Sunday, August 26, 2018

Where is Arcadian Dhimitra: Troupes (C484)?

It is said that photographs don't lie but they certainly can mumble.

An example occurs in Syriopoulos' article on 'Windy Enispe'[1] that discusses the important Bronze Age site called 'Dhimitra'.   Syriopoulos tells us about the site and how it was discovered:

“IN 1939, during road construction near the modern village Dimitra in the district of Gortynia in north-western Arcadia, digging works brought to light considerable prehistoric remains from the eastern slope of a small hill called Troupes (= 'holes') about 2 km. north-east of the village of Dimitra.'

 The remains passed unnoticed until 1942, when I chanced to visit the site and collected from the cutting of the hill-slope a considerable number of prehistoric sherds, the most remarkable of which I have briefly mentioned under 'Demetra village' in my (Prehistory of the Peloponnese).  R. Howell quotes the site in his recently published 'Survey of Eastern Arcadia in Prehistory' without adding any more information.

 Unfortunately, I did not manage to publish these finds earlier with a more detailed description and the relevant illustrations. But I have visited the site several times since I942 and collected more sherds and other finds, the most remarkable of which are described below. They all prove, in my opinion, a continuous and intensive inhabitation of the site from Neolithic to L.H. IIIC 2 times, when the settlement was deserted for ever.”

I transliterated his title in parentheses and have suppressed his footnotes except for fn. 1 which I reproduce here:

“1. The area of Dimitra, formerly Divritsa, is described in Frazer, Pausanias iv. 287-90, PW 70-5, GL iii. 276. The road, during whose construction the prehistoric finds came to light, branches off the main carriage road from Tripolis to Olympia at its 83rd kilometre in the village of Stavrodromi and leads through the villages of Tropaia, Vachlia, Dimitra, Kontovazaina, Voutsi, and Monastiraki, towards Koumani village and the carriage road from Pyrgos to Patras via Platanos. It has not yet been completed.”

So.  A significant large settlement that existed throughout the Bronze Age in central Arcadia and situated about 1 km. north of the Ladon River.

Where is it?

The name of the site is 'Troupes' and 'Dhimitra' is the name of the modern town closest to it.  The general position of Dhimitra in Arcadia is shown in this map:

Here we're looking at the NW quadrant of the Peloponnese; the lavender arrow points to Dhimitra.   If we zoom in on this area we can see the road being described by Syriopoulos in his footnote 1 which are indicated more or less roughly in the next map.  (Click on it to enlarge.)

On this map I have labelled the names of the towns in Syriopoulos' footnote.  The sequence begins with Stavrodromi at the lower R and ends with Koumani at the upper L.  The last bit of the road from outside Monastiraki to Koumani is not very good; really a series of dirt roads and this may be the part that Syriopoulos thought was 'not yet ... completed.'.

Now for Dhimitra itself.

The modern town of Dhimitra is positioned at the lower L.  Measuring a path from that town to my proposed location for Troupes is just about 1890 m.  I admit that the starting point for this lavender line was somewhat arbitrarily chosen but Syriopoulos does not tells us where to begin measuring the 2 km. distance from town to site.

In this post I have started with the answer.  With a high degree of confidence it can be said that the site of Troupes is at 37.786502° N, 21.932709° E.  How can this be justified?  

The criteria for this site are as follows:
1. Ca. 2 km. from modern Dhimitra.
2. It is on the road between Stavrodromi and Koumani.
3. It must be on or very close to the side of the road because it was discovered during road-building.

In addition to these vague criteria there are two photographs that show the area around Troupes.  These are from Syriopoulos' article.

The first shows the Ladon river valley taken from ... somewhere.

Here I have labelled the gorge of the Ladon R. (tributary of the Alpheios).  Also I have indicated the facing ridge on the S which is Dariza.  The modern town of Dhimitra cannot really be seen but it's somewhere over the labelled ridge.

In the next picture I reproduce that view in Google Earth:

Being able to reproduce this view leads me to say that the photograph in Syriopoulos was taken from approximately 37.786022° N, 21.947296° E.  In this picture the red line is the road described in Syriopoulos' footnote 1.  The intermittent blue line is the position of the Ladon river itself.

Syriopoulos labels this picture (a) as 'Troupes (or Damari) from north-east.'

But it isn't.  

The photo labels in his article have come adrift.  This caption which says 'Troupes' is actually meant for photograph (c) which is here:

This is the original.  Here is a labelled version of it:

Here we're looking roughly SW down the Ladon river valley in the direction of Dhimitra which we cannot see.  The main highway actually winds around the site of Troupes.  If we could figure out from where this picture was taken we would know where Troupes is located.  Perhaps it's possible to recreate this view in Google Earth?

After a great deal of huffing and puffing I was able to do exactly that.     Here it is:

Not too convincing?  That's what I mean when I say that photographs can stutter.  O.k., let's zoom in on the ridge in the LC:

Now we have a photo almost identical to Syriopoulos' photo which was taken from about 37.790800° N, 21.932980° E. I suspect that Syriopoulos' original was taken with a moderate telephoto, perhaps 135 mm. focal length.

And there it all is.  That wooded plateau feature in the center is Troupes.  In Syriopoulos' original there are many limestone outcrops visible and those have nearly disappeared in the overgrowth some 45 years later.  But when we look at this ridge from above those limestone features are still plainly visible:

I have drawn yellow arrows that indicate extruding features.  Even though this east side of the ridge is greatly overgrown compared to when Syriopoulos' picture was taken its essential rocky nature is unchanged.

Here's another photo of the site from above:

Here's Syriopoulos' photo of it:

And this is as close as I can get in Google Earth Street View:

I think that Syriopoulos's photo was taken by following the branching road to the left (NW) and photographing the hill by facing more towards the NE.


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1. Syriopoulos [1973] 193.  

   In Howell [1970] p. 98, "During the construction of the public highway near the village of Dhimitra, a cutting was made through a prehistoric settlement."  

   In Simpson [1981] 88, 'D 19 Dhimitra: Troupes', "The small hill called Troupes lies about 2 k. northeast of Dhimitra, on the south slopes of Mt. Aphrodision, above the Ladon river valley.  During road construction a cutting was dug through a prehistoric settlement here, and Syriopoulos ... collected a large quantity of sherds from it, mainly from the eastern slope.  Most of this was Middle Helladic coarse ware, but a few sherds were Mycenaean of provincial type  ...   the LH IIIC claimed is not certain ..."   

   In Simpson and Dickinson [1979] 83, 'B 33 Dhimitra: Troupes': "The small hill called Troupes is c. 2 km. NE of Dhimitra, on the S slopes of Mt. Aphrodision.  During road construction a cutting was made through the prehistoric settlement here and many sherds were collected, ...  Most of this was MH coarse ware and provincial LH.  ..."  

   In Parker [2008] 217: "Finally,  near  the  village  of  Dhimitra  (62)  in  the  northwestern region of Arkadia, a substantial settlement dating from the Neolithic to the LBA was discovered when the current road was built (Syriopoulos 1973)."


Howell [1970]:   Howell, R., 'A Survey of Eastern Arcadia in Prehistory',  The Annual of the British School at Athens (65). November, 1970.  79-127.

Parker [2008]:   Parker, Catherine Ruth, Arkadia in Transition: Exploring Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Human Landscapes. Ph.D. dissertation submitted to the University of Birmingham. Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, School of Historical Studies.  The University of Birmingham, January 2008.

Simpson and Dickinson [1979]:   Simpson, Richard Hope and O.T.P.K. Dickinson, A Gazetteer of Aegean Civilization in the Bronze Age,  I: The Mainland and the Islands, Paul Åströms Förlag, Goteborg. 1979.

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

Syriopoulos [1973]: 'The Homeric 'Windy Enispe': A Prehistoric Settlement in North-Western Arcadia near the River Ladon', The Annual of the British School at Athens (68), pp. 193-205, 1973.

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