1. Introduction

The East Isthmia Archaeology Project was established in 2005 to develop an understanding - spatial, chronological, and functional - of the buildings east of the Temple of Poseidon at Isthmia and which probably date from the 1st to the 5th centuries AD (Figs 1-2; on Isthmia itself, Broneer 1973; Gebhard 1993; Gregory 1993). These buildings were first discovered in the early 1970s and have since stood in varying states of survival, having evaded all attempts to understand their role in the operation of the Panhellenic sanctuary. In this article we explain the reasons why these buildings have resisted archaeological interpretation as well as outline our own aims for understanding the site. The 'legacy data' from the first excavations (the daily excavation journals and the surviving structures), as well as from subsequent studies, is described, along with a discussion of how these data have defined, and also inhibited, the recording and interpretation of the site.

Figure 1 Figure 2
Figure 1: Aerial view of the East Field (top left, partially excavated) at Isthmia. The theatre is at bottom, with the eastern portion of the temenos of the Temple of Poseidon at top right (after Valavanis 2004, 290, fig. 414).
Figure 2: The East Field at Isthmia, looking north-east.

Our article ultimately establishes this site as a case study for the incorporation of legacy data with freshly derived data from new field research. Geographical Information Systems technologies are used to harness and integrate the various data as well as to display and analyse them. The article also serves as a guide to the reading of vernacular architecture, particularly the assessment of poorly preserved and incomplete walls so that the 'shape of space' can be better understood and facilitate further and more nuanced studies. Our methodology is therefore presented as transparently as possible with the modest (or perhaps ambitious) hope that it might benefit the further study of similar sites with poorly preserved architecture and legacy data, of which there are many throughout the Mediterranean.


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Last updated: Mon Jun 30 2008