Sikyon Project

Hellenistic building

2017 season

Orthophoto of the fifth excavation sector with the numbers of architectural features.

In the fifth sector that we opened in 2016 we continued the excavation throughout the whole extent of the trench in order to expose the continuation of the architectural remains that we had located last year. We are dealing with the foundation of a rectangular building preserved at a depth of ca. 1.4 m from ground surface and which partly covers a narrow and rectilinear layer of rubble. To facilitate the excavation we extended the north side of the trench by 1 m, so that the final dimensions of the whole trench came to 15 x 11 m. On the basis of last year’s excavation we knew that the architectural remains were sealed by a light-colored fill, ca. 1 m thick, possibly artificial and with very few finds. For removing this layer (Contexts 4030 and 4032) throughout the surface of the trench we used a mechanical excavator at the same time checking the soils during the process. The ceramic material that we recorded from this thick layer dates mostly from the Hellenistic period (from Early to Late Hellenistic) but with quite a few Early Roman sherds in it. If this is an artificial fill for raising and leveling the surface, a hypothesis to be checked by the micromorphological analysis of the soil sample that we have taken, then this must have happened after the first half of the 2nd century, but we do not know how long after.

The 5th sector at the end of the excavation season, looking northeast.

With the removal of the fill and the appearance of the dark red soil, we exposed the outline of the foundations which are the continuation of those that we had dug last year. They belong to the two bottom courses of a rectangular building, measuring ca. 7.3 m on the north-south by 8.5 m on the east—west axis. Its walls (Contexts 4025, 4015, 4012, 4033) are built with ashlars, of various lengths (from 0.7 to 1.8 m), 0.50 to 0.57 m wide and 0.40 m high. In some places two and in others just one course is preserved, while at some points the bottom course is carved out of bedrock. Along the exterior side of the south wall (Wall 4012) we identified a possible foundation trench (Context 4038) but its small width in connection with its irregular trace makes this identification dubious. In any case from inside this possible trench we recovered not a single find.

Inside the building we found a cross-wall (Context 4031), built parallel and just 1 m apart from the west wall (Context 4033). This wall is also built with ashlars but unlike the outer walls of the building it is not founded on bedrock. This, in connection with the fact that its ends do not bond with Walls 4025 and 4012 suggest that it was built after the outer walls. Excavation inside the building also revealed the continuation of the clearly defined layer of rubble (Context 4024), 1.2 to 1.3 m wide and of northwest-southeast orientation. Its function remains enigmatic, same as its precise date, but it is earlier to the building with the ashlar foundations.

Unfortunately the finds from the interior of the building (Contexts 4035 and 4036) as well as from its perimeter (Context 4034) are very limited, almost exclusively pottery of the Hellenistic period with the latest examples dating to the 1st century BCE. In places around the building we exposed outcrops of the bedrock which features a downward slope from west to east. In fact, it is almost certain that for the foundation of this building smoothing and leveling of the bedrock were required. Thanks to the ceramic material however much limited from the foundation level of the building we have a terminus post quem for its construction, which is the 1st century BCE, but its use remains unknown. What is certain is that it was part of a large complex given that its walls continue north (Wall 4033) and east (Walls 4025 and 4012) of the boundaries of the trench, under the foundations of the pi-shaped complex.