Joachim Bretschneider, Greta Jans & Anne-Sophie Van Vyve
The team of Ghent University under the direction of Prof. Joachim Bretschneider conducts work in Sector 5, the trench on the southeast lobe of the summit where the plateau is at its narrowest. At the end of the 2021 campaign, up to 50 rooms were exposed, seemingly forming a single, continuous structure. While one of the objectives that guided excavation in this sector was to determine whether the assumed casemate wall – found in most other areas of the hill and conceivably enclosing the entire plateau – was also present on this southern outcrop, we are, for the moment, unable to confirm this without some hesitation. A clear north–south external façade is not present. In contrast, a more irregular façade line was brought to light with an eastern limit that consists of walls that protrude and are located at different levels of the eastern slope. These protrusions could imply that the projections formed some kind of bastions.
The overall planning and outline of the rooms in Sector 5 are similar to those found in the other sectors, as are the corridor-shaped spaces, the plastered floors, the hyposkaphon technique, and the presence of bedrock-cut shafts. With eleven examples, including three quite monumental ones, the latter are a very prominent feature of this sector. Almost all shafts are located in rooms adjacent to the outer wall. Valuable objects were found within some shafts themselves – such as a decorated Egyptian calcite drop jar and folded strip of gold – or in the adjoining rooms. At the moment, the precise function(s) of the shafts are not clear or whether the differences in scale and shape are relevant.
Several spaces contained material providing more information concerning the functional organization of Sector 5. Equipment of a metallurgical workshop as well as metal ore and large amounts of scrap metal indicate metalworking activities in Space 5.31 and 5.21. Proof of textile manufacturing is provided by a set of stone loom weights in Space 5.35.
As mentioned in the general introduction of the site, hoards of valuables are frequent at the site of Pyla. Also Sector 5 yielded several intriguing discoveries in this regard. Aside from the previously mentioned folded gold plaque cached within a plaster ball and found within the shaft in Space 5.40, Space 5.2 produced 29 copper-based objects, originally perhaps in a bag, probably buried beneath the floor. This assemblage included pin-shaped needles, pointed tools, an object shaped like a tuning fork, tweezers and a socketed spearhead.
Some outstanding ceramic pieces from Sector 5 are a hollow female figurine, belonging to the Base Ring II Ware family, an imported Mycenaean Amphoroid krater in Pictorial style decorated with birds and floral motifs, an imported Mycenaean bell-shaped krater with bulls and birds, an Egyptian meat jar and Sardinian tableware. In addition to alabaster and stone vases, a unique stone object deserves to be noted here: a kind of ‘figurine-seal’, representing an animal head with a long neck, covered with an incised design.