Friday, September 11, 2009


Version at BMCR home site
Nicholas D. Cahill (ed.), Love for Lydia: A Sardis Anniversary Volume Presented to Crawford H. Greenewalt, Jr. Archaeological Exploration of Sardis; Report 4. Cambridge, Mass./London: Harvard University Press, 2009. Pp. xvi, 249; [20] p. of plates. ISBN 9780674031951. $50.00.
Reviewed by Naoise Mac Sweeney, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge UK

Table of Contents

This volume of thirteen papers was presented to Crawford H. Greenewalt Jr. on the occasion of his seventieth birthday. By fortunate coincidence, this birthday falls in the same year as the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Sardis Expedition by George M.A. Hanfmann, meaning that the collection celebrates not one, but two, special events. It is therefore appropriate that the volume is ambitious in scope; with papers covering twelve centuries of occupation at Sardis, and ranging from detailed object studies to an overview of conservation practices at the site. The ensuing anthology makes for engaging reading, offering a broad perspective both of an important and long-lived site, and an important and long-lived excavation.

The papers are arranged roughly in chronological order, with three papers dealing with a single late Lydian tumulus clustered at the beginning, and the methodological and historiographical papers at the end. The volume also includes a short preface by the editor, Nicholas Cahill, a full bibliography of Crawford H. Greenewalt's works, and twenty colour plates in addition to the black-and-white images within the main text.

The collection begins with three separate papers discussing Lale Tepe, one of a group of seventeen late Lydian tumuli clustered around the Gencer Cayi, a tributary of the Hermos River to the immediate west of Sardis. The tomb had previously been looted, and these papers document some of the findings from the salvage excavations which were carried out in 1999. In the first paper, Christopher H. Roosevelt offers an introduction to the tumulus, describing its excavation history and circumstances of discovery, its main decorative and architectural features, and the seven main contexts for finds. The descriptions are detailed, and effort is made throughout to situate the remains at Lale Tepe within the wider framework of other tumuli across Lydia. In addition, the paper includes a catalogue of finds, including all pottery and small finds unearthed during the rescue excavations. The catalogue is well illustrated, and makes good use of Greenewalt's own typology of Lydian pottery, developed for his PhD dissertation in 1966.

Philip T. Stinson provides the second paper on Lale Tepe, discussing the architecture of the tomb and painted decoration. There is some overlap with Roosevelt's paper in the initial pages, but Stinson discusses in great detail the construction techniques and masonry styles in the first part of his paper, and the sculpted and painted decoration in the second. The level of detail in the analysis itself leads to some of the most interesting insights of the paper. Stinson highlights the fact that the tomb employs a varied mix of different cultural styles, incorporating Greek, Lydian and Phrygian elements. However, he also points out the depth of this cultural fusion--it applies not only to the finished visual product, but also to the level of construction techniques and craft practice. This analysis is made possible by Stinson's use of a wide range of comparanda from Lydia, Phrygia, Ionia and Aeolia.

Elizabeth P. Baughan's paper on the klinai completes the trio of Lale Tepe papers. In it, she traces the development of the kline (wooden banqueting couch) into a stone funerary couch found in tombs across western Anatolia. Baughan details the construction of the Lale Tepe klinai, their decoration, and their positioning relative to each other, comparing the Lale Tepe examples with others from elsewhere in the region. Unlike the two previous papers, Baughan is especially interested in the chronological context of the tumulus and in the differences between this Achaemenid period tomb and earlier examples. She relates the hierarchical positioning of the different klinai within the tomb chamber to the changes which took place in Lydian society after the Achaemenid conquest, highlighting this increased concern with status differentiation.

The next paper, by Andrew Ramage, is a short but intriguing piece about re-used pottery from the seventh-century occupation of the 'House of Bronzes' area. The House of Bronzes material has not yet been widely published, and so this brief look at some of the pottery is particularly interesting. Ramage points out that the practice of mending broken pots, and of adapting them for alternative purposes, offers us some insight into the Lydian mindset--perhaps suggesting something about the economic value of pottery, or about a predisposition to thrift and frugality.

Elspeth R.M. Dusinberre moves us away from Sardis with a study of an Achaemenid-period cylinder seal from Gordion. This is one of three papers in the volume which do not focus on Sardis and its immediate environs, all of which seem slightly out of place. Of the three, Dusinberre's paper is perhaps the most connected into the rest of the volume, drawing conclusions as it does about the Achaemenid period in western Anatolia as a whole. As an object study, the paper is thorough and well-illustrated, drawing on a good range of comparisons. Dusinberre concludes that the seal suggests a pro-Achaemenid sentiment at Gordion, overtly supporting Achaemenid models of divine kingship and cosmic order. Whilst this is perhaps a tenuous conclusion to draw from only one cylinder seal, the paper is nonetheless interesting and thought-provoking.

Gretchen Umholtz's paper on boukrania as decorative motifs in the early Hellenistic period is the second of the non-Sardis papers. Unlike Dusinberre, Umholtz does not connect her paper with either Sardis or western Anatolia at all, focusing instead on the cult buildings of Samothrace. Umholtz considers a recorded phenomenon--the increase in women making religious dedications in the Hellenistic period--from an art historical perspective, considering the impact of this shift on decorative schemes. In particular, she argues that the phiale and the bukranion were considered to be especially appropriate motifs for a building dedicated by a woman. The overall argument here is an interesting but speculative one.

We return to Sardis once more with Nicholas Cahill's contribution on the work done to map Sardis and its immediate environs. Cahill summarises the long history of survey and mapping done in the Sardis area, from the 1962 map drawn up by the State Board of Waterworks until the present day. Cahill highlights some of the difficulties in creating an accessible and consistent map of Sardis over the years, and explains how these have been overcome. In the second part of the paper, Cahill moves on to consider the location of the main city of Sardis through the centuries. This has proved an enduring problem for researchers, with the Roman and Lydian cities apparently being in one location with no clear signs of Achaemenid occupation in the same area.

Christopher Ratté continues the theme of urban landscapes with his paper on the city during the Hellenistic period. Ratté's paper offers an overview of existing research into the subject, comparing different scholars' arguments on the issue, and using historical as well as archaeological evidence. He particularly supports the idea that Sardis retained many of its Lydian civic institutions into the Hellenistic period, and that the 'Hellenization' process was a long, slow, and partial one. He admits, however, that relatively little can be said on this topic from the archaeology of Sardis itself.

David Gordon Mitten and Aimée Francesa Scorziello discuss the use of architectural spolia in the fourth century AD synagogue at Sardis, pointing out that this appears to have been due to a conscious social strategy rather than to a lack of available building materials. Subtle and not-so-subtle references to the past, they argue, were made in the synagogue through the incorporation of architectural features from the Lydian, Persian and Hellenistic periods. Mitten and Scorziello suggest that this may have had the effect of rooting the local Jewish community into the complex fabric of Sardis, linking it to the rich history of the city. This paper raises some interesting questions for all multi-periods sites about understanding the past in the past and creating a sense of place.

Marcus L. Rautman's paper discusses a residential complex at Sardis from the fifth and sixth centuries AD. In particular, Ratuman is interested in the mural paintings of one apsidal room, as representing the public entertaining room of one particular house. Amongst other things, the paintings depict fictive architecture, creating the illusion of a larger and more ornate room. Rautman uses this example to develop a sensitive discussion of social aspiration in late Roman Sardis, considering how display within the domestic space could have been used to make statements about affluence and status.

Barbara Burrell's discussion of a coin hoard from late fifth century Sardis offers insights into the later periods of occupation on the site. Burrell's paper, although focusing on the hoard itself, contextualises the hoard within fifth-century Sardis more generally, giving the reader a good historical grounding. She uses this to draw some interesting conclusions about the possible meaning of the hoard, and to speculate intelligently on the possible circumstances of its deposition. The paper is more concerned with interpretation and context than orthodox numismatic data, which makes it attractive and accessible to the lay reader.

Kent Severson's paper is an overview of the last thirty years of work at Sardis--the period of Greenewalt's tenure as Director. Severson is concerned primarily with on-site conservation, and describes developments in laboratory facilities as well as main activities in the areas of field conservation, site conservation, and object conservation. He also includes a short section on experimental archaeology at Sardis, which contains some interesting nuggets of infomation.

The final paper in the volume is by Fikret K. Yegül, and deals with the reception of classical architecture in the work of Austrian architect Adolf Loos in the early twentieth century. This paper is the last of the three which are not focused on Sardis, and contains very little to connect it to the rest of the volume. Yegül does make some interesting suggestions regarding the synergy of ornament and form in Roman architecture in comparison with modern architecture, but these do not come until the very end of the paper. The reader is left wondering what relevance this paper has to Greenewalt, Sardis, or any of the main themes of the rest of the volume.

Overall, Love of Lydia is a welcome addition to the Sardis series, and a fitting tribute to both Greenewalt himself and the last fifty years of research at Sardis. The scope of the book is broad, without sacrificing detailed analysis in the individual papers, and the range of chronological periods and subjects covered act to complement each other. However, there is some disruption of the overall unity by the papers which do not focus on Sardis. With this fifty-year retrospective in hand, we can all now look forward to the next fifty years of work at Sardis.

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