Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Psila Alonia Papers

The toponym 'Psila Alonia' appears several times on the map of Greece. Two of those places are identified with Mycenaean remains. In order to cut through the confusion I thought that I would make a list of places with this name.The first five are geographic features merely and have no BA connection of which I am aware. I include them for completeness’ sake.

A) A ridge at 38.077344, 22.60433. A north-facing ridge in the Corinthia. It is one km. south-west of the town of Xilokastro.

B) A ridge at 38.290027, 23.817217. A south and east-facing ridge in northern Attica. It is about 350 m. directly to the W of Markopoulo Oropou.

C) A low hill at 38.958275, 21.178778. It is part of a N-S running hill in Aetolo-Acharnania. It is about 1 km. north of Krikellos and about 3 km. E of the Gulf of Ambracia.

D) A ridge running NW-SE in Aetolo-Acharnania. 38.6768, 21.837039. It is about 850 m. W of the north branch of the Evinos Reservoir.

E) Part of an E-W running ridge system in Elis. 37.990816, 21.493335. The road from Mataranga to Michoi runs around the ridge on its S side.

Five completely insignificant places named Psila Alonia.

F) The Psila Alonia at Aigeira consists of two plundered LH IIIB-C chamber tombs. They were discovered in the mid-1950s and described by Verdelis. The acropolis of ancient Aigeira (C487, Iliad 2.573) is located on an acropolis ridge in the Corinthia here: 38.126664° N, 22.374290° E. Find a bibliography about this site in Papadopoulos [1979], p. 37, no. 69 Aigeira. It is an extensive site with building remains still visible and a theater at 38.128610° N, 22.377849° E. Interested readers can get a good view of it in Google Street View from the road from Lambinos to Eghes which runs around it on the E. On the S and E side of Aigeira (and on the E side of the road) there is a deep gully, perhaps some 100 ft. Across that gulley is another area called Psila Alonia. This Psila Alonia is the location of two LH chamber tombs. As Papadopoulos says ‘ the location Psila Alonia, the late Ephor Verdelis excavated a Mycenaean chamber tomb with burial pits both in the chamber and in the dromos. About 10 metres to the south another chamber tomb was excavated, but without dromos, and three pits dug in its floor. … The finds included bronzes and vases of LHIIIB-C.[1] The BCH gives the directions as follows: ‘Mr. Verdélis a fouillé une tombe á chambre au lieudit Psila Halonia (...), près de Derveni, á vingt minutes a l'Ouest des ruines de l'antique Aigeira; ...' [2]

Proposed location for Psila Alonia (C681, lower left) at Aigeira (center).  North to upper right.

 See also Desborough, ‘…at Derveni, in hilly country on the borders of Corinthia and Achaea, where a most interesting chamber tomb was discovered recently, …’ [3]. Simpson describes the site also: ‘Chamber tombs were found at Psila Alonia, about 1.5 km. to east-southeast of the acropolis, on the opposite side of a deep ravine.’ He dates them to LH IIIB-C based on similarities to some tombs (Metaxata (C585) and Lakkithra (C583)) on Kephallenia.[4] Giannopoulos gives a good description of Psila Alonia [5]: ‘Ca. 1,5 km südöstlich der Akropolis von Aigeira und jenseits einer tiefen Schlucht grub Verdelis zunächst ein W-O orientiertes Grab aus, das trotz des intakt gefundenen Trockenmauerwekverschlusses bereits durch das eingestürzte Dach geplündert worden war.’ Given this information I have placed the location of Psila Alonia (Aigeira) (C681) along the road which traverses the edge of the ravine, which borders Aigeira on the south, at 38.119677° N, 22.378763° E. This should be accurate to within 100 m.

G) Psila Alonia is the name of a square in Aigion which is a city on the south edge of the Gulf of Corinth. There is a significant LH chamber tomb cemetery (C488) just off to its west edge of the square at 38.252366° N, 22.080606° E. (It is signposted.) These chamber tombs are dug directly into the hill slope which is steep at this point. 

Photo of Gymnasion and Psila Alonia cemetery (C488) overlaid with diagram from Giannopoulos [2008] (Abb. 16, p. 77.  Taken, I think, from Papadopoulos [1976]). showing location of the cemetery.  The street is Solomou which is available in Google Street View.  Psila Alonia Square is just off-photo to the left.

 It was discovered by Yialouris in the late 1930’s and it was announced at that time. The intervening war prevented its excavation which did not take place until the 1950’s.  It was properly published in 1976 by A.J. Papadopoulos.  Giannopoulos says: ‘Im Gegensatz zu diesen kontextlosen Funden ermöglicht die systematische Ausgrabung und Publikation eines Teils des gleichen mykenischen Gräberfelds (Kallithea), das bereits als das Gräberfeld von Psila Alonia (Gymnasion) bezeichnet wird, bessere Einblicke in die Entwicklung der mykenischen Besiedlung dieser Region.’[6]  

The Psila Alonia Chamber Tomb complex at Aigion (C488).  Google Street View.  The Gymnasion is just on the other side of this slope.

Here Giannopoulos suggests that the names Psila Alonia, Kallithea, and Gymnasion refer to the same complex of graves.  The Psila Alonia cemetery complex, as distinct from the square, is in fact built into the side of a hill on which the modern Gymnasion (high school?) is situated ( 38.251639° N, 22.080340° E).  Giannopoulos continues: 'Die Gräber wurden am Nordhang eines Hügels angelegt, dessen Plateau für die Errichtung des Gymnasions eingeebnet wurde.'[7]

H) Psila Alonia is the name of a square in Patras in Achaia (38.241116° N, 21.735160° E).  It is not far from LH cemetery complexes near the Patras Odeion (C686) but it has no specific connection to BA finds that I am aware of.


[1] Papadopoulos [1979], no. 70. Dherveni (Psila Alonia), p. 37. And the useful bibliography.
[2] In Georges Daux, ‘Chronique de fouilles’, BCH (82), p. 726. Under ‘Dervéni’. 1958.
[3] Desborough [1964/2007], p. 86.
[4] Simpson [1981], no. D 22 Derveni: Solos (Ancient Aigeira), p. 89.
[5] Giannopoulos [2008], ‘Derveni’, pp. 93-4.
[6] Ibid., 76

[7] Idem.

Desborough [1964/2007]: Desborough, V.R.d'A., The Last Mycenaeans and Their Successors: An Archaeological Survey, c. 1200 - c. 1000 B.C., Wipf & Stock, 2007. Originally published in 1964 by Oxford University Press.
Giannopoulos, T., Die Letzte Elite der mykenischen Welt: Achaia in mykenischer Zeit und das Phanomen der Kriegerbestattungen im 12.-11. Jahrhundert v. Chr., Bonn: Habelt. 2008.
Papadopoulos [1976]: Papadopoulos, A.J.  Excavations at Aigion-1970.  Göteborg, 1976.  (I have not consulted this work.)

Papadopoulos [1979]: Papadopoulos, Thanasis J., Mycenaean Achaea; Part 1: Text. Paul Åströms Förlag, Göteborg, Sweden. 1979. Vol 1. ISBN: 91-85058-83-1.
Simpson [1981]: Simpson, Richard Hope. Mycenaean Greece. Park Ridge, New Jersey: Noyes Press, 1981.

No comments:

Post a Comment