Lars Karlsson

Lars Karlsson in 2007

Lars Karlsson, is Professor and Head of the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University, Sweden (www.arkeologi.uu.se). Since 2004 Karlsson  has been the director the Swedish excavations at the Karian sanctuary of Labraunda in Turkey (www.Labraunda.org).

Karlsson's work on the city walls of Morgantina began in 1985, when he undertook a revision of the unpublished manuscript written by Carl Eric Östenberg, the Swedish scholar who worked at Morgantina in the 60s. (Östenberg later initiated the Swedish excavations at Etruscan Acquarossa and the collaboration with the American project in Murlo.) Karlsson's work at Morgantina entailed tracing, describing and partly excavating the city’s defenses, building on Östenberg's work.

The research led to a doctoral dissertation ‘Fortification towers and masonry techniques in the hegemony of Syracuse, 405-211 B.C.’ (published by the Swedish Institute in Rome; Stockholm 1992), which analysed a special ashlar-wall building technique employing headers and stretchers placed in such a way that they created ‘masonry chains’. This technique was first noticed in the walls of Morgantina where these masonry chains were located at intervals of 10 (Doric) feet. The masonry chains anchor the two faces of the wall to each other and to the fill behind. Coin evidence suggests that major parts of Morgantina's walls were constructed in the period of King Hieron II in Syracuse. Karlsson could show that the earliest walls built in this technique were the fortifications erected around Syracuse by the tyrant Dionysios I around 399 B.C. He suggested that this wall building technique is the technique called ‘emplekton’ in ancient texts by Pliny and Vitruvius. This technique was introduced about  thirty years later in Greece by Epaminondas and in Asia Minor by Maussollos (including at Labraunda).