In 2006, Sandrine Huber in collaboration with Sylvian Fachard conducted an excavation on top of the acropolis of Eretria. Previous excavations in 1993 and 1995 (AntK 38 , 108-119 ; AntK 39 , 107-111) brought to light a Neo, MH and LH settlement and an Ar-Hel sanctuary (7th-2nd Ct BC). The goals of the 2006 campaign were to extend the perimeter of investigations around the sanctuary, to identify the divinity to which it was devoted, and to assert its connection with the fortification wall. Excavations were stopped above the prehistoric layers.
The Hel sanctuary consists of a large esplanade (A), carefully cut horizontally in the bedrock at the end of the 3rd Ct BC. It was extended to the W by an important fill limited by two parallel walls (M2-M7) and closed by a wall (M38) and a rectangular structure (St38) partly destroyed in the erosion of the cliff. The latter consists of three long blocks retaining an internal fill whose function remains unclear. The whole EW terrace is 28.20m in length and some 7m in width.
Numerous votive objects from the Ar - Hel periods were found since the beginning of the excavations in the natural crevices as well as in the fill of the terrace: more than a hundred terracotta female statuettes, among which few papades, Ar miniature hydriai and high-necked pitchers, two black-figured epinetra, fragments of bronze objects (dipper, oenochoe, tripod), as well as dozens of spindle whorls and loom weights. The main discovery of 2006 excavation is a fragment of an Ar Cyprio-Ionian limestone sculpture representing a lion, with the name of the goddess Athena (ΑΘΕΝΑΙẸΣ written in retrograde) carved on its back. This inscribed onbject together with an ECl terracotta appliqué showing the lower part of a feminine figure probably wearing an aegis encircled by snakes leave no doubt that the sanctuary at the summit of the acropolis was dedicated to Athena.
North of the rock-cut terrace (B) was excavated a layer containing Ar pottery (including some fragments of small black-figure lekythoi), 7 Hel walls poorly preserved and a few Hel female terracotta statuettes. This ensemble remains difficult to interpret and its connection to the sanctuary cannot be clearly determined.
A lower terrace (C, 27m x 15m) lays to the S, limited by a EW wall (M13) carefully built which reuses the bedrock to form a large and well leveled stylobat. Several walls and a rich material were brought to light within the terrace. Worth mentioning are several fragments of Ar terracotta reliefs showing a frieze of warriors fighting on horses and on foot, which probably adorned the walls of a public building. The excavation of the whole S terrace is planned in 2007. Some 20m NE of the sanctuary, a trench was opened through a wide platform between the highest point of the acropolis and the city-wall, near the N tower. The objective was to apprehend the extent of the religious area and, if possible, to verify the chronology of the fortification, thought to have been constructed in ca. 400 BC. The excavation reached a depth of 2.20 m and exposed walls dating to the MH period (?) as well as a multiple grave containing the remains of at least two children. The Cl fortification is composed of a double-face wall 2.10 m wide, filled with packed rubble. The masonry is polygonal and reached a height of 1.20 m. It was not possible to establish a more precise chronology for this section of the city-walls; the stratified pottery suggests a construction in the 5th Ct BC.
A wall built in the axis of the N tower and two perpendicular mud-brick walls were unearthed in the platform. They reuse two stone bases (a Doric capital and a fluted shaft) which supported wooden poles. These walls belonged to a Hel structure whose setting remains unclear at this point, but which probably served to control access to the N tower. A relationship with the sanctuary seems excluded.