Interactive Digs

October 14, 2010

Zominthos Field Notes 2010: Week 3

The three Roman walls designated alpha, beta, and gamma

Area 1

The three Roman walls designated alpha, beta, and gamma

The three Roman walls designated alpha, beta, and gamma

So far, our excavation has revealed three Roman walls running perpendicular to the building’s east-west axis, as well as the clay-earth floors of the Roman occupation in Sectors III and II, where we found the lower courses of a built hearth. This week we also uncovered the Roman clay-earth floor in Sector IV.
It should be mentioned that in the last year’s excavation here, we opened two trenches, 1 and 2, to explore the perpendicular walls of the building here. In Trench 2, which is included in the borders of the newly defined Sector II, we found a paved floor of Minoan Neopalatial times. In Sector II, our goal for this year is to reach the level of the paved floor. During the excavation we came to the Minoan destruction layer, which consists mostly of dark soil. This destruction layer, at least 0.25m thick, is buried under a mass of stones and big well-hewn blocks that fell in various directions. We are currently removing these stones.
We also discovered this week that the line of blocks running parallel and exactly below the building’s north wall for most of Sector II is an older wall, the foundation level of which seems to be the level of the paved floor. What is interesting is that this wall ends about 2m before the Wall α. In the eastern part of Sector II and among the fallen blocks used as foundations for the large blocks of the north wall, we found two pieces of a pair of long goat horns and two vessels, one bowl, and one fruit stand of Minoan times.
[slideshow id=48] Area 2

Small pithos and round amphora, along with another small vessel

Small pithos and round amphora, along with another small vessel

We continued to focus on Trenches 2 and 5 this week. An extensive layer of fallen stones and an accumulation of pottery characterizes Trench 2 in its central and northeastern parts. Some vessels were visible between the stones, so we excavated and removed much of this stone layer, allowing the pottery to be seen as a whole. There were a large number of vessels of everyday use—cooking pots, storage vessels, etc.—and several stones, mostly schist slabs. Among the more interesting finds were a globular loom weight, some stone tools, and three vessels, which seem to be whole and not far from their original place. These are a small pithos with a small round amphora, which once sat on the rim of the pithos, and another small vessel.
Removing the exposed pottery fragments, we realized that there were more under the stones. So we removed the stones, bringing those sherds to light. In addition, we found earth with schist fragments, just like the schist used to cover a roof or floor, in two or three places around and in the pottery accumulation. We encountered more of this earth during the removal of the vessels and excavation of the pithos. But we cannot yet conclude whether there was an immediate destruction of the building or a gradual one following its abandonment. The objects left behind either had roof or wall stones fall on them, or fell from the upper floor and shattered on impact.
In Trench 5, we fully revealed the new wall along the northern side of the trench. A strong wall, almost as strong as it runs nearby, leaving a narrow space between the two. To the east it reaches another wall, starting from the large corner stone and extending to the north. This wall complex agrees with our supposition that a large building or group of buildings exists here, as indicated by geomagnetic prospecting.
[slideshow id=49] Area 3

Monolithic slabs

Monolithic slabs

In Trench 1, we continued to strip the soil from where we detected the accumulation of vessels and sherds. We decided to leave the vessels in place initially so that we could form a general idea about them. Also, we unearthed five monolithic slabs that seem to belong to the wall revealed by geomagnetic prospecting. After clearing and recording the area with the pottery accumulation, we started to lift out the intact and recognisable vessels, as well as the rest of the ceramics. We removed nine conical cups, then moved toward the western part of the trench where we removed five more. It is now certain that a wall existed in this part of the trench. Also, a row of stones continues toward the south, which probably means that the wall may have been the corner of a structure.
We decided to extend the trench to the west to see clearly the wall’s construction, and to the south to determine if it forms a corner. The westward extension yielded numerous sherds, including the spout of a bridge spouted jar, as well as whole vessels. The southern extension yielded more than 10 intact conical cups, as well a fragment of a quite large pithos. Continuing deeper, we realized that the stones we uncovered here first days of the excavation form a corner.
We also cleared a small area near the main trenches to verify the existence of the wall there. (Τhis area had been cleared in 1990s as well during the first excavation season.) It is certain that the wall we unearthed there is part of the wall revealed in Trench 1.
Since we identified the walls revealed by geomagnetic prospecting, we thought fit to stop the excavation in this Area and concentrate on the other two for the rest of the season. We will resume investigation here at a later period.
[slideshow id=50]


  1. Clayton Moore

    Hi Costas, Thanks again for a terrific excavation and thank you so much for keeping this interactive. Very sad for the loss of the Dr. Our prayers are with all of you.

  2. Saxon de Kock

    Hello Costas,
    Thank you for your kind reply. I will follow the excavation once again next summer under the direction of Mrs. Sapouna-Sakellarakis. I hope you all have a good break over the festive season and thank you for all the interesting information over this past summer. with kind regards, Saxon de Kock.

  3. Costas Papadopoulos Team Member of the ''Zominthos Team''

    Dear Saxon,
    We would like to thank you for your kind thoughts. The excavation will continue during the next summer under the direction of Efi Sapouna-Sakellarakis.

  4. Saxon de Kock

    Dear Team,
    I was very sad to learn of the passing of Prof Sakellarakis recently. I had always hoped to meet him one day if I ever got to Zominthos. Keep up the wonderful work which I always follow with interest. Kindly pass on my condolences to Efi Sapouna-Sakellarakis. with my best regards, Saxon de Kock, Johannesburg.

  5. Saxon de Kock

    Wonderful and fascinating news. I am captivated by your notes and exciting finds. Much luck as you continue. Saxon in Johannesburg

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