Sikyon Project

Analysis of the excavation material

Scott Gallimore and Sarah James with graduate students at the apothiki.

Analysis of the ceramics, which represent the bulk of our finds, by Scott Gallimore (Roman ceramics) and Sarah James (Hellenistic ceramics), involve recording of all sherds by ware (fine, coarse, cooking), cataloguing, drawing and conservation of selected sherds or entire pots, as well as petrographic analysis of different types. Chronologically, pottery covers a range of almost a millennium, from the end of the 4th century BCE to the early 7th century CE, even though its majority dates from Roman times (1st century BCE to 7 century CE). Particularly important are the local productions of different types and periods.

Examples of the local ceramic products as well as of the other, representative shapes and wares that occur on the Sikyonian plateau, form the core of the ceramic reference collection, that is being prepared by Scott Gallimore and Chrysa Varela. Each sherd or pot has its required description and documentation (bibliography, photographs, drawing) so that it becomes a useful tool for anyone interested in Sikyonian ceramics.

Chronological breakdown of 629 coins from our 2013 to 2019 excavations.

Out of the 710 coins found since the beginning of our excavations, our numismatist Dr. Irini Marathaki has examined 629, out of which she has identified 581 (the rest are so worn that their types are not discernible). Three hundred and three coins, that is more than half of the ones that have been read so far, are of the Late Roman period (4th to 7th century CE). A large number of these dates from the 4th century CE and relates to the commercial activities that we identified to the north of the ceramic workshops, directly southeast of the agora. The Middle to Late Hellenistic period (2nd to early 1st cent BCE) is represented by 142 coins, most of which come from the West Stoa of the agora and the commercial activities that seem to have taken place there. With very few exceptions they are bronze issues of Sikyon. Sikyonian issues are also predominant among our 60 coins of Classical and early Hellenistic date (late 4th and 3rd century BCE) that we found in deeper horizons. Among them, there are a few Macedonian issues (of Cassander and Antigonos Gonatas), and very few issues of neighboring cities, mostly Corinth and, occasionally, Pellene, Phlious and Argos. Forty-three coins date to the Middle Roman period (2nd to 3rd century CE), particularly to the 2nd century, and many of those were found in the area of the ceramic workshops to the southeast of the agora. The Early Roman period (late 1st century BCE to 1st century CE), so important in other cities (as in neighboring Corinth), is represented with just 20 coins, barely 3.4% of our read coins. The same picture is drawn by the examination of the pottery. It seems that during the Julio-Claudian and the Flavian periods, which were precisely the period of rebirth and growth of Corinth, activity at the center of Sikyon was substantially reduced.

Analysis of the archaeobotanical material, by Evi Margaritis, involves microscopic examination of samples recovered either through dry sieving or through flotation, and come from various strata, mostly from occupation and destruction contexts but also from filling layers.

Dry sieving during the excavation

Evi Margaritis checks soil samples for flotation, in the presence of the trench supervisor Nicola Nenci

Examination of the faunal remains by Eftychia Yannouli shows some interesting differences as to the texture, color and consistency of the bones. For example, the fragile bones found in the workshops’ area and the trench of the Southeast Stoa are generally much disarticulated and betray an advanced stage of disintegration. They befit the impression that we gained from examining the stratigraphy and the ceramic material of this area, namely that we have to do with successive artificial fills during Late Roman times. On the contrary, the faunal material recovered from the well in the West Stoa of the agora, is for the most part a homogenous assemblage as to its preservation characteristics, and was found mixed with abundant traces of ash and fat, often forming a crust on the surface of the bones. Here, we are dealing with secondary refuse of leftovers of meals that may have taken place in rooms of the West Stoa, a hypothesis that the examination of the ceramic material seems to reinforce.