''Welcome to Malthi!''
src=https://i.ibb.co/ZhM0pQC/Screen-Shot-2023-04-15-at-4-16-58-PM.png width="600" height="400" alt="Overhead view of Malthi">
//Overhead image of Malthi in its current state with overlay if the plan. Image by authors.//
This is a choose-your-own adventure program you can use to explore Malthi as people through history would have experienced it. You can be:
[[A Homeric Hero!->Homeric hero]]
[[A Messenian farmer->Messenian farmer]]
[[20th century amateur archaeologist->20th century amateur archaeologist]]
[[21st century archaeologist->21st century archaeologist]]
[[Sources and contributors->Sources]]You are a Homeric hero, passing through Dorium... or are you?
Natan Valmin sure thought you were, so let's go with that for now.
<img src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d8/Thamyris.jpg" width="600" height="400" alt="Bard playing lyre on Greek vase">
//Image of a vase with Thamyris playing the lyre. Image on <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=85909172">Wikimedia Commons</a> in the public domain, courtesy of Ausführliches Lexikon Der Griechischen Und Römischen Mythologie (1916-1924).//
You are Thamyris of Thrace, passing through Dorium after a visit to Eurytus in Oechalia. You come across the Muses!
Do you challenge them to a singing contest?
[[YES->Thamyris contest yes]]
[[NO->Thamyris declines contest]]
You are a Messenian farmer in the mature-late Middle Helladic age (not that such a classification means anything to you). You work in the fertile fields down the hill, perhaps farming grapes, currants, or olives (it's hard to say because no botanical remains were found in the modern excavation). You also raise livestock in the settlement, including sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle. You may hunt and eat red deer, roe deer, hare, and hedgehog. There are dogs around too.
Your settlement is home to 200-250 people, but you are in close contact with numerous other settlements in the Ramovouni valley.
Your settlement has a local leader, who lives in the largest house in the center. He (and all of you) are ultimately under the jurisdiction of Pylos, a large city on the coast of Messenia.
<div class="sketchfab-embed-wrapper"> <iframe title="Malthi in Messenia, Greece, 1600 BCE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen="true" webkitallowfullscreen="true" allow="autoplay; fullscreen; xr-spatial-tracking" xr-spatial-tracking execution-while-out-of-viewport execution-while-not-rendered web-share src="https://sketchfab.com/models/02d54a6cbbb643bcbfdd4e0e8ef2ea81/embed"> </iframe> <p style="font-size: 13px; font-weight: normal; margin: 5px; color: #4A4A4A;"> <a href="https://sketchfab.com/3d-models/malthi-in-messenia-greece-1600-bce-02d54a6cbbb643bcbfdd4e0e8ef2ea81?utm_medium=embed&utm_campaign=share-popup&utm_content=02d54a6cbbb643bcbfdd4e0e8ef2ea81" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" style="font-weight: bold; color: #1CAAD9;"> Malthi in Messenia, Greece, 1600 BCE </a> by <a href="https://sketchfab.com/cdhu?utm_medium=embed&utm_campaign=share-popup&utm_content=02d54a6cbbb643bcbfdd4e0e8ef2ea81" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" style="font-weight: bold; color: #1CAAD9;"> Centre for Digital Humanities Uppsala </a> on <a href="https://sketchfab.com?utm_medium=embed&utm_campaign=share-popup&utm_content=02d54a6cbbb643bcbfdd4e0e8ef2ea81" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" style="font-weight: bold; color: #1CAAD9;">Sketchfab</a></p></div>
This may be what your town looked like! Your houses are built out of the hard gray limestone that makes up the mountains around you.
If you were born several generations later, you may have helped your settlement dig away soil around the edges, hew bedrock, and build a large fortification wall to protect yourselves from invaders.
Even later, you may stop using the northern part of the settlement (perhaps it was destroyed by invaders) and bury your dead there.
[[Home->Who are you]]You are an invader! Good for you!
Malthi is located on an imposing hill and clearly visible from the valley below. That's probably why you decided to attack it! It is, however, also heavily fortified these days. You can see the thick wall from some distance.
Do you climb the steeper hill to get to smaller, less well protected gates on the north side or do you climb the easier hill on the south side of the town and attack the main gates?
[[Smaller gate->Smaller wall]]
[[Easy hill->Attack southern/western edge]]
Hej, Natan Valmin!
//Photograph of Natan Valmin posing in the ruins of Malthi. Image in the public domain, courtesy of Museum Gustavianum.//
What a great Easter week it is to explore Messenia. You are north-west of Mount Ilthome, a "charming district." You meet a school teacher in Vydissova/Drosopighi named Sotiros Papandanopoullos. He takes you to two small hills in a corn field, at the foot of a ridge, and tells you stories about discoveries of treasure there.
Are you interested in investigating further?
[[Yes, let's start with the tumuli!->Yes, explore the tumuli]]
[[No, I'm done here. I think I want to go back to Sweden.->No, go back to sweden]]
Congratulations! It is 2015. You are working at a new project at Malthi, the site that Natan Valmin uncovered and excavated almost a century ago. You've read his works, but looking at the site now, you have some questions.
Was Valmin right in dating the site?
Was Valmin right in labeling the distinct walls and houses?
What is up with the wall that he built over the original fortification?
Rebecca Worsham and Michael Lindblom are directing the Malthi Archaeological Project. It is sure to be a good time. [[Let's begin!->2015 excavation]]Explore spots in Malthi and some other sites in Greece:
<iframe src="https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=1f4IeWEXAeALRLARuBRMhZDlR6jGrtGLi" width="640" height="480"></iframe>
//Aerial image of Malthi in Google Maps. Image courtesy of Google Maps and CNES/Airbus and Maxar Technologies.//
[[Time to go back to Sweden?->Valmin back home]]You choose to challenge the Muses to a singing contest! These are the immortal daughters of Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, and Zeus, the Lord of Olympus and all the gods. Are you sure you want to challenge them?
[[YES, and furthermore, I bet I will WIN->Thamyris muse confrontation]]
[[Actually, I've changed my mind. ->Thamyris declines contest]]Good choice! We all know what happens when you challenge gods. How about you go, sing your songs, and live without a mention in the Iliad.
[[Home->Who are you]]Okay, you asked for it! You are blinded, your gift for song is taken, and you forget how to play the harp.
[[Home->Who are you]]You attack the southern wall. That makes sense! There is a gate there, after all, and it wasn't too hard to climb the gentle slope on this side. Residents walking home after completing chores in the valley see you and run up towards the settlement. You give chase!
Like your fathers and grandfathers before you, who also wanted control of this well-located ridge, you attack the southwestern gate with vigour. Just when you almost have the gate down, the defense tower pelts you and drives you off. Gosh, Malthi was easier to raid in the good old days.
[[Home->Who are you]]To your great delight, the Greek archaeological Council is perfectly friendly and gives you permission to examine the tumuli. The Ephor (like an overseer or superintendent of public works) of Messenia and Laconia assists you, and even helps with the excavations! Your professor from Lund secures funds, and soon you are ready!
Or, you thought you were. A "small difference of opinion" with a nearby railway delays work for a few days, but soon enough you begin.
<img src="https://i.ibb.co/J3ZpqVL/PB114942.jpg" width="400" height="600" alt="Entrance to tholos tomb">
//Entrance to the excavated tholos tomb at Malthi. Image by authors.//
It takes four days to clear the rooms. You are fairly sure that the tholos tombs belonged to the settlement at the top of the nearby ridge, Malthi.
Now that you've excavated these tholos tombs, what's next?
[[That ridge is interesting... continue!->Investigate top of ridge]]
[[I think I'm done, I'll go back to Sweden.->No, go back to sweden]]
There were so many delays due to rain, and even the malthian potato pancakes can not keep you from the comforts of home. You return to Lund in your native Sweden and leave Malthi for some other curious archaeologist.
[[Home->Who are you]]You are greeted by an unparalleled view of Messenia, with a view stretching from the shore of Kalamata in the south to the Kyparissian gulf in the west, overlooking the whole Messenian plain in every direction but where the Vasiliko mountain looms in the north-east.
<img src="https://i.ibb.co/LQFHZxY/PB114735.jpg" width="600" height="400" alt="Overgrown ruins with mountainous landscape">
//Photograph of ruins in Malthi with mountains in the background. Image by authors.//
The ridge itself is overgrown with nearly impenetrable vegetation. After the tholos tombs are excavated, you take two workmen to the ridge and dig trial trenches, yielding sherds and stones with no obvious story.
That's the end of this excavation season. You haven't found any definitive answers. Does that bug you or does it make you want some?
[[I want to know more! Find more funding to return->Subsequent excavations]]
[[I'm going to focus on other projects->No, go back to Sweden]]You've found money, and you are back! It is summer, 1929. With the assistance of a Belgian colleague (and local workers), you clear twenty rooms at the top of the ridge and one house on the south-western slope. One of the workers, Georges, is slow (but alone he moved all the earth between the megaron and magazine).
You invite friends and colleagues to see your progress, including professors Axel W. Persson and Robin Fåkréus, lecturer Gösta Säflund, and doctor in philosophy Erik Holmberg. Another time you invite artist Oscar Antonsson, his wife, and artist Stig Borglind. You hope they think it's as cool as you do.
Want to see a map of the area now that the thickets and vegetation have mostly been cleared?
[[Yes!->Where do you want to explore first?]]
[[I love my work, but what else is there to do around here?->Fun times in Messenia]]Your summers in Messenia are not just digging and labeling. One fine summer day, you put off the excavation to enjoy the festival of Hagia Triada, a holiday in the Greek Orthodox Christian tradition.
Incidentally, Hagia Triada was an upscale Minoan town where a famous sarcophagus was discovered, famous for being the only depiction of a Minoan funerary ritual.
<img src = "https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ed/Sarkophag_von_Agia_Triada_19.jpg" width="600" height="400" alt="Painted sarcophagus with image of funeral procession">
//Sarcophagus from Crete. Image on <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=106433757">Wikimedia Commons</a> by Olaf Tausch, <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0" title="Creative Commons Attribution 3.0">CC BY 3.0</a>.//
<a href="http://www.minoancrete.com/agtriada.htm">Read more about Minoan Hagia Triada!</a>It is June 2015. You are leading the first major excavation project at Malthi in almost a century. The maps are old and the site is overgrown and in disrepair.
Working with the Swedish Institute of Athens and with the assistance of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Messenia, you clear decades of vegetation and expose and number 469 walls. You notice that the site does not look how Valmin's maps indicate, so your goal is to verify the plans and elevation data and correct where needed. You also want to see what has changed since Valmin left the site in the 1930s.
In conjunction with the Spatial Archaeometry Research Collaborations (SPARC) program, you document the area with a terrestrial laser scanner under the direction of Dr. Rachel Opitz. You document all the standing architecture in three dimensions. That's pretty impressive!
You've done a lot in one summer. Do you want to return next year?
[[For sure!->2016 excavation]]
[[Nah, this is such a crazy project, someone else can handle it. ->Modern go home?]]
See below for images of the site after clearing:
<a href="https://ibb.co/qBbJKpW"><img src="https://i.ibb.co/K6CKdWL/w307-SW01-150622.jpg" alt="Ruined walls at Malthi" border="0"></a>
<a href="https://ibb.co/60wK6WS"><img src="https://i.ibb.co/MkSzqCH/w002-NW02-150622.jpg" alt="Ruined walls at Malthi" border="0"></a>
<a href="https://ibb.co/sgYwvSN"><img src="https://i.ibb.co/YNsk791/r-D018-D021-NW01-150622.jpg" alt="Ruined walls at Malthi" border="0"></a>
<a href="https://ibb.co/DC3LP8N"><img src="https://i.ibb.co/r6nvKcg/f016-SW02-150622.jpg" alt="Ruined walls at Malthi" border="0"></a>
//Photographs of Malthi’s walls during the 2015-2017 excavation. Image courtesy of authors.//You get enough funding to return for a second season. Your two major goals this year are photographing the site using drones to enhance and complete 3D data gathered last year, and to start excavations of the wall and parts of the interior in order to provide a more accurate chronology of the site.
Again, you are not the only one interested in this well-preserved Bronze Age settlement. Stella Macheridis studies the ''1,976'' human and animal bones and shells collected at Malthi and publishes her findings.
Using ceramics found on the bedrock where the fortification wall was built, you conclude that the ridge was first settled around Middle Helladic II. Most of the settlement architecture and the fortification wall date from the Late Helladic Period I (LH I), with some activity in LH II and LHIII. After the settlement was abandoned, it was probably used as a cemetery.
You have accomplished a lot this year. What do you say, up for one more?
[[Yes! Summer 2017 here I come!->2017 excavation]]
[[I'm good actually.->Modern go home?]]What a shame that you are going to let this site fall back into disrepair. Are you sure?
I just need some time away... [[I'll come back in 2017!->2017 excavation]]
[[I'm sure, thank you for checking.->Modern finish]]Your time at Malthi has come to a close.
Michael Lindblom returns to Uppsala University in Sweden.
Rebecca Worsham returns to teaching at Smith College in the United States.
- Lindblom, M., and R. Worsham. “Visualizing the Past: A 3D Reconstruction of Early Mycenaean Malthi in Messenia.” In Power and Place in the Prehistoric Aegean and Beyond, edited by S. Allen, M. Lee, R. Schon, and R. A. K. Smith, INSTAP Academic Press. Forthcoming.
-Worsham, R., M. Lindblom, and C. Zikidi. “Preliminary Report of the Malthi Archaeological Project, 2015-2016.” 2018. Opuscula: Journal of the Swedish Institute at Athens 11: 7-28.
-Final publication including 2017 work forthcoming.
Conclusions about Malthi as situated in time and shifting social order:
[//Whether or not the construction of the fortification may be connected with an effort to create a defined community, the subsequent abandonment of the settlement in the mature Mycenaean period may indicate that these efforts, though costly and elaborate, were not totally effective. The continuous attention given to the fortifications at places like Mycenae, however, speaks to the power of these symbols, and to Malthi’s role in understanding them. We might suppose that the visibility of the collapsing fortification and ruined town may have prolonged the memory of the place among the inhabitants of the valley, or at least captured their imagination, as seems to have been the case with the local school teacher that led Valmin to the settlement so many years later.//]
--Worsham et. al. 2018
[[Home->Who are you]]You get enough funding to return for a final season! This time your goal is to dive into the character of the settlement and compare your conclusions to the original excavator's, Natan Valmin.
What are the purposes for certain structures? Was the settlement created as a single organized project? Let's dig in!
Trench 7 had been opened in 2016 but not finished. You excavate down to bedrock and find evidence of habitation in the Middle Helladic II-III period, before the fortification wall. There were several graves at different levels in this trench which suggested to you that the area alternated between for habitation and for burial.
You dig trench 8 for the first time since Natan Valmin's excavation decades ago. You recovered worked bone or antler tools, as well as likely slag and a spindle whorl, which could suggest that the room was used for production at a household level. Contrary to Valmin's findings, there is relatively little evidence for activity in the Late Helladic III (Mycenean) era.
The summer is long and hot. [[Want to take a short excursion?->Excursion]]
Valmin had identified trench 9 as a production location, including particularly metallurgy, notably of bronze and apparently also of iron - you do not find evidence of any of this. You do, however, find informal infant burials that Valmin missed. These burials date later in the settlement, probably around Late Helladic I, but you find evidence partially preserved burials redeposited in the same location, suggesting a sense of memory and family identity.
The deeper excavations of this season allow you to say with some confidence that domestic settlement at Malthi predates the fortification wall. The settlement was a dynamic local center, undergoing a number of transformations prior to its abandonment in the developed Myceanean period.
You send samples for radiocarbon dating, pptically stimulated luminesence (OSL) dating, and micromorphology. A 3D architectural model is in the works that will help to visualize the site as a lived space and estimate the population.
''The trouble with Valmin''
Archaeology has evolved considerably since Valmin dug in Malthi. Some of his work and inconsistent record keeping, although up to the standards of the time, made it impossible for you to form your own assessments of the younger layers. Some things are difficult to date because his excavations disturbed layers. Such is the trial of a legacy excavation!
Summer is over. [[Where do you go from here?->Modern finish]]
You deserve a day off, so you and your team go to Peristeria.
<a href="https://ibb.co/rfyYvbv"><img src="https://i.ibb.co/x85W3m3/OLYMPUS-DIGITAL-CAMERA.jpg" alt="Ruins at Peristeria" border="0"></a><br /><a target='_blank' href='https://imgbb.com/'></a><br />
<a href="https://ibb.co/Cv4BVnv"><img src="https://i.ibb.co/ctRJ2Nt/OLYMPUS-DIGITAL-CAMERA.jpg" alt="Shaded trail by spring" border="0"></a>
<a href="https://ibb.co/FW23PDq"><img src="https://i.ibb.co/0XT2wGV/OLYMPUS-DIGITAL-CAMERA.jpg" alt="Shaded trail by spring" border="0"></a>
<a href="https://ibb.co/jJgcTfF"><img src="https://i.ibb.co/NTZ8sCz/OLYMPUS-DIGITAL-CAMERA.jpg" alt="Shaded trail by spring" border="0"></a>
//Photographs of Peristeria’s ruins and trail to nearby spring. Images courtesy of authors.//
[[Back to the grind!->2017 excavation]]You try to climb the hill, but it is too steep! Is this settlement really worth the effort?
<img src= "https://i.ibb.co/hX6d9NW/trench-5-N.png" width="600" height="400" alt="Ruined fortification on steep hill">
//The ruined fortification at the northeast of the site. The hill is quite steep here! Image by authors.//
[[Try the smaller hill!->Attack southern/western edge]]
Try a different settlement in the area. Say, if you beat the legendary Griffin Warrior, you'll be remembered for generations... <a href="http://www.griffinwarrior.org/griffin-warrior-tomb/">Off to Pylos!</a> //Links to information about the recently discovered grave of the "Griffin Warrior".//
[[Home->Who are you]]You return to Sweden
[[Home->Who are you]]Contributors
This Twine game was created by Nora Sullivan and edited by Annika Lof under the guidance of Rebecca Worsham.
The Malthi research project was led by Rebecca Worsham and Michael Lindblom in cooperation with the Swedish Institute at Athens and the Ephorate of Antiquities of Messenia, and particularly its director E. Militsi-Kechaia and the departmental head S. Fritzila. Financial and technical support was provided by the Swedish Institute at Athens, the Institute for Aegean Prehistory, Enboms donationsfond, and the Spatial Archaeometry Research Collaborations (SPARC) at the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies and Archaeo-Imaging Laboratory. Work was carried out by Rachel Opitz of SPARC, photogrammetry specialists Daniel Löwenborg and Karl-Johan Lindholm, faunal specialist Stella Macheridis, human remains specialist Claire Zikidi, total station supervisor Donna Nagle, photographer Jacquelyn Clements, trench supervisors Monica Nilsson, Anne Duray, Adam Lindqvist, and Christopher Nuttall, as well as the chief guard of the area, Alexandros Kalogeropoulos, and the demos of modern Dorio.
Lindblom, M., and R. Worsham. “Visualizing the Past: A 3D Reconstruction of Early Mycenaean Malthi in Messenia.” In Power and Place in the Prehistoric Aegean and Beyond, edited by S. Allen, M. Lee, R. Schon, and R. A. K. Smith, INSTAP Academic Press. Forthcoming.
Worsham, R., M. Lindblom, and C. Zikidi. “Preliminary Report of the Malthi Archaeological Project, 2015-2016.” 2018. Opuscula: Journal of the Swedish Institute at Athens 11: 7-28.
Valmin, Natan. The Swedish Expedition of Messenia. Lund University Press, C.W.K. Gleerup, 1938.
Images credited in captions.
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