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Excavations at Sparta: The Roman stoa, 1988–91 Part 3

  • G. B. Waywell (a1) and J.J. Wilkes (a2)


This is the third and concluding report on the survey and excavations carried out on the site of the Roman Stoa at Sparta in 1988–91, following on from earlier reports in BSA 88 (1993), 219–86 and BSA 89 (1994), 377–432. It presents a catalogue and description of the most significant small finds and fragments of Byzantine wall-paintings recovered, gives a full list of coins found and their identities, and offers a detailed discussion of the environmental programme and its preliminary results. An appendix publishes the results of analysis of concrete samples from the ancient theatre at Sparta, taken during the excavations of 1992–95 (BSA 90 [1995], 435–60).



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1 BSA 88 (1993), 219–86.

2 BSA 89 (1994), 377–432.

3 Ibid. 433–41.

4 The catalogue entries for section 2 on the small finds are by Elisabeth Waywell, the line-drawings are by Susan Bird.

5 Waywell, G. B. and Wilkes, J. J., BSA 90 (1995), 435–60.

6 BSA 89 (1994), 388, pl. 58 c–d.

7 Ibid. 398, table 1, 400, §4.

8 Ibid. 426, 428.

9 Ibid. 388, pl. 60 c.

10 Ibid. 398, 400.

11 Ibid. 397, 403, pl. 70 c–d. The tripod is find no. 201.

12 Ibid. 400, phase 5.

13 Ibid. 396, pl. 68 a.

14 Ibid. 402, RSW 1, 2, 3, phase B. The wall which carried the plaster was context 2074; the plaster fragments were found partly on the clay floor, context 2073, and partly in the layer below the floor, context 2075.

15 Ibid. 387–8.

16 Ibid. 388, pls 57 c; 58 a.

17 Ibid., pl. 58 b.

18 Ibid., pl. 59 a. The fragments were found in RS XII, partly in context 1022, but mainly in context 1023, and were given find nos. 99–100.

19 Duncan, G. L., Coin Circulation in the Danubian and Balkan Provinces of the Roman Empire, AD 294–578 (Royal Numismatic Society Special Publication 26; London, 1993), 155—7.

20 The other major published groups of coins of the Roman and Byzantine periods from Greece come from Athens (Thompson, M., The Athenian Agora II: Coins from the Roman through the Venetian Period (Princeton, 1954)), Corinth (reports in Hesperia: for a bibliography see Duncan(n. 19)), and Kenchreai (Hohlfelder, R. H., Kenchreai, Eastern Port of Corinth III. The Coins (Leiden, 1978)).

21 Museum of London Archaeology Service.

22 Department of Human Environment, Institute of Archaeology, University College London.

23 Grateful thanks are extended to all who participated in the environmental programme at Sparta, Those in the field were: Ken Thomas, Chris Stevens, Arthur McNulty, and Simeon Mellalieu. Those in post-excavation work: Leonor Peña-Chacarro, Jon Hather, and Sandra Bond.

24 Peña-Chocarro, L., ‘An Analysis of Plant Remains from Four Pits at Sparta, Greece: An Economic Approach’, unpublished M.Sc. dissertation, Institute of Archaeology, University of London (1990).

25 Hather, J. G., Peña-Chocarro, L., and Sidell, E. J., ‘Turnip remains from Byzantine Sparta’, Journal of Economic Botany, 46 (1992), 395400.

26 Wilkinson, K. N., ‘Investigations of past erosional and sedimentological processes at the Roman and Byzantine site of Sparta’, Papers from the Institute of Archaeology, 4 (1993), 824.

27 Bintliff, J. L., Natural Environment and Human Settlement in Greece (British Archaeological Reports 528; Oxford, 1977).

28 Wright, H. E., ‘Vegetation history’, in McDonald, W. A. and Rapp, G. (eds.), The Minnesota Messenia Expedition: Reconstructing a Bronze Age Regional Environment (Minneapolis, 1972), 188–99.

29 Greig, J. R. A. and Turner, J., ‘some pollen diagrams from Greece and their archaeological significance’, Journal of Archaeological Science, 1 (1974), 177194.

30 Pausanias: iii.

31 Bintliff (n. 27); Pope, pers. comm.

32 Bintliff (n.27).

33 Philippson, A., Die griechischen Landschaften, iii/2. (Frankfurt, 1959).

34 Vita-Finzi, C., The Mediterranean Valleys: Geological Changes in Historical Times (Cambridge, 1969).

35 Bintliff (n. 27).

36 Wright (n. 28).

38 Schiffer, M. B., Formation Processes of the Archaeological Record (University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, 1987).

39 Spence, S., Archaeological Site Manual (London, 1990).

40 Avery, B. W. and Bascombe, C. L., Soil Survey Laboratory Methods (Soil Survey Technical Monograph 6, 1974).

41 Folk, R. L., Petrology of Sedimentary Rocks (Austin, Tex., 1959).

42 See Waywell and Wilkes (n. 2), 399 fig. 6, for section sampled.

43 Woodward, A. M., ‘Excavations at Sparta’, BSA 26 (19231925), 116310.

44 Mullins, C. E., ‘Magnetic susceptibility of the soil and its significance in soil science: a review,’ Journal of Soil Science, 28 (1977), 224–40.

45 Folk (n. 41).

46 Bagnold, R. A. and Barndorff-Nielsen, O., ‘The pattern of natural size distributions’, Sedimentology, 27 (1980), 199207.

47 Pfleger, V. and Catfield, J., A Guide to Snails of Britain and Europe (London, 1988).

48 Peña-Chocarro (n. 24); J. G. Hather et al. (n. 25).

49 Sidell, E. J., ‘The Identification of Archaeological Eggshell: a Feasibility Study’, unpublished M.Sc. dissertation, University of London (1991); ead., A Methodology for the Identification of Archaeological Eggshell (Philadelphia, 1993).

50 Waywell and Wilkes (n. 2), 386 fig. 3, 388.

51 Ibid., pls. 59–60.

52 Ibid. 388; and above, pp. 403–4.

53 Brothwell, D. R., Digging up Bones (London, 1981).

54 Waywell and Wilkes (n. 2) 389, pl. 62b.

55 Schmidt, E., Atlas of Animal Bones (Amsterdam, 1972); Cohen, A. and Serjeantson, D., A Manual for the Identification of Bird Bones from Archaeological Sites (1986).

56 Following Grant, A., ‘The use of tooth wear as a guide to the age of domestic ungulates’, in Wilson, B., Grigson, C., and Payne, S. (eds.), Ageing and Sexing Animal Bones from Archaeological Sites (British Archaeological Reports 109; Oxford, 1982), 91108; and S. Payne, ‘Eruption and wear in the mandibular dentition as a guide to ageing Turkish angora goats’, Ibid. 155–206.

57 Following den Driesch, A. von, A Guide to the Measurement of Animal Bones from Archaeological Sites. (Peabody Museum, Bulletin 1; Cambridge, Mass., 1976).

58 Peña-Chocarro. (n. 24).

59 Hillman, G., ‘Reconstructing crop husbandry practices from charred remains of crops’, in Mercer, R. (ed.), Farming in British Prehistory (Edinburgh, 1981) 123–62.

60 Cartledge, P., Sparta and Lakonia, A Regional History 1300–362 BC (London 1979).

61 S. Mason, pers. comm.

62 Hather, J. G., ‘The Morphological and Anatomical Interpretation and Identification of Charred Vegetative Parenchymous Plant Remains’, unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of London (1989).

63 Hather et al. (n. 25).

64 This section of the report is largely based on the work of Leonor Peña-Chocarro, which is acknowledged with gratitude.

65 Sidell, ‘Identification’ (n. 49).

66 I would like to thank Professors Geoffrey Waywell and John Wilkes for their expert assistance with the samples and meir warm hospitality during my stay at Sparta. I am also very grateful to Shawna Leigh for making available her bibliography on concrete and concrete testing. Dr Ruth Siddall of University College London very kindly provided access to her thin sections of concrete from Corinth for comparisons and helped with constructive suggestions and advice on the analysis of concrete thin sections.

67 Waywell, G. B. and Wilkes, J. J., BSA 90 (1995), 436.

68 See Ibid. 435–60 for detailed descriptions and a review of the latest excavations at the site.

69 See D. M. Roy, and C. A. Langton, Longevity of Borehole and Shaft Sealing Materials: Characterization of Cement-based Ancient Building Materials. ONWI-202, prepared by The Pennsylvania State University for Office of Nuclear Waste Isolation, Batelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, OH (1982), 14.

70 Lechtman, H. N. and Hobbs, L. W., ‘Roman concrete and the Roman architectural revolution’, in Kingery, W. D. (ed.), Ceramics and Civilization, iii: High Technology Ceramics Past Present and Future (American Ceramics Society, 1986), 81128.

71 Ibid. 95.

72 Blake, M. E., Ancient Roman Construction in Italy from the Prehistoric Period to Augustus (Carnegie Institute of Washington, Virginia, 1947), 317.

73 Blake (n. 72); Lechtman and Hobbs (n. 70).

74 Alfonso, T., ‘Identification of lime plasters,’ The Old Potter's Almanack, 4, 1 (1996), 16.

75 Described in: Brown, G. E., ‘Testing of concretes, mortars, plasters, and stuccos’, Archaeomaterials, 4, 2 (1990), 185–91.

76 Richard, R. and Philippakis, N., Photogeological Map of Greece, Sparti Sheet (Institute for Geology and Subsurface Research; Athens, 1969).

77 Sarkar, S. L. and Aitcinn, P.C., ‘The importance of petrological, petrographical and mineralogical characteristics of aggregates in very high-strength concrete’, in Erlin, B. and Stark, D. (eds.), Petrography Applied to Concrete and Concrete Aggregates (American Society for Testing and Materials, 1061 Philadelphia, 1990), 129–44, at 143.

78 A remark in Vitruvius, De Arch. ii. 3, suggests however that there was some practical knowledge of the poor binding characteristics of sea sand.

79 Blake (n. 72), 350.

80 D. M. Roy and C. A. Langton (n. 69), 28–38.

81 Lechtman and Hobbs (n. 70), 96.

82 Ibid.; and Blake (n. 72), 317.

83 Waywell and Wilkes. (n. 67), 440, 449–51.

84 Davey, N., A History of Building Materials (London; 1969), 102.

83 R. Siddall, pers. comm.

86 Davey (n. 84), 102.

Excavations at Sparta: The Roman stoa, 1988–91 Part 3

  • G. B. Waywell (a1) and J.J. Wilkes (a2)


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