Corinth Report: Temple E, Southeast excavations 2015, by Danielle Smotherman (April 21 - April 30)
Collection:   Corinth
Type:   Report
Name:   Temple E, Southeast excavations 2015, by Danielle Smotherman (April 21 - April 30)
Title:   2015 Session I, Late Byzantine - Early Frankish activity in Unit 2, Room 2 and Frankish fill in Unit 2, Room 9
Area:   Temple E, Southeast
Site:   Corinth
City:   Ancient Corinth
Country:   Greece
Danielle Smotherman
Temple E, Southeast Excavations
Session I
Unit 2, Room 2
N: 1066.50 N, S: 1065.00 N, E: 119.27 E, W: 116.57 E
Unit 2, Room 9
N: 1086.73, S; 1079.10 N, E: 132.85 E, W: 126.83 E
21-28 April 2015

2015 Session I, Late Byzantine - Early Frankish activity in Unit 2, Room 2 and Frankish fill in Unit 2, Room 9
This is the final summary of the first session excavation for the 2015 season in Room 2 of Unit 2 and Room 9 of Unit 2 in the Frankish quarter, Temple E Southeast. Guy Sanders (director) and Larkin Kennedy (field director) supervised. Danielle Smotherman (area supervisor) recorded. On the last day of excavation, Danielle was assisted by Alžbĕta Lorenzová. The workmen were Thanasis Sakellariou (pickman), Christos Sakellariou (shovelman), and Panagiotis Rontzokos (barrowman, sieve).
On account of the delayed permit, the first half of Session I was spent on research and development of a webpage for the Frankish Quarter of Corinth as well as cleaning the areas for excavation in Unit 2. Excavation during Session I was limited to six days.
Excavation work focused in Room 2 and then moved to Room 9. In Room 2, the space was subdivided and only the northern portion of the room was excavated this session. The full extent of Room 2 is bounded by walls 556, 557, 558, and 559 (N: 1066.50 N, S: 1061.55 N, E: 119.27 E, W: 115.30 E), and the area under excavation is: N: 1066.50 N, S: 1065.00 N, E: 119.27 E, W: 116.57 E. In Room 9 the area of excavation was bounded by the walls of the room, which have not yet been numbered (N: 1086.73, S; 1079.10 N, E: 132.85 E, W: 126.83 E). Excavation in both rooms was done in order to clarify the dating and the relationship between the walls of those rooms to the other areas of Unit 2 in preparation for the area being presented to the public as part of the Frankish Quarter. Consolidation and restoration work continued contemporaneously to the excavations.

Room 2 was previously excavated in 2014 Session III by E. Wilson and J. Swalec. During the first session of the 2015 season, only the northern part of the room was excavated on account of the limited time available. The goal was to find a foundation trench or means of dating the construction of the North wall of the room (Wall 556: N: 1067.50 N, S: 1066.10 N, E: 119.80 E, W: 114.20 E) to better help our understanding of the date of construction of Room 2, its function, and how it relates to the rest of the complex. This was also facilitated by sectioning the room. As part of the restoration work of Unit 2, portions of the N, E, W and S walls (Walls 556, 557, 558, and 559) have all been restored since the 2014 excavation season, leaving a c. 20 cm wide construction trench abutting each reconstructed wall in the room. At points, these construction trenches cut contexts and obscured relationships between the walls and contexts. The construction trench for the N wall of the room did not cut across the one original block of the wall, thus contexts that bordered the wall at that point were still able to be discerned. Excavation in Room 2 ceased when it was clear that we had not found a foundation trench for Wall 556 and that we were now in Byzantine period levels, which appear to be earlier than the construction of the wall.
Excavation then turned to Room 9, which had not been excavated since 1996 (NB888 P1-46). The final two days of Session I excavation, 27th and 28th of April, were spent in Room 9. During those two days, we removed the surface that had been exposed since 1996 throughout the room, cleaned the edge and sides of the big pit, removed two construction fills and stones resting on the surface, and defined the edges of a previously unexcavated pit in the S part of the room that will be excavated in Session II. Excavation will continue in Room 9 during Session II.

Unit 2, Room 2, excavated 21/4/2015-27/4/2015

Middle Byzantine Period (AD 802-1058):
During the Middle Byzantine period, there was a small patch of hardened fill (Context 627; 1066.90 N, 119.05 E, L. 0.9 m, W. 1.35 m). Shortly after the deposit of this hardened fill, the floor level was raised. Only an iron tack, a bronze strip, and two very small pieces of glass were found in this layer.
Late Byzantine Period (AD 1058-1210):
During the Late Byzantine period, a deep fill (D. 0.29 m) with cobbles, tiles, and pottery was dumped to raise the floor level (Context 620), although the floor the boundaries of this room were different during this period. The material of the fill dates from the late 11th to the early 12th centuries by pottery and included coins from the Late Roman period (Coins 2015-25, 2015-27). The plastered floor (1066.60 N, 118.17 E, L. 1.6 m, W. 2.86 m, Context 617), dating to the second half of the 12th century by pottery, surmounted this raised level and appears to go under Wall 557, indicating that the room as it was excavated belonged to a later period. Two separate fills cover the floor (Contexts 612 and 614), related to use activity of the space during the Late Byzantine period, in particular the mid to late 12th century by the pottery. The activity layers contained few finds other than the pottery, although the earlier layer had a piece of glass making waste and a piece of iron slag.

Frankish Period (AD 1210-1458):
A robbing trench for wall 556 cuts through the Byzantine fills (1066.60 N, 118.60 E, L. 3.2 m, W. 0.23 m, D: 0.26 m, Cut 643, Context 608). Previous excavations along the wall had encountered a robbing trench dating to the Turkish period (Context 553, Skeleton 562, NB839 B13, B15, B24). The excavated trench (Cut 643, Context 608) represents an earlier robbing activity in the room, which was then cut by the later robbing trench. The trench included pottery dating to the mid-13th century. This fill is consistent with the overlying context (Context 603) and could represent a slump of this fill.
The continued use of the room during the Frankish period is indicated by five separate deposits of fill in the space (Contexts 593, 599, 602, 603, and 607), likely to continue raising the floor level, which are all dated to the mid 13th century by pottery. These deposits include coins dating from the Greek (Coin 2015-20), Late Roman (Coins 2015-11, 2015-12, 2015-13, 2015-14), Byzantine (Coins 2015-9, 2015-21), and Frankish (Coins 2015-15, 2015-16) periods. The two Frankish coins date between 1250 and 1278 (both from Context 603), which corroborates the date of the pottery. A bronze pendant, generally dated to the Byzantine period, was recovered in the earliest lense of fill in the room (MF-2015-3). Its decoration includes an inscribed circle on the body of the pendant with an inscribed cross with letters at the ends of each arm of the cross. The vertical axis (top to bottom) reads Chi and Rho. The horizontal axis (left to right) reads Theta and Epsilon. In the later lenses of fill, domestic items such as a bronze crochet hook and bronze and bone sewing needles were recovered along with industrial refuse, including iron slag, glass wasters, and crucibles, indicating a mixed origin for the fill material.

The dates for the construction of Room 2 and, in particular, the N wall of the room are still uncertain, but must date to the Frankish period since the Late Byzantine floor goes under the later eastern wall of the room. The excavations revealed that the space had been used as an indoor space since at least the Late Byzantine period, albeit with different boundaries. The robbing trench indicates that there was some robbing activity of the N wall of the room during the mid-13th century, which may have also included some rebuilding as the space continued to be used as a room afterwards, and is distinct from the later robbing activity of the wall.

Future goals:
1. Excavation in Room 2 this Session revealed another large block under the orthostate in the North wall (Wall 556). If excavation were to be resumed in the room, continuing excavation along the N wall to find the bottom of the original wall could aid in the understanding of the development of the space and dating of the room.
2. The southern portion of the room was not excavated this session. Further excavation in this area could help clarifying the dating of the Frankish levels. In particular, if Context 620 is continued in the southern part of the room, further investigation of the fill could help clarify if the date of the fill represents the date of the dumping activity or if the material was brought in from elsewhere in the site that contained earlier materials. The dating of the East and West walls would be important for understanding the change in the use of the space from the Late Byzantine to Frankish periods.

Unit 2, Room 9, excavated 27/4/2015-28/4/2015

Frankish Period (AD 1210-1458):
All contexts excavated in the two days of excavation in Room 9 date to the 14th century by pottery. Multiple layers of fill, unevenly distributed in the room, were excavated and represent multiple depositional activities in the space during the 14th century (Contexts 628/634, 638, and 639). The earliest fill removed contained a Latin imitative coin dating 1204-1261 (Coin 2015-43). A reused threshold block (L. 0.596 m, W. 0.510 m, H. 0.157m, N: 1086.45 N, S: 1085.30 N, E: 131.25 E, W: 130.50 E, Context 631) rested on a 14th century floor, perhaps also represented by by a small patch of tile floor left over from the 1996 excavations (NB888 B33 P37; NB888 B38 P42; NB888 B41 P45-46). The threshold could have been used as a step up to a doorway, as previously thought, although there does not seem to be evidence for a doorway in that wall.
The tile floor encountered across the room in the previous excavations (NB888 B33 P37; NB888 B38 P42; NB888 B41 P45-46) had a bottom elevation of 85.03 m and rested on a clay surface that was left exposed for 19 years, [the remnants of ?] which may be included in Contexts 628 and 634. The bottom elevation of the floor, (85.07) is very close to the top elevation of Context 628 (85.05 m). The difference between the elevations most likely is a result of weathering during the 19 years of exposure of the area. The pottery of Contexts 628/634 dates to the 14th century and included one 18th century intrusion, probably from the central pit previously excavated. A pit was identified in the SW portion of the room and its edges defined; excavation of the pit, however, was left for the next session. Above the tile floor, the previous excavators encountered a layer of destruction debris, primarily tiles which was originally dated to the late 13th-early 14th century and now thought to be 14th century in date (NB888 B32 P36, NB888 B37 P41) providing evidence for when the room went out of use.

Early Modern:
The big pit in Room 9 is a later intrusion (NB888 B18 P22-23; NB888 23 P26; NB888 B24 P27; NB888 B25 P28). It was excavated in 1996 to a total depth of 0.80 m and the material of the fill dated primarily to the 18th and 19th centuries, with some earlier materials included (a 12th century coin, Coin 1996-150, and some 16th century pottery). The final lense in the pit contained 13th century pottery, but this most likely indicates material disturbed by the cut of the pit rather than the date of the pit itself. Only the edges and sides of the pit were cleaned during Session I, but it may need revisiting in Session II.

Future goals:
1. Assign wall numbers to each of the walls in the room to facilitate discussion of their dates and relationships with the use periods within the room.
2. Determine the relationships of the walls to one another within the room and to the walls of the other rooms, such as Wall 156 that abuts the southern wall of Room 9. Was Room 9 a later addition to the complex or was it a free-standing building at one point? When were the walls subdividing Room 9 from the rooms to the north and west added?
3. Complete cleaning of the pit excavated in 1996 which has been exposed since 1996.
4. Explore the unexcavated pits in Room 9: the pit in the SW corner and the pit N of the big pit.
5. Further excavate the room to get a better understanding of its function.