Corinth Report: Nezi Field excavations 2009, by Jody Cundy and Dina Boero (June 19 - June 20)
Collection:   Corinth
Type:   Report
Name:   Nezi Field excavations 2009, by Jody Cundy and Dina Boero (June 19 - June 20)
Title:   Pink Final Summary
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Area:   Nezi Field
Site:   Corinth
City:   Ancient Corinth
Country:   Greece
References:   Baskets (86)
Jody Cundy and Dina Boero
Corinth Excavations
Nezi 2009
Final Summary
12 June 2009

Over the course of three sessions in the 2009 season, excavations continued in the west half of Nezi field, which extends from the following coordinates: NW corner: 1015N, 255.5E, NE corner: 1014N, 264E, SE corner: 999N, 266E, SW corner: 999N, 2555.5E. The area was excavated by Stella Diakou and Cavan Concannon, from March 30 to April 16th, 2009, Stella Diakou and Jody Cundy, from April 27 to May 15th, 2009, and Jody Cundy and Dina Boero, from May 25 to June 12th, 2009. All trench supervisors worked under the supervision of Guy Sanders, Alicia Carter, James Herbst and Ioulia Tzonou-Herbst. Panos Stamatis was the pickman in the first session, Stavros* was the barrow man, and Sotiris Raftopoulos was the shovel man. In the second and third sessions, Kostas Arberores was the pickman, Stavros * was barrowman and Vaggelis Kollias was shovelman.

The aim of excavation this season in Nezi Field was to remove all contexts later than the period of occupation of the buildings composed of walls 306, 336, 332, 365, 305, 376, and 313, which appear to be medieval domestic structures. The overall goal of the Nezi field excavations is to show the relationship of this area to the excavated area to the North (North of Nezi).

Early Modern (1831-1945)

During the first session, S. Diakou and C. Concannon excavated a number of agricultural deposits containing eighteenth and nineteenth-century pottery, mixed with thirteenth- and fourteenth-century material (contexts 434, 435, 439, 442, 443, 441, lot 2009-76, lot 2009-79). The mixed nature of these deposits, coupled with the fact that they cover most of the area of excavations, suggests that this area was plowed and used for agricultural purposes during the early modern period. Added evidence for this conclusion is the removal of an early modern wall (243) in the 2008 excavations, which served to mark the boundary between agricultural fields in the area. In addition, a lens of dumped material (476) associated with the robbed out portion of the earlier NS stone built drain 426 indicates disturbance of this feature in the early modern period. A circular pit which contained early modern material (485, 486) also interrupted the course of the drain, though this feature predates the construction of the boundary wall (243) since the foundation trench for this wall (272) truncates the pit. Both the plow zone and the pit are likely associated with the occupation phase of the Giambouranis’ house (Nb. 252, 262).

Also during the early modern period, two phases of robbing activity occurred. The corner formed by the NS wall 306 and the EW wall 366 was robbed out (496, 497). The homogenous nature of the fill of the L-shaped cut indicates that both walls were robbed out in the same event. Prior to the robbing of the intersection of these two walls, another robbing event occurred (cut 596). This robbed wall may be the further westward extension of 366 or it may have been a different wall on a similar orientation that either abutted or bonded with the W corner of walls 306 and 366. The robbing trench 596 itself is roughly in alignment with EW wall 366, but no stones from the robbed wall remain in situ in the bottom of the cut. Consequentially, it is not possible to compare the alignment of this wall with the preserved portions of wall 366. The pottery associated with this earlier robbing activity produced an early modern date (595).

After this season’s excavation in Nezi Field, it is expected that we removed all the deposits associated with early modern activity in the west portion of the area, though early modern material may still be present in the area east of walls 540 and 313 which was not excavated this season but in 2007 and 2008.
Turkish (1680 – 1831)

A series of deposits excavated along the course of the NS drain 426 attest to the disturbance of this feature during the Ottoman period. We excavated a series of deposits within the course of the drain from which we recovered Ottoman material (591, 590, 589, 463). These fills represent backfilling of the drain rather than use fill. This backfilling occurred after the removal of the cover slabs in the northern stretch of the drain; these cover stones are preserved in situ in the portion of the drain that extends southward from wall 366. It is not possible to determine whether human agents purposely recovered the cover slabs for re-use or if these elements were disturbed by the agricultural activity in the area.

We partially excavated a deep, plaster-rich lens which continues westward into the scarp at the edge of the excavations (255.5 E). The plaster inclusions suggest that this is re- deposited debris from the demolition of a wall possibly connected with the Ottoman phase of the Giambouranis’ house (459, 631).

Frankish (1210-1458 CE)

Excavations this season attest to an abundance of Frankish activity throughout Nezi Field. First, in the northwest corner of our excavation area we exposed a collapsed circular built well (structure 495). The fill of the well below the lowest preserved course of roughly hewn limestone blocks has not been excavated. The upper most fill (492) of the cut for the construction of the well (cut 493) produced fourteenth-century material whereas the second lens (494) contained tumbled blocks from the built walls along with thirteenth-century material; the large block in this fill indicates a collapse of the upper courses of the well and a possible date for its destruction in the thirteenth century, though whether this collapse reflects an intentional event related to the backfilling of the well remains unclear and requires further excavation.

Second, in the southwest corner of the excavation area, west of wall 306 and north of wall 376, a destruction lens of collapsed roof tiles was revealed. This destruction layer was disturbed with the opening of a pit (cut 501). It is possible that this pit represents an effort to sink a well that was abandoned when the pit-diggers hit bedrock. The excavation of the pit fill (499, 500) produced late-thirteenth-century material (lot 2009-26). This gives us a putative terminus ante quem for the destruction of the room west of wall 306 and north of wall 376. From the pit fill (500) we uncovered a bronze earring with copper wire decoration (MF 2009-09).

There is further evidence of Frankish activity in Nezi Field which post-dates the occupation of the structures formed by walls 305, 306, 313, 365, 366, and 376. As mentioned above, west of the NS wall 306 and north of the EW wall 376, we revealed a destruction layer composed of nearly complete roof tiles which had fallen when the roof collapsed. When excavated, this destruction layer (602) produced late thirteenth-century material and revealed a clay floor which abuts wall both 376 and wall 306. It is clear that occupants of this space swept the floor clean prior to the abandonment of this structure, as no objects were revealed on the interfaced below the collapsed roof. Further north in the same room the floor was cut for the construction of a random-coursed, hydraulic cement-lined well (610). The partially-excavated backfill of the well included late thirteenth-century material (611). Because no roof tiles remained in the northern portion of the room or overlaid the well, it is impossible to determine at this point whether the construction of the well pre- or post-dates the abandonment of the space. Further excavation of the backfill and use fill of the well will be necessary in order to clarify this issue.

We posit that a rather short period elapsed between the last phase of occupation of this space and the collapse of the roof, because excavation of the floor covered by tiles and the leveling fill beneath it produced late thirteenth- through early fourteenth-century material (614, 615, lot 2009-75). A second, earlier floor (618, lot 2009-74) extended northward from wall 576 but did not reach the robbing trench 596 which marks the northern boundary of the space. The excavation of this floor produced mid thirteenth-century material and revealed a third, earlier floor; the sequence of floors provides evidence for continuous occupation of the space. The floors and destruction layer in this room have been sectioned during excavations because the scarp to west at 255.5 E marks the edge of the excavation area; thus their full extent is not known. No points of communication between this space and the adjacent rooms east of wall 306 have been identified. The south wall of the space abuts and therefore postdates the NS wall 306. Wall 376 also extends EW off alignment with wall 305 which runs on the east side of wall 306. Based on these observations, it is possible that this space belongs to a different complex than the adjacent rooms to the east.

Third, a wealth of Frankish activity also took place in the eastern portion of the site. After the last occupants abandoned the suite of rooms bounded by the three NS walls 306, 332 and 313, and the EW walls 366 and 305, blocks were robbed from the intersection of the NS wall 332 and the EW wall 365. The excavation of the fill of the robbing trench produced material which showed that walls 366 and 332 were robbed no earlier than the thirteenth-fourteenth century (450, 451, lot 2009-1). These walls were not fully robbed down to their foundations; instead they continue underneath the fill of the robbing trench.

In the room south of the robbed portions of walls 365 and 332, a sequence of six intersecting pits disturbed the red clay floor associated with wall 313 to the east and wall 332 to the west (lot 2009-60). The fill (508) of the latest circular pit (cut 510) produced late thirteenth-century material. The function of pit cut 510 is unclear; the diameter is consistent with a well cut, though the depth (0.52m) and stopping point would contradict this interpretation because the bottom of the pit consisted of a loose matrix with no impediments to further digging if their intention was to sink a well. Pit cut 510 was cut into the fills (511, 512) of a larger oval pit (cut 513) which also produced late thirteenth-century material. The finds from this pit include an intact horse cranium and articulated sheep/goat vertebrae with both the sacrum and innominate and indicate that this pit was probably used as a refuse pit. Pit cut 513 cuts the fills of two earlier pits: pit cut 517 and pit cut 526. The later of the two, pit cut 517 was a shallow circular pit that yielded a lot of building material together with late thirteenth-century pottery (fills 515, 516). The earlier pit cut 526 was another circular and relatively deep pit that produced also thirteenth-century material (fills 518, 521, 522, 523, 524, 525, 544). Pit cut 526 is cut through the fill of an earlier pit (cut 528) with which it shared a northern boundary. The fill (530, 531, 532, 533, 534, 535) of pit cut 528 gave late thirteenth-century material. It seems that the pit was not filled to the top immediately but rather left open for a period of time as pieces of the red clay floor, into which the pit was cut, were recovered from the fill of the pit c. 0.25-0.40m below the elevation of the floor. The function of the pit is not clear; the pit has a depth of at least 1.7m and cuts bedrock at the lowest revealed part of the cut which might indicate that it is a well. However, its diameter of 2m seems too large of such a feature. The lowest excavated fill produced a lot of building material. Pit cut 528 has not been excavated to its full extent. Pit cut 528 is cut into the fill of an earlier oval pit to the north (pit cut 527). Pit cut 527 is the earliest pit in the sequence. The fill (514, 509, 519, 541, 542, 520, 543) of the pit gave pottery dating to the 3rd quarter of the thirteenth century.

Extensive disturbance in the area has caused the slumping of layers in and around the pits. The overlapping pits in this area seem to indicate a preference for digging pits in already disturbed areas where the soil is less compact. All the pits are imagined to have been cut from the shallow lenses of dumped fill above the red clay floor such that they postdate the use phase of the floor and its associated walls 313 and 332. It seems that by the end of the thirteenth century at least this part of the complex of rooms was not in use.

The Frankish phase of occupation of the room bounded by wall 332 to the west, 313 to the east, wall 305 to the south and wall 365 to the north is attested by the heavy red clay floor (620, 549, 550) which extends between and abuts all four of the walls. Although phasing of the construction of these walls requires further excavation and the isolation of foundation trenches associated with the walls, the relationship between the red clay floor and the walls shows at least one phase of contemporary use in the first half of the thirteenth century. The floor also lay against two superimposed courses of tile fragment built into wall 332; we interpret these tile courses as the bedding for a robbed out threshold block. The presence of the threshold (structure 536) indicates communication between the room east of wall 332 and the room west of wall 332. Communication between the room east of wall 332 and the adjacent room to the east of wall 313 is similarly attested by the limestone threshold block and the doorjamb and pivot cuttings (structure 537) built into wall 313. The room east of wall 313 is bounded to the east by the NS wall 334 and was previously excavated in the 2008 season. We posit a mid-thirteenth century date for the phase of occupation associated with the floor based on the pottery recovered during excavation of the floor, which is consistent with both the fragments of a plate and an incised bone bead found sitting on the interface of the floor (562, lot 2009-24, MF 2009-23).

The red clay floor (620, 549, 550) also abuts a large, stone-built structure which appears to be a platform, bench, or perhaps the base of a staircase (452). Excavation of the fills below the floor north of this structure further revealed fair-faced courses of stone rather than rubble foundations, indicating that the use phase associated with the floor (620, 549, 550) is not the first phase of use. The structure itself clearly abuts the E face of wall 332 and therefore postdates the construction of the wall. Based on these observations, it is expected that further excavation in this room will reveal earlier use phases.

Fourth, the space north of the complex of rooms bounded by walls 306, 332, 313, 366, 365, and 305 appears to be exterior space in the Frankish period, though some structures in this area exist. NS stub wall (478) likely abutted EW wall 366 prior to the robbing out of this wall. This NS stub wall (478) is associated with an EW stub wall (477) by a clay floor (481). The EW stub wall (477) likely abutted the NS wall 540, before the robbing of courses of this wall. Given the dimensions of the interior space created by walls 477 and 478, these walls potentially form either a storage space, pen, or supports for a work surface. The excavation of the walls 478 and 477 demonstrated that neither wall had foundations and that the associated floors (480, 481) were laid against the structures as they did not continue underneath wall 477.

Further north in this area, the NS wall 540 is associated with a pier (573) further to the east by a floor that abuts both structures. A circular pit filled with re-deposited eleventh- century material and a few Frankish sherds cuts the floor midway between the pier 573 and the wall 540. Because of the nature of the fill, it does not appear to be a refuse pit and its function is unclear. It is undetermined whether this pit post-dates the use phase of the space associated with the floor or served some function within the space. Also associated with the floor is a shallow fire pit filled with ash and lined with white clay (564, 568, 570) which cut the floor against the west face of NS wall 540. The choice of a shallow pit rather than a built hearth suggests a single building event rather than repeated use. Although the east and west boundaries of the floor (576, 577) are clear, the north boundary is unknown since there is no preserved north wall or pier for the space preserved, although it is possible that this feature was removed in the 1960s’ excavations. The south boundary of the floor is more mysterious as the floor stops abruptly in a straight line, but no feature is present and no disturbance of the layers is apparent. It is possible that a curtain wall without foundations similar to walls 477 and 478 originally formed the south boundary of the space, but no evidence other than the edge of the floor is preserved for such a structure. We can speculate that the space between the pier 573 and the wall 540 was roofed or the clay floor 577, 576 would be impracticable in inclement weather. The excavation of the floor produced mid-thirteenth-century material and revealed an earlier, poorly preserved floor. This earlier floor which remains unexcavated abuts the wall 540 to the east but is cut by the foundation trench for the pier 573 to the west. It is unknown what type of structure the substantial NS wall 540 is associated with in the use phase of this floor.

Late Byzantine (1059-1210)

The 2009 excavations produced a number of Byzantine features in Nezi Field. Within the complex of rooms bounded by the three NS walls 306, 332 and 313, and the EW walls 366 and 305, we have not been able to isolate any floors in the southern room bounded by walls 306, 365, 332, and 305. It is expected that we are currently below floor levels in this space as the foundations for the EW wall 365 are currently exposed. It appears that the surface associated with the use phase of these walls is not preserved. It is clear that there are two phases of use of the EW wall 365: one with a doorway providing communication between this space and the adjacent room to the north, and a second phase in which the doorway is filled in, closing off access. A similar process of closing off access might have occurred to the east in wall 332, though further investigation is necessary to clarify the issue. Because of the evidence for multiple phases in the structures associated with this space, it is expected that the deposits within the room have been heavily disturbed, as no floors have been identified. The excavation of the fills in this space has produced mid-twelfth-century material, perhaps indicating a Byzantine date for the walls which make up this complex. It is clear that the EW wall 365 is later than the NS walls 306 and 332 because it abuts both of these features rather than bonding with them. Based on this observation, it seems likely that at an earlier phase, the complex consisted of three long rooms arranged on the NS orientation and that the westernmost room was subdivided. The NS walls 306, 332, and 313 run parallel to one another and meet the EW walls 365 and 305 at right angles. There is evidence for bonding for these walls which indicates contemporary construction. Also, the size of building materials, width of the walls, and construction technique are consistent across all these walls. In addition, the excavation of the deposit below the Frankish floor 620 (621) which also abuts wall 332, 313, 305, and structure 452 produced mid-twelfth-century material.

North of wall 365 appears to be exterior space in the late Byzantine period, and several fills have produced twelfth-century material (483, 626, 630, 627, 625, 622, lot 2009-73, lot 2009-77). A NS stub wall that abutted the EW wall 366 before portions of this wall were robbed out is laid on these twelfth-century fills. The function of this wall is unclear as there are no other associated structures. These fills post-date a sequence of pebble floors, the latest of which was excavated out of sequence and produced eleventh-century material (460, 461). The NS drain 426 cuts these pebble floors and continues southward. The capstones of the drain remained in situ in the portion of the drain that continues south from wall 365. It is clear that the course of the drain, although interrupted by the later construction of well 346 and pit 431, continues underneath the undisturbed foundations of the EW wall 365. Based on this observation, it is clear that the drain predates the construction of this partition wall. It is unclear, however, what the chronological relationship between the drain 426 and the EW wall 366 is; the robbing event of blocks from wall 366 (496, 497) has obliterated the interface between the wall and the drain. Further excavation will be necessary to determine the chronological relationship. Although we removed the capstones of the drain 426 and have yet to identify the cut for the construction of the drain, the vertical walls of the drain are imbedded in the surrounding matrix. Because we have yet to identify the foundation trench for wall 366 and it is expected at a lower elevation, it is likely that the drain post-dates the first phase of use of the complex of rooms.

Further excavation in Nezi Field should concentrate on determining the full extent of the suites of rooms in this Byzantine complex, in particular the space east of wall 313 and west of wall 334 as well as the space south of wall 305. Expanding the excavation area to the east would likely expose more of the room with the destruction horizon and further clarify the relationship between this space and the suite of rooms to the east. Also, the relationship between the NS drain 426 and the complex could be profitably investigated in the room south of wall 366 and north of wall 365.