4. Methodology

4.1 Architectural survey in the East Field at Isthmia

The methodology of our survey of the on-site structural remains left from previous excavations is explained here in some detail, an explanation which makes transparent, as much as possible, our approach. This transparency enables our contribution to the interpretation of this site to be measured more readily. This detailed explanation is elaborated for the purposes of this volume, in that it provides a framework for understanding the problems we confronted with using the remains from previous excavations, both the physical remains and the documentation. We have made a significant departure from the earlier methodologies for such architectural surveys which have focused on the establishment of wall types and their sub-types to derive a phased structural plan of the buildings. Central to our methodology is the privileging of the stratified relationships among the walls. This involved a very detailed architectural survey as well as a systematic recording process for both our own field analyses and for the information available from the various notebooks of the first excavators.

This is not to say that we have abandoned wall typologies as a means for generating useful information about when a building was erected and what other buildings were constructed with it. There were, in fact, several circumstances in which the construction style and masonry types of two walls - particularly some that were spatially distant - proved very useful for understanding the building plans in the East Field and so in the overall formulation of our own plan of the site. Rather, we aimed to incorporate multiple forms of information that can be extracted from studying the surviving walls - including construction styles, building materials, as well as some very useful mortar sampling strategies - to develop an understanding of their relative chronological sequence. Where appropriate, certain elements were privileged over others. The stratigraphic relationships between a wall and those with which it came into contact almost always provided the most useful information for this understanding.


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