Corinth Report: Nezi Field excavations 2012, by Kyle Mahoney and Rachel McCleery (May 28 - June 15)
Collection:   Corinth
Type:   Report
Name:   Nezi Field excavations 2012, by Kyle Mahoney and Rachel McCleery (May 28 - June 15)
Title:   Final Report 2012 Session 3: Team Pink
Context:   Nezi Field Context 846
    Nezi Field Context 849
    Nezi Field Context 850
    Nezi Field Context 852
    Nezi Field Context 853
    Nezi Field Context 856
    Nezi Field Context 864
    Nezi Field Context 865
    Nezi Field Context 877
    Nezi Field Context 879
    Nezi Field Context 886
    Nezi Field Context 890
    Nezi Field Context 896
    Nezi Field Context 898
    Nezi Field Context 899
    Nezi Field Context 901
    Nezi Field Context 905
    Nezi Field Context 914
    Nezi Field Context 915
    Nezi Field Context 921
    Nezi Field Context 923
    Nezi Field Context 928
    Nezi Field Context 929
    Nezi Field Context 933
    Nezi Field Context 935
    Nezi Field Context 938
    Nezi Field Context 940
    Nezi Field Context 942
    Nezi Field Context 947
    Nezi Field Context 951
    Nezi Field Context 956
Area:   Nezi Field
Site:   Corinth
City:   Ancient Corinth
Country:   Greece
References:   Baskets (31)
Kyle Mahoney and Rachel McCleery
Nezi Field Excavations Final Report
1015.20 to 1005.80 N, 264.30 to 277 E
May 28-June 15, 2012

This is the final report on the third session of excavation (May 28-June 15) in 2012 in the northeast area of Nezi field. Guy Sanders (director) and Heather Graybehl (field director) supervised. The pink excavation team consisted of Kyle Mahoney and Rachel McCleery (recorders), Panos Kakouros (pickman), Vasillis Kollias (shovelman), and Vangelis ___ (barrowman). Our area was bounded to the north by the scarp of H. Robinson’s 1960s excavations at 1015.20 N, to the east by the previous excavations at ca. 277 E, to the southeast by an arbitrary scarp established during session 1 of 2012 at 1009.50 N, to the southwest by the southernmost extent of C848 (ca. 1005.80 N), and to the west by wall 540 (264.30 E). The area was previously excavated this season by Andrew Connor and Simon Oswald in April and Larkin Kennedy, Jonida Martini, and Rachel McCleery in May.

Late Antique/Late Roman (5th-6th c. AD)

Two Late Antique walls (746 and 851) are currently the earliest remains visible in our area of excavation. Wall 746 runs north-south from North of Nezi wall 5334 in the north before disappearing into the south scarp created by excavations this season at 1009.50 N. It appears to be preserved only at or just above the foundation level; there are no regular courses below the large stones which appear on its uppermost surface mixed with smaller stones, tiles, and cement. Wall 851 runs to the east from wall 746, bisecting the area south of wall 5334 into what should be two interior spaces in the far northeast and southeast corners of our area. Currently only the uppermost surface of wall 851 is visible, so we cannot say much more about its construction style or preservation. A possible floor surface (unexcavated and unnumbered) here, laid against wall 851 to the north and wall 746 to the west, was covered by context 852 which dated to the Late Roman period (npd). This deposit forms our terminus ante quem for the possible floor and therefore the construction and use of the building. We are unable to say much else about this area of the trench since these contexts are truncated to the east by previous excavations and to the south by the south scarp established during session 1 of 2012.

The east-west wall 941 also appears to be Late Antique from the presence of 5th c. amphoras (photo 2012-601, Lot 2012-43) which were placed in what is either a niche or a small robbed-out section of the wall (photo 2012-605). Unfortunately, we were unable to excavate wall 941 entirely before the end of the season, but we believe the wall continues east and turns to the south several meters before reaching north-south wall 746. The corner is not visible at the moment, but a large stone against the south scarp may be part of this south return. Another possible north-south wall visible in the scarp of pit C193 and on the surface at the bottom of context 951 (Late Roman, 5th npd) intersects with the south face of 941 west of our hypothetical corner and may continue to the north; too little of it has been exposed to assign it a structure number, but it appears on the final bottom plan for our area between 269.80 and 270.40 E.

A robbing trench or abandoned foundation trench ran south from wall 941, roughly in line with several boulders visible in the southeast scarp of a later pit (pit C480). The upper layers of this trench were filled (956) with material from the 7th century (npd), including a great deal of structural debris (marble revetment, tile, etc.) In the scarp of a later pit (C848), this trench appears to descend to a depth of well over a meter from the elevation at which it was discovered.

Wall 807 appears to be Late Antique as well from its large, squared stones and cemented construction. It may have been built in phases, since we have not traced cement in its lower courses. Unfortunately, what we interpreted as the foundation trench of the upper, cemented phase (context 915) was dug together with a pit which cut the foundation trench, and the Middle Byzantine pottery date for 915 probably represents the contents of this pit rather than the date of the upper phase of the wall.

Two floors, fully (S913) or partially (S961) exposed but unexcavated this season, can also be dated to the Late Antique period on the basis of the fills found immediately above them. We believe that these floors may be different phases of flooring from the same structure, since we have no evidence of a wall running north-south between them. If this is so, then the earliest floor we exposed (S961) had a hearth built of fragments of tile (S960, unexcavated) against wall 807, which served as the south wall of the room. Numerous iron nails (36 in a single context) were found on or just above this floor in a layer of tile dating to the early 7th c. (929, Lot 2012-47), suggesting that the roof beams had collapsed. S961, unexcavated, should be equivalent to either S936 to the west of wall 540, removed by team blue, or to the unexcavated floor beneath it. It will be necessary to remove wall 540, which cut the layers above the floor, before the entire preserved extent of the floor will be visible. To the north, the floor seems to have been cut by a wall from North of Nezi.

If the later pebble floor extended this far west, we have little evidence of it. The pebble floor itself (S913), however, is poorly preserved. It lies above the elevation of S961, which may continue underneath it; the relationship between the two floors has been obscured, however, by the cut of a later Byzantine pit (C784). Pebble floor S913 also lies above what is very possibly another wall, unexcavated (and not assigned a number since its status as a wall is in doubt), visible in the north scarp between 269.50 and 270.20 E. The floor was broken up at some point and used as fill throughout our area (pieces of it have appeared in contexts 837, 865, 879, 890, and 951), then covered by 6th-7th century fills (905, 901=Lot 2012-51, 899, 896=Lot 2012-50, 836=Lot 2012-31).

In summary, we have more than enough Late Antique walls in our area – some with associated floors – to constitute two separate buildings and possibly three; further excavation is needed to clarify the relationships between these walls and the surrounding spaces.

Early Byzantine (610-802 AD)

North-south wall 866, west of wall 746 and roughly parallel to it, was constructed from randomly coursed, smaller stones and tiles without cement. It should date to the Early Byzantine period or earlier, since a number of 7th-8th century fills were laid directly against its east face (the west face remains unexcavated).

We surmise that an Early Byzantine structure in the eastern half of the trench, probably associated with wall 866, collapsed in this period, covering over a red earthen layer (unexcavated) throughout the area between wall 866 in the west and wall 746 in the east. 866 is the lowest level excavated in this portion of the trench, and represents a section of a semicircular area (truncated by the south baulk) with loose soil and tile that lay within a depression in the red layer. As G. Sanders noted, this may represent not simply roof collapse, but scavenging of unbroken roof tiles for reuse, with the broken pieces left discarded and heaped in a pile with other debris. Above it were a series of late 7th-early 8th century fills with large quantities of tile (877 and 879), capped with a very distinctive sloping pink layer (879) that we interpret as degraded mud brick which eroded over the tiles following a partial roof collapse. This sloping pink layer was in turn covered by another 8th to early 9th century layer with tile (865, which also contained a single sherd of petalware) which either represents a further collapse of the unidentified structure or a leveling fill. Additional leveling fill dating to the 8th-9th century (853, eastern portion of 849, 846, 837) brought much of this area to the approximate level of the uppermost preserved course of wall 746. The upper levels of this fill contained interesting cookware in two distinct micaceous fabrics and rim shapes (concave thickened rims in silver mica, flaring tapered rims in gold mica), as well as handmade beakers. All contexts from this area (837, 846, 849, 853, 865, 877, 879, 886) have been saved for mending as Lot 2012-45.
At around this time as well (8th-9th c.), an erosional deposit (850) with very few remains of material culture covered over Late Antique wall 851.

Middle Byzantine (802-1058 AD)

Near the end of the 11th c. at the earliest, a later pit or robbing trench, the fill of which was excavated along with the fill of the foundation trench for the upper courses of wall 807 (context 915), cut the foundation trench for 807. This cut seems to run underneath the SW corner of the upper courses of wall 807, but its extent is unclear as it was incompletely excavated (since stratigraphically out of order).

Layers of leveling fill dating to the 10th century (946, 942, 835, 831=Lot 2012-44, 782, 748, 741=Lot 2012-7) were laid between wall 941 and the remains of the pebbled floor to the north (S913), extending across almost our entire area from east to west. The 6th-7th c. fills above the pebbled floor were covered by 10th-11th c. material as well (688). This leveling activity may have been necessary after the collapse of any Early Byzantine structures in the area, filling the uneven areas between the Late Antique wall 941 to the south and the remains of the building with the pebble floor in the north.

Late Byzantine (1059-1210 AD)

Only one Late Byzantine deposit was excavated during session 3 in our area: the foundation trench (921, cut 924) of north-south wall 540, providing an 11th c. terminus post quem for its construction. The walls remaining in the southwest corner of the trench should date to the Late Byzantine period or later as well, based on the last contexts excavated around them. For this time period, consult the final report for session 2.
Frankish (1210-1458 AD)

There is a series of Frankish pits in the area (cuts 847, 867, and 848; possibly cut 430), all of which are dug into and slightly undercutting earlier walls. G. Sanders has suggested that some of these served as cheaper substitutes for pithoi, since some of the stones from these walls were left in place to close over the mouth of the pit. Frankish pit C867, cut into wall 866, is a good example. Its fill (856=Lot 2012-49) dates to 1270 +/- 10 A.D. and contained a number of joining fragments of glazed pottery, as well as coin 2012-92 (4th c. AD), pieces of wall plaster painted red, small fragments of bronze, and some unusual glass.

Context 890 (fineware only saved as Lot 2012-48) represents additional excavation of C848, also identified as a Frankish pit, inside the former apse-like structure formed by walls 313, 334/616, and 538/539. In addition to pottery, it contained wall plaster, glass, iron, and a fragment of a bone handle with incised decoration.

Future Excavation:

Frankish pit C848 remains only partially excavated, but is far too deep at the moment to be pursued further. Excavation here (context 890, late 13th to early 14th c.) was stopped at an arbitrary level due to the depth of the pit compared to surrounding contexts. There is at present no danger of contamination, though some of the soil along its sides appears to be splitting, on the verge of slumping into the pit.

Apart from pit C848, the most recent material left in our area should date to the Late Byzantine period or earlier in the southwest portion of our trench (south of wall 807, west of walls 616 and 334). This is an area which contained a number of 11th-12th c. fills when last excavated in session 2 of 2012. We have not explored this area since to determine whether or not all of these Middle to Late Byzantine fills have been removed.

Immediately south of wall 807 and beneath the possible Middle to Late Byzantine fills in that area, we partially excavated a cut of unknown extent and function while attempting to dig out the foundation trench of the cemented upper courses of wall 807 (in context 815). The continuation of this cut should be isolated and further explored after the contexts above it have been removed.

Wall 807 appears to have been robbed out at some date given the difference in elevation between its cemented upper courses and the stones visible at the bottom of C430. We were unable to identify a robbing trench for it during this season, however, since we discovered wall 941 and related contexts in our first pass across the soil at a higher elevation to the south of 807.

Much work needs to be done to clarify the relationships between wall 807, wall 941, the pebble floor to the north (S913), and three potential north-south walls (wall 866, the possible wall south of wall 941, and the possible wall visible in the north scarp west of wall 866 between 269.50 and 270.20 E). A small portion of tile-filled deposit, which should be equivalent to 879/886, was left to the south of wall 866, obscuring both the south end of 866 and the relationship between the upper courses of wall 941 and the large boulders visible south and east of wall 866 at a lower elevation.

The relationship between pebble floor S913 and the clay floor S961 to the west at a lower elevation also needs to be explored, keeping in mind that S913 is laid on at least one of our possible north-south walls.

Finally, the arbitrary southern baulk east of C193 at 1009.50 N should be removed in order to pursue the south continuation of wall 746 and the possible floor associated with it on the wall’s eastern side. This would also give us an opportunity to further investigate the interesting cookware in the gold and silver micaceous fabrics which appeared with a single sherd of petalware in context 865.