Eretria: Excavations in plot O.T.737
In collaboration with the IA EPCA, the Swiss School completed the rescue excavation started on the private property O.T. 737 in 2008 (see AntK 52, 2009, 114-118). The excavation under the responsibility of A. Psalti (IA EPCA) was conducted by S. Fachard and G. Ackermann (Swiss School). Four trenches were opened in 2009. The goal was to extend the surface of the excavation and to clarify the chronology of the remains.
A new section of the Geo embankment wall M23 was discovered, confirming its date of ca. 725 BC. The wall was abandoned at the end of the 8th Ct BC and even cut by a pit filled with an abundant amount of pottery dating from the LG II (very end of the 8th Ct BC); M23 was then replaced by a second embankment wall (M24) aimed at containing the overflowing of the river. A new section of wall M22, belonging to the large LG II apsidal building, was found. Although its function could not be specified, several floors and three pits (Fo57, Fo62 and Fo64) were discovered in the space between the building and the embankment walls to the E, testifying to the continuous occupation of the area from the LG to the SubG periods (second half of 8th to the beginning of the 7th Ct BC).
Although Ar and Cl pottery from these periods was discovered, no walls were found in 2009. Some structures might have been damaged by the Hel occupation of the area, but it now appears that the whole area might have been little occupied for more than 3 Cts.
The plan of the Hel remains has been confirmed: three streets to the W, N and E delimit a plot of more than 200 sq m, whose southern limit is not known. Although several small walls were connected to this first phase of occupation, the internal organization of the plot remains difficult to understand. Several pits (Fo33, Fo46, Fo46, Fo47 and Fo53) dating from the end of the 4th to the first half of the 3rd Ct BC were found. The analysis of these closed contexts points out to a high proportion of culinary ware. Pit Fo53 contained a nice set of fine ware, including West Slope ware from a local or regional workshop.
In the second half of the 2nd Ct BC, walls belonging to a series of 3 rectangular rooms (a, b, c) are built. The foundation trenches contained numerous mould made bowls belonging to the long-petal type, produced after 150 BC. A well is dug in the N-W angle of room a, while a threshold is built in wall M1, along with a canalisation evacuating waste water in the northern alley. The function of these 3 premises is difficult to clarify since the occupation layers are not preserved. Metalworking probably took place immediately outside of room a, as the remains discovered in 2008 testify (a low-shaft furnace, slags and iron ‘skullcaps’). Fragments of volcanic millstones were found in room b, testifying to the milling of grain. The plan (additional rooms might certainly exist to the S) can be interpreted as a complex of shops or workshops opening onto the great N-S street, one of the most important of the town.
These workshops remain in use until the LR period (2nd -3rd Cts AD). In a second phase, the foundation walls of the quadrangular rooms are heightened with a course of reused limestone and conglomerate blocks. Communication with the ‘main street’ is maintained through openings marked by thresholds. This phase can be dated from the beginning of the 3rd Ct BC, thanks to a coin of Caracalla. The well St26, built in the 2nd Ct BC, seems to remain in use with room a.
Excavation to the W completed the plan of wall M6, which should be connected with the great R “temenos” discovered by P. Themelis (Prakt 1976, 72). The construction of this important public space necessitated the destruction of several buildings and the levelling of the zone, marking the abandonment of the 2 alleys used since the EHel period. The date of the R monument remains unclear (2nd Ct AD?). This commercial and industrial quarter becomes important in the Imperial period. The discovery in plot O.T. 737 of workshops and shops along the main street towards the “temenos” is in accordance with such a hypothesis.
Eretria: Excavations in E/600 SW (field "Sandoz")
Th. Theurillat (Swiss School) reports a first season of excavation in 2009 in the area between the Sebasteion, the House of the Mosaics and O.T. 740. This is the principal crossroads of the ancient city, which was surrounded by buildings and major monuments, and densely occupied from the Geometric period into late antiquity. Roman remains are particularly numerous and well preserved, and it is likely that under the Principate, this quarter, at the foot of the acropolis, became the new city centre. The intent is to conduct an open area excavation covering some 2,000m2 (E/600 SW) in order to unite the various remains in a large archaeological park.
An exploratory campaign in 2009 aimed to locate the main axes of the ancient city grid. A north-south lane defines an extensive insula which was residential in the Hellenistic period and occupied by workshops in Imperial times. To the south lie the foundations of a monumental building of the Augustan period, with several water-supply installations of the second and third centuries AD. Two round Roman kilns (probably lime kilns) were found.
Eretria: Rescue excavations in the canal and the West necropolis
The torrential rains that fell on central Euboea in early September provoked heavy damage in Eretria. The river that borders the ancient city to the W overflew at several points, especially near the West Gate, sweeping along square meters of soil, as well as parts of the modern road and banks. The archaeological remains, particularly dense in this region, were not spared: numerous ancient graves were ripped open or swept along by the stream, while more than 30 marble stelai were scattered in the bed of the river, of which 27 are inscribed. A rescue excavation was quickly set up in order to clean up, clear and study the remains. The field work was placed under the direction of A. Psalti (IA EPCA) and executed by S. Fachard and Th. Theurillat (Swiss School). The excavation was carried in the river bed, in a zone extending over some 200 m. Three sectors can be distinguished: to the S, near the propyrgion of the West Gate; to the N where a funerary peribolos was found; a central sector, where several ancient walls were discovered.
6 tile graves were found in the banks of the canal near the propyrgion defending the W approach of the West Gate, but most of them were badly damaged by the stream. Grave T10 was an exception: the cist, formed by tiles carefully plastered with a whitish coating, contained 2 BG cups, 2 globular lekythoi, an iron knife or razor, a bronze fish hook, some 40 ossicles and a few poultry bones as an alimentary offering.
The stream swept away some 150 sq m in this sector, uncovering part of a funerary peribolos, delimitated by a large wall (M1). A second parallel wall set back (M4) delimits a second terrace containing cist graves. The variety of burial types is striking: tile graves belonging to an adult (T8) and to children (T1 and T5), cist grave made of monumental conglomerate blocks (T2), terracotta larnax (T17) and pit graves with face rubble walls (T6 and T16). The stream has considerably disturbed the contents of the graves, washing away the bones and the offerings. Nevertheless, it was possible to distinguish three inhumations (T6, T8 and T17) and two probable incinerations (T2 and T16). The sarcophagus of grave T17 is composed of two terracotta moulded parts, a type rarely used in Eretria ; a white ground lekythos placed at the feet of the deceased is the only preserved offering.
Along the 200 m that separate the N and S sectors, several ancient walls emerge from the banks. These remains, some of whom were previously known, were cleaned, drawn and positioned on the city plan. Several sections (M3, M6, M8) seem to be aligned with the W embankment wall found at the West Gate; this would confirm that the river was canalized early on by the Eretrians, probably shortly before the 7th Ct BC.
The carefully dressed polygonal wall M6 is similar to the masonry of the city walls built in ca. 400 BC; due to its position, it could either correspond to the W face of a projecting tower, or to the rebuilding of the archaic embankment wall. The rectangular base ST10, formed by several large conglomerate blocks, could be interpreted as a funerary monument, similar to the one known near the West Gate (B/3 North). The wall M5 is part of a larger complex whose incomplete plan is difficult to interpret. It could be part of defensive outwork or the abutment of a bridge.