Corinth Report: Temple E, Southeast excavations 2014, by Bram ten Berge and Katerina Ragkou (May 5 - May 26)
Collection:   Corinth
Type:   Report
Name:   Temple E, Southeast excavations 2014, by Bram ten Berge and Katerina Ragkou (May 5 - May 26)
Title:   Roads and Courtyard of NW Passage, Session 2
Area:   Temple E, Southeast
Site:   Corinth
City:   Ancient Corinth
Country:   Greece
Bram ten Berge, Katerina Ragkou
Session II
Temple E Southeast Excavations (TESE)
N: 1071.69 S: 1058.97 E: 103.11 W: 94.50
May 5, 2014 ā€“ May 26, 2014

This is the final summary of the second session of excavation in 2014 in the Frankish quarter, Temple E Southeast (TESE). Excavations occurred in the NW passage and focused on the roads west of Unit 2 and on the courtyard between Units 1 and 2, in an area roughly shaped like an ā€˜Lā€™. The area west of Unit 2 was bounded to the north by a modern water pipe (1073.00 N; NB 839), to the west by an excavation scarp west of Wall 8 (also known as NB 866, Wall 4) that lay on the grid at 94.00 E, to the south by the north wall of the courtyard of Unit 1 (1058.07 N), and on the east by the west wall of Unit 2, Room 3A (also known as NB. 830, Wall II) on the grid at 108.91 E. Our excavations in the courtyard area were bounded to the north by the south wall of Unit 2, Room 3A, to the east by the west wall of Unit 2, Room 3, and to the south by the north wall of Unit 1, Rooms 8 and 9.
For the first week work concentrated on the roads of the NW passage west of Unit 2, Room 3A. In the second week we moved to the courtyard. In week 2 we sectioned off the eastern part of the courtyard (N: 1064.52; S: 1058.51; W: 103.00; E: 108.85) and concentrated on its western part. In the final week our focus returned to the roads of the NW passage west of Unit 2, Room 3A. Guy Sanders (director) and Jody Cundy (field director) supervised. The area supervisors were Bram ten Berge and Katerina Ragkou (recorders), and the workmen were Thanasis Sakellariou (pick man), Christos Sakellariou (shovel man), and Vasilis Kolias (wheelbarrow man). Excavations began on May 5, 2014 and the final day of excavation of this summary was May 26, 2014.
The goal of excavation this session was to clarify the activities and chronology of the Frankish quarter, in particular the outdoor activities immediately bordering Units 1 and 2. An additional goal has been to prepare our area for future consolidation and conservation in order to open it for the public.
Frankish Period
The removal of the levelling fills 381 and 392 revealed the top of a N-S wall 310 (N-S: 1063.88-1060.79; E-W: 99.51-99.25). The wall was out of use at least by the time road 358 = 363 (late 13th century, npd), which covered its top, was laid down. The bottom of the wall is visible in the profile of a large pit (bothros 5, NB 880) at an elevation of 85.29, approximately half a meter beneath the leveling fills that covered its top (381, 392). We have not excavated its foundation trench and thus cannot be sure about its construction date (the pickman identified a possible foundation trench for the wall that has not been excavated). The full extent of this wall is not yet known. Directly to the N and in alignment with wall 310 are the remains of an early wall beneath the west wall of Unit 2, Room A (structure 51: N-S: 1070.18-1068.50; E-W: 99.50-98.89), which sits at a similar elevation and has the same E-W coordinates.
Abutting wall 310 is road 358 = 363 (N-S: 1070.12-1064.11; E-W: 98.58-97.39 (358); N-S: 1071.22-1065.04; E-W: 97.72-94.95 (363)), which was laid down by the late 13th century (npd). This was a well-built road with a flat surface and a uniform consistency. The road preserves a rectilinear trench (cut 357: N-S: 1070.70-1068.69; E-W: 96.61-95.80) that may reflect the removal of a N-S wall, contemporary with Wall 310, for the expansion of the road to the W. This hypothesis seems corroborated by the surface of road 358 = 360 which slopes upwards on its western edge against this rectilinear trench. Subsequent to the removal of this wall, a substantial number of leveling fills and/or repairs (levelling fills 348, 378, 381, 385, 392, 394, 400, 402, and 407) were deposited to create a flat and uniform road surface.
Subsequent to these leveling events a drain (structure 332: N-S: 1067.62-1060.80; E-W: 101.26-96.00) was constructed which cut one of the leveling fills (fill 348). It runs in a NW-SE direction punching through Wall 310 to continue into the courtyard between Unit 1 and Unit 2. The drain was constructed by means of a first course of medium and large boulders of limestone and fieldstone (ca. 0.20-0.35 (l.) x 0.20-0.30 (h.)), followed by a second course of smaller stones and tiles (ca. 0.10 (l.) x 0.10 (h.), and capped by capstones that consisted of medium and larger sized boulders (0.43 x 0.31 x 0.10), angular cobbles (0.18 x 0.12 x 0.10), and architectural spolia (fragments of a well-head (0.56 x 0.32 x 0.40) and a column base (0.58 x 0.39 x 0.2)). The full extent of the drain is not yet known as it continues its course eastward into the unexcavated deposits in the courtyard. Likewise, it is unclear whether it continued westward beyond its robbed out portion (N-S: 1061.09-1059.72; E-W: 100.98-100.20).
Subsequent to the construction of the drain a new N-S wall was constructed (structure 291: N-S: 1069.31-1068.32; E-W: 95.62-94.60) that constituted the new western boundary of the road. The bottom elevation of the robbing trench for this wall (fills 287, 290, 294) is 85.24, approximately 0.70 m beneath the earliest Frankish road we excavated (358 = 363: bottom elevation: 85.96 and 85.92). The remains of the wall do not go further down, suggesting that its bottom lies at this elevation. Although the extent of the wall is not yet clear, it appears to be in alignment with the east wall of Units 3 and 4 that bounded the road further to the south. It may have some connection with Wall 8 (also known as NB 866, Wall 4) immediately to the south, although it is unclear what, if any, this connection might be. Likewise, its connection with the drain is not yet clear.
After Wall 291 went up a new road was laid down (226 = 239: N-S: 1071.20-1064.90; E-W: 98.32-95.70 (226); N-S: 1069.95-1063.71; E-W: 97.53-95.41 E (239)) whose western edge sloped up against this wall at W. 95.70. Like its predecessor, this was a well-built flat and uniform road that consisted of pebbles, cobbles, and tiles, mixed with sandy silt. After the expansion the road was now approximately three meters wide. It is unclear whether the road was bounded at this time by an east wall. It is possible that an earlier wall beneath Wall 51 W. of Unit 2, Room A, bounded the road. But if, as we suggest above, this lower wall was connected with Wall 310, it would have been out of use by this time. Future excavations will have to determine the extent of this lower wall.
At a later date (by the late 13th century npd) road 226 = 239 received a number of leveling fills and repairs likely due to wear and damage as a result of high volumes of traffic. After these leveling events a vaulted chamber (structure 229: N-S: 1067.23-1065.51; E-W: 99.72-97.90) was built, the construction of which cut these leveling fills (deposits 209 and 212). A later road 36 = 190 overlay the top of the vault. The removal of this road revealed the cemented top of the chamber. We could not perceive the construction cut, however, since the vault was built right up against it. It is clear that the construction of the vaulted chamber preceded the construction of Wall 51, since the construction cut for this wall cut road 36 = 190, while the vaulted chamber was overlaid by this road. A coin of Villhardouin (2014-17) found in the foundation trench of Wall 51 (deposit 60) gives a post quem date of 1245 for the construction of the wall. This in turn is a post quem date for the construction of Unit 2, Room 3A. The precise relationship of the vaulted chamber with Wall 51 and with the earlier wall beneath Wall 51 is not yet clear. The vaulted chamber is roughly square in plan. The dimensions of the chamber are 1.76 m (l.) x 1.55 (w.) x 1.28 (h.). The diameter of the vault is 1.08 m, while its height is 0.68 m. The purpose of the vaulted chamber remains uncertain. Perhaps it was used for storage, as a cellar, or as a basement space. A similar chamber to the south is associated with Unit 1.
After the construction of the vaulted chamber, a new road (193: N-S: 1071.58-1067.61; E-W: 98.58-94.85) was laid down, abutting the vault. This was another well-built flat and uniform road that consisted of pebbles, cobbles, and tiles, mixed with sandy silt. It was subsequently followed, by the late 13th century (npd), by road 36 = 190 which was laid over the top of the vaulted chamber. This was likewise a well-built flat and uniform road consisting of the same materials as the roads preceding it.
By the late 13th century the capstones of the drain were robbed out (robbing trench 406: 1061.32-1060.31; E-W: 103.00-101.52; fills 312 and 314), and the drain ceased being used after the late 13th/early 14th century, which constitutes the post quem date (pottery) for the use phase of the drain. Unfortunately, we cannot narrow down these dates. Likewise, it remains unclear when Wall 291 was robbed out, as we do not know the level that the robbing trench (deposits 287, 290, 294) was cut from (the top of the cut is no longer preserved due to a modern pit dug during the 1995 excavations: basket 57 NB 839).
During the Frankish Period the roads of the NW passage supplied access to an open-air courtyard situated between the church complex (TESE Unit 2) and the commercial and domestic space of the complex to the south (TESE Unit 1). In the period we excavated (late 13th century) this space appears to be walled off on its north, south, and east sides. The courtyard was open to the road and the surfaces that communicated between the courtyard and the road (deposits 252: N-S: 1062.91-1060.14; E-W: 102.10-97.77; 381: N-S: 1068.91-1063.50; E-W: 99.21-97.50) were uniform and constructed with the same materials (pebbles, cobbles, and tiles, mixed with sandy silt). There was a passageway to the SE of the courtyard giving access to the eastern part of the church complex and the shops of Unit 1.
The courtyard seems to have been a highly frequented space that received much traffic and activity, as evidenced by the succession of multiple surface layers dated to the late 13th and early 14th century. These surfaces typically consisted of round and angular pebbles, and small fragments of tiles, mixed with sandy silt. The courtyard appears to have functioned as a meeting-place and to have served multiple functions. So, in the late 13th to early 14th century there seems to have been a bench in front of the north wall of the courtyard (structure 147: N-S: 1064.72-1064.43; E-W: 105.67-104.98). During the late 13th century (npd) there is possible evidence of burning through the discoloration of the soil (surfaces 273, 330, 340, 345). It is possible that this burning was associated with cooking activities carried out with portable hearths (deposits 144, 152, 158, 170). A large bell-shaped pit (cut 80: N-S: 1063.80-1062.93; E-W: 101.88-101.03), which seems to have been dug in the late 13th century, and whose purpose remains uncertain, contained a substantial number of animal bones and cooking wares, which may serve to corroborate the presence of cooking activities in this area during this period. Moreover, the removal of the courtyard surface 345 (N-S: 1064.54-1061.82; E-W: 103.02-99.21) revealed two postholes that may indicate the use of temporary stalls or other temporary structures. Finally, situated against the east wall of the courtyard is a semi-circular stone structure (structure 94) that we did not excavate and whose purpose remains uncertain. It should also be noted that the removal of courtyard surface 345 revealed what appears to be the robbing trench for the south wall of Unit 2, Room A. Future excavations will have to further investigate this trench.
In conclusion, the NW passage of the Frankish quarter was characterized by a series of superimposed roads dating from at least the 13th century (and probably earlier) to the early modern period. These roads have a N-S orientation and run from our area southward towards Unit 1, facilitating traffic and communication between the different Units of the Frankish quarter. The roads also offered access to the courtyard area between Units 1 and 2, and to the western part of Frankish Corinth beyond it. The roads received high volumes of human and animal traffic during the Frankish Period, as evidenced by the presence of multiple leveling fills and what seem to be several repairs. The road offered access to an open-air courtyard between Unit 1 and Unit 2, which seems to have been a highly frequented space with multiple functions, one of which was as a meeting place and a place for cooking activities. The late 13th century was a period in which much building activity took place in the NW passage in an apparently short amount of time, with the removal of Wall 310 and a conjectured contemporary wall, the construction and robbing out of a drain (332), the construction and robbing out of Wall 291, the construction of a vaulted chamber (229), the construction of the W. Wall 51 of Unit 2, Room A, and in the courtyard the construction of a large pit (cut 81) and a semi-circular stone structure (structure 94).
Early Modern (1831-1949 AD)
Prior to World War II, Mrs. Kosmopoulou excavated in the area to Neolithic levels (grid square 83G; B. 81, NB 839, p. 139). Her trench was subsequently backfilled. This backfill is the material collected in our deposits 241 and 246 (N-S: 1070.21-1069.40; E-W: 95.58-94.67; N-S: 1070.29-1067.26; E-W: 95-58-94.77), associated with the robbing trench of Wall 291.
Modern Period (1950 -)
Our excavation area is bounded to the north by the construction of a modern water pipe in 1995. Throughout our excavation area previous excavations were conducted during the 1992 through 1995 seasons and during the first session of the 2014 season. During the 1995 excavations the bothros north of the vaulted chamber was dug as Basket 32, NB 839. The excavators underdug this bothros, with the result that the cut was no longer fully preserved. We removed the remaining pit fill. As stated above, during the same excavations a modern pit was dug that removed the top of the cut for the robbing trench of the drain. During the same season bothros 3 (NB 880) was excavated and subsequently backfilled. The removal of deposit 390 revealed the top of this backfill.
Recommendations for future excavation
a) Continue to explore the continuation of drain 332 into the courtyard
b) Continue to remove the courtyard layers around bell-shaped pit (cut 80) to clarify its construction date.
c) Continue to remove the surface layers across the courtyard to further clarify its continued use.
d) Continue excavation to the south of Wall 291 in order to investigate its continuation to the south and its construction date.
e) Investigate Wall 310 in order to establish its construction date and use phase.
f) Investigate Wall 51 and the earlier wall beneath it, in order to clarify their connection with the vaulted chamber and to elucidate the chronology of Unit 2.