Travels and Discoveries in the Levant/Volume 1/Letter XXVIII
Calymnos, February, 1855.
Since my last report on the diggings, I have coutinued to explore cemeteries and other localities, with very chequered fortune.
After a great deal of trouble, I succeeded in obtaining permission from Janni Sconi to dig over the very field where he had found the treasure some years ago. I very soon came to graves, but not of a very interesting character. The outline of the grave was only marked by two or three rough slabs placed over it. The interior was always full of earth, in which small vases were imbedded. In one of these graves, evidently that of a female, was a small marble circular box, with traces of colour outside. Such boxes, called pyxides, formed part of the toilet apparatus of the ladies of antiquity, and probably contained imguents or other cosmetics.
In another grave was a lamp on which was painted the head of Leda with the swan, in red on a black ground—the only vase with figures painted on it which I found in Calymnos. This grave also contained a large two-handled cup of plain black ware, a lamp, and three vases with covers. In the soil, when sifted, were some beads of a silver necklace, a silver fibula of very ordinary workman-ship, and some small pearls from a necklace.
All these objects were found about 2 feet below the surface. I opened seven other graves in this field, several of which were very small, as if intended for children. In one of these was a terra-cotta relief, representing two female figures bidding adieu to each other. The material and execution of this relief were very ordinary. It was so imbedded in the soil that even the fine hands of my workmen foiled to detach it, except in very small fragments.
Such terra-cottas are not uncommon in Greek tombs. I found no gold in Janni Sconi's field, except one small spangle, though the Greeks expected that much treasure would reward our diggings, in the course of which a curious domestic scene took place in my presence between Janni Sconi and his wife. The lady, who conceived that her consent ought to have been asked before we entered the field, stood over a grave which we were just going to open, and cursed her husband and our whole party very heartily, making mysterious gesticidations over our heads. All her own relations attended to back her up; and it is probable that, if we had found anything worth carrying away, a scramble would have taken place over the grave. Several other Greeks also made their appearance, claiming a part ownership in the field, and marking out the little plots which they claimed with heaps of stones. Great was the litigation between them and Janni Sconi as to the question of boundaries. The fields in Calymnos often contain within the same enclosure plots of ground belonging to several owners, and this division of property sometimes extends even to the olive and fig-trees.
Finding that the graves in Janni Sconi's field did not repay examination, I soon drew off my workmen to explore the fields all round this spot, which were equally unproductive. I then returned to the rocky part of the Damos, and tried a field adjoining the tongue of land on which an ancient town evidently once stood.
Across the neck of this tongue of land was a line of wall running north and south between the two ravines. This wall I traced continuously by excavation for about 165 feet. It is about 7 feet wide, with a casing of isodomous masonry on each side, the centre being filled up with rubble. The largest of the blocks were about 4 feet by 2 feet 5 inches. The stone appears to have been cut from the adjoining quarry. At the distance of about 53 feet from its southern extremity, the wall throws out a square tower, probably intended to protect a gateway.
On the east side of this wall I found the ancient surface of the soil at depths varying from 3 to 8 feet. This surface was strewn with fragments of red coarse pottery, among which I found three handles of Rhodian diotœ inscribed with the names of magistrates, three grotesque heads in terra-cotta, a bronze fish-hook, part of a terra-cotta figure, and portions of stucco from ancient houses.
About 100 yards east of the wall is a natural platform of rock, in which I found several tombs very neatly cut in the bed of the rock, and closed by monolithic lids shghtly ridged.
On the northern side of the same rocky platform I observed a square opening like a doorway cut through the rock, at the edge of the platform. The sides of this opening were lined with cement in which were fragments of tiles. At the end of this opening was a wall nearly concealed by earth which had accumulated against it. On removing this wall, I found a small natural cavern, at the bottom of which were three graves side by side.
The contents had evidently been disturbed and the wall at the entrance carefully replaced. In the earth, inside the cavern, were fragments of bones, of ordinary red pottery, and of glass vessels, two small portions of ornaments of beaten gold, and a glass bead. In one grave were two copper coins, one of which proved to be an unedited coin of Cos, struck in the reign of Caracalla. Ross states that another similar cavern was discovered in Calymnos some years ago, about half a mile to the west of the one opened by me. Immediately to the east of this field is another, separated from the tract called Δραπέτης? by a ravine, where I found a great number of graves cut in the rock, but containing no object of value.
The entire strip of land over which my excavations had extended up to this date was about half a mile; the niunber of graves opened was about forty.
The pottery found in these graves was all of a late date, probably from B.C. 330 to B.C. 150, or later. The forms were deficient in elegance. The ware was for the most part black varnished ware, red varnished ware, and unpainted drab ware. The black varnish, as is often the case in the later ware, had not resisted the action of wet. Bones were seldom found; many of the graves contained the ναῦλον, or copper coin. The accumulation of soil over the grave was generally from three to four feet. A lamp or cup was constantly found in the soil, a few inches distant from the side of the grave. These were doubtless left there by relations who came to bring offerings to the tomb, as we see in those vase-pictures which represent Heroa, or architectural tombs, on the steps of which rows of cups or vases are placed by female figures offering libations.
To this day the Greek peasant does not forget to make periodical libations; and as I return from my diggings on Saturday evenings here, I generally meet a procession of peasant women on their way to the churchyard, swinging censers fiill of incense, and bearing in their hands a small tin can of oil to replenish the lamps, which they keep constantly burning in the tombs.
I next explored part of the site of the Temple of Apollo, where, on first arriving at Calymnos, I had been unable to obtain the right of digging. This site is at present occupied by the small church of Christos, which is built in a great measure out of the ruins of the Temple of Apollo. It is situated about half-way between the harbours of Pothia and Linaria, on a kind of neck of land shut in by hills on each side, and connecting the two valleys of Pothia and Linaria.
A ground plan of the church of Christos may be seen in Ross, ii. p. 96. The apse at the east end is entirely built of Hellenic blocks. In the space in front of the west door a Corinthian column is still standing. On the south side of the church is the smaller church called Hypakoe, attached to it like an aisle.
I commenced digging in a field adjoining the church on the west, which had been partially explored by the proprietor about two years ago, on which occasion he found two cubes of marble containing decrees for the manumission of slaves, and the name of an artist from Crete previously unknown.
Making an excavation in front of the church within about 12 feet of the western wall, I found that formerly it had been continued farther in this direction, the pavement still remaining. This was composed of large square slabs of marble from the original pavement of the temple, which had been laid down a second time irregularly; the chasms where slabs were missing having been filled up by tessellated pavement.
Immediately to the front of the single column still standing, are two large blocks. One of them measured 3 feet 1 inch by 2 feet 5 inches by 1 foot 9 inches, and was inscribed with the name Nikokles; and below, in smaller characters, the names, Nikokles and Aratogenes. Side by side with this was a second block, extending to the base of the column. These seemed, from their size and position, to be a portion of the southern stylobate, still remaining in its original place, though I do not feel quite sure of this. Ross states that at the time of his visit there were persons in Calymnos who remembered eight of these columns in a row.
Continuing the line of the western wall of the church, at the distance of 6 feet 10 inches to the south of the supposed stylobate, was a parallel row of blocks, one of which seemed to be the threshold-stone of a doorway 3 feet 5 inches in width. I found no trace of stylobate or other foundations on the north side, as the proprietor of the field had dug here previously to my visit. In the Byzantine foundations on this part of the site I found a wrist and part of a hand, part of an arm, and fragments of two feet of a colossal figure in white marble, and in a good style of sculpture. It is not improbable that they formed part of the statue of Apollo himself.
A little to the south of the church of Hypakoe I found five very well-preserved stelæ lying in the soil, one of which was covered with a deeply-cut inscription on both sides, relating to a civil action between the people of Calymnos and the heirs of a certain Cleomedes, who appear to have been citizens of Cos. This suit seems to have been referred to a tribunal at Cnidus.
On one side of the stele the mode of procedure in the trial is set forth, with the form of the oath to be administered to the Dikasts and the witnesses: on the other side is the sentence, which is decided by a court of Dikasts. The number of votes for the plaintiff were 78; for the defendant 120.
In case any of the witnesses residing either in Cos or Calymnos should be prevented from appearing in court, it is ordered that their depositions be taken in either island before the magistrates, called Prostatæ, copies of which, attested by the seal of the State as affidavits, are to be then transmitted to the adversary in the suit. The length of time for the pleadings is measured by the klepsydra, ποτὶ χόας: for the first pleading each party is allowed eighteen of the measures called χόες; for the second, ten. Such a trial was technically called δίκη πρὸς ὕδωρ.133
Beyond this field to the west, the groimd slopes down towards two wells. I thought it probable that, as the drainage from the temple must have been carried down this declivity, some small relics and votive offerings would be found in the soil here. I was not altogether disappointed in this hope. A few feet below the surface I came upon an ancient paved road, which had led evidently from the wells to the temple. I removed every stone of the pavement carefiilly, and thus found a great number of Greek copper coins, several of which were from distant places; such as Miletus, Sigeum in the Troad, Macedonia. I also found a bronze netting-needle and other small objects in the same material, and such a number of bronze arrow-heads as to lead me almost to suppose that a shower of arrows had fallen here. The points of some of them were blunted. Along the sides of the road were traces of an ancient water-course, in the bed of which I found two or three interesting terra-cotta reliefs ; and, higher up the slope, the tooth of a horse, bound with a bronze loop, by which it had been suspended; a tress of hair in bronze; a colossal thumb in marble: all these had evidently been votive objects offered in the temple.
In the upper part of the field, nearer the temple, I found a few fragments of sculpture in white marble; an archaic male head in the Æginetan style, greatly defaced; part of a thigh, from a male draped figure; and the torso of a female statuette, perhaps a Venus, tying her sandal.134
Here also was a stone forming the angle of a small pediment, witli dentils coarsely executed, (See the cut, infra.)
At the top of this field and on the south side of the temple I came upon the angle of an Hellenic building of isodomous masonry. Within the walls there was no pavement, and I found no antiquities except a large ball of lead, perhaps from an ancient steelyard.
Length on F H, 2, feet 6 inches.
In the field to the south of the church of Hypakoe, at the distance of 13 feet 8 inches from the wall of that church, I found Hellenic foundations running from N.W. to S.E. at a depth of from 7 feet to 8 feet below the surface. On laying these bare, I discovered three chambers arranged as in the annexed plan. The space marked by the walls ABCD was paved with rough stones, as if it had formed an outer passage. It was 12 feet wide, and we traced it to the N.W. 44 feet: how much further in this direction it ran could not be ascertained. On removing the stones of the pavement carefully, we found in the interstices many Greek coins, bronze arrow-heads, glass astragali, or knuckle-bones, small glass counters of different colours, bone hair-pins, and other small objects such as might naturally have been dropped there from time to time.
At F I found under the pavement a Greek swordhandle of bronze in the form of a gryphon's head. The sockets for the eyes were empty, and probably contained some vitreous composition. This bronze belongs to a good period.
The area of the smaller chamber E was 14 feet 10 inches by 11 feet 2 inches; the pavement was composed of rough stones like that of the long passage, but was raised above it 10 inches. At G was a doorway with the stone sockets for the hinge and the bolt, and near it a window about 6 inches wide.
The third chamber, marked H, branches out from the long chamber to the S.W. It terminates in an apse: its length, the apse H included, is 16 feet 7 inches; its width 14 feet 8 inches. The semicircular end, and one side of the chamber, were paved with large squared blocks very firmly fitted together; on removing which, I found a second pavement of similar blocks.
Between the interstices of the upper pavement "were several copper coins, arrow-heads, and glass astragali. Beyond this chamber are foundations of other Hellenic walls stretching to the S.W. from the angle IK. These I was unable to explore. The largest of the blocks which formed these courses measured 3 feet 10 inches by 1 foot 8 inches.
The foundations I have here described were in the same line as the angle of Hellenic wall which I had found to the W. of the temple, and probably formed part of the same series of buildings. "We know that within the precinct of an ancient temple were often buildings for various purposes, such as treasuries to contain votive objects, houses where the priests dwelt, and where strangers who visited the temple might be lodged.135 In the case of the Temple of Apollo, it is certain, from the evidence of an inscription, if I have rightly deciphered it, that a theatre stood within the precinct of the temenos.
This inscription records a grant of land decreed by the Senate and People of Calymnos to a public benefactor. The land is granted by the State to Aratokintos, the son of Aristias, to enable him to build in it, at his own expense and for the public benefit, a proscenium and Scene, and to surround the temenos, or sacred precinct, with a wall. The line which mentions that the theatre stood within the precinct of the temple is so nearly illegible that my reading of it may not be generally admitted; but it is confirmed by a very curious discovery which I made in the course of examining the church of Christos.
At the end of the decree, the form of the dedicatory inscription to be placed on the proscenium is prescribed to be as follows:—Ἀρατόκριτος Ἀριστία τὰν σκανὰν καὶ τὸ προσκάνιον στεϕαναϕορήσας Ἀπόλλωνι, "Aratokritos, the son of Aristias, being Stephanephoros, [dedicates] to Apollo the Scene and the Proscenium."
Now it is a curious coincidence that over the doorway of the church at Christos is a fragment of architrave on which is inscribed in majuscule characters:—
. . . . ΝΑ . . ΡΗΣΑΣΑΠΟΛΛ . . .
This fragment was noticed by Ross, who remarks that it was probably part of a dedication inscribed on some monument in the vestibule of the Temple of Apollo. With the aid of the decree relating to Aratokritos, it is obvious that the words in the fragment must be restored στεϕα]να[ϕο]ρήσας Ἀπόλλ[ωνι]; and there can hardly be a doubt that the architrave of which this is a remnant actually formed part of the proscenium dedicated by Aratokritos.
It is possible that further excavation to the south of the church of Christos would bring to light some trace of the theatre mentioned in the inscription, with which the Hellenic foundations explored by me may be connected. When I first saw this inscription, it was built into a tomb in the modern cemetery. As it was inserted upside down, the letters were in some places nearly effaced, the copying it was a very painful and tedious process, and occupied me several days.136
To the east and S.E. of the temple I found the foundations of two large Byzantine monasteries, which had been built close to' the church. Some time in the Middle Ages they must have been destroyed; and afterwards the deposit of alluvial soil from the hills completely obliterated all traces of their walls. In these foundations, and in the soil about them, I found many fragments of Greek inscriptions which had been broken up and laid like tiles in the masonry to give it more bond. The labour' of breaking up these walls was very considerable; and, as one of my Greek workmen observed, with Homeric simplicity, the work of demolition required "a brazen man with iron hands." Some small fragments of statues of a good time were intermixed with the rubble of these walls; and in the soil of the field I found a small marble term with a Satyric head, the only object in the shape of statuary which had escaped the iconoclastic zeal of the monks of Calymnos. In the course of the excavations in this field, I dug up several fragments of vases with red figures on a black ground, of the best period of fictile art, and very superior in fabric to any which I found in the tombs. In the foundations of the monasteries were many coins, and a few bronze implements of the Byzantine period.
While I was gradually forming a collection of inscriptions from these excavations, I employed all my leisure time in copying the inscriptions inserted in the walls of the various churches in the town of Calymnos and the neighbourhood. Nearly all of these originally belonged to the Temple of Apollo. After spending much time in deciphering these inscriptions, I find that there were in all sixty-four decrees made by the senate and people of Calymnos.
Of these decrees, nineteen grant the politela, or citizenship, to foreigners, for services rendered to the people of Calymnos; eleven grant the proxenia to foreigners for similar reasons; thirteen relate either to politeia or poxenia, but from their mutilated condition then import cannot be precisely ascertained; two relate to judicial proceedings; two confer crowns; two bestow honours on physicians; two honours for services in war; and one an honorary grant of land. Eleven are mere fragments, of which the subjects cannot be ascertained.
All these inscriptions probably belong to the period between B.C. 350 and B.C. 250. In one of them occurs the mention of a king Antigonos, who is most probably Antigonos, the father of Demetrios Poliorketes.
It is interesting to observe, that in this list the grants of politeia, or full citizenship, are far more numerous than those of proxenia. The right of full citizenship was bestowed very liberally by the Asiatic cities; and it is probable that the small and rocky island of Calymnos was very glad to increase its population through such means. Judging from inscriptions, it would seem that such grants of politeia were very rarely made by the cities of Greece Proper, though the more restricted rights of proxenia were very generally given. Among the inscriptions I copied, was a list of citizens and metoikoi, contributors to some tax.
One of the honorary decrees confers a crown for services rendered in a maritime engagement oif the island of Cos, between the Calymnians and the people of Hierapytna in Crete. These hostihties probably took place about the 2nd century B.C., when the Archipelago was much infested by pirates.
Besides the inscriptions of the Macedonian period already enumerated, were a number which may obvously be referred to the time when Calymnos formed part of the Koman empire. The earliest of these was a dedication to Apollo by Publius Servilius Isauricus, when Consul, by which the date of this inscription is thus fixed to B.C. 79. This I dug up among the Byzantine foundations. Another dedicatory inscription by the same Servilius is built into the western wall of the church of Christos.
There were of the Roman period several other dedicatory inscriptions, one of which has been the base of a statue of Cahgiila, and twenty-five records of the manumission of slaves, a rare and cm'ious class of docimients. Some of this latter class were dug up in a garden called Blyko, near the harbour of Pothia, amid the ruins of an old Greek church, and were noticed by me in my visit in 1853.
The magistrates whose names appear at the head of the decrees of the Macedonian period are always the prostatæ. In the manumissions, the Eponymous magistrate of Calymnos is the Stephanephoros, a title adopted in many Asiatic cities. In the grants of citizenship, we get the names of several Demi, or burgs and tribes (Phylæ), to which the new citizens were assigned by lot. Among the names of the Demes is that of Pothoi. The resemblance between this name and that of the harbour Pothia is curious. I am assured that in the small island of Telendos, lying off Calymnos, is a place called Potha.
The list which I have here given of inscriptions, and which does not include all the fragments found, will serve to give some idea of the rich collection of historical and municipal records which must have once existed in the Temple of Apollo. It is curious that, till the time of Ross's visit, hardly any inscriptions of Calymnos were known to exist.
The excavations on this site show very clearly what has been the fate of the greater part of the Greek temples in the Archipelago. The scriptures in marble must have been at a very early period broken up by the Iconoclasts, and the fragments built into the walls of monasteries, or made into lime; while the works in bronze or more precious materials were melted down and probably converted into Byzantine money at Constantinople. The inscriptions being generally on thin slabs very serviceable in masonry, have not been so ruthlessly destroyed as the statues, and many probably will be found in the walls and pavement of ruined monasteries.
At a place called Argos, near the upper town of Calymnos, are two portions of a frieze of gryphons, in relief, which, doubtless, once ornamented the Temple of Apollo, One of these fragments was inserted in the wall of the church called Kyria, the other in that of the church of St. George. The sculpture, which is covered with whitewash, is coarse and late. In the wall of the church Kyria is a relief representing a funeral feast, and in the pavement the fragment of a decree.
Between the port and the upper town is a castle, which stands on a height a little way inland, and is called τὸ πέρα κάστρον. In one of the walls is an escutcheon with the arms of the Grand Master, John de Lastic.137 Within the castle is a little church dedicated to the Panagia. The jamb of the entrance doorway to the castle is a block of marble, inscribed with a dedication of a temple and certain statues by Nikodamos, son of Aratogenes, priest of the Dioscuri.138
To the west of Damos is a small valley leading down to the shore. Here is a church dedicated to St. Michael (Tasiarches), and close by it a well of excellent water, with a square aperture built of marble. This well appears ancient. Near this well is a cave, called 'μπρόστινα μέρη, which extends, as I was told, for about 450 paces into the earth. Out of it has been dug, probably for centuries, a red clay, which supplies material for a pottery at the mouth of the cave. Here I found a potter at work with a wheel, which has, probably, not changed its form since the time of the ancients. It consisted of a lower disk, τροχός, turned by the foot, and con- nected Avith a smaller upper disk, μικρὸς τροχός by a spindle, ῥόκα. A lump of clay having been placed on the upper disk is fashioned as it revolves by a wooden lathe held in the hand. On a Greek cup in the British Museum a potter is represented at work with a similar wheel.139 After the shape has been thus formed, the handles are put on when required, and the ware is left to dry in the sun till it hardens. It is then baked in a furnace for a whole day. All the modern Greek pottery which I have seen is of a very coarse kind, though in many islands the ancient shapes of the amphora, and other larger vases are still retained, with little deviation. This is particularly the case at Rhodes. The fine tough clay used by the ancients is either unknown or the process by which it was tempered and wrought to such tenacity is no longer understood: glazing is seldom employed. Many of the ancient names of vases are still retained. At Calymnos saucers are called πινάκια, and large pails for milk, ἀρμέγοι, from ἀρμέγω, the Calymuiote corruption of ἀμέλγω, " to milk."
On the shore at Linari is a harbour formed by a small bay. Here I saw a column of blue marble, inscribed with a dedication by the people of Calymnos to the emperor Claudius, styled Saviour and Benefactor of the island.140
North of Linari and opposite the small island called Telendos is a ruined church on a lull, which contains fragments of columns. A temple perhaps stood here; and a little to the south of this church is a place called Periboli, planted with vines, where many pieces of ancient marble have been dug up. These remains may mark the site of an ancient city. The channel between the shore and Telendos here is very narrow, and affords good anchorage for large ships. I crossed over to Telendos, where I found little to interest me. On the shore opposite Calymnos are the ruins of a village, where I noticed in the walls of the houses squared blocks from some ancient edifice. Here are several ruined churches, but I could find in them no inscriptions.
A steep mountain rises from the shore, on the summit of which is a mediaeval castle with cisterns. I did not examine this, but my companion, the Greek schoolmaster of Calymnos, assumed me that there were no inscriptions there. I was told that on the north side of Telendos is an Hellenic fortress built with very large blocks of stone. This we had not time to examine.
Hearing that there were Hellenic tombs at a place called Yathy, Βαθύ, to the north-east of the town of Calymnos, I visited this spot. The road to it, leaving the old town on the right, leads up a steep mountain- pass to a rocky crest, connecting the mountains Agios Bhas on the right and Milianos on the left. On crossing this ridge, we descended by a road as abrupt as the ascent into a narrow valley, which still retains its ancient name Temenia, and where, according to Eoss, a quantity of silver coins were found some years ago.141
This valley is bounded on the N.E. by the mountain Parasebaste, which extends across the island in a direction S.E. by N.W. At its eastern extremity the valley of Temenia widens into a little plain, extending as far as the sea, where is a small harbour, very suitable for ancient shipping. This plain, the richest part of the island, is called Vathy. It is planted with olives and studded with houses, which form a cluster round a metoche, or farm, the property of a church.142
Proceeding in a south-eastern direction towards the sea, we came to a plateau rising out of the plain, very similar to that of Damos. On the south, a wall of Hellenic masonry runs continuously along the rocky edge of this plateau for several hundred yards. Within the precinct of this wall is a ruined church dedicated to St. Michael (Taxiarches), and built entirely of Hellenic blocks; and further on another church. Agios Georgios, where Ross copied a sepulchral inscription of the time of the Antonines.143 The whole of this part is called Encremea. In the plain south of the Hellenic wall have been found tombs. Immediately below the southern edge of the platform is the bed of a small stream, crossing which we came to a plain planted with olives. Beyond this plain, to the south, are small natural mounds. The tombs are said to be in a sandy level between these mounds and an old church, called Panagia Calliotissa. In a field close to this church I found several Hellenic blocks and a large mortar or basin made of ordinary stone. These remains had been recently dug up. On the shore of the harbour of Vathy, Ross found ruins of built tombs, most of them vaulted.
To the N.W. of Encremea is Castello, where I was told there were Hellenic walls, supposed to be those of a Greek acropolis. I had not time to visit this place. From the number of ancient remains in the valley of Yathy, it is evident that a town must have stood here, probably on the plateau where I remarked the Hellenic wall. The fertility of this valley and the convenience of the harbour of Vathy would account for the choice of this site. Here probably stood one of the three towns in this island mentioned by Pliny.144