This is the fourth in a series of posts on new research in the Corinthian countryside (for links to the previous posts see below). In particular, I am focusing on recent fieldwork conducted by David Pettegrew and me this past summer in the vicinity of Lychnari Bay.
This post will focus on the site of Lychnari Tower. The substantial remains of a round tower stand on the low, but steep hill that forms the western side of Lychnari bay. The tower shares many features with the remains at the site of Ano Vayia. It is built in the rough polygonal style -- meaning that the builders only trimmed blocks to fit with their neighbors rather than shaping them into clearly defined courses as one might see in more formal ashlar construction -- and employs massive stones some over 1.5 m in length. Unlike the tower at Ano Vayia, the inner and outer face is preserved on the 1 m thick wall. The space between the faces is filled with small, cobble sized, rubble.
There are a few curious aspects to the Lychnari tower. First, when we first encountered the tower, 5 years ago, we initially thought that the tower was stepped. Only on closer inspection did we come to realize that the inner face stood to a greater height than the outer face to create this impression. In several places we soon noticed that the outer face of the wall stood at least as high as the inner face. The another odd feature about this tower was the lack of associated tumble. This was even more troubling when we realized that it was over 8 m in diameter. (J. Young, a mid-century scholar interested in towers in Attica, once proposed that the height of a tower was approximately 2 x its diameter meaning that our tower could have stood to over 15 m in height!). We were able to clarify this issue this past summer when we noticed that the nearby geodetic marker (a point used in preparing maps) stood on a considerable mound which elevated it above the remains of the collapsed tower. This mound consisted of numerous large cut blocks as well as earth and other tumble that seems likely to have come from the collapse of the tower (see below):
Finally, the top of the collapsed tower has a small depression. This is a common feature in many of the so-called Corinthian Cairns. These are odd piles of stones found scattered throughout the countryside of the eastern Corinthia. Scholars have proposed any number of explanations and dates for these piles of stones: from Hellenistic boundary markers to the remains of Early Bronze Age fortifications. The wide range of functions, contexts, and dates noted for these cairns, many of which feature depressions very similar to that in our collapsed tower, suggest that these odd depression are not related to these monuments' original functions, but rather reflect some kind of post depositional phenomenon like informal excavations of what are clearly archaeological remains or shelters for shepherds' fires.
The consider scatter of material surrounding the tower all appears to be Late Classical to Hellenistic in date and is almost identical to that found surrounding the structures on Ano Vayia.
The most challenging (and entertaining) thing about this site was figuring out how to illustrate it! The tower is round so our traditional technique of laying out a baseline and then measuring from that line would not work (although at one point we discussed creating a round line... we'd been in the sun for a while...). We realized that we had to set up a grid that would allow us to measure the stones from two lines. The challenge was that the tower, as these photos show, formed a mound and couldn't just run our grid lines over the mound without creating a good bit of distortion. After several visits, arguments, and discussions (including: "do you really think that we need to draw this?"), we found a way to set up two baselines on relatively level ground that would allow us to create a virtual grid (without all the grid lines, in effect). This was not an easy way to illustrate, but David was up to the task. This illustration is his handiwork:
For more on our work in the Corinthian countryside see:New Research on the Corinthian Countryside: Vayia Microregion
The Corinthian Countryside: The Site of Ano Vayia
The Corinthian Countryside: Distributional Data from the Site of Ano Vayia