Version classiqueVersion mobile
OpenEdition Books

Excavations at Sissi II

 | 
Jan Driessen

5. The Excavation of Building CD

5.1. Introduction

Florence Gaignerot-Driessen et Quentin Letesson

Texte intégral

1Following the 2007-2008 campaigns, the presence of a large Postpalatial building in Zones 3 and 4 on top of the Buffo hill at Sissi has been established (Gaignerot-Driessen & Letesson 2009: 113-114). The first two years of exploration have also made it clear that the site preserved traces of an earlier occupation (spaces 4.1-4.3, see Letesson 2009: 132). The 2009 and 2010 excavation campaigns concentrated on defining the limits of the building and on the investigation of its rooms and spaces to the latest level of occupation. In addition, a few, limited tests were conducted, in the hope to clarify the earlier phases. The remains on top of the hill cover an area of approximately 750 m2 (figs 5.1. and 5.2).

Fig. 5.1. AERIAL VIEW OF BUILDING CD AND SURROUNDINGS (C. GASTON)

2Even if further work is required to clarify the situation in zones 3 and 4, some preliminary considerations can already be proposed. It is now clear that most of the remains in the western part of the summit belong to the LM IIIB phase. The builders may have taken advantage of a preexisting structure (probably Neopalatial) of which the extent is currently still difficult to assess. It is also evident that the top of the hill was already occupied in the Middle Minoan period if not earlier, as attested by several walls and deposits discovered at various locations. This introduction presents a tentative picture of these two broad periods. Further and more detailed information on more specific issues can be found in the following chapter.

Fig. 5.2. STONE-BY-STONE PLAN OF BUILDING CD AND SURROUNDINGS (P. HACIGÜZELLER)

1. Early occupation on the top of the hill

3At present, because investigations have been limited to a few localized soundings, we only have scant knowledge of the early occupation (s) on the top of the Buffo hill (fig. 5.3).

4As noted in the first preliminary report, some walls in the eastern part of zone 4 (D4-8 and perhaps D21) seem to form a coherent structure (rooms 4.1-4.3) the date of which still needs confirmation (Letesson 2009: 132) (fig. 5.2). In 2010, a wall, parallel to D2, was discovered and this probably also belongs to this early building. It circumscribed rooms 4.2 and 4.3 to the south. Even if supplementary tests are still necessary, the pottery unearthed is mostly EM III-MM I with some MM II and Neopalatial intrusions.

  • 1 A preliminary analysis of the pottery suggests a MM IIB date; for a fuller description of these se (...)

5Elsewhere, parts of walls that clearly predate the Postpalatial building were discovered. In room 4.5, 4.14, and within a sounding opened to the north of room 4.9, these earlier structures were clearly associated with Middle Minoan destruction deposits (figs 5.25-29, 5.70a-b, and 5.81-83)1. The activities attested by the material found in these deposits are mostly related to food processing and consumption, drinking practices (especially room 4.5) and storage. However, the type of occupation or the extent of the building(s) concerned remain particularly elusive. Nevertheless, it is likely that the paved street equipped with a drainage channel ran down the hill towards the northeast at the same period (see the discussion on area 8.1 below) (figs 5.79 and 5.80).

Fig. 5.3. SCHEMATIC PHASE PLAN OF BUILDING CD (Q. LETESSON)

6This carefully built street – the only one found on site so far – testifies to a considerable level of architectural elaboration and clearly led to the summit of the Buffo. It is therefore plausible that the top of the hill was already the setting for a major building or at least a focal area during the Middle Minoan period, contemporary with the latest use of the cemetery on the North Slope (see chapter 3).

7In its western part, the street was covered by a very clear fire destruction level (see space 8.1 below). The same type of layer was also encountered in room 4.6 (Letesson 2009: 134-136) and in a test made at the corner of façade walls D3 and D55 (see below). Even if sporadic evidence for a fire destruction has been encountered throughout the building (e. g. in space 4.4 – Letesson 2009: 132, room 4.9, and 4.11 – see below), such a thick and compact layer of burnt mud-brick, charcoal and fragments of charred wood was not really found elsewhere. On the basis of a preliminary study of the sherd material, it has tentatively been dated to the Neopalatial period when the destruction of some architectural structure (s) is attested by heavy stone tumble often found in close relation to this burnt layer. At this period, the street went out of use.

  • 2 This could explain why evidence for fire destruction was relatively scarce in the west part and mo (...)

8During the Postpalatial period, the debris of this destruction was probably cleaned away from the western part of the summit and most likely leveled out in its eastern part. The former would have seen a new building, probably partly using earlier walls that were still standing, while the latter was most likely transformed into an open air area2.

2. The Postpalatial building

  • 3 Fig. 5.4 represents what building CD may have looked like at its apogee, when most of the rooms an (...)

9Even if a definite impression and a full description of its possible sub-phases require a complete architectural study, coupled with supplementary soundings – both major goals of the last excavation campaign in 2011 – a tentative reconstruction of Postpalatial building CD is proposed here (fig. 5.4)3.

Fig. 5.4. BUILDING CD (POSTPALATIAL PHASE) (Q. LETESSON)

  • 4 There is also good evidence for the existence of an upper floor which probably did not cover the e (...)

10At the time, building CD probably covered an area of about 450 m2 and counted at least 20 ground floor rooms and spaces4. Because of its size and location, it was almost certainly the major and central building of the Postpalatial settlement of Sissi. To the east, this large building probably faced an open air area, perhaps some sort of a court circumscribed and/or retained by the earlier facade walls D2, D3 and D55. One of the main accesses of the building, through space 4.4 – probably a porch – connected the open area with the large hall 3.1 (fig. 5.4). In the south facade, two other entrances have been tentatively reconstructed but excavation is not yet completed. A first entrance would give access to room 4.15 from where the western spaces could be reached. A second entrance would lead into space 4.18 which, for the time being, is considered as a transition space, perhaps also a porch (fig. 5.4). To the south, an open area may have formed another court (Zone 5, cf. chapter 6). Yet another entrance may have existed to the north of the building, into room 4.9 (see below). This last area requires further exploration, however, since the doorway seems to have been blocked at some stage and it is not impossible that this opening belonged to an earlier – perhaps Neopalatial – phase.

11A preliminary architectural study of the building suggests the presence of three different sectors in building CD (fig. 5.5).

Fig. 5.5. BUILDING CD (POSTPALATIAL PHASES AND SECTORS) (Q. LETESSON)

  • 5 See the descriptions of rooms and deposits below for further details.

12The first sector (in orange) has the main hall 3.1 as its focus. The latter was indeed more than a simple domestic space (see below). Its size, location, and architectural elaboration plead in favour of a more specific set of functions that likely implied the gathering of people. Even if some industrial activities were probably also conducted within room 3.1, they were mostly carried out in the rooms that surrounded the hall, together with other domestic practices. Room 4.14, for example, produced a considerable amount of lithic tools closely associated with a work platform, room 4.8 was concerned with grinding activities and most likely cooking and food processing, and room 4.9, a small storeroom filled with vessels, also showed clear evidence of cooking activities5. The second sector (in blue) shows quite a similar internal organization. The large room with pillars (4.11) obviously formed its central part and this too has several annexes. The later were probably used for storage (3.2, 4.17) and industrial activities (3.2, and 4.12-4.13). Room 4.11 could also have been used for gatherings. It had a central hearth and showed clear evidence of maintenance activities, such as cooking. Moreover, it stood in close connection to room 3.8, clearly a shrine (see below). The last sector (in green) probably served as an auxiliary zone for the two other sectors and mostly hosted rooms for various domestic activities.

  • 6 It has been suggested (J. Driessen, pers. com.) that Building CD would have been organized spatial (...)

13A complete functional interpretation of building CD still requires further study but it is already clear that it formed a self-contained architectural unit. For the time being, it is hard to ascertain the social organization that the hypothetical sectors mentioned above materialized within the fabric of the building. But unlike Quartier Nu at Malia, which was occupied during approximately the same period (Driessen et al. 2008), building CD does not show a spatial distribution of the finds which would allow an identification of relatively independent social groups sharing the same structure. It is therefore more plausible that a single group occupied the main building at Sissi6. Still, along with a residential function, building CD could also have served as the focus for a larger social group (perhaps the entire local community) as is suggested by the close spatial and visual relation that seems to have existed between the open area – probably a public or semi-public space – and the major hall 3.1.

Bibliographie

3. References

▪ Driessen et al. 2008 = J. Driessen, H. Fiasse, M. Devolder, P. Hacigüzeller, and Q. Letesson, Recherches spatiales au Quartier Nu à Malia (MR III), in Creta Antica 9 (2008): 93-110.

▪ Gaignerot-Driessen & Letesson 2009 = F. Gaignerot-Driessen & Q. Letesson, Le bâtiment du sommet de la colline. Introduction, in Sissi I, 113-14.

▪ Letesson 2009 = Q. Letesson, Le bâtiment du sommet de la colline. La fouille de la zone 4, in Sissi I, 129-38.

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

Notes

1 A preliminary analysis of the pottery suggests a MM IIB date; for a fuller description of these see chapter 8.

2 This could explain why evidence for fire destruction was relatively scarce in the west part and more present in the eastern part.

3 Fig. 5.4 represents what building CD may have looked like at its apogee, when most of the rooms and spaces were functional and interconnected, whereas fig. 5.5 shows all the doorways that were blocked before the final destruction.

4 There is also good evidence for the existence of an upper floor which probably did not cover the entire ground floor area. As will be mentioned below, some steps found in room 4.14 may have led to this upper floor, most certainly a combination of roof terrace and operational rooms.

5 See the descriptions of rooms and deposits below for further details.

6 It has been suggested (J. Driessen, pers. com.) that Building CD would have been organized spatially following a gender differentiation.

Table des illustrations

Légende Fig. 5.1. AERIAL VIEW OF BUILDING CD AND SURROUNDINGS (C. GASTON)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/3126/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 508k
Légende Fig. 5.2. STONE-BY-STONE PLAN OF BUILDING CD AND SURROUNDINGS (P. HACIGÜZELLER)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/3126/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 351k
Légende Fig. 5.3. SCHEMATIC PHASE PLAN OF BUILDING CD (Q. LETESSON)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/3126/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 261k
Légende Fig. 5.4. BUILDING CD (POSTPALATIAL PHASE) (Q. LETESSON)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/3126/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 193k
Légende Fig. 5.5. BUILDING CD (POSTPALATIAL PHASES AND SECTORS) (Q. LETESSON)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/3126/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 183k

© Presses universitaires de Louvain, 2011

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540