August 2009 the historian Diana Gilliland Wright wrote in her blog, "Surprised
of her discovery near Nauplion
of, "a wall behind the
bed of a winter stream, with cannon embrasures... The
stonework looks a lot like the embrasures on the fortress of Palamidi."
Putting this observation together with a study of Venetian maps of
their 1686 conquest she noticed similarities on the ground and from the
air, courtesy of Google Earth, to the zig-zag trace of these
'temporary' field works. Pending further study on the ground comparing
the trace on the map with the lines of field boundaries and the like
further to the east an intriguing pattern emerges although all
archaeologists are painfully aware of how easy it is to draw lines on a
map and imagine they mean something.
Extract of map showing position of Venetian forces outside
Nauplion in 1686
defensive line running for 3.2 km just under 2 km N of Nauplion
Of course these details can only be checked on the ground but this all
poses the question of what other remains of outworks and siege lines
are preserved around the eastern Mediterranean. There were after all a
number of sieges undertaken on a huge scale and one might expect
therefore some traces to remain on the ground, after all it is hard
to completely erase something from the archaeological record. The
difficulties are, however, severe. There is a natural tendency for such
works to be quickly leveled and back filled, as Peter Harrington
remarks (English Civil War Archaeology, English Heritage 2004), "After
a place had been captured the siege works were often slighted in order
to remove any potential cover to a would-be attacker... A
likely adjunct to war-time slighting was the removal of such signs of
war after the peace in order to return the landscape to an
appearance of normality." Add to this the need to press agricultural
land back into service and suburban developments, particularly in the
last fifty years and the problems of survival become formidable.
However, given the fact that many of the sieges are well documented and
some very useful period maps and illustrations survive it is worth
pointing out where options for further investigations exist.
1685 the Doge of Venice Francesco Morosini mounted a siege in order to
re-establish Venetian control over the area. He landed to the west of
the town and constructed a line of cirumvallation to prevent
relief coming from the Ottoman army based at Kalamata. This is clearly
shown on period maps
Late seventeenth, early eighteenth century maps of the lines at Koroni inverted to place N towards the topAreas for investigation: possible Venetian lines in red, works of relieving Turkish army in green
The Turkish lines lay mainly to the west (to the right on map and
aerial photograph), traces of these may remain. there was also a
defended Turkish camp on a low hill to the east (to the left on map and
aerial photograph) which may again be available for examination.Famagusta
Turkish siege of the city began in October 1570, when camp was made at
the village of Pomodamo, nearly 5 kilometres to the south of the city.
After over-wintering in camp Turkish forces began by constructing
batteries on a front of 1,000 paces on the south side of the fortress.
Subsequent works were erected to the west and operations continued
until the Venetians surrendered on August 1st. 1571. Following the
partition of the island in 1974 there has been little development in
the immediate vicinity of the town. There is some open ground to the
south and west and aerial photographs show some curious alignments
which could be worth looking at.
Contemporary map and aerial view from NE, green lines show possible earthworks.Rhodes
city, occupied by the Knights of St. John, was subject to two Turkish
sieges, the first unsuccessful in 1480 and the second, successful in
1522. the immediate environs of the old city are heavily built up but
it is clear from contemporary illustrations that that there was a
considerable network of batteries and camp sites although the images do
suggest that extensive use was made of gabions which would leave little
trace on the ground. It might be profitable to explore the heights of
Monte Smith to the west for relevant archaeology.
1522 Engraving of the siege of Rhodes, Monte Smith is the open area on the right with the ancient stadium at its centre
CorfuVenetian map showing positions of Turkish batteries with modern aerial view, N is to the left
of the last sieges in the region, Corfu was attacked by Turkish forces
for the third time in 1716 when batteries were built to assault the
town all along the land front which faces north west. The attack was
beaten off after 22 days. Although built up the density of construction
along this side of town is quite light and it is possible that
something could remain in gardens and other open spaces. It would be
nice to go and see... perhaps next year.
As ever, if anyone has any thoughts or information about any of these suggestions they will be gratefully received by