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This webpage reproduces an article in
The Classical Journal
Vol. 15, No. 5 (Feb. 1920), pp294‑299.

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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 p294  Archaeology in 1918
By George H. Chase
Harvard University

That I am able to make a report on archaeological work in Greece during 1918 is due almost entirely to Mr. W. B. Dinsmoor, who has allowed me to make excerpts from an account of recent events in Greece which he prepared for the annual meeting of the Boston Society of the Archaeological Institute. Thanks to his generosity, I am able not only to present a summary of what was done in 1918, but also to supplement my earlier reports in several respects.

Though Greece, to quote Mr. Dinsmoor, "was filled with former members of the foreign schools" during 1918, almost all these men were enrolled in the army or navy of their respective countries or were otherwise engaged in war activities, which left no time for archaeology. Of the officers of the American School, Mr. Hill and Mr. Blegen devoted themselves to work for the United States government during all the earlier part of the year; and when the Red Cross mission to Greece reached Athens in October and took over the school building as a residence for its leaders, they were enrolled among the Red Cross officials and sent to Macedonia and elsewhere on various missions. In the early spring Mr. Dinsmoor himself undertook a small excavation in the southwest wing of the Propylaea and uncovered three more steps of the pre-Persian Propylon. But shortly after this his archaeological activities were ended by a commission as lieutenant in the military forces of the United States.

The members of the French School continued to serve as interpreter-officers in the Army of the East, engaged in teaching French or in work for the French military mission. The British School was without members; Mr. Wace, the director, was attached to the British legation, and the Hostel (the residence built for students) was occupied by members of the legation or of military  p295 missions. The German, Austrian, and the Italian schools were closed.

One interesting event of the year was the removal of the scaffolding from the Propylaea, so that the results of the reconstruction of the central structure, which has been in progress since 1908, can now be seen. It is expected that a similar reconstruction of the southwest wing will soon be begun.

Among the undertakings of the German School before its career was cut short by the intervention of the Entente Allies was an attempt to clear the large area outside the Dipylon gate, between the main road to the Academy and the Sacred Way. Excavations were carried on here under the direction of Mr. Knackfuss, the second secretary of the School, from January to April and from June to November, 1916. The retaining wall of a large tumulus about 75 feet in diameter and traces of a gate of the Themistoclean period below the present Dipylon Gate were discovered, and the upper layers of soil were removed over a large part of the area, before the work was stopped by the deportation of Mr. Knackfuss.

At Tiryns, also, in September, 1916, Dr. Karo explored the region where the Mycenaean treasure was recovered in December, 1915,​1 and ascertained that the treasure was buried during the geometric period, after the Mycenaean houses on the site were in ruins. He also established the fact that the older Mycenaean town was situated to the south of the citadel, though houses of later Mycenaean date were found to the north and to the east of the hill.

In Macedonia, Mr. Hebrard, who was in charge of the archaeological section of the French Army of the East, undertook a careful study of the late Roman and early medieval buildings in Salonica, which led to interesting results. The arch of Gallienus is shown to have been, not a "triumphal" arch of the usual sort, but the west face of a larger structure spanning a crossroads. The spring of the groin vault of the interior is still preserved. The plan of the larger structure thus recovered is exactly on axis with the south door and the transverse axis of the church of St. George. But the south door of the church was originally the principal door, with  p296 staircase towers on either side; the present door at the west end and the apse on the east are cut through what were originally lateral niches. All this suggests that the arch and the church were built in relation to each other and that the church was originally a Roman building. Further proofs of this are that under the floor are remains of a Roman pavement of marble; that Roman lunette windows exist in the dome, with earlier mosaics under those of Christian date; and that the dome externally once resembled that of the Pantheon at Rome.

Among discoveries for which the war may be accounted directly responsible is that of a small temple on the island of Skyros. The site was found by Michael Deffner, the librarian of King Constantine, who with seventy-five other "enemy aliens" was interned on Skyros toward the end of 1917. Deffner found on a hilltop cuttings for walls and a fragment of marble with the letters ΘΕΣ and ΑΝ in the style of about 475 B.C. He at once assumed that these were remains of a temple dedicated to Theseus and built by Cimon on the spot where he found the bones of the great Attic hero. Excavations undertaken by the Greek government showed that the building was a Doric temple, peripteral and hexastyle, measuring some 58 by 79 feet, but shattered Deffner's theory by bringing to light a vase fragment with a dedication to Apollo.

At Delos, Mr. Replat, the architect of the French School, worked during the summer of 1918 on a general plan of the excavations. He is reported to have traced completely the wall improvised to defend the town and the sanctuary by the Roman legate Triarius after the attack made by the pirate Athenodorus in 69 B.C., and to have discovered the site of the Delian hippodrome, with remains of a surrounding wall and seats. This building is of considerable interest, since only one other Greek hippodrome showing architectural remains is known, the hippodrome on Mount Lycaeus in Arcadia.

In Rome the most discussed event of the year was the discovery of a mutilated female figure which was interpreted as a Victory and hailed as an omen of ultimate success for the arms of the Allies. The statue was found early in February, 1918, in the course of excavations conducted by Commendatore Boni on the Palatine,  p297 not far from the Arch of Titus. Only the torso from the neck to the knees, measuring some 85 centimeters in all, was discovered, but the fragment is very well preserved. It comes from a figure in rapid motion, with flying drapery worked out in spirited, deeply cut folds. Both pose and treatment recall the so‑called Nereids from Xanthus, the Iris of the east pediment of the Parthenon, and the Nike from the west pediment, so that the figure has been very generally regarded as a Greek original of the fifth century. Though it has been commonly called Victory, the name rests on little except the pronunciamento of Signor Boni. There are no traces of wings, and the similarity to the Nike of the Parthenon does not furnish a strong argument, in view of the analogies to the Iris and the "Nereids." The ruins in which the statue was found have also been the subject of much interesting speculation. The ruins are those of a medieval tower. But this rested on an ancient foundation, apparently the basis of a temple, and it was in a crack in this basis that the Victory came to light, along with blocks of selce, which had been used to repair the ancient foundation before the tower was built. The tower has been plausibly identified by Monseigneur Duchesne, Director of the French School in Rome, as a dungeon connected with the fortress of the Frangipani, which, as is well known, occupies this section of Rome during the Middle Ages. As for the ancient foundations, Boni has suggested that they are those of the Aedes Victoriae, which archaeologists have generally located on the opposite side of the Palatine Hill. This suggestion, like the identification of the statue as a Victory, will hardly be accepted without further and better evidence, but in any case the torso itself is an important addition to our original Greek works of the fifth century.

Just south of the spot where the Victory was found, on the line of the Clivus Sacer, which led from the Arch of Titus to the Palatine, the same excavation brought to light foundations of a Flavian date. These, Boni argues, are to be assigned to one of the triumphal arches erected by Domitian to commemorate his victories over the Germans in 83 and 84 A.D.

Among chance discoveries in Rome, the most interesting are the remains of a series of horrea, or storehouses, discovered at the  p298 Marmorata in removing earth for the construction of a new bridge, the Ponte Aventino; and a small collection of statues, brought to light under the courtyard of a house in the Via degli Avignonesi. The collection includes a nude male torso, the torso of a draped male figure, a herm with the head of a young man, a head of Athena, a bearded head, and other pieces, and is thought to have been deposited here in antiquity by a Roman collector.

The under­ground basilica near the Porta Maggiore, which I mentioned in last year's report, has now been described in some detail by Professor Gatti and Professor Fornari in the first number of the Notizie degli scavi for 1918, and has already been the subject of much discussion. It appears that the building was constructed by pouring concrete into pits sunk in the earth and then, after the concrete had hardened, excavating the earth itself. From the character of the concrete, which contains no fragments of tiles, and from that of the opus reticulatum used in a shaft above a skylight, it is argued that the building must have been built early in the first century after Christ, not in the second century. Another argument in favor of this date has been advanced by Professor Cumont, who points out that the decoration is entirely Greek in spirit, showing no motives derived from oriental cults or from astrology.​2 Cumont argues that the building was used by a neo-Pythagorean assembly; and Fornari proposes an interesting theory in regard to the owner­ship of the building. He calls attention to the fact that not far from the site of the basilica there was discovered many years ago a large tomb for the slaves and the freedmen of the gens Statilia. This suggests that the land on which the basilica was built belonged to the Statilian family. Moreover, among the objects found in the earlier explorations was the well-known marble arm decorated with a scene from the Eleusinian mysteries.​3 Now Tacitus in the Annals (xii.59) records that in 53 A.D. a certain Statilius Taurus, who was famous for his wealth, on his return to Rome after serving as proconsul in  p299 Africa, was accused by his legatus, Tarquitius Priscus, "of some extortion, but especially of the practice of magic" (pauca repetundarum crimina, ceterum magicas superstitiones). The charge was instigated by Agrippina, who coveted the gardens of Statilius. Before sentence was pronounced the unfortunate owner of the gardens took his own life. In the under­ground basilica, therefore, Fornari argues, we have the very building in which the Statilii, their friends, and their freedmen practiced the magic rites which were made the basis of the charges reported by Tacitus.

From other parts of Italy I have few discoveries to record. At Ostia, owing largely to the absence of Dr. Calza on military service, not much was done except to complete the clearing of the market-place discovered in 1917. At Veii further excavations added numerous fragments of architectural terra cottas and some fragments of figures in the same material to those already found. Of the progress made at Pompeii I have seen no reports.

From a summary of the second official report to the Italian Ministry of the Colonies, I gather that work in Cyrenaica and Tripoli has gone steadily forward. Much of the report is devoted to the sculptures now collected in the museum at Benghazi, and the list is certainly impressive. It includes a colossal Zeus, signed by Xenion, son of Xenion, dating, apparently, from the reign of Hadrian; a colossal Hermes of Polyclitan style; a seated Hermes; two Satyrs, one of Praxitelean type; two groups representing the Graces; an Eros of Lysippic style; and a fine portrait statue of Alexander the Great. The report once more emphasizes the wealth of Cyrene, from which most of these works were recovered, and increases our regret that the American exploration of that site came to such a tragic end. Among discoveries vaguely reported in the London Times as "made in Cyrenaica," I have noted a new temple containing a colossal statue of Demeter with long inscriptions of the third century B.C., a statue of a winged Victory, and a second-century portrait of a Roman matron.

The Author's Notes:

1 Cf. Classical Journal, XIII, 186 f.

2 Cf. Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 1918, 272‑75.

3 Cf. Contessa E. Lovatelli, in Bulletino Comunale, VII (1879), 5‑18, pls. 1‑3; G. E. Rizzo, Römische Mitteilungen, XXV (1910), 106, 131 ff., pl. 7.

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