Saturday, February 4, 2017

Tholos II at Malthi (C307)

‘O what we ben! And what we come to!’
Riddley Walker
Russell Hoban

In a previous post I talked about Tholos I (C1207) at Malthi in the Peloponnese.  I refer my readers to the maps in that post which put the whole area in perspective.  Now I look at an archaeological dig whose fate was very different from that of Tholos I, namely Tholos II.  On the map following I show the immediate area around Tholos II (C307).

Illus. 1     Area to W of the Malthi Acropolis.  Tholos II (C307) in C
with Tholos I (C1207) to S about 85 m.
Tholos II was discovered by Natan Valmin with the help of a local informant in 1926.  It was excavated at the same time as Tholos I (C1207).  When found there was a depression in the center of the covering tumulus because the center of the dome had collapsed.  In fact Valmin documents three separate instances of collapse and one of these crushed a boy who had taken shelter under the entrance.

After the tholos was fully excavated it looked like this:

Illus. 2     Looking E along the dromos of Tholos II  [2]

Illus. 3     The chamber of Tholos II as seen from the SW.   [3]

This is the interior of the chamber seen from the SW and looking NE.

What does the tholos look like today?  In one of October's most beautiful days last year a friend of mine in the Peloponnese went to take photographs of tholos II.   In an all-too-typical-story he learned that the entire tomb has been stripped of its stone and destroyed, presumably for a number of limestone constructions in the vicinity.  What could have been an impressive remnant of Bronze Age construction is now a weed-filled hole in the ground.  As Boyd says: "Tholos 2 has been almost completely stripped of its stone between excavation and the present ...".[4]

See the following pictures for confirmation.

Illus. 4     Looking N at the mound of Tholos 2 at Malthi.

In the picture above we are looking N on the road towards the mound of Tholos 2.

Illus. 5     Mound of Tholos 2 at Malthi.  Facing N.  Acropolis of Malthi at far R.

Here's another view of the mound of Tholos II.  Viewer is facing NE with the hill of the acropolis of Malthi sitting at the right hand side.

Illus. 6     Looking into the chamber (FG) and the dromos of Tholos 2 at Malthi.  
Viewer facing W.  The ridge of Verghoto in the BG.

Illus. 7     Looking NE into the chamber of tholos 2 at Malthi.  Dromos to the L.
Malthi acropolis in BG and L.

The dromos has been completely stripped of its stone.

Illus. 8     Chamber (C) and dromos (lower R) of Tholos 2 at Malthi.  Viewer facing S of E.

Illus. 9     The dromos of Tholos 2 at Malthi.  Part of chamber to L.  Viewer facing S.
Illus 10.     Detail of limestone blocks found in the dromos.

The pictures above and below document some of the few remaining stones from what was once a beautiful example of Bronze Age culture in the Peloponnese.

Illus. 11     Detail of limestone fragments found in the dromos.

In other words, after 90 years of stone stripping, the tholos is now completely destroyed.  Tholos 2 is not the only tholos or other monument in Greece that has been destroyed since it was first responsibly excavated.

I'll be blogging soon about Tholos A (C293) from Kakovatos which has been treated in a similarly cavalier fashion.

The following illustration from Google Earth shows the angles from which the other photographs of Tholos II were taken:

Illus. 12     Angles from which the illustrations in this post were taken.  Approx. original position
and shape of Tholos II is rendered in orange.

Illus 13     C307 as it looked originally. [5]

Data for C307:

Exact Position: 37.264600°N,  21.877372°E

dromos length: 12.5
dromos width: 2.2 at ground level
dromos width: 2.05 at the tops of its walls
dromos direction: East to West

stomion height: 2.8
stomion depth: 2.6
stomion width: 1.6 on the exterior side
stomion width: 1.3 on the interior side
stomion width: 1.1 on the exterior at the height of the lintel
stomion width: 0.8 on the interior at the height of the lintel

Lintel: 2.9 x 2.5 and 0.3 m. thickness

Chamber: diameter: 5.75,
Preserved Height: 3.5 m.
Chamber: Original Height: ~5 m


Illustrations 4 through 11 in this blog post are the property of the photographer and all rights are reserved.
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1.  I principally consulted Valmin [1938] 207-225;  the crushed boy and his goats on p. 218.   Good sources for the area around Malthi, including these tholoi are Boyd [1999] II, 790-1 and Zavadil [2012] 566-581, 'Vasiliko/Malthi(Ramovouni) (Ep. Triphylias)'.  Also Olivier Pelon [1977] p. 216, 'Tholos II (26B)'.

2. Valmin [1938] 216, fig. 40.

3. Valmin [1938] 219, fig. 43.

4. Boyd [1999] 791.

5.  Valmin [1938], plan 6.

6.  Zavadil [2012], 572:  "Valmin datierte die Keramik aus Tholos II in SH III. Diese
Datierung  entspricht  Mountjoys  Einordnung  der  geschweiften  Amphore und der karinierten Kylix aus der Grube in SH IIIA1. Einige Funde könnten in SH IIIC datieren.

   "Somit  sind beide Tholoi etwa zur gleichen Zeit in Verwendung gewesen, 64  wobei Tholos II nach Valmin vielleicht etwas älter ist. Sie sind nach Valmin etwa 100 Jahre jünger als die Tholoi von Ano Kopanaki. 65  Eine Datierung beider Tholoi in SH III legt auch die architektonische Analyse durch
O. Pelon nahe."

(in my translation:)

  "Valmin dated the ceramics from Tholos II to LH III. This dating corresponds to Mountjoy's arrangement of the curly amphorae and the carinated Kylix from the pit in LH IIIA1. Some finds could date in LH IIIC.

   "So, both tholoi were in use at about the same time, although Tholos II may be somewhat older, according to Valmin.  According to him they are both about 100 years younger than the Tholoi of Ano Kopanaki.  The architectural analysis of O. Pelon also suggests a date for both tholoi of LH III.

In Pelon [1976], p. 217: (my translation)  "The two tombs are dated by Valmin as LH III, with an interval of time between them of not more than one or two decades.  Tomb II, which has yielded the most datable and most abundant ceramics ought to be placed, according to him, a little
before 1300 BC but Furumark dates it as Myc. IIIB."


Boyd [1999]:  Boyd, Michael John.  Middle Helladic and Early Mycenaean Mortuary Customs in the Southern and Western Peloponnese.  University of Edinborough.  Scotland.  1999.  Dr. Boyd's Ph.D. Dissertation may be downloaded here.

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.  Pelon may be consulted online here.

Valmin[1938], Valmin, M. Natan.    The Swedish Messenia Expedition with Seven Plans, Five Coloured Plates, 32 Plates, and 100 Figures in the Text.  Lund, C.W.K. Gleerup. 1938.

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

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