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Excavations at Sissi III

 | 
Jan Driessen
, 
Charlotte Langohr
, 
Quentin Letesson
, 
et al.

6. The Excavation of Zone 6

Simon Jusseret

Note de l’auteur

Chargé de Recherches F.R.S.-FNRS. Took part in the excavations: K. Bernhardt (Austrian Academy of Sciences), A. Cappon (UCLouvain), T. Gomrée (ULyon 2), M. Mesogeiti (Southern University of Denmark), A. Meulemeester (UCLouvain), N. Rouvroy (UCLouvain), T. Sgalbiero (UCLouvain), H. Tomas (UZagreb) and K. Van Liefferinge (UGent). Our workman was Manthos Vrachnakis, with occasional assistance by Kristian Jacobson, Manolis Tzannakis and Yannis Milathianakis.

Texte intégral

1. Introduction

1Previous excavation campaigns in Zone 6 (Sissi I: 157-161; Sissi II: 163-172) revealed a large architectural structure (Building F) at least occupied until LM IIIA2/B, with traces of activity mainly restricted to the southern part of the excavated area (Spaces 6.2, 6.3, 6.4.1, 6.4.2) (fig. 6.1). In 2011, excavation proceeded in grid squares BJ 86-90, BK 86-91, BL 88-91, BM 87-91 and BN-BQ 87-88 (fig. 1.1). The main objectives of the 2011 campaign were (1) to complete the excavation of space 6.2, (2) to determine the northern and western limits of Building F suggested by walls F2 and F21, (3) to explore the (open air?) area east of the building (Space 6.8; Sissi II: 166), and (4) to clarify the connexion between architectural features defined during the previous years (walls F5-F7 and walls F39-F21). Targeted stratigraphical tests opened along exterior walls were selected as the most appropriate solution to reach these objectives while at the same time allowing site conservation.

2. Spaces 6.2, 6.14 and 6.15 (fig. 6.2)

2In 2010, excavations in the northern part of space 6.2 produced evidence for a poorly preserved floor level associated with LM IIIA2/B material (Sissi II: 165). Exploration of the southern sector of the room in 2011 produced a single fragmentary cup found close to the floor level. In the south-western corner of the space, an irregular stone concentration (ca. 2 m²) was brought to light and interpreted as a pit (F43) cutting through the LM IIIA2/B floor. Excavation of pit F43 proved unrewarding due to difficulties of identifying the edge of the feature. The pit was found filled with stones of all dimensions (up to ca. 0.30 m) and contained a pithos lid fragment (11-06-2117-OB001). Pottery associated with the upper part of the feature is mixed (MM II, LM I and LM III) with possible post-Minoan intrusions. The lower part of the pit produced MM II pottery with residual EM material.

3Immediately beneath the LM IIIA2/B floor surface was a fill containing mixed MM II, MM III/LM I and LM IIIA2 pottery. Excavation of the upper part of the fill brought to light the continuation of wall F24 previously identified in space 6.1 (Sissi II: 165) and a new wall (F46), abutting onto wall F24 to the south. In view of the limited length of wall F46 (0.60 m), it is not impossible that its southern end was cut by pit F43. In space 6.2, wall F24 can be traced for a distance of 3 m before disappearing beneath wall F7. Wall F24 divides space 6.2 into two compartments belonging to an earlier architectural phase of Building F: space 6.14 (north) and space 6.15 (south). Although only the upper part of the fill was excavated in space 6.14, it produced several lithic tools, a spool (11-06-2188-OB003), a stone vase fragment (11-06-2194-OB002), a terracotta loom-weight (11-06-2194-OB001) and a circular weight made of sandstone (11-06-2197-OB003). In space 6.15, the upper part of the fill yielded a lithic tool, a terracotta lid (11-06-4008-OB001) and a terracotta loom-weight (11-06-4008-OB002).

Fig. 6.1. STONE BY STONE PLAN OF ZONE 6 (BUILDING F) WITH MAIN FEATURES INDICATED (P. HACIGÜZELLER, BASED ON SITE PLANS BY S. JUSSERET, N. KRESS & M. PIETROVITO)

4A limited stratigraphic test of ca. 0.60 x 0.60 m was made in the angle of walls F24 and F46. It entered at least 0.40 m of stony fill without reaching bedrock. Contrary to the mixed upper part of the fill in spaces 6.14-6.15, the test produced homogeneous MM II pottery including straight-sided cups and feet of tripod cooking pots. The homogeneous and residual character of the material (fresh breaks, isolated sherds) suggests deposition as a single dump.

Fig. 6.2. SPACES 6.2, 6.9.1, 6.9.2, 6.14 AND 6.15: AERIAL VIEW (C. GASTON) WITH MAIN FEATURES AND POSITION OF THE NEOPALATIAL DEPOSIT INDICATED

3. Space 6.9 (fig. 6.2)

5A test trench, ca. 4 x 3 m, was opened alongside the southern façade (F30) of space 6.2. Under a thin layer of topsoil were the remains of two walls (F52 and F54) running in a northwest-southeast direction, parallel to wall F24 (Space 6.2). F52, F54 and F24 define two elongated rooms (Spaces 6.9 and 6.15) predating the construction of space 6.2. Wall F53, perpendicular to F52 and F54, divides space 6.9 into two compartments, spaces 6.9.1 and 6.9.2. These architectural remains probably belong to a construction preceding the LM IIIA2/B occupation of Building F. In spaces 6.9.1 and 6.9.2 was a levelling fill made of small stones, the upper part of which contained mixed pottery no earlier than MM II. It is not impossible that the deposition of the fills in spaces 6.14, 6.15, 6.9.1 and 6.9.2 occurred as a single event.

  • 2 A similar globular rhyton with tortoise-shell ripple was found in Gournia (House Cm, Room 58) (Koeh (...)

6Excavation also revealed a good Neopalatial (MM IIIB/LM IA) pottery deposit lying against wall F30 (figs 6.2 and 6.3). The upper course of wall F52 was apparently modified (southern face raised ca. 5-10 cm above the northern face) to accommodate the pottery in a box-like structure. However, patches of white plaster found at the western end of wall F52 may also suggest modification related to the construction of a drain channelling run-off towards the eastern cliff of the hill which is here only 5 m away. According to this hypothesis, it is likely that the drain went out of use before the dumping of the pottery. Indeed the deposit does not appear to have suffered from water erosion. The deposit mainly produced undecorated drinking vessels (81 objectified). The majority were conical cups, some of them found in stacks. There were also ledge-rim bowls, some of them painted, as well as S-profile and rounded cups, a globular rhyton painted with brownish red spirals and tortoise-shell ripple2 (11-06-2149-OB025) (fig. 6.4), an amphora (11-06-2149-OB020), and the head of a terracotta figurine (cobra?) bearing traces of red paint (10-06-4004-OB001). The western end of the deposit was found covered by wall F28, suggesting an LM IIIA2/B construction for the southern part of Building F (Spaces 6.4.1 and 6.4.2, see also Sissi II: 167-169).

Fig. 6.3. SPACE 6.9: NEOPALATIAL (MM IIIB/LM IA) POTTERY DEPOSIT AGAINST WALL F30 (S. JUSSERET)

Fig. 6.4. SPACE 6.9: DECORATED GLOBULAR RHYTON (11-06-2149-OB025) FROM NEOPALATIAL (MM IIIB/LM IA) DEPOSIT (CHR. PAPANIKOLOPOULOS)

4. Spaces 6.5, 6.10, 6.16 (fig. 6.5)

7Excavation of a test trench south of space 6.5 (Sissi II: 170) allowed clarifying the southern limit of Building F. In particular, clearing of the south-western corner of space 6.5 revealed a doorway marked by a threshold of sideropetra (F64). To the west of the threshold was a round limestone pebble (diameter 0.15 m) bearing a 4 cm-deep cavity interpreted as a pivot-hole (F45). Inside space 6.5, cleaning of the northern face of the threshold brought to light a patch of pebble floor (+16.77 m) on which was found a fragmentary conical cup (11-06-2175-OB001). To the north of the patch of pebble floor and at a slightly lower level (+16.74 m) were slabs of sideropetra most probably corresponding to an earlier floor surface. The two floor levels should in all probability be linked to the two intermediate pebble floors (+16.77 m and +16.74 m respectively) previously identified in space 6.5 (Sissi II: 170) (fig. 6.6).

Fig. 6.5. SPACES 6.5, 6.10 AND 6.16: AERIAL VIEW (C. GASTON) WITH MAIN FEATURES INDICATED

Fig. 6.6. SPACE 6.5: SUPERIMPOSED FLOOR LEVELS (+16.77 M, +16.74 M) WITH FRAGMENTARY CONICAL CUP (11-06-2175-OB001) SITTING ON THE HIGHER FLOOR (S. JUSSERET)

8Excavation south of space 6.5 revealed the remains of a rubble wall (F62) running parallel to the southern façade of Building F. Walls F39 and F62 define a narrow space (6.10) bounded to the west by wall F21 and to the east by a smooth bedrock outcrop. Apart from the doorway leading into space 6.5 (see above), there may have been access to space 6.10 from the south where a threshold slab (F63) was uncovered. In space 6.10, a burned deposit, 15-25 cm thick, was found resting on the bedrock of which irregularities had been filled by small- to medium-sized stones. The upper part of the deposit contained a 5 cm thick compact layer of red clay interpreted as burned mud brick remains. The lack of associated finds prevents conclusions about the function of the room.

9Likewise, little can be said of space 6.16 south of space 6.10 until further trials are conducted, but the shallowness of the soil cover suggests that most of the occupation in the area may have been eroded away. Space 6.16 may have been accessible from the west by a doorway of which only the pivot-hole survives as a 4 cm-deep cavity carved in the lower course of Wall F21.

5. Space 6.6 (fig. 6.7)

10Space 6.6 (internal dimensions ca. 5.90 by 4.60 m), located to the north of spaces 6.1 and 6.3, is delimited by Walls F2, F8, F12 and F21. This large room (ca. 30 m²), occupying the north-western angle of Building F, probably formed the central part of the complex during its last phase of occupation. In 2011, our efforts were mainly concentrated in the northern and western sectors of the room and involved the removal of large stone heaps partly covering the western stretch of façade wall F2. To the north of space 6.6., wall F2 is made of a single line of cut limestone blocks and is preserved to a maximum height of ca. 0.55 m at its western end. To the west of space 6.6, excavation allowed us tracing the plinth or euthynteria F21 further north for a distance of ca. 4.7 m before arriving at a carefully cut block of sideropetra (ca. 0.55 x 0.65 m) marking the north-western corner of Building F. Some of the slabs of F21 were found covered by a mixture of earth and rubble interpreted as the remains of the backing wall for the original ashlar façade. Space 6.6 was most probably accessed from the north via an entrance marked by a large (1.25 x 0.55 m) threshold made of sideropetra (F70).

Fig. 6.7. SPACE 6.6: AERIAL VIEW (C. GASTON) WITH MAIN FEATURES AND TUMBLE INDICATED

11The southern part of space 6.6 was found filled with tumble covering an area of ca. 7 m² (ca. 4.30 x 1.70 m). The density of the tumble, as well as its rectangular outline, may suggest sudden collapse of Wall F12. Tumble was also revealed in the south-western and north-western corners of the room.

12Space 6.6 had very few finds, among which a faceted stone weight (11-06-2141-OB001), and produced only fragmentary and eroded pottery. In the south-western part of the room, a compact, burned layer containing small mud brick debris, fine charcoal fragments, burned bone and plaster was found beneath tumble. Below this layer was an earth floor surface (ca. +16.48 m) on which a quern (11-06-2143-OB002) was found resting.

13A limited sounding (ca. 2.30 x 1.50 m) was opened in the south-western corner of the room and excavated to bedrock. The test provided evidence for a loose, silty clay floor packing, max. 0.15 m thick, containing mud brick and plaster fragments. A few eroded sherds of LM IIIA2/B drinking vessels were found associated with the packing and provide a minimum date for the laying of the earth floor. Under the packing was a stony layer containing heavily eroded pottery including Neopalatial conical cup fragments. This layer was most probably deposited to level out the bedrock which slopes here towards the north.

6. Space 6.7 (fig. 6.8)

14Space 6.7, adjacent to the east of space 6.6 and to the north of space 6.2, was partly explored in 2008 (Sissi I: 158). Excavation revealed a complex assemblage of architectural remains (Walls F1-F6) of which the date, function and relation to other structures in Zone 6 remain unclear. In 2011, two trials were sunk in order to clarify the western and southern borders of space 6.7.

Fig. 6.8. SPACE 6.7: AERIAL VIEW (C. GASTON) WITH MAIN FEATURES INDICATED. TRIALS REPRESENTED BY HATCHED AREAS

15The first trial, ca. 1 x 3 m, was opened along the north wall of space 6.2 (F31). Immediately below the surface was a deposit of LM IIIA2/B pottery. The homogeneous and fresh character of the pottery suggests that the assemblage originates from a destruction nearby. Below this deposit was a relatively loose layer of brownish silty clay containing mixed and eroded pottery, among which the fragmentary rim of a deep bowl painted with dark-on-light spiral decoration and datable to LM IIIB. To the east of the sounding, excavation also brought to light the continuation of wall F5 and provided clear indication of its use as foundation for façade wall F7.

16The second trial, ca. 0.70 x 3.50 m, was excavated to the east and north of wall F8. The upper part of the test produced a layer containing fragmentary LM IIIA2/B pottery including a mug rhyton with whorl shell decoration (11-06-4036-OB001) (fig. 6.9) (Langohr, this volume). Beneath this upper layer was a homogeneous MM II fill deposit containing feet of cooking tripod pots and tronconical/carinated cups. The fill was found resting on a stony layer which also served as foundation for wall F8. Associated pottery is preliminarily dated to MM II and may provide a terminus post quem for the construction of the wall. Although it is conceivable that wall F8 originally continued further north, evidence for it appears to have been largely removed by recent agricultural activities.

Fig. 6.9. SPACE 6.7: MUG RHYTON WITH WHORL SHELL DECORATION (11-06-4036-OB001) (CHR. PAPANIKOLOPOULOS)

7. The court and its north-eastern recess: spaces 6.8, 6.13 and 6.17

  • 3 The length of the court is indicated on fig. 6.24.

17Undoubtedly the most surprising result of the 2011 campaign came from the area adjacent to the west of Building F. Here, in 2009, superficial cleaning had suggested the possible existence of an open area covering grid squares BL-BM 88 (fig. 1.1) (Sissi II: 166). In 2011, several trials opened to the south, east and north of space 6.8 (grid squares BJ-BK 86-89, BL-BQ 87-88, fig. 1.1) allowed the confirmation of this hypothesis by bringing to light the remains of a large rectangular pebble court, ca. 9.70 m by at least 20 m3. For the sake of convenience, presentation of the finds from space 6.8 is organised according to the five main sectors investigated (south, southeast, east, northeast and north).

7.1. Space 6.8 S (fig. 6.10)

  • 4 Dr. T. Brisart (Itanos excavations) examined the sherds and kindly provided advice on their date.

18Excavation of the sector covered by grid squares BN-BQ 87-88 (fig. 1.1) revealed the southern end of wall F21, giving a northeast-southwest running, linear façade more than 19 m long. F21 was here found partly covered by a stony packing extending over grid squares BN 87-88 and containing few eroded MM III/LM I sherds. Resting on this packing were eroded post-Minoan sherds preliminarily identified as VII-IV c. BC Cretan productions4. Together with several fragments of terracotta figurines (see below space 6.8 N), these remains represent the first clear traces of post-Minoan occupation of the Kefali.

Fig. 6.10. SPACE 6.8 S: A) AERIAL VIEW (C. GASTON) WITH MAIN FEATURES INDICATED; B) FALLEN BLOCK (LOCATION ON A)) RESTING ON CLAY LAYER ABOVE THE PEBBLE COURT (S. JUSSERET)

19A large block, apparently fallen from F21, and a threshold of blue limestone (F61) forming a slight angle with the line of the façade were found to the south of F21, here constructed of a single line of limestone boulders. The fact that there is an angle suggests that the threshold does not belong to the original layout of F21 and may relate to a construction as yet unexcavated. Further south, a bedrock outcrop shows a linear cutting perpendicular to the alignment of threshold F61. The cutting may correspond to the foundation of the building associated with F61. It may also provisionally be regarded as the south edge of the court.

20West of wall F21 a stratigraphic test (ca. 3.00 x 1.00 m) was made to determine the date of the façade and assess the existence of an associated open area. Removal of the stony packing (see above) revealed a 0.30-0.40 m-thick clayey deposit containing few eroded and mostly undiagnostic sherds. From the upper part of the deposit come a spool (11-06-4010-OB001) and an eroded figurine (Minoan head?) (11-06-4010-OB002). This layer was found resting on a surface made of blue and white pebbles set in clay which also corresponds to the level of foundation of wall F21 (+16.69 m). The pebble surface was preserved over the whole area tested and was covered by a thin layer of compact, slightly sandy clay suggesting episodes of flooding. In the eastern part of the test, a limestone block, fallen from the façade, was found resting on the layer of compact clay (fig. 6.10b). This evidence suggests at least partial collapse of the façade after abandonment and intermittent flooding of the pebble court.

7.2. Space 6.8 SE

21Further evidence for the pebble court came from a limited trial (2.50 x 1.90 m) opened along F21 in square BM 88 (fig. 1.1). There, the pebble floor surface was reached at a level similar to that observed in space 6.8 S +16.69 m) and associated pottery sherds indicate a LM date for its use. The court level had four irregular limestone slabs, as well as patches of pebbles set in lime. Excavation also provided clear evidence of the association between kernos F19, façade wall F21 and the pebble court. Indeed, F19 was set directly on top of the pebble surface which also corresponds to the level of foundation of F21 (fig. 6.11).

Fig. 6.11. SPACE 6.8 SE: STONE SLAB WITH DEPRESSIONS (KERNOS) F19 RESTING ON THE PEBBLE COURT. THE LEVEL OF THE COURT CORRESPONDS TO THE BASE OF WALL F21 (S. JUSSERET)

22The upper part of the sounding was found filled with tumble including several large blocks of ammouda. Under the tumble and resting against F19 and F21 was a fragmentary plate (11-06-4038-OB001) possibly representing the remains of consumption activities in relation with the use of kernos F19. A deposit of compact sandy clay was found immediately below this layer of collapsed debris. This deposit, similar to that identified in space 6.8 S, was found resting on the court surface and may indicate intermittent flooding during heavy rains.

7.3. Space 6.8 E

23The opening of a 1 m-wide trench north of space 6.8 SE led to exposure of façade wall F21 over a distance of ca. 10 m. Excavation revealed three isolated groups of limestone slabs set against F21 ca. 3.70 to 4.70 m apart, as well as a small patch of tarazza (F65) bevelled up against euthynteria F21 (fig. 6.12). Similar patches were found in space 6.8 NE and N (see below) and may suggest that the eastern and northern edges of the court were initially lined with tarazza. This material may have been used to keep dampness away from the lower part of the surrounding walls (cf. Shaw 2009: 149).

Fig. 6.12. SPACE 6.8 E: PATCH OF TARAZZA (F65) AGAINST EUTHYNTERIA F21 (S. JUSSERET)

  • 5 Of uncertain date but probably Neopalatial. For bull’s head appliques at Malia, see Detournay et al(...)

24Immediately below the surface was a loose deposit containing irregular stones of sideropetra (dimensions up to ca. 30 cm) and several fragments of cut ammouda ashlar blocks, undoubtedly fallen from façade F21. In the northern part of the trench, the deposit contained a vase fragment with a bull’s head applique under the rim (11-06-2137-OB001) (fig. 6.13)5. Below the collapse was a ca. 10 cm-thick clayey layer containing fine waterborne gravels. This deposit, interpreted as rain wash, was found resting on the pebble court at a level comprised between ca. + 16.70 m (south) and ca. +16.60 m (north). In the central part of the trench, close to Wall F21, an accumulation of loose pebble floor material could similarly indicate erosion of the court by rain water. In the northern part of the trench, a limited trial (ca. 3 x 1 m) opened below the court yielded heavily eroded pottery, a doughnut-shaped stone weight (11-06-4067-OB002) and an obsidian blade (11-06-4067-OB001). Preliminary examination of the pottery suggests that the latest sherds are Neopalatial. This observation might indicate a Neopalatial date for the placing of the court but a thorough study of the material is necessary before any firm date can be put forward.

Fig. 6.13. SPACE 6.8 E: VASE FRAGMENT WITH BULL’S HEAD APPLIQUE (11-06-2137-OB001) (CHR. PAPANIKOLOPOULOS)

7.4. Space 6.8 NE and space 6.13 (fig. 6.14)

25Exploration of the area bordering the northwest angle of Building F revealed the outline of a square recess (Space 6.13, internal dimensions ca. 2.65 x 2.70 m) which could have served as an entry for space 6.8. Space 6.13 is bordered by walls F47, F49 and F50. Wall F47, set back ca. 1.00 m from façade wall F21, abuts against the northern façade of Building F. The southern part of wall F47 is constructed of two megalithic blocks and is preserved to a height of ca. 0.75 m. The northern part of the wall includes a doorway, 1 m wide, marked by a threshold of ammouda (F66). The doorway, originally giving access to space 6.12 to the east, was blocked by a rubble wall at some stage in the building’s history. Two large sideropetra blocks, carefully cut, define the northwest angle of space 6.13 (walls F49 and F50). A smooth ridge visible on the upper face of F49 may indicate the use of a bronze tool (chisel?) for the dressing of the block (Shaw 2009: 52-53). No architectural remains were found in the north-eastern corner of the space, which may be due to robbing and/or erosion. The south side of space 6.13 is occupied by an irregular stone base of ammouda (F57, ca. 0.75 x 0.45 m) surrounded by small slabs of sideropetra. To the west, slabs of larger dimensions (up to ca. 0.60 m) were found associated with the surface of the pebble court at a level of ca. +16.50 m (see below space 6.8 N). Running east of the stone base is a rubble wall (F55) dividing space 6.13 into two compartments. It is difficult to understand the relation between F55 and the surrounding walls F47, F49 and F50 since a series of architectural modifications seem to have taken place in this limited area. At present we are not able to say which walls formed part of the original design of space 6.13 and which walls or portions of walls represent later additions.

26Two large slabs of sideropetra were found against the north-western corner of Building F (Space 6.8 NE). The slabs are associated with the pebble court and a patch of tarazza bevelled up against the corner of Building F. It is not impossible that these slabs represent the western edge of the paved area uncovered east of wall F47 (Space 6.12). If this is the case, spaces 6.12 and 6.13 may have once functioned as a single architectural unit later subdivided by the construction of Walls F47 and F55.

Fig. 6.14. SPACES 6.8 NE AND 6.13: AERIAL VIEW (C. GASTON), WITH MAIN FEATURES AND EXCAVATED PEBBLE COURT (ORANGE) INDICATED. S= SLABS OF SIDEROPETRA

7.5. Space 6.8 N and space 6.17 (fig. 6.15)

  • 6 11-06-4083-OB001 appears to be the solid body of the animal. The base of the neck is preserved and (...)

27Cleaning of the western limits of space 6.13 revealed the remains of a substantial wall (F48) running perpendicular to façade wall F21. This evidence raised the possibility that F48 may represent the northern façade facing the pebble court. Hence it was decided to follow the wall by opening a trench along its southern face. Complete excavation of the architectural remains was, however, not possible due to the presence of a thick cover of topsoil in this part of the site, sloping up west and north. The top of wall F48, constructed of irregular limestone boulders, could be followed upslope for ca. 11.50 m: after a distance of ca. 8.00 m F48 has a small jut and continues again west for ca. 3.50 m. At the point where the wall juts, the top of another, perpendicular northeast-southwest wall (F59) was found. This wall F59 is constructed of ammouda ashlar (top dimensions of the blocks: 0.98 x 0.50 m and 0.81 x 0.57 m) and can be traced south for a distance of ca. 2.15 m. The wall is parallel to façade F21 at a distance of ca. 9.70 m, which could indicate that F59 served as a façade wall facing the pebble court to the west. If this hypothesis is correct, the ashlar façade may be here preserved to a height of ca. 1.40 m above the court level. This is at least partially supported by the discovery of the top of an ashlar block immediately to the east of F59. Indeed, the position of the block suggests that it fell vertically from a height (fig. 6.16). From the same area east of wall F59 come two terracotta figurine fragments (11-06-4083-OB001, 11-06-4092-OB007) which may be parts of horses (figs 6.17 a and c)6. The western end of wall F48 is indicated by a perpendicular, northeast-southwest line of limestone boulders (F58) which could be followed south for a distance of ca. 5.30 m. Walls F48, F59 and F58 enclose a rectangular space (Space 6.17) of which little can be said until further excavations are conducted. It is, however, not impossible that space 6.17 formed part of another architectural complex to the west of the pebble court. Numerous plaster fragments, as well as a possible ammouda doorjamb base, come from the topsoil layer of space 6.17 and may suggest that a fine (Neopalatial?) building existed nearby.

Fig. 6.15. SPACES 6.8 N AND 6.17: AERIAL VIEW (C. GASTON) WITH MAIN FEATURES INDICATED

Fig. 6.16. SPACES 6.8 N: ASHLAR WALL F59. ARROW INDICATES FALLEN ASHLAR BLOCK (S. JUSSERET)

Fig. 6.17. SPACES 6.8 N: TERRACOTTA FIGURINE FRAGMENTS. A) 11-06-4092-OB007 (HOLLOW LEG); B) 11-06-4061-OB001 (HOLLOW HORSE HEAD?); C) 11-06-4083-OB001 (SOLID BODY OF A HORSE) (J. DRIESSEN)

28The eastern end of wall F48 was excavated over a distance of ca. 3.90 m in order to clarify its relation with the pebble court. Removal of the topsoil brought to light a low bench (F51) running along the south face of wall F48 (fig. 6.18). The feature remains to be investigated in detail but at present its eastern end is made of seven medium-sized blocks of fine bluish limestone of which the tops have all been hollowed out, forming a series of oval depressions, each between ca. 10 cm and 20 cm across and ca. 1 to 2 cm deep. Individual blocks have up to three depressions. In total, 12 depressions have been made out. Cut marks parallel to their long axis show that the depressions were intentionally made.

Fig. 6.18. SPACE 6.8 N: BENCH F51 WITH PEBBLE COURT IN THE FOREGROUND (M. DEVOLDER)

  • 7 The head is broken lengthwise and the impression of a small wooden stick is clearly visible on the (...)

29Removal of the topsoil to the south of the bench yielded eroded LM IIIA2/B sherds including fragments of conical cups and feet of champagne cups. The topsoil also produced a terracotta figurine fragment belonging to the head of a horse (11-06-4061-OB001) (fig. 6.17 b)7. Below the topsoil was a thin layer of compact sandy clay which was found resting on the pebble court at a level comprised between 16.60 m (west) and 16.50 m (east). Traces of tarazza were found against F51 and could have been laid to prevent water accumulation close to the bench. The level of the bench is here ca. 0.50 m (west) to 0.40 m (east) above the pebble surface and it is not impossible that this installation formed part of the northern façade facing the court.

8. Space 6.12 (fig. 6.19)

30Space 6.12, adjacent to the north of Building F (grid squares BJ 89-90, BK 89-91) (fig. 1.1), was uncovered during the last two weeks of the 2011 campaign in order to facilitate conservation of north façade F2. Cleaning operations and removal of the topsoil rapidly brought to light the remains of an L-shaped paved area made of large sideropetra slabs (fig. 6.19 a). The pavement covers a surface of ca. 5.5 m² but it may have been originally much larger. Against the north façade of building F the surface is ca. 1.10 m wide and can be followed for 4.70 m east of wall F47. In front of the north entrance of building F (threshold F70), the pavement was found preserved over a width of ca. 2.10 m. The slabs are irregular in shape and their dimensions range from ca. 0.10 to 0.95 m. The largest slabs were found along façade F2 and it is not impossible that some of them were broken after the laying of the pavement. Oriented fracture sets and pop up-like structures may suggest earthquake effects (e. g. Rodríguez-Pascua et al. 2011) but this hypothesis awaits further investigation (fig. 6.19 b). It can, however, be noted that fractures of similar orientation occur on the pavement of area 4.20 described by Letesson (this volume) (fig. 6.20). This observation suggests that local effects (e. g. soil compaction, creep) cannot solely account for the observed fracture pattern.

31In the southwest angle of space 6.12 was a small rubble platform F60 (1.08 m x 0.50 m x 0.35 m) constructed on top of the pavement. The platform is covered by a limestone slab and could have been used as a bench. A rectangular stone (F71) base was also found ca. 2.10 m north of façade F2 and may suggest some kind of portico or lightwell. It is not impossible that this construction once extended to space 6.13 where two slabs of sideropetra and another stone base (F57) were found (fig. 6.14). This hypothesis would imply that walls F47, F55 and platform F60 represent later additions.

32Severe erosion appears to have affected the area of space 6.12 since topsoil was found resting directly on the pavement. Rolled LM I material with LM III intrusions was collected close to the pavement surface, together with a stone axe (11-06-4070-OB001) and a lithic tool (11-06-4076-OB001). Two U-shaped terracotta drain fragments (11-06-4086-OB001, 11-06-4086-OB002) were found resting on the pavement close to a concentration of patella shells (fig. 6.21).

Fig. 6.19. SPACE 6.12: A) VIEW FROM THE EAST WITH MAIN FEATURES INDICATED; B) ORIENTED FRACTURE SETS (WHITE LINES) AND POP-UP (UPLIFTED) STRUCTURES (WHITE ARROWS) VISIBLE ON THE PAVEMENT (S. JUSSERET)

Fig. 6.20. ZONE 3, AREA 4.20 (SOUTHERN END) (Q. LETESSON): A) VIEW FROM THE EAST; B) VIEW FROM THE EAST WITH ORIENTED FRACTURE SETS INDICATED (BLACK LINES). NOTE THE ORIENTATION OF THE FRACTURES SIMILAR TO THAT OBSERVED IN SPACE 6.12 (FIG. 6.19B)

Fig. 6.21. SPACE 6.12: U-SHAPED DRAINS IN SITU (A: 11-06-4086-OB002; B: 11-06-4086-OB001) (S. JUSSERET)

9. Building F: removal of remaining baulks

33Three baulks left at the end of the 2010 excavation campaign were removed in anticipation of architectural consolidation.

9.1. Space 6.3

34In space 6.3, removal of a baulk left against platform F20 brought to light the base of a storage vessel (11-06-2177-OB001, transport stirrup jar?) resting on the LM IIIA2/B floor level previously identified (Sissi I: 161; Sissi II: 166). This find was discovered close to the amphora excavated in 2008 and may confirm the use of space 6.3 for activities involving the treatment of liquids.

9.2. Spaces 6.4.1 and 6.4.2

35Excavation of the doorway between spaces 6.4.1 and 6.4.2 yielded a fine “Mycenaean” button (11-06-2184-OB001) in steatite with concentric design (fig. 6.22). The button has a good parallel in Zone 3, Room 3.6 (11-03-0587-OB003) which is reported to come from a LM IIIB context (Gaignerot, this volume, fig. 4.12).

Fig. 6.22. SPACES 6.4.1-6.4.2: STEATITE BUTTON WITH CONCENTRIC DESIGN (11-06-2184-OB001) (CHR. PAPANIKOLOPOULOS)

9.3. Space 6.5

36Removal of the baulk left in the north-eastern angle of the room revealed a blocked doorway ca. 0.95 m wide in wall F26. The blocking appears partly covered by the doorway leading to spaces 6.4.1 and 6.4.2 and may therefore precede the final LM IIIA2/B occupation of these two compartments (fig. 6.23).

Fig. 6.23. SPACE 6.5: BLOCKING WALL COVERED BY DOORWAY LEADING TO SPACES 6.4.1 AND 6.4.2 (S. JUSSERET)

10. Conclusions

37The fourth season of excavations in Zone 6 has provided us with a better understanding of the plan of Building F and has opened promising avenues for future research. It is now clear that the final, LM IIIA2/B occupation of the building left very few floor deposits, with evidence mainly limited to spaces 6.2, 6.3, 6.4.1 and 6.4.2. Although previous excavation campaigns made clear that Building F had a long occupation history, few traces of earlier phases are preserved. The most surprising result of the 2011 excavation campaign is undoubtedly the discovery of a large, northeast-southwest oriented court to the west of Building F. On present evidence, the court seems to have been installed during the Neopalatial period and has provisional dimensions of 9.70 m by at least 20 m. It was made of pebbles set in clay and occasionally in lime. To the east and west were façades made of ammouda ashlar. A large kernos was set against the east façade. To the north, a low bench with shallow depressions was set against a southeast-northwest running façade made of limestone boulders. The court was probably accessible from the northeast via a rectangular recess (Space 6.13). It is not excluded that space 6.13 was part of the paved area identified to the north of Building F (Space 6.12) (fig. 6.24).

Fig. 6.24. ZONE 6 (BUILDING F): AERIAL VIEW FROM THE NORTH (C. GASTON) WITH CONJECTURAL NEOPALATIAL FEATURES INDICATED. ORANGE: COURT (DARK ORANGE: EXCAVATED SECTORS); WHITE: FAÇADE WALLS; GREY: PAVED NORTH COURT (DARK GREY: PRESERVED PAVEMENT); RED: STONE BASES; BLUE: KERNOS AND BENCH

38What happens to the south of Building F is as yet unclear but substantial architectural remains observed against the south slope of the hill may suggest the presence of other buildings in this area (fig. 6.25 a). It may be interesting to add that the presumed court is oriented about 16.5° to the east of north and that it in general aligns with the top of the Selena mountains behind (fig. 6.25 b). Although it seems perhaps too early to decide that Neopalatial Building F is a court-centred building, the discoveries in Zone 6 may open up interesting perspectives of research since the distance between Sissi and Malia – about 4 km as the crow flies – echoes that between Phaistos and Hagia Triada. The presence of a small court-centred building – the court is smaller than that at Zakros (ca. 30 m by 14 m), but twice as large as that at Petras – so close to a major palatial centre may invite reconsideration of traditional ideas about the Minoan palace. Only future excavations can answer this question.

Fig. 6.25. ZONE 6 (BUILDING F): A) MEGALITHIC WALL ON THE SOUTH SLOPE OF THE KEPHALI HILL. RED LINE = 10 CM; B) GENERAL VIEW FROM THE NORTH, WITH TOP OF THE SELENA MOUNTAINS INDICATED (ARROW) (S. JUSSERET)

Bibliographie

11. References

▪ Chapouthier & Demargne 1942 = F. Chapouthier & P. Demargne, Fouilles exécutées à Mallia. Troisième rapport. Exploration du palais (Etudes crétoises 6), Paris, 1942.

▪ Deshayes & Dessenne 1959 = J. Deshayes & A. Dessenne, Fouilles exécutées à Mallia. Exploration des maisons II (Etudes crétoises 11), Paris, 1959.

▪ Detournay et al. 1980 = B. Detournay, J.-C. Poursat & F. Vandenabeele, Fouilles exécutées à Mallia. Le Quartier Mu II. Vases de pierre et de métal, etc. (Etudes crétoises 26), Paris, 1980.

▪ Koehl 2006 = R. B. Koehl, Aegean Bronze Age Rhyta (Prehistory Monographs 19), Philadelphia, 2006.

▪ Rodríguez-Pascua et al. 2011 = M. A. Rodríguez-Pascua, R. Pérez-López, J. L. Giner-Robles, P. G. Silva, V. H. Garduño-Monroy & K. Reicherter, A comprehensive classification of Earthquake Archaeological Effects (EAE) in archaeoseismology: application to ancient remains of Roman and Mesoamerican cultures. Quaternary International 242 (2011), 20-30.

▪ Shaw 2009 = J. W. Shaw, Minoan Architecture: Materials and Techniques (Studi di Archeologia Cretese VII), Padova, 2009.

Sissi I = J. Driessen et al., Excavations at Sissi. Preliminary Report on the 2007-2008 Campaigns (Aegis 1), Presses Universitaires Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, 2009.

Sissi II= J. Driessen et al., Excavations at Sissi II. Preliminary Report on the 2009-2010 Campaigns (Aegis 4), Presses Universitaires Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, 2011.

Notes

2 A similar globular rhyton with tortoise-shell ripple was found in Gournia (House Cm, Room 58) (Koehl 2006: 98, n° 170; plate 14; figure 8). Koehl (2006) dates the Gournia specimen to LM IA. Another similar example was found in Bastion E of the Malia palace (Chapouthier & Demargne 1942, 41-42, fig. 18 and plate XLVIII, 2).

3 The length of the court is indicated on fig. 6.24.

4 Dr. T. Brisart (Itanos excavations) examined the sherds and kindly provided advice on their date.

5 Of uncertain date but probably Neopalatial. For bull’s head appliques at Malia, see Detournay et al. 1980: 110-111 and figs 153-154 for examples from MM IIB Quartier Mu and Deshayes & Dessenne 1959: 47 and plate XIV, 1 for an example from LM IB Maison Zβ.

6 11-06-4083-OB001 appears to be the solid body of the animal. The base of the neck is preserved and its tapered upper part suggests the representation of a mane. Only stubs of the front legs are preserved. The second fragment (11-06-4092-OB007) is a leg with possible remains of a tail. The leg seems to have been formed around a small wooden stick (impression still visible). Although the date of the fragments remains uncertain, macroscopic examination of the fabrics suggests post-Minoan production. A Protogeometric to Geometric date is not excluded. Advice from A.-L. D’Agata and A. Kanta (pers. com. to J. Driessen) is gratefully acknowledged.

7 The head is broken lengthwise and the impression of a small wooden stick is clearly visible on the interior. The head appears similar in manufacture to 11-06-4092-OB007 (animal leg).

Table des illustrations

Légende Fig. 6.1. STONE BY STONE PLAN OF ZONE 6 (BUILDING F) WITH MAIN FEATURES INDICATED (P. HACIGÜZELLER, BASED ON SITE PLANS BY S. JUSSERET, N. KRESS & M. PIETROVITO)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-1.jpg
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Légende Fig. 6.2. SPACES 6.2, 6.9.1, 6.9.2, 6.14 AND 6.15: AERIAL VIEW (C. GASTON) WITH MAIN FEATURES AND POSITION OF THE NEOPALATIAL DEPOSIT INDICATED
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-2.jpg
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Légende Fig. 6.3. SPACE 6.9: NEOPALATIAL (MM IIIB/LM IA) POTTERY DEPOSIT AGAINST WALL F30 (S. JUSSERET)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-3.jpg
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Légende Fig. 6.4. SPACE 6.9: DECORATED GLOBULAR RHYTON (11-06-2149-OB025) FROM NEOPALATIAL (MM IIIB/LM IA) DEPOSIT (CHR. PAPANIKOLOPOULOS)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-4.jpg
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Légende Fig. 6.5. SPACES 6.5, 6.10 AND 6.16: AERIAL VIEW (C. GASTON) WITH MAIN FEATURES INDICATED
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Légende Fig. 6.6. SPACE 6.5: SUPERIMPOSED FLOOR LEVELS (+16.77 M, +16.74 M) WITH FRAGMENTARY CONICAL CUP (11-06-2175-OB001) SITTING ON THE HIGHER FLOOR (S. JUSSERET)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-6.jpg
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Légende Fig. 6.7. SPACE 6.6: AERIAL VIEW (C. GASTON) WITH MAIN FEATURES AND TUMBLE INDICATED
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Légende Fig. 6.8. SPACE 6.7: AERIAL VIEW (C. GASTON) WITH MAIN FEATURES INDICATED. TRIALS REPRESENTED BY HATCHED AREAS
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Légende Fig. 6.9. SPACE 6.7: MUG RHYTON WITH WHORL SHELL DECORATION (11-06-4036-OB001) (CHR. PAPANIKOLOPOULOS)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-9.jpg
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Légende Fig. 6.10. SPACE 6.8 S: A) AERIAL VIEW (C. GASTON) WITH MAIN FEATURES INDICATED; B) FALLEN BLOCK (LOCATION ON A)) RESTING ON CLAY LAYER ABOVE THE PEBBLE COURT (S. JUSSERET)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-10.jpg
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Légende Fig. 6.11. SPACE 6.8 SE: STONE SLAB WITH DEPRESSIONS (KERNOS) F19 RESTING ON THE PEBBLE COURT. THE LEVEL OF THE COURT CORRESPONDS TO THE BASE OF WALL F21 (S. JUSSERET)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-11.jpg
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Légende Fig. 6.12. SPACE 6.8 E: PATCH OF TARAZZA (F65) AGAINST EUTHYNTERIA F21 (S. JUSSERET)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-12.jpg
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Légende Fig. 6.13. SPACE 6.8 E: VASE FRAGMENT WITH BULL’S HEAD APPLIQUE (11-06-2137-OB001) (CHR. PAPANIKOLOPOULOS)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-13.jpg
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Légende Fig. 6.14. SPACES 6.8 NE AND 6.13: AERIAL VIEW (C. GASTON), WITH MAIN FEATURES AND EXCAVATED PEBBLE COURT (ORANGE) INDICATED. S= SLABS OF SIDEROPETRA
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-14.jpg
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Légende Fig. 6.15. SPACES 6.8 N AND 6.17: AERIAL VIEW (C. GASTON) WITH MAIN FEATURES INDICATED
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Légende Fig. 6.16. SPACES 6.8 N: ASHLAR WALL F59. ARROW INDICATES FALLEN ASHLAR BLOCK (S. JUSSERET)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-16.jpg
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Légende Fig. 6.17. SPACES 6.8 N: TERRACOTTA FIGURINE FRAGMENTS. A) 11-06-4092-OB007 (HOLLOW LEG); B) 11-06-4061-OB001 (HOLLOW HORSE HEAD?); C) 11-06-4083-OB001 (SOLID BODY OF A HORSE) (J. DRIESSEN)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-17.jpg
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Légende Fig. 6.18. SPACE 6.8 N: BENCH F51 WITH PEBBLE COURT IN THE FOREGROUND (M. DEVOLDER)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-18.jpg
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Légende Fig. 6.19. SPACE 6.12: A) VIEW FROM THE EAST WITH MAIN FEATURES INDICATED; B) ORIENTED FRACTURE SETS (WHITE LINES) AND POP-UP (UPLIFTED) STRUCTURES (WHITE ARROWS) VISIBLE ON THE PAVEMENT (S. JUSSERET)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-19.jpg
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Légende Fig. 6.20. ZONE 3, AREA 4.20 (SOUTHERN END) (Q. LETESSON): A) VIEW FROM THE EAST; B) VIEW FROM THE EAST WITH ORIENTED FRACTURE SETS INDICATED (BLACK LINES). NOTE THE ORIENTATION OF THE FRACTURES SIMILAR TO THAT OBSERVED IN SPACE 6.12 (FIG. 6.19B)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-20.jpg
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Légende Fig. 6.21. SPACE 6.12: U-SHAPED DRAINS IN SITU (A: 11-06-4086-OB002; B: 11-06-4086-OB001) (S. JUSSERET)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-21.jpg
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Légende Fig. 6.22. SPACES 6.4.1-6.4.2: STEATITE BUTTON WITH CONCENTRIC DESIGN (11-06-2184-OB001) (CHR. PAPANIKOLOPOULOS)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-22.jpg
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Légende Fig. 6.23. SPACE 6.5: BLOCKING WALL COVERED BY DOORWAY LEADING TO SPACES 6.4.1 AND 6.4.2 (S. JUSSERET)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-23.jpg
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Légende Fig. 6.24. ZONE 6 (BUILDING F): AERIAL VIEW FROM THE NORTH (C. GASTON) WITH CONJECTURAL NEOPALATIAL FEATURES INDICATED. ORANGE: COURT (DARK ORANGE: EXCAVATED SECTORS); WHITE: FAÇADE WALLS; GREY: PAVED NORTH COURT (DARK GREY: PRESERVED PAVEMENT); RED: STONE BASES; BLUE: KERNOS AND BENCH
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-24.jpg
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Légende Fig. 6.25. ZONE 6 (BUILDING F): A) MEGALITHIC WALL ON THE SOUTH SLOPE OF THE KEPHALI HILL. RED LINE = 10 CM; B) GENERAL VIEW FROM THE NORTH, WITH TOP OF THE SELENA MOUNTAINS INDICATED (ARROW) (S. JUSSERET)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/2901/img-25.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 147k

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