Monday, February 27, 2017

Chamber Tomb of Barnavos: C1749



“It is not down on any map; true places never are.”
Chapter 12, 'Biographical'
Moby Dick
Herman Melville





Dr. James C. Wright has reported the finding of a chamber tomb in the Nemea Valley.[1]  At some time it had been robbed but through two excavation seasons in 2002-3 Dr. Wright and his team managed to carefully document what remained.  They established that it was used in the LH IIIA2 and that there were no other tombs in the immediate vicinity.

In this post I’m not concerned so much with the tomb’s significance but with its location.  Where is it?

Dr. Wright says this:

“The area known as Barnavos, or Marditsa, is located just west of Ancient Nemea (Figs. 1, 2). It is a ravine with a thick growth of cypresses and white pines.  The tomb is located on the western hillside just at the edge of the trees. Sherds and human bone fragments could be seen spilling down the slope to the east and southeast, thrown out of the tomb chamber by robbers (Fig. 3). To the northeast the hillside drops away less steeply as the ravine opens out to a field that borders the road to the village (Fig. 4). To the north and west the hill curves around several terraces planted with olives.

“The dry streambed of the ravine is deeply incised; directly above to the west is an earlier channel along which a path meanders up through cypresses to the head of the ravine. Above the path the ravine slope is very steep (40% grade) … On the facing slope east of the tomb is a modern goat-shed, and below it an agricultural road winds up the eastern side of the ravine. Above the shed the lower hillside is planted with barley and olives, and pine forest is present above the road cut. The south slope of the ravine here is very steep and bends westward as it rises to the west (Fig. 4). This slope is even more extensively covered with cypresses and white pine than the opposite side, and again, most of the surface is hard caliche or exposed soft marl.”[2]

The article is accompanied by a photograph and I show it here:





This is an unhappy picture and conceals more than it displays.  But there's life in these old scholarly pictures yet and a screen capture followed by a quick pass through Photoshop yielded this:


Now we can see what we're doing.  Dr. Wright annotated the picture with the 'Robbed Tomb' and the arrow.  The 'Maize?' annotation is mine.  So where are we?  We appear to be standing on the edge of a field of maize (Zea mays).   This is the plant Americans call 'Corn' or 'Indian Corn'.  The stand to the right seems unmistakably to be grape vines (Vitis spp.).  We are not told what direction we're facing but my initial guess is south.  There's a road around our corn field; it starts at the lower left and continues in a curve around to the middle right.

Dr. Wright makes a high-level map available.  It is here:


My version of this is here:




The toponym 'Barnavos' is actually meaningless.  Like Queequeg's 'Rokovoko' it appears on no map.  Or at least not on any map to which human beings have access.  I enlarged the 'Barnavos' area in Topoguide and got this:




In the center of this image we see the words 'Kokinies' and my guess is that the chamber tomb is somewhere near there.  Of course I'm not interested in knowing 'about' where it is.  I want to know precisely where it is, goat shed and all, because, in an actual Science which is what Mycenology purports to be, this is what we do.

Now let's look in Google Earth.


In this Google Earth image we are looking directly south in the Kokinies area and we see stretching up to the NE (lower left) a series of ridges and ravines of the Analipsi/Tebes hill complex.  Judging by his maps and by his verbal descriptions Dr. Wright's tomb, or so I suspect, is in one of these ravines.

Can we find the cypresses and white pines  (perhaps Cupressus sempervirens and Pinus peuce)?  Let's look:


This ravine is at 37.806656 N, 22.691198 E.  We're still looking nearly south as in the picture just above but we have now zoomed into one of those ravines and at its very bottom, probably following an intermittent creek, we have a long row of what looks very much like conifers.  Click on the picture to see it larger and notice the characteristic thin pointed shadows.

Now Dr. Wright has provided a very close-up detailed map of the site of the chamber tomb.  Here it is.



Now that we've found the site by whatever means available Dr. Wright has loaded us down with detail.  I imagine that this map shows an area of about 120 meters square directly around the site.  The paired lines in alternating black and white are field roads.  If we can find those roads then we have a shot at finding the site.



This picture shows approximately the same area as Dr. Wright's topographical map.  The field road which makes a switchback (here I have emphasized it in orange) appears to be exactly the same.  The area outlined in red is the same as in the previous picture.  Here you can more clearly see the typical conifer shadow shapes.  We appear to be getting close.  But Dr. Wright shows a second field road, parallel to the first, which does not appear in this photograph.  As a result there's still a tiny bit of doubt about the correctness of this location.  

Let's go back in time.  What we need is a picture of this site taken from a different angle because I think that the road did not show up in the previous picture because it's hidden by the conifer shadows.  When I try the imagery from May 23, 2014 we see the second road quite clearly.  I emphasize it with arrows in the next picture.




The orange line for the field road with a switchback appears to have drifted about 7.25 m. east from the underlying picture of the road.  The reasons for this drift were explained here.  I think we're finally in a position to determine the site of our chamber tomb.  Going by Dr. Wright's topographic map we can say that, to within 5 meters, the position of the chamber tomb is here: 

37.806973° N, 22.691860° E

Let's go further in and take a look.


In fact, not only have we located our chamber tomb but we've also located the famous goat pen.  I've drawn an arrow pointing to what appears to be a metal-roofed structure.  It could be a roof over the chamber tomb itself but I doubt it.  I think that's the goat pen.


This excavation was carried out in 2002-2003.  Here is a Google Earth image of the area from May, 2003.  The imagery is so bad we can only interpret it on the basis of what we already know.  However, it may be that the bright spot in the center of the image is the goat pen as it was at that time.  At least it shows that, at that time, something was there.

This still leaves us with the puzzle of from where it was that the original photograph was taken.  Basically I looked all over the valley for a road to the north of the tomb which curved around a stand of corn or grape vines.  It was impossible to find anything that even began to match what I thought I was looking at.

I'll reproduce the modified photograph:



The key to this puzzle lay in finding the building at the very left edge center.  It's this building:



Here we're facing SE.  The main road running east to Nemea is in the lower left corner.  At the edge is a little street shrine or kandylakia which looks like it ought to be replaced.  The orange line is the same as in previous pictures.  It is the start of the field road which has the switchback.  The building we were looking for from the previous picture is here in the upper right center.  Judging by the street signs it is part of a winery.  With all this found we can now find the location from which our picture was taken.  It is here 37.808737° N, 22.693216° E, and I show it in the next  picture:


I had to go back to May 2003 to find this field still in cultivation.  But there it is, long cultivated rows of something or other, and undoubtedly the place from which Dr. Wright's photograph was taken.  The building in question is at the upper center next to the outlined red area.

My analysis of this photograph made me wonder, once again, about the utility of photographs in scientific documentation.  I thought that the road running along the left side curved to the right side.  It doesn't.  It makes a T-join with the main road running to Nemea.  Also I stared at the building in the photograph and interpreted it as another road which I spent time looking for.  It sounds silly enough until such a misinterpretation happens to you.  I also thought that we were looking down a hill to the tomb.  We're not.  We're looking up.



This last picture is taken from Google Street View and it comes as close as possible to reproducing the photograph of Dr. Wright.  On the right is the location from which Dr. Wright's photograph was taken.  You can see that it was cultivated at one time because the irrigation pipes are still in place.


Academic photographs used for documentation face many of the same problems as photographs of the surface of the earth.  They're likely to be curve-distorted and very likely to be the 'wrong' brightnesses and colors.  No photograph should be used for scholarly purposes without the creator spending time explaining what the viewer is looking at.  

Text and picture go together.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This blog documents the creation of the Mycenaean Atlas Project.  The MAP documents the exact locations of 1600+ Mycenaean sites and it is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in the Greek Bronze Age.

Anyone who would like to have a copy of the MAP database can send an e-mail to bobconsoli 'at' gmail.com or leave a comment on any of my posts.  To run the MAP database requires a SQL server running on your desktop computer.   MySQL is such a server and it is powerful, industry-standard, and free.  

I can and will make .kml or .kmz files, which can be opened directly in Google Earth, available to those who would like them.  

I can also create .csv files for people who would like to import Mycenaean Atlas Project data into Google Earth but would like it in tabular form.

Those who do not have a SQL server but would like the full database in .pdf form can have that for the asking.  The full database runs 2400 pages in .pdf form and can be downloaded from Google Drive.

If you like these posts then please follow me on Twitter (Squinchpix) or on Google+   (Robert Consoli)


Facebook?  Sorry.I.just.can't.




Notes

[1]  Wright [2008]
[2] Wright [2008] 609-10.


Bibliography


Wright [2008]:  Wright, James C., Evangelia Pappi, Sevasti Triantaphyllou, Georgia kotzamani, Mary K. Dabney, Alexandra Livarda, Panagiotis Karkanas. 'Nemea Valley Archaeological Project, Excavations at Barnavos', Hesperia lxxvii, 607-654, 2008.  It is online here.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Chronology in the Mycenaean Atlas Project

“Absolute chronology is simple in concept
but fiendish in practice;…”

Manning [2010], 18

Use Cases for Relative and Absolute Chronology 
in the Mycenaean Atlas Project.

In my previous post I discussed the ‘findt’ table which identifies the general type of a Mycenaean site.

In this post I want to discuss the ‘Period’ and ‘Time_span’ tables which give values for the time or era in which any particular site was created and/or occupied.

Periods in Bronze Age archaeology are usually conceived of as ‘Ceramic Horizons’ (in this post I’ll refer to these as ‘CH’) - those broad blocks of time in which certain types of ceramics were in customary use.  These periods are the ones most of us are familiar with: LHII, LHIIIA1, MH, etc.  The essential insight is that, while we may rarely know the specific year in which any ceramic type was in use, we can arrange the ceramic horizons themselves in a time sequence.  We can say, for example, that dishes typed as ‘LHII’ were used at a time earlier than those typed ‘LHIII’ no matter what specific years those names may correspond to.


Sites in the Mycenaean Atlas Project that are securely typed 'LHIIA'.


The result of a century of pottery study has led to a profusion of (sometimes conflicting) names as well as an unhelpful overlap between differently named ceramic horizons from other regions such as Cyprus or Crete.

In addition to these problems there has, in recent years, grown up a heated debate over when the transition between LHI and LHII occurred .  The resolution of this problem rests on exactly when the volcano on the island of Thera erupted.[1]  Since this problem has been allowed to go unresolved and since passions are high on both sides it has become the custom to maintain two dating schemes in which the start and length of LH II differs between the schemes by a century.  These two schemes are referred to as the ‘High’ and the ‘Low’ chronology.

As a result, with respect to Bronze Age and Iron Age chronology, we have the knowledge organization problem par excellence. 

The intended goal of my database implementation of both the relative and absolute chronologies is to support Use Cases such as the following:

1.  Provide a mechanism for storing CH information for specific Myceaean sites along with the literature source that the CH is derived from.
E.g., if Simpson [1981] says on page 133 that site ‘C102’ was used in the LH IIIA then that association needs to be stored.[2]

2.   Retrieve all the CH information for a specific site or sites.  This is the reverse of the previous.  Here the user wishes to retrieve what anyone has said about the CH for any specific site or sites.

3.  Select start (and/or stop) year for a specific ceramic horizon.  In other words the user must be able to retrieve start and stop years corresponding to a CH name such as ‘LHII’.  This, of course, is the absolute chronology criterion.[3]

4.  Select start (and or stop) year for a specific CH using either the low/high chronology.  This is the same as the previous except it further specifies that the user may retrieve either ‘High’ or ‘Low’ chronology time spans.

5.  Produce output for CH names using one of a variety of user-specified conventions, e.g. LH IIIA1, or L.H. III a1, or SH iii A1, etc.  This is because the literature, which uses a variety of styles as well as foreign languages, refers to the same CH in very different ways.

6.  Select a range of different CHs for a site and output them in chronological order.  To explain this requirement consider that ‘LH’ is alphabetically prior to ‘MH’ but posterior to it in time.

7.  Support overlapping CH names.  For example we must be able to get sensible answers to queries for ‘LHII’ as well as its subperiods, ‘LHIIA’ or ‘LHIIB’ even though these overlap.  

8.  Fundamentally different systems such as Cycladic and Minoan have to be handled sensibly with respect to each other and with Helladic.

How are these use cases to be implemented?  The first thing is to agree on an internal representation of the CH names.  I have used the convention in which all spaces and periods are removed, all letters are capitalized.  Numbers such as I, II, or III are retained as roman numerals in upper case.  All other numbers are simple cardinals.  All foreign language usages are converted to the English language equivalent For example:

L.H. IIIb1 à LHIIIB1;   remove periods and spaces and convert LC to UC.

SH II à LHII          ; German.  Foreign language CH names are translated.

Every CH name must map onto a distinct character sequence for that horizon.  These names are stored in the era field of the period table and the time_span table.

I stress that these are the internal names only.  No one will ordinarily see them except those who work on the DB.  Corresponding to these internal names we must also have an external or printable form or forms.  The DB supports that with the field ‘EraPrint’. 

Imagine the following query:

select EraPrint from Time_Span where Era = ‘LHIIIA2’;

At present the DB would return the value ‘LH IIIA2’.

Currently the DB does not support foreign languages but that is a simple add-on.  Additional fields can be implemented for values such as ‘EraPrint_G’ or ‘EraPrint_F’ for German or French.

The above query could then become:

select EraPrint_G from Time_Span where era = ‘LHIIIA2’;

Such a query would output: ‘SH IIIA2’.

Requirement 6, above, specifies the ability to output date ranges in CH name order.  Under this requirement the CH name ‘LH’ must appear after ‘MH’.  How is that to be arranged?  In order for this to work there must be at least one field in the time_span table on which sorts can be performed.  We want to facilitate queries of this kind:

select EraPrint from time_span where Era in (‘EH’, ‘LHIIIB’, ‘MHIII’, ‘MHII’, ‘MHI’);

This query might return the values like this:

‘EH’,
‘LH IIIB’
‘MH III’,
‘MH II’,
‘MH I’

This result is in the wrong chronological order.  In order to make chronological ordering possible the time_span table must contain a sequence field.  This is a simple integer field which provides a unique number whose magnitude corresponds correctly to the actual chronological period of each CH name.  For example the previous query can be rewritten like this:

select eraPrint from period where era in (‘EH’, ‘LHIIIB’, ‘MHI’, ‘MHII’, ‘MHIII’) order by Seq;

Using the seq field will always return values in the right chronological order like this:

‘EH’,
‘MH I’,
‘MH II’,
‘MH III’
‘LH IIIB’


Under requirement 4 the DB must support the return of start and stop period years for either the ‘High’ or ‘Low’ chronology.  The solution to this is to provide both date ranges in the time_span table and require the user to supply either the word ‘High’ or the word ‘Low’.  Queries such as the following, which return the start and stop years for each named CH must be possible:

select distinct EraPrint, yPost, yAnte from time_span where hilo = 'High' and Era in ('EH', 'LHIIIB', 'MHIII', 'LHI', 'LHII', 'MHII', 'MHI') order by seq;

EH, 3100, 2100
MH I, 2100, 1850
MH II, 1850, 1775
MH III, 1775, 1700
LH I, 1700, 1635
LH II, 1635, 1410
LH IIIB, 1320, 1190

select distinct EraPrint, yPost, yAnte from time_span where hilo = 'Low' and Era in ('EH', 'LHIIIB', 'MHIII', 'LHI', 'LHII', 'MHII', 'MHI') order by seq;

EH, 3100, 2100
MH I, 2050, 1900
MH II, 1900, 1775
MH III, 1775, 1650
LH I, 1650, 1550
LH II, 1550, 1410
LH IIIB, 1320, 1190

If you examine the LH I and LH II start dates for each of the previous two queries you will see the difference between ‘High’ and ‘Low’ chronologies.  As I look at these results I think that I may have begun LHII too soon in both of these modes.  This is a simple data change that does not affect the structure of the DB tables. 

The time_span table is basically a table of DB constants and is never modified by the user.

Now that I’ve discussed some of the preliminaries I will devote the next post to the exact structure of the ‘Period’ and ‘Time_Span’ tables.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Anyone who would like to have a copy of the MAP database can send an e-mail to bobconsoli 'at' gmail.com or leave a comment on any of my posts.  To run the MAP database requires a SQL server running on your desktop computer.   MySQL is such a server and it is powerful, industry-standard, and free.  

I can and will make .kml or .kmz files, which can be opened directly in Google Earth, available to those who would like them.  

I can also create .csv files for people who would like to import Mycenaean Atlas Project data into Google Earth but would like it in tabular form.

Those who do not have a SQL server but would like the full database in .pdf form can have that for the asking.

If you like these posts then please follow me on Twitter (Squinchpix) or on Google+   (Robert Consoli)

Facebook?  Sorry.I.just.can't.



Footnotes

[1]  A nuanced study of the problem of high vs. low chronology is in Manning [2010], esp. pp. 18-24.

[2] Simpson [1981], p. 133, ‘F 139 Stoupa: Ancient Leuktra’.

[3] Manning [2010], 18.

Bibliography

Cline [2010]: Cline, Eric H., ed., The Oxford Handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean.  Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom. 2010.  ISBN: 978-0199873609.

Manning [2010]: Manning, Sturt.  ‘Chronology and Terminology’, in Cline [2010], pp. 11-28.

Simpson [1981]: Simpson, Richard Hope. Mycenaean Greece. Park Ridge, New Jersey: Noyes Press, 1981.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Using the Mycenaean Atlas Project – 3



The Find Type table




 In this post I want to discuss the find type table (‘findt’).  The Mycenaean Atlas Project is a database that is intended to support specific lat/lon pairs for each Mycenaean site.    In addition to this primary purpose users of this DB should be given some idea about the nature of the site and when it was created/occupied.   The find type (findt) table contains a minimum of information about the nature of the site and in such a way that it allows useful join queries.  The fields of the ‘findt’ table are as follows:

a.     Place key (pk):  This external key is identical to the primary key, pk, in the ‘site’ table and the foreign key, pk, in the fnb table.  It consists of the letter ‘C’ followed by an integer.  E.g., ‘C100’.   This allows join queries to be formed such as:

select * from site a, findt b where a.pk = b.pk;  // this will return the combined info for site and site type from the database.

b.     Source (src): This is the bibliographic source symbol for the source which gives the find type for this site.  It is the same as the src field in the ‘fnb’ and the ‘biblio’ tables.  This allows useful join queries.

c.      Page (Page): This is the page in the bibliographic source which gives the find type for this site.

d.     Type (Type): This is a string of up to twenty characters that gives the actual type of this site.

e.     Comment (Comment): This is a string of up to 1024 characters that characterizes the site in more detail and usually as a quotation from the source in the Src field.


Here’s an example of the full 'findt' record for tholos tomb C237 (Koryphasion):

Query: select * from findt where pk = ‘C237’;

C237, S81, 116, Tholos, 'The tholos tomb excavated here is the earliest known in Messenia and may indeed be the earliest tholos tomb on the Greek mainland. '

C237, B, 405, Tholos, ... medium sized tholos tomb, constructed In late MH times. Variously referred to as Korifásio, Osmánaga or Haratsári

C237, MS61, 242, Tholos, '..this is the earliest known mainland tomb of tholos type (in Messenia at any rate)..'

C237, Z, 451, Tholos, '...eines der ältesten Tholosgräber des griechischen Festlandes. '

C237, GAZ, 1, Tholos, '...the early date of the finds that indicate it is one of-if not the-earliest tholos tombs on mainland Greece ... '

C237, A62, 86, Tholos, 'Kourouniotis grub hier 1926 ein Tholosgrab aus.'

C237, OP, 198, Tomb, 'La tombe est qualifiée par Kourouniotis de "souterraine".'


Each record consists of the pk ID: here 'C237', the symbol for the supporting work, the page number in that work, the type: Tholos or 'Tomb', and a comment from the source about this site.  

The supporting sources are returned in symbolic form (e.g., 'S81').  Their short citation forms are:

Ålin [1962],  Boyd [1999],  Heath [nd]   (the PRAP on-line gazetteer),  McDonald and Simpson [1961],  Pelon [1976],  Simpson [1981],  Zavadil [2012]

So, the find type of C237 (Koriphasion) is ‘tholos’ and this is backed up, in this case, by seven source citations.

And whenever you request the lat/lon fields in your query you can turn the results directly into a map.

So, just for fun, where are all the sites in the Atlas that are typed as 'Cist Tomb' only?

Cist Tombs only.  The query was:
select a.pk, a.lat, a.lon from site a, findt b where a.pk = b.pk and b.type = 'Cist Tomb';


Useful Sample Queries using the findt table

select * from findt where pk = ‘C100’;  // returns all the find type supporting records for site 'C100'.

select count(*), type from findt group by type;   // returns just the distinct types and their counts.

select pk from findt where type = 'Tholos' or type = 'Cem' or type = 'Chamber Tomb' or type = 'Mound' or type = 'Tomb' or type = 'Tumulus' or type = 'Cist Tomb' or type = 'Grave';
  // returns the place key and name for all funerary type sites from 'findt' and 'site'.

select pk from findt where src = ‘OP’;  // this returns the IDs for all sites for which Oscar Pelon was used as a source.

select distinct pk from findt where src in (‘S81’, ‘S14’);  //returns those site ids documented by Richard Hope Simpson.

select a.shortc, a.longc from biblio a where a.src in (select distinct b.src from findt b where b.pk = 'C237');   // this join returns short and long citation forms for all the sources used to document site ‘C237’.


This diagram shows the relationship between the several tables discussed so far.


In my next post I'll discuss relative vs. absolute chronology in the Mycenaean Atlas Project along with the use cases that the database must support.

Anyone who would like to have a copy of the MAP database can send an e-mail to bobconsoli 'at' gmail.com or leave a comment on any of my posts.  To run the MAP database requires a SQL server running on your desktop computer.   MySQL is such a server and it is powerful, industry-standard, and free.  

I can and will make .kml or .kmz files, which can be opened directly in Google Earth, available to those who would like them.  

I can also create .csv files for people who would like to import Mycenaean Atlas Project data into Google Earth but would like it in tabular form.

Those who do not have a SQL server but would like the full database in .pdf form can have that for the asking.

If you like these posts then please follow me on Twitter (Squinchpix) or on Google+   (Robert Consoli)

Facebook?  Sorry.I.just.can't.


Bibliography

Ålin [1962]:  Ålin, Per, Das Ende der Mykenischen Fundstätten auf dem Griechischen Festland. Carl Bloms Boktryckeri A.-B., Lund, 1962.

Boyd [1999]:  Boyd, Michael John.  Middle Helladic and Early Mycenaean Mortuary Customs in the Southern and Western Peloponnese.  University of Edinborough.  Scotland.  1999.

Heath [nd]:  Heath, Sebastian.  "PRAP Site Gazetteer" http://classics.uc.edu/prap/static/sites_list.xsl.html

McDonald and Simpson [1961]:  McDonald, William A. and Richard Hope Simpson. 1961. Prehistoric Habitation in Southwestern Peloponnese.  American Journal of Archaeology. Vol. 65, No. 3 (Jul., 1961), pp. 221-260.

Pelon [1976]:  Pelon, Olivier.  Tholoi, tumuli et cercles funéraires; Recherches sur les monuments funéraires de plan circulaire dan l'Égée de l'Âge du Bronze (IIIe at IIe millénaires av. J.-C).  Bibliothèques de l'École française d'Athènes et de Rome - Série Athènes, 229. 1976.

Simpson [1981]: Simpson, Richard Hope. Mycenaean Greece. Park Ridge, New Jersey: Noyes Press, 1981.


Zavadil [2012]: Zavadil, Michaela. Monumenta: Studien zu mittel- und späthelladischen Gräbern in MessenienWien:Osterreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften Philosophisch-Historische Klasse Denkschriften. 2012.