2008 Archaeological report
Eretria: Excavations in plot O.T.737
In collaboration with the IA EPCA, the Swiss School took part in a rescue excavation on a private property (O.T. 737 belonging to P. Vrakas). It is situated south of the plot excavated by P. Themelis between 1974 and 1984 (O.T. 740, cf. Praktika 1984, 212-228). The excavation under the responsibility of A. Psalti (IA EPCA) was conducted by S. Fachard and Th. Theurillat (Swiss School).
Five trenches were opened in 2008 (excavation plan). The goal was to verify the extension of some structures discovered by P. Themelis and to appreciate the different chronological phases of the plot.
In the Geo period, two walls were built to the E in order to protect the sector from intense flooding. M23 served as a embankment wall, preserving the settlement to the W from the sands and pebbles of the river situated to the E. It was built in ca. 725 BC and abandoned at the end of the 8th century, when it is replaced by a second embankment wall (M24). The function of M22 is more difficult to assess, since its belonging to the apsidal building ΓΓ, whose existence has been suggested by Themelis, seems unlikely.
No floor level, pit, nor grave have been spotted in 2008, suggesting that we might be in the periphery of the dwelling plot. Among the occasional finds in the deepest layers, one can mention a small serpentine Neo axe and a MGII Attic krater.
Ar and Cl layers are rare, to the point that some Hel stratums follow Geo layers. This fact may imply that the sector was relatively unoccupied during these periods, although it is obvious that later constructions have obliterated earlier layers.
Most of the remains and finds discovered in 2008 belong to the Hel period. Several phases can be distinguished between the very end of the 4th Ct BC and the 1st Ct BC.
The N of the plot is occupied by a small street lined with two walls (M32 and M1). In a first phase, two pits (St33 et St19) dated from the 1st half of the 3rd Ct BC were found S of M1. The pottery belongs mainly to a domestic context, as the high proportion of cooking ware (lekanai, chytrai, mortars, lopades, strainer) and drinking vessels (bowls and kantharoi) demonstrates. Several walls could belong to this first phase of occupation: M30 and probably M20 and M12. The floor level related to this phase is at 3,90m asl.
In a second phase, M30 and M20 are reused to form a quadrangular building of 8 x 6 m, composed of deep foundation walls (M4, M11, M16 et M17). The pottery associated with the foundation trench suggests a tpq in the middle of the 2nd Ct BC. Its function remains unclear since no clearly identifiable structures have been discovered inside. A well (St 26) situated at the N-W corner is probably contemporary, although it could also belong to the previous phase. Numerous finds related to metal-working were discovered in the immediate surroundings of the building: a low-shaft furnace (St3) connected with burned layers, slags and iron “skullcaps” all testify to ore refining. M1 was probably pierced during the same phase, in order to install a threshold and canalization (St25) for the evacuation of wastewater in the street.
A coin hoard (St15) containing more than 30 badly preserved bronze coins was discovered at the foot of M12; their identification is not possible at present.
Although P. Themelis’ excavations have shown that the entire quarter was densely occupied in the Rom period, Rom remains discovered in 2008 are scarce. To the W, two foundations walls (M6 and M7) can be linked with the monumental building excavated by Themelis. To the E, a thick remblai dated from the 2nd and 3rd Ct AD seals the Hel occupation. It contains numerous fragments of glass and terracotta figurines, shards of Italian Sigillata, several lamps with decorated medallions and three coins of the Imperial period.
Without bringing major discoveries, the first campaign on the O.T. 737 plot confirms P. Themelis’ chronology of the Quarter of the Panathenaic Amphoras (O.T.740) and supplements the plan of an important urban sector of the town occupied from the Geo to the Rom period. A second campaign in the S part of the plot should help us clarify the chronology and the functions of the buildings.
Fortifications on the acropolis : cleaning and survey
A major cleaning operation was carried out in Spring 2008 on the fortifications of the acropolis in Eretria. It was aimed as a precaution against wildfires as well as an opportunity to survey these important remains.
Sections of walls were cleaned from bushes and trees that often were causing the masonry to break apart.
An accurate drawing of the fortifications was made in AutoCad using DGPS reference points and orthophotographs.
Finally, posters with descriptions of the remains were installed on several sites for the tourists.