The American School of Classical Studies at Athens is pleased to announce the publication of Hesperia 90.2. Topics in this issue include an examination of Hittite-Mycenaean relations in the Late Bronze Age, the presentation of a rescue excavation in northern Piraeus, the publication of the inscriptions from Panakton, a look at the so-called oracle of the dead at Tainaron, and an overview of the evidence for a Phrygian sculptor working in the Athenian Agora during the 3rd century A.D.

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Ahhiyawa, Hatti, and Diplomacy: Implications of Hittite Misperceptions of the Mycenaean World, by Nicholas G. Blackwell, considers formal diplomatic relations between the Mycenaeans and Hittites through analysis of the Hittite Tawagalawa Letter. Consensus attributes that tablet’s authorship to Ḫattušili (ca. 1267–1237 B.C.), who complained to the king of Ahhiyawa about a Hittite renegade named Piyamaradu. The historical context of Ḫattušili’s foreign policy, particularly his Treaty of Kadesh with the Egyptian pharaoh Rameses II, supports a revised understanding of his correspondence with Ahhiyawa. The Tawagalawa Letter alludes to an existing nonaggression pact between Hatti and Ahhiyawa modeled after the well-known Hittite-Egyptian contract. This new idea reconciles the discrepancy between a unified Ahhiyawa and a politically fragmented Mycenaean world. Such diplomacy can also account for technological similarities that exist between Mycenae and Hattuša.

Glimpses of the Invisible Dead: A 7th-Century B.C. Burial Plot in Northern Piraeus, by Nathan T. Arrington, Georgios Spyropoulos, and Demetrios J. Brellas, publishes the results of a rescue excavation in northern Piraeus that uncovered a burial plot with evidence of funeral activity from the 7th to early 5th century B.C. The material from the 7th century offers important data on a period that is often invisible to archaeologists and challenges the scholarly correlation of visibility with status. Looking beyond the spectacular remains of the Kerameikos cemetery provides a more comprehensive understanding of the range of burying practices operative in 7th-century Athens and Attica. Age critically impacted the type of burial and its visibility in the archaeological record. Several child burials contained remarkable vases that illuminate the latest phase of the Protoattic style.

Inscriptions from Panakton, by Mark Munn, presents six inscriptions of the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C. that were recovered during surface survey and excavation at Panakton (the paleokastro above Prasino/Kavasala), four of them for the first time. The earliest, an arsenal inventory, preserves an archon date of 343/2 B.C.; three are ephebic texts of the Lykourgan era; one is a dedication by soldiers of the garrison in the second half of the 3rd century; and one is a fragmentary heading. These inscriptions, the first found on this site, prove beyond doubt that this was the Athenian fortress of Panakton, and they provide new evidence for armaments, the ephebeia, and the history of Panakton among Attic garrison forts.

The “Oracle of the Dead” at Ancient Tainaron: Reconsidering the Literary and Archaeological Evidence, by Chelsea A. M. Gardner, revisits the site of ancient Tainaron, which has long been associated with the entrance to the underworld and the consultation of souls at an “oracle of the dead.” While Tainaron’s role as a passageway to Hades is well represented in ancient literature, its function as an oracle of the dead is only ever alluded to by Plutarch (Moralia 560e). This article shows that a misreading of ancient sources has led to this erroneous attribution of  Tainaron as a place where souls were consulted in antiquity. Through an examination of the literary and archaeological evidence, this article argues that there is no evidence for any structure or practice related to necromancy at the site of Tainaron.

A Phrygian Sculptor at Work in Roman Athens, by Brian Martens, provides a contextual analysis of eight marble sculptures that were excavated in 1937 from a well on the north slope of the Areopagos at Athens. The assemblage, which includes both finished and unfinished works, was discarded from a sculptor’s studio following the Herulian sack in A.D. 267. In several instances the sculptor used iconographies and materials that fall outside local traditions. In addition, a set of bronzes from the personal shrine of the sculptor is suggestive of non-Athenian religious customs. Taken together, this evidence points to an individual who had migrated to Athens from Asia Minor, probably from the region of Phrygia.

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