Digging in Pepuza

William Tabbernee and Peter Lampe successfully identified the site of ancient Pepuza a few years ago, and published their findings as Pepouza and Tymion: The Discovery and Archaeological Exploration of a Lost Ancient City and an Imperial Estate. De Gruyter, 2008.  I’ve been reading this volume this evening.

The book is unusual in that the text appears in parallel columns in English and German, followed by a Turkish text.  I think I approve of this.  Is there any pressing reason, when a team is multi-lingual, not to do this?  Paper is cheap enough, after all.  It certainly broadens the possible appeal of a text.

But in other respects the book is very disappointing.  It seems as if they were unable to do any serious archaeology.  The possible basilica in the centre of the city — the possible catacomb under it, choked with ancient demolition rubble and perhaps the site of Montanus’ grave — all this was not excavated.  There are repeated references to permission to do this, to do that.  In the end it seems as if they could only investigate the site of the Byzantine cave monastery.  It’s a disappointing tale, in short, and I’m not sure that this is the fault of Tabbernee and Lampe.

Cynic that I am, I can’t help wondering whether, as soon as they left, excavations commenced, undertaken by the local villagers, in search of the treasure the silly foreigners must have been looking for.   Let’s hope not.  But … the last work recorded was in 2004.  That’s a fair few years ago.


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