About Orgame/Argamum

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Blog created and administrated by: Dr. Vasilica Lungu (excavation director of Orgame necropolis), Dr. Alexandra Dolea, Dr. Alina Mușat-Streinu and Dr. Marius Streinu. Orgame/Argamum is one of the most important archaeological sites along the Black Sea coast. The pattern of habitation for the area lasts, with small periods of interruption, almost two millennia. The archaeological discoveries fully illustrate this interval, starting about the 13th century and divided into the following periods: Bronze Age (13th century B.C); Early Iron Age (10th – 8th centuries B.C.); Archaic and Classical (7th – 4th centuries B.C.); Hellenistic (3rd – 2nd centuries B.C.); Early Roman (2nd – 4th centuries A.D.) and Late Roman (4th – 7th centuries A.D.).


Orgame 2011: The Archaeological Field Experience in Romania

Nicole Aszalos:

“On the first day of excavations I found a really nice curved piece of pottery and when I washed it that weekend, there was a nice red leaf decoration on it. Then just last Friday I dug up those bones which were pretty exciting. But the best part of the trip was meeting everyone here and becoming friends with them and experiencing the culture (and the food). I will definitely miss here when it’s over.”

Carolyn Clarke:

“On August 25, 2011 in the morning I found a small shard of an Archaic piece of pottery. The piece came from the bottom of the pit dug in the center of Tomb 3. It is easily identifiable because of the black lines on it that would have spiraled around the neck of the piece, the rest is painted red which is rather rare according to Dr. Schaus. He also says that it is easily the oldest fragment found in the Necropolis thus far.”

Shelby Haggerty:

“My name is Shelby Haggerty and I'm an undergraduate at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada, I worked at Orgame this summer with a fantastic group of Romanian and Canadian sudents! My best find was located outside the cenotaph tomb, where I found the beginning of what turned into a cluster of 7 amphorae, as well as pieces of a painted fish plate, that were likely involved in a ritual connected with the cenotaph.”

Frances Jardine:

“My name is Frances Jardine, currently I am going into my 4th year at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada. Even so I am enrolled in the Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology Program, I tend to favour Classical Archaeology. Therefore I attended the field school at Orgame, Romania in which I found a bronze coin from Histria; my best find yet! Surprisingly I found it on the day of my Professor's, Gerald Schaus, birthday.”

Thomas Krol:

“Working in Orgame this summer - my first excavation - was an unforgettable experience. I enjoyed all of it, however slow it could get at times. It was always exciting to find something new, or to clean a sherd and realize there's paint underneath all the dirt! I definitely do not regret choosing to go into Archaeology, and I'm so glad I got this opportunity to do such great work with great people!”

Anna Laytner:

“This season of excavation at Orgame was my first field experience and it exposed me to a variety of excavation methods and techniques; from remaining topsoil to delicately excavating sherds of pottery and learning the technical details of drawing. I discovered that I really enjoy drawing detailed plans of features on the site! My most thrilling find was uncovering the lower half of a terracotta figurine of a boy, possibly Eros. Not only have I improved my knowledge of archaeology while at Orgame, but I have also met amazing people and had such a great time in Romania!”

Mandy Mackinnon:

“August 22, 2011 (16th day working at Orgame)
Our excavating manner has improved noticeably since the first day we started excavating at the site. We use to focus on removing the dirt and material quickly to reveal the features and tombs. Now that all the tombs we are going to work on this season are revealed, we are focusing more on the smaller material finds that we previously left in situ. The students are more experienced now and are using the skills they've acquired over the past few weeks to carefully reveal and remove burial goods. 
I have been excavated in Tomb 7 and working on revealing a large broken amphora. The vessel is located right over the pyre and we are finding a lot of burned areas. In this day alone I found more material than in any of the other days working at Orgame. It has been a very exciting and productive day!”

Sarah Timmins:

“My name is Sarah Timmins and I am going into my third year of undergraduate studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada. I have enjoyed the past six weeks digging in different sectors of the excavation area including inside tomb one and finding two clusters of ceramics near the pyre. These clusters included pieces of an un-burnt amphora, jug, a burnt kantharos and a drinking cup.”

Katherine Tyka:

“This dig at Orgame/Argamum was my first practical experience on an archaeological site and I couldn’t have been happier. The most exciting day for me was digging in tomb 7 and excavating the funeral pyre. The numerous artifacts uncovered made for a thrilling and informative day. Apart from the archaeology, the experience wouldn’t be the same without the people I’ve met along the way. Special thanks to Dr. Lungu and Dr. Schaus as well the whole Argamum team. Cheers to the family (you know who you are) who have made the experience unforgettable.”


THE ORGAME NECROPOLIS. Excavation programme 2011

Archaeological excavations in the necropolis of ancient Orgame /Argamum started in 1988 and since then have been carried out annually with systematic research programmes headed from 1990 onwards by Dr. Vasilica Lungu (Institute of South East European Studies, Romanian Academy, Bucharest).

The archaeological evidence has revealed the presence of distinctive cremation graves with certain unusual features within the Greek necropolis. The cremations and cremation pits are usually marked by stone circles and covered over by tumuli which cluster within family plots. These are systematically distributed along ancient roads leading out of the city. They are accompanied by rich votive gifts, identified mainly by ceramic vessels as part of funerary deposits which offer a fairly complete notion of the structure of ancient society.

Such funerary practices continued over a long interval of time, from the second half of the 7th to the middle of the 3rd century BC. 

The 2011 season in the Orgame necropolis has been devoted to the excavation of a new family plot of several tombs identified at the western edge of the necropolis.

The archaeological team for the Orgame research programme is directed by Dr. Vasilica Lungu (representing both the Institute of South-East European Studies and the “Vasile Pârvan” Institute of Archaeology, Bucarest), and Dr. Alexandre Baralis (Centre Camille Jullian, Aix-en-Provence), head of the ANR programme “Pont-Euxin”, and is joined by graduate students Alexandra Dolea and Alina Musat (Faculty of History, University of Bucharest,).

A group of Canadian students participated in the 2011 field season, including Nicole Aszalos, Carolyn Clarke, Shelby Haggerty, Frances  Jardine, Thomas  Krol,  Anna  Laytner, Amanda  MacKinnon,  Sarah  Timmins, and Katherine  Tyka  under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Gerald Schaus from Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo, Ontario).

Also participating for shorter periods of time were, from “Babeș Bolyai” University (Cluj-Napoca) Dr. Carmen Rogobete with students Claudia Radu and Claudiu Barb and from Dunărea de Jos University (Galați), students Adina Gutu, Micu Simona and from the University of Bucharest, graduate students Marius Streinu and Theodor Zavalaş.

Note: The 2011 excavation season has received generous financial support from the French-Romanian project ANR –“Pont Euxin” 2010-2012; and from the Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University.


On the traces of the Ancient Greeks in the Black Sea: the Danube Delta

The Danube, called by Greeks "Istros", is known from ancient times as “the largest of the rivers of Europe...” (Aelian, On Animals 14. 23). It joins the Black Sea through the Delta, the second largest and best preserved in Europe. The name of the Danube Delta is also Greek in origin, deriving from its geographical shape similar to the Greek letter “delta”.
Described by Hesiod as the “beautifully flowing Istros” (Theogony, 339), this river is an open gate to Europe, as well as the confluence of many cultures and civilizations.
Today, because of the richness of its ecosystems and of the particular cultural heritage identified there, the Danube Delta became a UNESCO protected area in 1991.

The city of Orgame (called "Argamum" in Roman times) was placed by Hecataeus of Miletus on the Istros river (Orgame polis epi to Istro…., apud Stephan's of Byzantion, Ethnica, FGrHist I, fr. 172). Following I. Malkin's (2005) theory concerning the phenomenon of Greek colonial  settlements, that they are founded in places which create a web or net pattern within micro-regions, the site of Orgame could be considered as part of the Istros micro-region.
In order to study the role of this river in the life of the ancient Greek colony of Orgame, an archaeological excavation team, formed by professors and students from Romania and Canada working this year on the Greek necropolis of Orgame, organized a field trip on the Danube Delta on August 7th.



Gerald P. Schaus, "The Sanctuary on the Acropolis of Stymphalos in Arkadia, Greece", Wilfrid Lauriel University, Ontario, Canada
Alexandru Avram, Iulian Bîrzescu, "Histria: 'Zona Sacră' Section", Archaeological Institute 'Vasile Pârvan', Bucharest, Romania
Sunday, August 21 · 5:30pm - 7:30pm

Heracleea Guest House, Jurilovca, Romania


Field trip at Tropaeum Traiani

At the begining of this year's campaign, the Orgame/Argamum research team went in a field trip to the roman city of Tropaeum Traiani (29th july 2011).
Tropaeum Traiani was build by Trajan after the dacian-roman wars of 101-102, 105-106, along with the triumphal monument near by. The city was rebuild by the emperors Constantine and Licinius according to the foundation inscription discovered during the excavations. The city is an important center in the Scythia Minor province, especially in the later period (4th-6th centuries), as we can assertain from the 4 chrystian basilicas inside the city, one extra muros and another cemeterial one. There is also a civil basilica inside the city walls (forensis), very well preserved, including it's column bases. Tropaeum Traiani was build according to the classical urban plan, with 2 main streets (cardo and decumana), of which via principalis is very well preserved, including it's underground sewerage sistem.
Special thanks to Prof. Carol Căpiţă for the wonderful tour of the city.