a figure of Silvanus, who was, apparently, the principal deity worshiped here.

From Syracuse, Dr. Orsi reports the continuation, in the spring of 1915, of excavations which have been carried on at intervals since 1912 near the temple of Minerva in Ortygia, familiar to all visitors as the cathedral of the modern town, with walls built up between the columns. The excavations have revealed the foundations of the pre-Deinomenid temple and other buildings, together with many other fragments of architectural terra-cottas and votive offerings. Among the latter are proto-Corinthian, Corinthian, and Rhodian vases, small bronzes, and ivories; and among the architectural terra-cottas is an acroterion with a group of Medusa and Pegasus, comparable to the Gorgon of Corfù (Classical Journal, VIII, 133).

At Arezzo, between November, 1914, and April, 1915, about one-tenth of the Roman amphitheater was uncovered. This work is unusual, in that it was undertaken by a local association, the Società degli Amici dei Monumenti, with the help of government officials, the municipality of Arezzo, and other local bodies. The building was found to be badly ruined, as was to be expected, since it was known that in the middle of the sixteenth century the Grand  p208 Duke Cosimo I obtained from it material for the fortifications of the town, and that later, toward the end of the eighteenth century, Bishop Marcacci again used the ruins as a quarry, but the supporters of the enterprise report that they expect to go ahead and clear the whole structure.

Among the less important events of the year, mention may be made of the discovery at Como of remains of the Roman gateway which spanned the road to Milan, and of the discovery of a large amphitheater at Pozzuoli. The latter came to light in the course of work on the new direct railway from Rome to Naples. The building, which appears to have buried largely by its own débris and later by a volcanic eruption of unknown date, is said to be well preserved, with fragments of painted and gilded stucco to attest its former splendor. The fact that this is the second amphitheater to be found within the limits of ancient Puteoli testifies both to the prosperity of the town and to the popularity of games and spectacles during the period of the Empire.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 20 Aug 06