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A ketos in Early Athens: An Archaeology of Whales & Sea Monsters in the Greek World (2002)

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A ketos in Early Athens: An Archaeology of Whales & Sea Monsters in the Greek World (2002)
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  A Ketos in Early Athens: An Archaeology of Whales and Sea Monsters in the Greek WorldAuthor(s): John K. Papadopoulos and Deborah RuscilloSource: American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 106, No. 2 (Apr., 2002), pp. 187-227Published by: Archaeological Institute of AmericaStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4126243 Accessed: 08/04/2009 02:04 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available athttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained athttp://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=aia.Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 to build trusted digital archives for scholarship. We work with thescholarly community to preserve their work and the materials they rely upon, and to build a common research platform thatpromotes the discovery and use of these resources. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.  Archaeological Institute of America is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to  American Journal of Archaeology. http://www.jstor.org  A KetosinEarlyAthens:AnArchaeologyofWhalesand Sea Monstersinthe GreekWorld JOHNK. PAPADOPOULOSANDDEBORAHRUSCILLO AbstractThisarticlepublishesafragmentof ascapulaof afinwhale(Balaenopteraphysalus)found in anEarlyGeomet-ric wellinthearea of thelater AthenianAgora.Derivingfromthecarcass ofan immaturebeachedwhale,the bonewasbroughttoAthens and wasusedprobablyas acuttingsurface,beforebeingdiscardedca. 850B.C. Thecontextof thisextraordinaryartifactisanalyzedanddiscussed,asareitspossiblefunctions.Theoccurrenceof whalesintheAegeanandMediterraneanisreviewed,so tootheuse of whalesand whalebonesin ancient Greeceandinothercultures.Althoughtheincidence of whaleboneisrareinarchaeologicalcontextsin theAegean,Classicalliteratureis fullof referencesto both fantasticseamon-sters andreal whales.The wordsthat the GreeksandRomansusedfor whalesandthelanguageofwhalesinmythologyandnaturalhistoryreveal arich and variedtradition.There is asimilarlyrichandlongtraditionoficonographicrepresentationsinancientart,particularlyoffabulousseamonsters,onethat extends fromAegeanprehistoryintothe Classicalera and wellbeyond.TheAgorawhaleboneprovidesauniqueinsightinto thear-chaeologyof whalesand sea monstersinGreeklitera-ture,naturalhistory,art,and materialculture.*How vainandfoolish,then,thoughtI,for timiduntravelledman totrytocomprehendarightthiswondrouswhale,by merely poringoverhis deadattenuated skeleton.HermanMelville,MobyDick.'One ofthemostenigmaticobjectsto havebeenfoundintheheartofAthens isthe so-called boneartifact(Agorainv.BI115),encounteredin an Ear-lyGeometric well(wellK12:2)in the centralpor-tion ofthe areathat wastobecome theClassicalAgora(fig.1).2Souniquewas theobjectthat thewellfromwhichit derivedcame to beknown,foratime,as the "wellwiththe boneartifact."Although unearthedin1934,thebonelanguished,appar-ently forgottenformanyyears,firstn the storeroomsof theoldAgora dig-house,andlaterin theuppergalleryof theStoa ofAttalos,abovetheAgoraMuse-um.The boneis of interestbothonaccountof thefact thatitpreservesaportionof ascapulaofa finwhale,a memberof theBalaenopteraenusofwhales,the secondlargestmammal tohaveinhabitedtheearthafter thebluewhale,as wellas for theuse itwasputtopriortobeingdiscarded.Thebone,al-though fragmentaryand nowpreservingonlya smallportionofthesrcinalscapula,hasaseries of cutmarkson itsupper,flatsurface,anda neatrectan-gularcuttingforpresumedattachmentto anotherelement,nowlost. Whilethe exactfunctionoftheartifactin the contextof theEarlyIronAgesettle-mentof Athensis notimmediatelyobvious,analy-sis of the variouscuttings, togetherwiththe wearon thebone,provideimportantinsightsinto thelifehistoryof this uncommonfind.Thecompara-tiverarityof whalebonesinarchaeologicalcontextsin theAegeanandeasternMediterraneangener-ally, coupledwiththeuse that thebonewasputto,warrantts detailedpublication.Moreover,thephys-icalexistenceof such a boneservesasauseful fo-cusfor themorenumerousappearancesof whalesand otherseamonstersin Greekliterature,mythol-ogy,naturalhistory,and art.In thisarticle,a detaileddescriptionandanalysisof the boneisprovided,whichaimsatestablishingthesalient detailsofits lifehistory,includingthenatureof the leviathanfromwhichit derivedandthecontextinwhichitwasfinallydeposited.Fromthere,the incidenceof bothstrandedandsighted *Wegratefullycknowledgeourdebt to ourcolleaguesnthe AthenianAgoraforfacilitatingour workand for varioustypesofassistance,particularlyohnMcK.CampII,SylvieDu-mont,AnneHooton,Jan Jordan,andCraigMauzy.We aregratefulomanyriendsandcolleaguesforprovidingllustra-tions,forallowingaccesstomaterialntheircare,andfor dis-cussion onavarietyoftopicsconnectedwith thispaper,espe-ciallyhefollowing:AphroditeArgyrakis,MaryeanBlasdale,LauraBonomi,DavidClarke,JohnClegg,RogerColten,SimonDavis,PeterDawson,SusanneEbbinghaus,herryFox,MichaelJehle,Hans ChristianKochelmann,RoelLauwerier,SusanLawrence,NinoLuraghi,YvonneMarshall,DaveMaxwell, AdrienneMayor,GregMonks,SarahMorris,JacquiMulville,TomPalaima,StavrosPaspalas,CarolynRiccardelli,RichardSab-in,WilliamSchniedewind,GianniSiracusano,AleydisVandeMoortel,CorneliusVermeule,andJenniferWebb.Wewouldlike to recordourspecialthanksto AdrienneMayorforherinsightfulcommentsand hergreatenthusiasmformonstersof theland and sea.1Melville1851,ch.103,"Measurementofthe Whale'sSkel-eton,"494-5. 2 Forthetopographyof Athensin theEarlyIronAge,seePapadopoulos1996,2002. 187AmericanJournalofArchaeology106(2002)187-227  188JOHNK. PAPADOPOULOS AND DEBORAH RUSCILLO[AJA106Fig.1. Generalviewof the areaof the Athenian Agora,withtheAkropolis,rom thewest,before the reconstructionofthe Stoa of Attalos.(PhotobyAlisonFrantz;ourtesyof theAgoraExcavations,American School of ClassicalStudies atAthens)whalesintheAegeanand Mediterranean are re-viewed,and a brief overview isprovidedof the use ofwhales and whalebonesinGreece,as well asinothercultures.Next,the words that the Greeks and Ro-mans used for whales and thelanguageof whales inmythologyand naturalhistoryare discussed.Finally,ananalysisispresentedon themannerinwhichGreek and other artistsrepresentedthese creaturesof thedeepand theiconographictraditions that wereformulated and established inAegean prehistoryand in Classicalarchaeology.AlthoughClassical literature is full of referenc-es tomythicalcreatures of thedeep-aswell as torealwhales-andfantastic seamonstersfeatureprominentlyinGreek and Romanart,Classicalphilologistsandiconographershave been ham-peredin theirattemptsto link the word and theimage,on the onehand,with the material remainsof actualwhaleson theother.This is inparttheresultofthepaucityofverified whalebonesin ar-chaeologicalcontexts and the lack ofgeneralin-formation withregardto theirspecific speciesorgenera,which has sometimesgivenrise to the mis-taken belief thatlargerwhales,such asblue, fin,andspermwhales were-and are-uncommon intheAegeanand eastern Mediterranean. It is ouraiminthispaperto(re-)establishthelinkbetweenoncelivingwhales and the richliteraryand icono-graphictraditions ofketeinthe Greek world.Theshoulder blade of theEarlyIronAgeketosinAth-ens,togetherwith discoveries of several other whale-bones in various contexts in theAegeanand Med-iterranean,permitanarchaeologyof whalesandseamonsters inGreektradition thatdrawson theevidence notonlyofphilologyandiconography,but also faunal remains and material culture. THEARCHAEOLOGICAL CONTEXT BeforedescribingAgoraBI115,it isimportantto establish the details of its context and its date.Thedepositin which the whalebonewas found wasoneoftwoearlywells that were located near thecenter of the laterAgora,beneath the so-called Civ-icOffices."Thestylobateof anEarlyRoman build-ingintersected one ofthem,K12:2ofEarlyGeo-metricdate,in which BI 115 wasfound;theother,ProtogeometricwellK12:1,was located about2mto the south(figs.2-3).The shafts of both wellshad been cut down to thesurvivinglevel of the bed-rockby earlyRoman times. Turkishstoragepitsover-layboth wells and extended downintotheraggedmouth of K12:1,whichopenedinbedrockas anirregular pit,ca.2x2.4m,narrowingto1-1.2matthe bottom. The shaft was about 4.8 m indepth"The well is noted in Shear1935,362-3.  2002]ANARCHAEOLOGY OF WHALES AND SEA MONSTERS IN THE GREEK WORLD189Fig.2.WellK12:1inforegroundand wellK12:2(theEarlyGeometric well with thewhalebone)incenterduringexcavationin1934. View from the south.(Courtesyof theAgoraExcavations,AmericanSchool of ClassicalStudies atAthens)fromthe level of thesurroundingbedrock4andlayunder theporchof theCivicOffices,17.5 m northofMiddle Stoapier9(fromthewest).The MiddleStoa terraceappearstohavebeen builtalongtheline of an earliereast-west road thatmayhave beeninserviceduringthe life of thewell,thoughsuch aconclusion isspeculative.The material from wellK12:1can beassignedto adeveloped phaseof theProtogeometric period.5Justover2mto the north ofK12:1was wellK12:2(figs.2-3),also referredtobythe excavatoras"Protogeometric."6Thereappearstohavebeennophysicalbarrier betweenthetwo wells until thestylobateof the Civic Offices was built betweenthem. It isworthaddingthatduringexcavationpersistentwater was metinbothwells,even ashighas thelevelof thefirstmeter below the surround-ingbedrock. The diameter at the mouth of wellK12:2as firstexposedwas 1.3m,narrowingto0.7 mat the bottom. Thedepthof the well below thetopoftheoverlyingwallBwas6.25m;itsdepthfromthepreservedlevel of thesurroundingbedrockapproximately5.3m(fig.3).WellK12:2was oneof severalEarlyIronAgewells that were stratified.Thelowerdeposit (periodofuse)yieldedcom-pleteandalmost-completevessels recovered fromdepthsrangingbetween-4.2and -5.3 m. Thesevessels,used todrawwater,wereinadvertentlydropped bytheirowners;a selection ofsome oftheperiod-of-use potsispresentedhere(figs.4-5).Theupper deposit,fillingthe remainder ofthewell,representsthefilldumpedintothe shaft4That s,54.45mabovesea level. Section M:well at70/ME.Depositfirstnoted22and27March1934;cleared29March-14April1934byD. Burr[Thompson].A numberofcompletevessels rom thedeposit, primarilyinochoai,mayhave beenpartof theperiod-of-usematerial,but on account of severaljoinsnotedthroughoutthedeposit,all of thepotterywasom-bined,without a record of thedepthnoted. Assuch,it is notpossibleto establishbeyonddoubtwhether thecompleteves-selswere indeedperiodofuse,orifthe entirefillwas deposit-ed at one time. 5 EvelynSmithson'sdivisionof theEarlyronAgeinto dis-tinctphasescoincides with that of Coldstream(1968, 8-28)forEarlyand Middle Geometric.Coldstream'sdivisionof the GeometricperiodntoEarly,Middle,andLate,withsubsequentphasesfollows hatsrcinallydevisedbyEvaBrannandEvelynLordSmithson,eePapadopoulos998;ee furtherBrann1961,95;Coldstream1968, 4-5;Coldstream1995,391. Smithsondivided theProtogeometricperiodnto variousphaseson thebasis of the internal evidenceprovided bytheAgora gravesanddeposits,particularlyhewelldeposits(wellK12:1wasas-signed bySmithson to PGIII).For further notes on thesechronological phases,seePapadopoulos1996,119,n. 34. 6 SectionM."Protogeometric"ell at70/MH.Clearedn-termittentlybetween2and26April1934by DorothyBurr[Thompson].See also Coldstream1968, 10,13.  190JOHNK.PAPADOPOULOSAND DEBORAH RUSCILLO[AJA106 A TERRACETRENCHCUTTING eMA ODPlan S1 2 3 4MD -Tr.BTurk.pitcutting TurkSection-A 2: ,  K12:1 Ter,r. Section A-A a egg Fig.3.Planand section ofAgorawellsK12:1andK12:2.InkedbyRichardAnderson,aftera sketchinthe excavationnotebook.(Courtesyof theAgoraExcavations,AmericanSchoolofClassicalStudies atAthens)when thewell hadgoneout ofuse;aselectionfromthe more numerous andfragmentarymateri-alrecovered fromthislevelis alsopresented(fig.6).NicolasColdstreamlists the lowerdepositasoneofthe earliest of hissignificant EarlyGeomet-ricIdeposits;'theupperfillis listed as the earli-est of theEarlyGeometricIIsignificantdepositson thebasis of the latestdiagnosticmaterialrecov-eredfrom it.' Theupperdeposit yieldedsomeearliermaterial,includingpottery deriving per-hapsfrom disturbed tombs.9Thechronologicalconsistencyof thepotteryrecovered from thelow-erdepositwouldindicate that the well wasopenandin use for arelativelyshortperiodoftime,anobservationsupportedbythe latest material re-coveredfrom thedumped filling comprisingtheupper deposit.Althoughthewell,withthepossi-bleexceptionof onepiece(P 20618),does notcontainanyobviouspotters'waste,anumber ofwholepotsfromtheperiod-of-usedepositaresomewhatpoorlyfired."' These areinadditiontoseveralhandmadecookingvesselsorchytrai (fig.5),allclearlyfire-stainedor burnt from normaldomesticuse. Thepoorly-firedvessels,on the oth-erhand,areall wheelmadeandpaintedandmayindicate that"factoryseconds" werecommonlyusedfor more mundanepurposes,such as draw-ingwaterfromwells,thoughit is worthstressingthatdamagedvesselssometimes occur intombs."Thewhalebone,BI115(figs.7-8),was foundintheupper depositat adepthof1.75mbelow wallBand,therefore,atleast1m in the fillasmea-suredfrom the level of thesurroundingbedrock.Such adepthis well below the leveloftheintru-sivematerialencounteredat the mouthof thewell,and the bone artifactmaybedatedonthe basis ofthediagnostic potteryrecoveredfromtheupperfill of wellK12:2.This would indicatethe chrono-logicalphase EarlyGeometricII,or ca.850B.C. inthe conventional absolutechronology,as a termi-nuspostquemforBI 115.12 Howlongthe bonewasinusepriortoitshavingbeendiscarded cannotbe determined.Itis worthnoting,however,that7Coldstream1968,10. Well K12:2is listed behindAgoragravesC9:8and N 16:4. 'Coldstream1968,13. 9 Threevessels,alekythos(P 3826),apyxis(P 14207),anda"fruittand"P3967),allclearlyProtogeometricandquite early,mustderive from disturbedburials,perhapsevenfromthesamegrave;this will be treatedinmore detailintheforth-comingvolume ontheEarlyIronAgetombsinthe AthenianAgoraseries."SeePapadopoulos1996,2002.P20618isafragmentof aone-handledcuppreservinglessthanone-halfofbody,includ-inghandlescars,butnothingof the base. Theclay bodyis inpartreducedand thepainthasmostlyfiredbrown,inplacesapproachingblack.It is notinconceivablethat thefragmentwas once atest-piece.Thecupisstylisticallyearlierthantheother materialinthedepositand thusrepresentsearlierresid-ual materialdumpedintothe well.Apartfromtheinventoriedpiecesalreadynoted,thereare,amongthemanysherds fromthedepositstoredincontext,afewthat areverypoorlyfired,includingsome thatmayevenbefragmentsfrompossiblewastersorproductiondiscards,thoughtheirfragmentarystateis such as to renderanystatementuncertain. The wholepotsfrom theperiodof use that arepoorlyfiredinclude P3687,P3688,P3939;otherpoorlyfiredvesselsfrom the lowerdepositincludethefragmentaryoinochoeP3941."SeePapadopoulos1998. 12 Manyofthepiecesillustratedinfigure5 fromtheupperfillwere recorded ascomingfrom asimilardepthasBI115;otherswere recordedascomingfrom adepthdown to 1.54 m.
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