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2007 Archaeological report

Eretria (Athenaion)

Sandrine Huber carried on a second (and last) campaign of excavation at the summit of the acropolis of Eretria. In 2007, 11 trenches were open in 4 different areas in order to bring to a close the archaeological and architectural study of the Sanctuary of Athena.

In area 1 the main objective was to explore terrace C, situated below the large rock cut esplanade of the 3rd Ct BC. Since most of the layers of the historical periods were eroded, the PH levels of occupation were reached quickly. Three N-S walls were discovered, as well as two newborn child graves, all related to the MBA settlement discovered below in 1995 (AKunst 39 [1996], 107-111). The remaining foundations of the Cl city-wall were found W of the esplanade and some 3.8m down; they consists of an exterior facing holding a large volume of blocks and soil.
An exceptional find in an archaeological context was discovered in deep layers: a marble Cycladic idol, the first to be discovered in Eretria. The head and the feet are missing, already broken in Antiquity (preserved h.: 8cm). It belongs to the Folded Arms Figurines type of the Spedos group; the figurine joins the rare examples found on the island (Manika, Magoula and Styra), thus confirming links between Eretria and the Cyclades in the EBA.
The NW sector of the sanctuary (area 2, trench 27) collapsed due to the strong slope of the acropolis. Surprisingly enough, Ar sediments were preserved on a great depth, yielding a rich material composed mainly of terracotta figurines.
SW of the esplanade (area 3) the trench revealed a small wall shaped by a right angle, whose function remains unknown. A rocky depression was filled in with thick deposits of Hel tableware sherds, animal bones, shells and loom weights. These artefacts are probably the remains of meals related to the cult of Athena.
Some 15 m NE of the esplanade (area 4) a rock cut room was cleaned. Two smashed marble plates (of uncertain date) were lying on the floor, suggesting a particular function for this small structure.

As in 2006, hundreds of fragments of miniature hydriai and high-neck pitchers were found during the excavations, as well as Ar, Cl and Hel terracotta female statuettes. Among these finds, a terracotta head of Athena wearing a helmet and a new fragment of a small Ar Cyprio-Ionian poros sculpture (a zoophore) to be added to the sculptures found in 2006. More than fifty new fragments complete the series of terracotta Ar reliefs with mounted warriors (some fragments displaying foot warriors could belong to another series).

The five campaigns conducted intermittently at the summit of the acropolis since 1993 show that a sanctuary of Athena was in use from the E 6th Ct BC (or L 7th Ct BC) until the E 2nd Ct BC. Unfortunately, the remains of this first complex have been obliterated by the carving of the rock-cut terrace in the L 3rd Ct BC, and later by the strong erosion suffered by the acropolis since Antiquity. Except for a few dispersed coarse wall-bases, the architectural vestiges of the Sanctuary of Athena come down to a few fragments of fluted columns and terracotta architectonic elements, originating from two different public buildings of modest dimensions, attributable to the second half of the 7th Ct BC or first half of the 6th Ct BC. Therefore, this previously unknown Eretrian sanctuary features poor remains but a rich material. Above all, its abundant votive material should allow us to retrace the general history of the sanctuary from the E 6th Ct BC to the end of the 2nd Ct BC.

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Eretria: the Sanctuary of Athena, from SW, terrace C in the foreground, terrace A in the background.

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Amarynthos (Artemision)

Sylvian Fachard and Thierry Theurillat (Swiss School) report on test trenches undertaken in 2007. For the second year, test trenches were conducted at the foot of the Paleoekklisies hill (E of the mod. village of Amarynthos) as part of a joint excavation between the Swiss School and the 11th EPCA (represented by A. Karapaschalidou). The goal of the project is to localize the Sanctuary of Artemis Amarysia. Two plots were investigated in 2007, both situated S of the National Road.
In the S. Kokkalas plot, three large trenches (20m by 1m and 10m by 1m) were opened at a medium depth of 2.5m. A portion of an early 7th Ct BC wall (M15) was discovered in the N trench; it is carefully built, being composed of two facings and an internal filling (2m by 0.50m, E-W). Its interpretation remains hazy due to its fragmentary state of conservation (window bench? wall socle?). Some 10m W, we found an angle shaped by two walls (E-W: 2.6m by 0.5; N-S: 1.5m by 0.5m); the coarse adjustment of the facings suggests that we are dealing with the foundations. A pit containing pottery from the early 7th C BC gives a taq for the construction of the wall, which was probably built at the end of the PGeo period. Between these walls, a cist grave covered with schist slabs contained the remains of a child; 9 vases dating from the SubPGeo III period accompanied the deceased. At this stage, the grave seems to be isolated and was not part of a necropolis. To the S, a deep sounding revealed two large blocks carefully levelled at an altitude of 0.95 asl and dating to the Myc period.
To sum up, except for a Hel dump at the E of the plot, no finds posterior to the 7th Ct BC were discovered in the Kokkalas plot, as it was the case in the south of the Patavalis plot, situated north of the National road (AKunst 50 [2007] 154-171). The sector was essentially occupied in the IA, but its function remains difficult to clarify without systematic excavation.

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Amarynthos. Deposit from a SubPGeo III child burial in a cist grave.

amarynthos07_2.jpgFurther S, two small trenches (3m by 1.5m) were opened at the W extremity of the M. Manis plot (Fig. 1). Two weeks spent excavating a mod. remblai lead eventually to the discovery of a 4th Ct BC monumental wall at a d. of 1.5m (M20, Fig. 2). The deeper soundings revealed a Geo wall (M21) and an abundant quantity of 8th-7th Ct BC pottery.
The Geo wall (SW-NE), double faced and rubble packed, has been only excavated on a l. of 2 m, while its w. reaches 0.80m; it seemed to have supported a mud-brick elevation. Built in the 8th Ct BC, this important wall was destroyed in the SubGeo period. The function of M21 cannot be clarified yet, although its considerable w. suggests it was an important construction.

The Cl foundations of M20 lean on the Geo wall and cuts into a pit containing tiles, pottery, the inferior part of a woman terracotta protome and a terracotta statuette representing a seated woman figure (Fig. 3). The base of the wall (N-S) is composed of two courses of rectangular poros blocks; it stretches out on a l. of 6 m, before disappearing in the adjacent plots, mainly to the W, where a large block with anathyrosis was discovered at the surface in 2006. Both its l. and w. could not be specified in 2007. The first course is formed by 4 stretchers (l. 1.27m; h. 0.50m), well fitted together and forming a straight exterior facing; 10 headers (l. 1.30m; w. 0.54m; h. 0.40m) compose the second course, whose surface is finely levelled at 2m asl. Two blocks are hold together by a round headed dovetail cramp, while a mortise for an iron clamp suggests the existence of an euthyntheria. The blocks of the second course are imperfectly aligned and do not form a rectilinear facing, suggesting that they were part of the foundations and therefore never intended to have been visible.


Amarynthos. Cl-Hell foundations (M20) and Geo wall (M21).

The Cl foundations of M20 lean on the Geo wall and cuts into a pit containing tiles, pottery, the inferior part of a woman terracotta protome and a terracotta statuette representing a seated woman figure (Fig. 3). The base of the wall (N-S) is composed of two courses of rectangular poros blocks; it stretches out on a l. of 6 m, before disappearing in the adjacent plots, mainly to the W, where a large block with anathyrosis was discovered at the surface in 2006. Both its l. and w. could not be specified in 2007. The first course is formed by 4 stretchers (l. 1.27m; h. 0.50m), well fitted together and forming a straight exterior facing; 10 headers (l. 1.30m; w. 0.54m; h. 0.40m) compose the second course, whose surface is finely levelled at 2m asl. Two blocks are hold together by a round headed dovetail cramp, while a mortise for an iron clamp suggests the existence of an euthyntheria. The blocks of the second course are imperfectly aligned and do not form a rectilinear facing, suggesting that they were part of the foundations and therefore never intended to have been visible.

amarynthos07_3.jpg
Amarynthos. Cl-Hell foundations (M20), two courses of poros blocks.

The stratigraphy shows that both courses belong to different building phases. The date of each phase remains hazy, for the number of sherds for absolute dating is low. The laying of the stretchers was done in the second half of the 4th Ct BC; this first wall, whose elevation was probably in mud brick, was destroyed in the course of the 3rd Ct BC. In the 2nd Ct BC, several layers recovering the first wall were cut by a foundation trench, allowing the disposal of the second course of poros blocks.
The wall was covered by a layer containing more than a hundred fragments of marble, some of them displaying an edge or an angle finely cut, thus proving their belonging to architectural blocks forming the marble elevation of the wall. Among these artefacts was found a fragment of an inscription, displaying the letters ]ΥΝΘ[. The discovery of a limekiln in trench 1, just a few meters S, suggests that the marble elevation of the wall was dismantled and smashed in small fragments in order to be transformed into lime. The kiln was later abandoned and filled up with stone, and the entire sector was covered by a mod remblai of 1.5m (the same as in the Kokkalas plot).
The function of this building can not be presently determined. The use of poros blocks for the foundations is too widely used in the 4th Ct BC to be restrained to a particular type of construction. Although monumental, the dimensions of the building are not known at present; the character of the associated material is too fragmentary to be interpreted and the terracotta statuettes could originate from various contexts (settlements, graves, sanctuaries).

There are good reasons to believe that the monumental wall discovered in 2007 belongs to the Artemision of Amarynthos, but caution requires to wait until the next campaign before ascertaining it. Geophysical survey and extensive excavations planned in 2008 will help clarify our understanding of the area.

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This report appeared in the Archaeological Reports, published by the BSA and the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies and available online via JSTOR.
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More in the field report Antike Kunst 51 2008

 

fig_02.jpg
Eretria: cycladic idol.

 

fig_03.jpg
Eretria. Ar terracotta figurine.

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