Harbour Street Tower Excavation Notes

Ephemera — Harbour Street Tower


The present report concerns the archaeological salvage project conducted in 1978 at the NT-HST-63 site, a partially disturbed LBA tower located in Dearno, Old Nochet. This project was organized and implemented by the Ancient Esrolian Cultural Institute on the request of the Metropolitan Council of Nochet, and part funded by the Office of the Mayor of Nochet, and part by the developers, Dormast and Co. It was oriented, specifically, toward the rescue of archaeological resources threatened by the planned leveling of the site for new housing construction. Field activities were carried out during the 10-day period between 15 and 25 June, under the direction of Nadezhda Vranova, Assistant Director of the University of Nochet Archaeology Department. The field crew was composed of a selection of poorly paid1Poor taste. Has Wiermonken been reviewing this? Hey! Who is adding extra footnotes to my report? Garin, is this you?
grad students and undergrad volunteers from the University of Nochet.

Location, Chronology, and General Description

The NT-HST-63 site is located near the SE side of Old Nochet, at the edge of the Dearno neighbourhood, close to the proposed LBA coast.2Because of the silting up of the original harbour and the expansion of Nochet into this space, Harbour Street is more than 1km from the coast. We think. But who really knows anyway? The structure is slightly inset from Harbour Street and had its primary access off this road. It is a typical LBA Esrolian urban tower structure, approximately 5 sq. m. There is a limited section of standing building remains, primarily representing the phase 2 door frame and threshold and part of a staircase. There are well defined foundational walls preserved, making the external footprint of the tower very clear. Unfortunately, internal floor divisions are less defined, showing evidence of disturbance and stone-robbing at earlier times.

The preliminary analysis of the material retrieved from foundation fill of the road and walls suggests a construction date for the tower in the early Esrolian period. Based on the date of the fragmentary ceramics found in the latrine and the amphora and other ceramics found in the storage rooms, the tower seems to have suffered destruction and abandonment around the end of the LBA. Nevertheless, it is clear from the substantial amount of Esrolian terra sigillata pottery found that there was some form of activity around the house in the period following the Siege of Nochet as well.

The structure was constructed with up to four courses of irregular stone, creating walls that were approximately 0.5m thick. The stone appears to have come from local quarries. The internal stairway was constructed from larger rectilinear blocks of local limestone. More limestone was used for the phase 2 building repair around the front entrance.

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Fig 1. Site plan


The tower was accessed via Harbour Street. Only part of the stone door frame is preserved and it shows clear evidence of a later phase of construction, possibly repair after significant damage to the door (fig. 2). The dressed limestone blocks used in the repair of the building indicate significant care taken in the reconstruction phase of the tower. Intriguingly, the paving stones just in front of the entry also appear to date from the second phase of building. Although this area requires further excavation next year3 Funding permitting., there appears to be evidence of human burial beneath the paving stones. So far, the remains suggest a minimum of two individuals, but further excavation will clarify4So we really need that funding.. Likely because of their placement outside the building and thus somewhat exposed to elements, the remains are very poorly preserved. They will be undergoing analysis by an osteologist shortly5As long as we can afford to pay them. Did I mention that we need funding?
This is undignified, Vranova.

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Fig. 2: Phase 2 stonework around main entryway

Room 1

This is a rectilinear room, accessed via the main door and located approximately centrally within the tower structure. The room originally measured 3.5m x 2.25m and had doors in each wall. The floor was likely originally covered in wooden planking which was later removed, thereby explaining the lack of finds in this context. The first excavations of this room and storeroom 1 took place in the 1940s and have yet to be published6Because the original excavator ran off with his grad student and his wife burned his field notes. We won’t name any names, but any archaeologist worth her salt knows exactly who we are talking about anyway..


There is a fragmentary set of interior stairs on the NE wall of the tower structure (fig. 3). Currently consisting of only nine stairs, approximately half of the original flight has been preserved. Shaped from blocks of local limestone, the stairs were 98cm wide, 28cm deep, and 26cm tall. There are wear patterns in the stone that suggest a long period of use and it is possible that the stairs were reused from some earlier structure. Further research is required7This is shorthand for I don’t feel like working this bit out..

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Fig. 3: Stairs from SE corner of Tower


In the SW corner of the tower we found evidence of a latrine. The latrine appears to have been a common Esrolian form, in this case approximately 2.5m long and 1m wide. Given the usual placement of seating within Esrolian latrines, it likely sat up to 3 people. In the NE corner of the room, potsherds typical of LBA Esrolian household ceramics were discovered, likely representing a single vessel. We hope that residue analysis will prove fruitful for determining the contents of the vessel8But residue analysis is expensive….

On the third day of excavations, we discovered a fragment of the wooden toilet seat in the latrine pit. There is a lot of waste material9Buckets and buckets of it. And you know what? It still stinks. and at this point, we’re electing to focus on a thorough sampling strategy, in the hopes that funding will be obtained to do analysis of diet and disease10This is going to be some grad student’s thesis project. Pity that poor sod.. Also discovered amidst the human waste were some human remains that appear to consist of a tibia and fibula, accompanied by various tarsal bones from the left side of an adult. A fragment of the femoral shaft was also discovered and initial assessment suggests severe sharp force trauma to the limb, but full osteological analysis is pending. At the end of the last day of excavations, the edge of a large piece of bronze began to emerge. Given time constraints, it was decided that the best course of action was to remove a large block of the latrine material including the bronze object for further analysis in a lab. One of the student excavators proposed that the bronze object will turn out to be armour to accompany the leg, but this is highly speculative11We were all at the pub after a particularly long day of excavation and the student had one beer too many. He was waving a chicken leg around, pretending it was a sword. It was funny and in a moment of weakness, I promised to include his idea in the notes..

The presence of human remains within the latrine context is perplexing and multiple interpretations are possible. Ancient Esrolia is well known for complex cultic practices and it seems highly likely that the deposition of body parts within the Tower represents a votive act, though for which God or Goddess we cannot yet predict. Alternatively, this could be evidence of clandestine burial, though it would seem more likely that a murderer would dispose of an entire body in the latrine, rather than just one leg.

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Fig. 4: Fragment of toilet seat from SW corner, latrine pit

Storeroom 112This is lazy labelling and I should be beaten soundly with a wet noodle for it. (N/NE)

The largest storeroom, labelled storeroom 1 on the site plan, occupies the entire length of the N/NE wall of the tower. The room extends on each side to share interior walls with the latrine on one side and storeroom 2/the stairs on the other side. Storeroom 1 was first excavated when NT-HST-63 was first discovered in the 1940s, but the reports of those initial excavations have yet to be published13See above.. There are a number of household ceramics and amphorae all dating to the LBA associated with the early excavations. Additionally, there is evidence what was likely a covered cold-storage pit in the floor. The rectilinear pit measures 100cm x 75cm and is currently full of earth and rubble. Further excavation could reveal more detail about the purpose of this subterranean household space14And to do that we require…. more funding!.

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Fig. 5: Putative cold storage pit, backfilled with earth and rubble.

Storeroom 2

Accessed from 1, runs parallel to stairs. No finds.

[The notes cut off here and are clearly incomplete. It reads a bit like field notes and a rough draft of an interim report. Either Dr Vranova was in the process of producing the interim report at the time of her disappearance, or she just wasn’t very good at what she was doing.]

Image sources

Images were liberally borrowed from other sources. The originals can be found at the sources listed below.
Fig. 2 & 3: Morris, S.P. and J. K. Papadopoulos (2005) Greek Towers and Slaves: An Archaeology of Exploitation. American Journal of Archaeology 109(2):155-225 Stable URL: https:www.jstor.org/stable/40024509
Fig. 4: Toilet seat from Vindolanda (http:
Fig. 5: O. Vikatou and S. Handberg (2016) Ancient Kalydon: report on the archaeological excavations on the Lower Acropolis of Kalydon carried out in the years 2013-2016. https://chronique.efa.gr/?kroute=report&id=6623