Sunday, December 9, 2018


Joseph Coleman Carter, Keith Swift, The Chora of Metaponto 7: The Greek Sanctuary at Pantanello, (3 vols.). Institute of Classical Archaeology Series on the Rural Settlements in the Chora of Metaponto, 7. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2018. Pp. 1800. ISBN 9781477314234. $200.00.

Reviewed by John K. Papadopoulos, UCLA (

Version at BMCR home site

[Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review.]

The final publication of any major fieldwork project is a cause for celebration, the appearance of the seventh volume in the Chora of Metaponto series doubly so. It is a credit to the principal investigator and primary author, Joseph Carter (who was recently elevated to the status of Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas), as well as his co-author, Keith Swift, and the many other contributors. The volume is also a tribute to the generous funding of the Packard Humanities Institute. The University of Texas Press has done a wonderful job with the production of this book: the photographs (color and black-and-white) and drawings are of very good quality and conveniently presented in the text (as are the footnotes); the editing is generally good, though funky things happened in the printing of stresses of modern Greek (though not ancient Greek) words, which were mercifully few and largely bibliographic.

The breakdown of the three volumes is straightforward: Vol. I deals with the excavations and the site; Vol. II with the pottery and finds; Vol. III with interpretations, although the first part of the latter also includes an overview and catalogue of additional finds. The largest section of Vol. I (Part 1), mostly penned by Carter, begins with a general introduction to the Sanctuary at Pantanello, and its archaeological-historical context, and this is followed by a blow-by-blow narrative of the annual excavation campaigns (1974-2013). This is enlivened by the chapter headings, such as: "A Canal Ran Through It," "The Game Is Afoot," or the "Game Changer." The associated drawings, plans, and sections are excellent, and the account includes many historical photographs from the 1970s, some featuring the excavator, a few of his collaborators and workmen. As someone who also excavated in the Mediterranean in the 1970s, these photographs brought back memories of another world, now very faraway.

Part 2 of Vol. I deals with the ancient environment, and shows that at least some classical archaeologists were doing all the right things way-back-when. The contributions are impressive: James Abbott on geoarchaeological observations; Andrea Zerboni, Elena Ferrari, Chiara Compostello, and Agostino Rizzi on the depositional and postdepositional processes in the formation of the archaeological record; the archaeobotanical remains by Lorenzo Costantini and Loredana Costatini Biasini; two separate contributions on the pollen record, one by Donald Sullivan, the other by Assunta Florenzano and Anna Maria Mercuri, the first dealing more generally with land use and vegetation change, the other more focused on the plant landscape of the immediate area from the 7th to the 1st centuries BC; the animal remains by László Bartosiewicz (assisted by Swift and Carter); the insect remains by Lorenzo Costantini and Paolo Audisio; the marine shells by Cesare D'Annibale.

The lion's share of Vol. II was penned by Swift. It begins with "contextualization" in Part 3, divided into two chapters, one on stratigraphy, chronology, and site phasing, the other on the excavated assemblages, which, as an excavator and sherd-nerd, I greatly appreciated. Part 4 presents the indispensable catalogues of classical archaeology (what would we do without them?). Swift was responsible for the indigenous pottery, Archaic fine wares, black-gloss,1 black-on-buff pottery, plain and banded pottery, thymiateria, louteria and stands, the Greek-type mortaria and pestles (though are they all of Greek-type?), cooking ware, Greek transport amphorae, and the pithoi; he also presented miniatures together with Anna Cavallo. Francesca Silvestrelli wrote up the figured pottery (a little bit of Attic black- and red-figured, and a good deal of Lucanian red-figure). The Gnathia pottery was published by Elisa Lanza Catti; the lamps by Emanuela Conoci; the metal finds by Marta Mazzoli; the coins by Anna Rita Parente; the lithics by Cesare D'Annibale. There is also a wonderful chapter on lásana, by Massimo Barretta, that got the interpretation of these once enigmatic objects right. The individual catalogue entries are to the point, all illustrated with drawings, and most with color photographs. Individual shapes or categories of material were given useful introductions, without a plethora of citations.

Vol. III, dealing with interpretations, begins with Part 5 on those archaeological materials that are cult-related. These are divided into four chapters: the first publishes the architectural materials from the sanctuary by Carlo Rescigno, Francesco Perugino, and Nicoletta Petrillo, beginning with the late Archaic material and continuing with that of the 4th–3rd centuries BC. The earlier includes a few stone elements: a fragment of a Doric capital, an anta capital, a cornice block, and what is called an argos lithos (which resembles a stone anchor), followed by almost 20 contemporary architectural terracottas (antefixes, simas, revetment plaques). There are rather more, and better preserved, stone elements from the later phases of the sanctuary, including Corinthian-Italic capitals, two architraves, one with a triglyph, a column drum, and several fragments of cornices, followed by only a few architectural terracottas. Then there are the "uncertain items," both in stone and terracotta, and these warrant a closer look by experts. This is followed by a larger section on tiles and other brick-like elements, including various roofing systems, especially Laconian (pan and cover tiles, and opaia); the chapter ends with terracotta elements from wells, and terracotta bathtubs (the latter somewhat out-of-place here). The spatial distributions of all roof tiles, stone elements, and decorated architectural terracottas, are shown on Figs. 42.1-2 (pp. 956-957).

The next chapter, by Carter, publishes the stone sculptures. Although there are only two, they pack a punch. The first, somewhat difficult to make out from the illustrations, is a neck fragment of an acrolithic marble cult statue, the other has a massive relief phallus, almost 60 cm in height, found right next to the praefurnium of a large kiln. For anyone who ever doubted that potters used all sorts of apotropaic devices to ward off the evils that may befall a firing, think again! I suspect that this phallus will make its appearance in many future studies of pottery production.

The following two chapters are more substantial, the first, by Lin Foxhall, deals with the loom weights from the sanctuary (over 400 in all), of various types (pyramidal, trapezoidal, disc, lentoid, pinched). This chapter tells a story about women's lives, activities, and rituals in the Metaponto countryside of Classical times, and although the loom weight evidence alone does not identify the deity with any certainty, Foxhall happily settles on Artemis, primarily because of the watery location of the sanctuary, recalling Artemis at Brauron and Artemis Orthia at Sparta. In reading this contribution I kept thinking, where are the spindles and spindlewhorls, and other weaving equipment, such as pin-beaters (what the Greeks called kerkis)?

The chapter by Rebecca Miller Ammerman, on the terracottas, is a veritable monograph unto itself, weighing in at 305 pages. It presents 574 terracottas, with full discussion and bibliography, bringing in comparanda from many different parts of the Greek world. The spatial distributions of the material, by type and period, together with their quantification, is a model as to how terracottas should be published. The material ranges in date from the Archaic to the Hellenistic period, and includes standing or seated female figures, Silenos, as well as Classical plaques of Nymphs, Pan, and Silenos. The assemblage includes a notable series of terracottas that belong to well-established mold series, which Ammerman classifies according to the typology of Giorgio Postrioti,2 at least those terracottas that can be classified. She also presents eight terracottas representing Pan or Silenos that belong to seven different mold series not found in Temple E and thus not classified by Postrioti. There are also the banqueter plaques that belong to Signore's mold series.3 What is interesting in the assemblage as a whole is that, if one sets aside the Archaic terracottas and considers only those of Classical and early Hellenistic date, a nymph and her companions make up two-thirds of the votive assemblage of terracottas. Ammerman's contribution will quickly take its place as an important study of South Italian terracottas.

What remains of Vol. III is essentially the heart of the entire enterprise. Part 6 (Chapters 46-49), by Carter, deals with the sanctuary structures by phase: the spring and collecting basin, the Archaic temple and stoa, the stoai (hilltop) and oikos, and the Pantanello farmhouse (by Swift and Carter). It is here where the material is synthesized, and also where some of the three-dimensional computer reconstructions are presented that bring these various elements of the sanctuary to life. Part 7, also by Carter, presents an overview of the cult. Once more the material is synthesized, not least the imported pottery, the votive miniatures, the terracotta figurines, and the vessels with deliberately perforated bottoms, but also additional computer-generated visualizations, both in color and more traditional renderings. It is also here that the other sanctuary, at San Biagio, only 3 km from Pantanello, is brought into the discussion. In terms of the development of the Pantanello sanctuary, Phase 1a covers 600-550 BC (Chapter 50), 1b (Chapter 51) 550-500, 2a (Chapter 52) 500-480/470, and then there is the "gap" of the 5th century BC (Chapter 53), and finally Phase 3 (Chapter 54), the sanctuary and cult in 400-320/300 BC.

Chapter 55, "The Other Sanctuary of Artemis in the Chora," is a fitting finale to the volume by Carter. When the sanctuary at San Biagio was discovered in the early 1960s it was also immediately identified as the Artemis sanctuary celebrated by Bacchylides (Ode 11 to Alexidamos of Metaponto). Here, Carter goes against the entrenched interpretation of San Biagio, and suggests that the sanctuary of Pantanello better fits Bacchylides' description. There is no in situ "smoking gun" to argue one way or the other, but there is the mid-6th century BC horos inscription of "Zeus Aglaos" that was reused as the cover of a Roman burial. As De Stefano has argued, the sanctuary at San Biagio may have been of Zeus and Hera, and the Archaic votive terracotta of the hieros gamos (holy wedding) are brought into play,4 as is the frieze with the prenuptial procession from Oikos C in the urban sanctuary of Metaponto (p. 1524, fig. 55.4). Carter's final paragraph reads: "There is no question that a powerful female in her various aspects was worshipped at San Biagio. The most distinctive feature of the Pantanello Sanctuary, the Collecting Basin, makes it clear that this was a sanctuary primarily for initiation—that of adolescent girls, under the protection of Artemis" (p. 1524).

The volume ends with data management and ARK (Chapter 56) by Jessica Trelogan and Lauren Jackson, and Swift publishes the matrices—not quite Harris matrices —in Chapter 57. Chapter 58 presents the assemblages by phase and distribution, something that better fits with Part 3 (Vol. II). These are followed by the bibliographic references and an index.

When all is said and done, there may well be interpretive quibbles here and there, but few major debates, for this volume will quickly take its place as a seminal repository of data and interpretations of a landscape in the chora of Metaponto and of Greek colonization in southern Italy.

Authors and titles

Volume I: The Excavation and Site Acknowledgments (Joseph Coleman Carter)
1. Introduction: The Importance of the Sanctuary at Pantanello (Joseph Coleman Carter)
2. The Archaeological-Historical Context of the Pantanello Sanctuary (Joseph Coleman Carter)
Plans and Sections
Part 1: The Narrative of the Annual Excavation Campaigns, 1974–2013
3. 1974: "A Canal Ran Through It"—The First Discovery (Joseph Coleman Carter)
4. 1975: The Game Is Afoot! (Joseph Coleman Carter)
5. 1976: The Sanctuary Beside the Canal (Joseph Coleman Carter)
6. 1977: A Game Changer—The Well Point (Joseph Coleman Carter)
7. 1978: First Discovery of Ancient Plant Life (Joseph Coleman Carter)
8. 1981: Focus on the Spring, the Southern Extent (Joseph Coleman Carter)
9. 1982: The Spring, the Collecting Basin, and Palaeobotany (Joseph Coleman Carter)
10. The 1990 Campaign: Discovery of the Oikos (Keith Swift and Joseph Coleman Carter)
11. The 1991 Campaign: The Oikos Revealed (Keith Swift and Joseph Coleman Carter)
12. 2008: The Discovery of the 4th-Century BC Structures of the Upper Sanctuary (Joseph Coleman Carter)
Part 2: The Ancient Environment
13. Geoarchaeological Observations at the Pantanello Sanctuary (James T. Abbott)
14. Geoarchaeological Investigation at Pantanello: Depositional and Postdepositional
Processes in the Formation of the Archaeological Record (Andrea Zerboni, Elena Ferrari, Chiara Compostella, and Agostino Rizzi)
15. Archaeobotanical Investigations at Pantanello (Lorenzo Costantini and Loredana Costantini Biasini)
16. Pollen Evidence for Land Use and Vegetation Change at Pantanello (Donald G. Sullivan)
17. Pollen Evidence and the Reconstruction of the Plant Landscape of the Pantanello Area from the 7th to the 1st Century BC (Assunta Florenzano and Anna Maria Mercuri)
18. Animal Remains from the Sanctuary and Adjacent Areas at Pantanello (László Bartosiewicz, Keith Swift, and Joseph Coleman Carter)
19. Insect Remains from Pantanello (Lorenzo Costantini and Paolo Audisio)
20. Marine Shells (Cesare D'Annibale)

Volume II: The Pottery and Finds
Part 3: Contextualization
21. Stratigraphy, Chronology, and Site Phasing (Keith Swift)
22. Excavated Assemblages (Keith Swift)
Part 4: Archaeological Materials—Pottery and Finds
Archaeological Materials: General Introduction to the Pottery and Finds (Keith Swift)
23. Indigenous Pottery (Keith Swift)
24. Archaic Fine Wares (Keith Swift)
25. Figured Pottery from Pantanello (Francesca Silvestrelli)
26. Black-gloss Fine Ware (Keith Swift)
27. Gnathia Pottery (Elisa Lanza Catti)
28. Black-on-Buff Pottery (Keith Swift)
29. Plain and Banded Pottery (Keith Swift)
30. Miniatures (Keith Swift and Anna Cavallo)
31. Thymiateria (Keith Swift)
32. Louteria and Stands (Keith Swift)
33. Greek-type Mortaria and Pestles (Keith Swift)
34. Cooking Ware (Keith Swift)
35. Lásana (Massimo Barretta)
36. Greek Transport Amphorae (Keith Swift)
37. Pithoi (Keith Swift)
38. Lamps (Emanuela Conoci)
39. Metal Finds (Marta Mazzoli)
40. Coins of the Pantanello Sanctuary (Anna Rita Parente)
41. Lithics from the Pantanello Sanctuary (Cesare D'Annibale)

Volume III: Interpretations
Part 5: Archaeological Materials—Cult-Related Objects
42. Architectural Materials from the Pantanello Sanctuary (Carlo Rescigno, Francesco Perugino, and Nicoletta Petrillo)
43. Stone Sculptures (Joseph Coleman Carter)
44. Loom Weights (Lin Foxhall)
45. Terracottas (Rebecca Miller Ammerman)
Part 6: Sanctuary Structures
46. Phase 1a: The Spring and Collecting Basin (Joseph Coleman Carter)
47. Phase 1b to 2a: The Archaic Temple and Stoa (Joseph Coleman Carter)
48. Phase 3: The Stoai (Hilltop) and Oikos (Joseph Coleman Carter)
49. Phase 4: The Pantanello Farmhouse (Keith Swift and Joseph Coleman Carter)

Part 7: The Cult (Joseph Coleman Carter)
50. The Development of the Sanctuary and the Cult: Phase 1a (600–550 BC)
51. The Development of the Sanctuary and the Cult: Phase 1b (550–500 BC)
52. The Development of the Sanctuary and the Cult: Phase 2a (500–480/470 BC)
53. The Sanctuary and Cult in the 5th Century BC: The Gap
54. The Development of the Sanctuary and the Cult: Phase 3 (400–320/300 BC))
55. The Other Sanctuary of Artemis in the Chora

Part 8: Data
56. Data Management and ARK (Jessica Trelogan and Lauren M. Jackson)
57. Matrices (Keith Swift)
58. Assemblages by Phase and Distribution (Keith Swift)


1.   Many of these categories, including the Ionian cups and black-glaze pottery were presented in detail in Kara Nicholas' doctoral dissertation, "Interpreting Religious Ritual in Magna Graecia: An Analysis of the Archaic and Classical Black Glaze Ceramics from the Rural Sanctuary at Pantanello (Metaponto)" (UCLA 1999), for which Carter served as an examiner. I was concerned that there was no acknowledgment of, or reference to, this important study.
2.   G. Postrioti, La stipe votiva del Tempio "E" di Metaponto, Rome 1996.
3.   M.G. Signore, "Relievi fittili con recumbente dal ceramic ai Metaponto," Studi di Antichità 9, 1996, 299-360.
4.   F. De Stefano, "Il repertorio iconografico del santario di S. Biagio alla Venella (Metaponto) all'alba della colonia," Antesteria 3, 157-169.

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