Allegedly: it fits in with Homer’s description, anyway. It is in the most beautiful position on a hillside overlooking Navarino Bay. I had the place to myself when I visited early this morning. It has recently re-opened with a tremendous roof and high walkway so that you can look down on the foundations and the famous megara. Being above the site brought to my notice things like the piles of vessels twisted out of shape by the fire that destroyed the last complex (ca 1200 BC). Afterwards I walked up to Chora to visit the archaeological museum, which has fragments of what were once brightly coloured frescoes and decorations:
and a surfeit, to my mind, of earthenware vessels.
There were lots of things I particularly liked: the juxtaposition of lethal arrowheads and decorative beads side by side in the museum cases; the reconstructed tholos tomb on the other side of the car park; the decorative beading around the edge of the built-in storage jars; the fragments of frescoes; and – not least – the impressive new canopy over the whole site. (I wonder what’s happening to Bassae under its giant marquee?)
Chora – an agricultural town big on tractors – was heaving when I arrived: it is in the middle of a week-long panagyri. A couple of roads were completely taken over by market stalls and enormous canopies (the weather is changeable), and it seemed to be the place to buy your camouflage gear and winter woollen underwear. There was also a lot of dead pigs on hot coals on sale. As I sat in a little café next door to a small town-centre petrol station that was receiving a refill (I checked that nobody was smoking), I reflected on how chaotic it looks to an outsider. But it works, and everybody was very helpful each time I asked for directions – even offering to switch to German to be extra helpful.
And, of course, there was a dog – this time at the tomb: