In the first trench, we continued with the excavation of the building remains that we exposed in previous seasons digging deeper layers and extending the trench by 2 m towards the north and the south and by 5 m towards the east.
At the northern sector of the trench we began by removing the upper layers on the eastern and northern sides (Contexts 543-547) where we recorded many tile fragments and collected pottery of different periods, from the Early Hellenistic to the Late Roman. While removing these layers we exposed the upper surface of a wall (Context 1127) of an east-west orientation and in alignment with Wall 541. In deeper strata of the northern side of the trench (Contexts 549, 552, 554, 555) we found pottery of various periods with the latest examples dating to the 6th century CE. By removing these layers we discovered the northern wall (Context 539) of the room which is defined by Wall 504 towards the west, Wall 506 towards the east, and Wall 1038 towards the south. Wall 539, 0.45 m thick and 8.45 long, is built in ashlar masonry, same as Wall 504. The resemblance of their construction technique and the fact that their inner corner is covered with the same layer of plaster certify that the two walls belong to the same structure and the same building phase. At the northwestern corner of the trench a small section of a wall (Context 556) was exposed over a length of 2.3 m, in alignment with Wall 504. This wall is 0.4 m wide and continues to the north beyond the edges of the trench. It does not bond with Wall 504, but between the two a wider stone is set, 0.68 x 0.58 m, which may be a threshold.
The space to the south of Wall 539, which is defined by Wall 504 to the west, Wall 1038 to the south, and Wall 506 to the east, was excavated to a depth of ca. 0.86 m down to the level of a plastered surface (Context 589) through multiple layers (Contexts 560, 566, 569, 579, 581) deposited between the early 5th and the early 6th century CE. In the earliest deposit (Context 581) we found chunks of a plastered floor, especially along the western wall (Wall 504), together with many large tile fragments laid flat and significant quantity of animal bones. From the filling deposits we collected many artifacts, especially pottery. Among the artifacts, we single out a trefoil jug with strapped handle and a bronze fibula from Context 560, part of a pebble mosaic floor from Context 579, pieces of marble human figurines from Context 581, and various bronze coins that have not been conserved and identified yet. On the plastered surface (Context 589) where the mortar is only partially preserved, we found many small pieces of charcoal and sherds the latest of which date from the 5th century CE. On this level rests the articulated base of the marble pedestal (Context 515) which stands at the southwestern corner of the room. The pedestal, 0.74 x 0.66 m, is 1.10 m high or 1.41 m including its base. The trunk of the pedestal is offset ca. 15 cm in relation to its base. Its base is decorated with a cyma recta between fillets. This impressive pedestal is here manifestly in secondary use which remains puzzling. The plaster of the surface on which the pedestal sits slightly covers the base of the pedestal, which suggests that it is later in date. Below this surface we excavated a layer ca. 0.18 m thick, and discovered one more plastered surface, of similar texture (Context 590) but sloping towards the northwest. In this layer we found much less material, with the latest pottery dating to the second half of the 2nd century CE.
A small trench opened along the eastern wall of the room (Wall 506) to depth of 30 cm (Context 585) exposed a plastered surface and pottery dating mostly from the early 2nd century CE. An interesting find from this deposit is a stamped tile with the name ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡ[ΟΥ]. Having removed this layer, we discovered that Wall 506 continues at a lower level, but the part that was exposed (Context 587), made of worked stones, rubble and tile fragments (Context 587), differs in masonry from the wall that lies above. It may be the foundation course of this wall or a remnant of an earlier wall on which Wall 506 was laid. The second possibility is more likely because along the exposed section of Wall 587 we recognized a possible entrance, 0.80 m wide, which was blocked when Wall 506 was built. In any case, more excavation is needed in order to clarify the relation between these two superimposed walls and between those and the plastered surfaces located to the west of them.
Excavation in the room opening to the south of Wall 1038, measuring 4 x 2.50 m, removed deposits of a total thickness of ca. 0.40 m (Contexts 551, 553, 559). Contexts 553 and 559, which may belong to the same deposit, contained pottery of various periods with the latest dating to the Middle Roman period along with a large quantity of bones, mostly burnt, weighing in total almost 4.8 kg. From the same deposit (Context 559) come eight coins that are still at the conservation stage. Seven of them come from the northwestern corner of the room. In the middle of the southern side, where already in 2014, we had located an opening 0.85 m wide, most likely for a door, we now discovered a small staircase made of two steps. The steps are ashlar blocks, 0.7 m long, which were used for descending to this space from the south. One more block was discovered in situ at the southwestern corner of the room, against the walls. It measures 0.69 x 0.18-0.23 m and features a cut 7.5 cm wide and 6 cm deep on its upper surface. The cut aligns with a hole preserved on the south wall of the room, suggesting that it belonged to an installation the exact configuration and purpose of which still elude us.
The bottom of Context 559 corresponds to the foundation level of the eastern wall of this room (Context 542). Its masonry, rubble with a reused ashlar block set on its short side, is quite distinct from the nice masonry of the south (Context 1022) and western (Context 504) walls of this room, which seem to rest on even lower levels. Therefore it is likely that Wall 542 is a later addition, which may also be the case with Wall 1038, of similar masonry along the northern side of the room. If this assumption is correct, then it means that the space defined to the west from Wall 504 to the north from Wall 539 and to the south from Wall 1022-524 was originally continuous.
Whether Wall 1118 was part of the eastern side of this originally continuous space is still under investigation. The part of the wall uncovered this year, 3.70 m long, is built with ashlar blocks 0.57 m wide. Only one course of Wall 1118 has been exposed so far due to lack of time. For the same reasons, the excavation to the west of Wall 1118 and east of Wall 542 did not progress much this season. However, we were able to discover the eastern continuation of Wall 524 which along with Wall 1022 define the southern side of the unified space under investigation, and whose length must have reached 9 m. The upper courses of the section of the wall that we discovered this year were removed already in Late Roman times as betrayed by the pottery that we found within their robbing trench (Context 573). In the deposits that we dug, of a maximum depth of ca. 40 cm, we collected the usual mixed pottery with the latest dating to the 7th century CE, together with a few bronze coins and other small finds.
To the north of this space and due east of Wall 506, we dug a structure (Context 580) the outline of which we had exposed in 2014. It is a rectangular space, ca. 2.5 x 1.4-1.5 m of inner dimensions, defined to the south from Wall 506, to the north from Wall 539, to the east from a built channel (Context 532), and to the south from Wall 540. Excavation inside this structure progressed to a depth of 0.80 m in four layers (Contexts 558, 561-564, 568, 571-578) of artificial fill down to the level of a surface with preserved traces of a thick plaster (3 - 5 cm thick), similar to the plaster covering part of its side walls. We can therefore assume that this structure was meant to receive liquid, it was in other words a basin. At its bottom and against its south wall two small parallel walls were built, each 0.4 m long, 15 cm wide and ca. 20 cm high, ca. 25 cm distant from each other. A similar arrangement we had located in 2013 to the north of the treading floor. They were manifestly the base of an installation, perhaps of a pressing apparatus.
Based on the content of the deposits, filled with stones, fragments of tiles, pithoi and terracotta channels, we understand that the basin was used as a dumping area in Late Roman times (6th and 7th century CE). The lowest layers of the fill, over the bottom, are sandier in comparison to the upper layers. The latest pottery found in the layer covering the bottom of the basin (Context 578) dates from the first half of the 6th century CE. Among the discarded material, we can single out four joining fragments of a terracotta chimney from Context 571 and several pieces of clay bars, of roughly semi-cylindrical shape with a coarse flat side, which we have been finding throughout the excavated area already since the first year of excavations. Their dimensions vary, but a typical size is 23 to 25 cm in length, 15 cm in width, and 8 to 10 cm in height. These bars belong to the support of the perforated floor of ceramic kilns and were radiating from the central pillar towards the side walls of the kiln.
At the middle of the built channel (Context 532), which constitutes the east side of the basin, two semi-circular arches were placed, facing each other. They are 1.10 m wide, 0.76 m high, and rest on the bottom of the basin. The arch is formed by two bent clay stands, ca. 1.10 m long and 13 cm thick, which join at the apex of the arch. The outer face of these stands is curved and bears parallel grooves while their inner face is flat. The interior of the channel, 3.25 m long and 0.4 m wide, was only partly excavated for reasons of stability of the arches. The stratigraphy within the channel (Contexts 562, 565, 570) was no different to that recorded inside the basin. On the western wall of the basin (Wall 506) and to a height of ca. 1 m from the bottom we observed 10 shallow hemispherical holes in alignment, ca. 25 cm apart from each other (from center to center). These holes were opened at the level of the upper surface of the built channel on the east side of the basin. Their exact purpose is still unclear, but one possibility is to have been meant to receive wooden beams.
It is clear that through this arched opening the basin (Context 580) communicated with the space to the east of it where we expanded this year. To a depth of ca. 0.70 m from surface level (Context 575) we encountered a thick layer of rubble and tiles that cover the eastern extension of Wall 539. Because of lack of time we did not take out the layer this year and therefore we have not been able to locate the eastern end of Wall 539 and confirm whether it joins Wall 1118 of similar masonry. From the deposits that we did remove (Contexts 543, 545, 572, 584) we recorded abundant pottery of various periods (starting with the early Hellenistic) with the latest dating to the 6th and 7th century CE.
In the area that we excavated further to the south, and which is the eastern side of the trench, we uncovered four adjacent rooms on the north-south axis, 4.5 m wide and on an overall length of 14 m. After removing surface levels (Contexts 543-544, 1067-1068), 25 to 30 cm thick, their partition walls were revealed. In order to follow more easily the description of the excavation progress, we numbered the rooms from north to south as Room 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Room 1 is defined to the north by Wall 1127, to the east by Wall 1136, to the south by Wall 1070, and to the west by Wall 1118. Wall 541, which starts from the southern side of the basin, goes over the earlier Wall 1118 and abuts Wall 1127. Wall 1127, 0.55 m wide is built with ashlar blocks, spolia, rubble, and tiles. At the outer angle that this wall forms with Wall 1118 we discovered the upper part of a terracotta storage bin, which we will excavate in 2016. The upper layers of Room 1 (Contexts 1116, 1119, 1124, 1125) are natural fills with sherds and tile fragments most of which were found at the southwestern side of the room, due north of Wall 1070 (Context 1119). These layers were deposited in Late Roman times, perhaps during the first half of the 6th century CE. With their removal the western (Wall 1118) and eastern (Wall 1136) wall of the room as well as a stone platform (Context 1135) in the middle of the space were revealed. The western wall (Context 1118), which is aligned with Wall 1050, is 0.57 m wide and consists of ashlar blocks of different sizes. On the contrary, the eastern side (Context 1136), 40 to 50 cm wide, is built with irregular stones and tiles. Its masonry is not homogenous, but its northern section which is preserved at a higher level, features finer masonry in relation to the southern half. It is possible that this southern half, ca. 1.2 m long, belongs to a later phase. Furthermore, it seems that the northern half of the wall turns a corner at its southern end, which suggests that the southern half was originally void and corresponded to the entrance to the room. The stone platform (Context 1135), 2.05 x 1.45 m, covers the whole length of the room, extending from Wall 1127 on the north to Wall 1070 on the south. It is made of sizable ashlar blocks, 0.30 m thick.
To the west and the south of the platform, we continued excavating in lower levels (Contexts 1130 and 1131) which contained many tile fragments and pottery dating up to the first half of the 7th century CE. Most noteworthy among the finds are an iron hoe (dikella) found intact at the northeastern corner of the room as well as large joining pieces of at least one LRA2 amphora from the northwestern corner of the room. More pieces of at least two such amphoras were found in the same room but at a lower level (Context 1133). We decided to not dig lower in this room, mainly because of lack of time, even though we did not reach clear surface levels. The stone platform cannot be the floor of the room, but a working platform serving some industrial activity, same as the other two platforms found in the area, one in 2013 at the center of the western side of the trench and the other in Room 4 this year.
The southern wall of Room 1 (Context 1070), which separates it from Room 2, is 0.5 m wide, built with rubble and mortar and incorporates a large ashlar block on its western side. The robbing trench that we identified next to this block (Context 1088) suggests that similar stones originally existed in other parts of this wall.
Room 2, measuring internally ca. 4.50 x 3.50 m, was dug to a depth of ca. 0.70 m. and in four layers (Contexts 1072, 1080/1084, 1093, 1108) down to a floor level consisting of beaten earth covered by a thin layer of whitish plaster. The floor is best preserved around the center of the room and is mostly destroyed along the edges. At the northwestern corner of the room, we recorded a rectangular feature, ca. 1.1 x 0.8 m, made of a line of stones which form an angle with the northern and western wall of the room. Inside it, which we dug down to a level of a plastered surface (Context 1111), we found nothing suggestive of the function of this space.
A thick destruction layer overlaid the floor, with large tile pieces, stones and pottery dating as late as the middle of the 7th century CE. Among the stones that we have recorded we can single out a triglyph and metope piece and part of an Ionic column which must have come from the walls of the room where we also noticed the presence of spolia. Most characteristic is an Ionic column drum built into the southeastern corner of the room as part of Wall 1077, and ashlar blocks with dove-tail dowel holes in the northern half of the western wall (Wall 1050). The stone blocks of the course above must have been robbed out already in the 6th century CE, according to the pottery recovered from their robbing trench (Context 1069). The second course of Wall 1050 is preserved on the southern half, consisting of large ashlar blocks. In the middle of this side we identified an opening, possibly for a doorway 1 m wide, through which Room 2 communicated with the room to its west, but no threshold has been found so far.
It is unclear whether a similar entrance existed along the eastern wall of the room (Context 1137), which is partly preserved. At the southern corner of this wall with Wall 1077 we observed the Ionic drum mentioned above. Wall 1077, 0.70 m wide, is aligned with Wall 1058 that we uncovered in 2014 to the west but shows different masonry and thickness. It is built with stones, some of which are spolia, rubble and tiles. Wall 1077 is built against Wall 1050 to the west, but to the east it bonds with Wall 1086, of similar construction technique.
These walls define the western, northern and eastern side of Room 3, measuring internally 4.5 x 2.6 m. The southern wall of this room (Wall 1089), which separates it from Room 4, was exposed after removing the upper layers (Contexts 1075, 1076, 1079, 1090) that extended throughout the southern half of the east side of the trench. These layers contained abundant ceramic material dated until the late 6th century CE. The last layer (Context 1090) contained many joining fragments of a pithos which lay together with tiles over Wall 1089. The underlying context (Context 1079) is a thick ashy layer (15-30 cm thick) which was deposited around the middle of the 6th century CE, and is probably connected to industrial activity in the surrounding area. The analysis of samples of this ash that we have collected and the examination of the organic remains that we recovered through flotation are bound to assist interpreting this layer.
On the eastern side of Room 3 and at the level of Context 1076 we discovered a platform built with rubble, bricks, and mortar (Context 1122) into which a cement container, 31 cm of diameter, was built. It is not certain that the surviving feature, ca. 1.28 x 1.72 m and 0.27 m thick, corresponds to the original size of the platform. The level at which this installation was found indicates that it must have been one of the latest additions. The excavation of lower layers around the installation (Contexts 1104, 1106, 1107) yielded pottery which dates until the early 5th century CE.
The southern and western wall of Room 3, Contexts 1089 and 1050, respectively, built in ashlar masonry, bear traces of a thick mortar on their inner faces. The mortar is preserved on the largest part of the inner face of the south wall (Wall 1089) but only on small parts of the west wall (Wall 1050). It is indicative of the use of the space as a basin the original extent of which has not been verified yet. The preserved depth of the cistern is 1.17 m, and its floor is made of square bricks 37 cm of a side. At a later date, the cistern was reduced to the southwestern corner of the room by occupying a space ca. 1.8 x 0.8 m. A stone orthostate was placed across the cistern dividing it in two compartments. The excavation of the fill of the eastern compartment (Context 1112) yielded mixed pottery with the latest dating to the 4th century CE. From the excavation of the interior of the western compartment and its overlying fill (Context 1101) come several spolia, including parts of Ionic columns and fragments of cornice blocks. Directly north of this compartment, a staircase was built parallel and in contact with Wall 1050 (Context 1128). The staircase, 0.90 m wide, preserves three steps made of reused ashlar blocks. The lowest step runs against Wall 1077 which must be later in date.
In order to better understand the stratigraphy and the sequence of the various structures we continued by excavating the space directly east of the staircase to a depth of ca. 1 m. The layers that we recorded (Contexts 1103, 1109, 1110, 1115, 1117, 1121) contained ceramic material of different periods, but mostly of the first half of the 5th century CE. At the level of Context 1117 we identified possible floor traces, which must belong to an earlier building phase.
The rooms to the west and the south of the cistern communicated with it through cuttings opened onto the Walls 1050 and 1089, respectively. The cutting observed on the Wall 1050, 15 cm wide, is certainly connected with the terracotta channel that we discovered in 2014 to the west, therefore we now know the destination of this channel which was precisely the cistern of Room 3. The starting point of this channel is still being sought, although it is possible that it was connected to the treading floor that we discovered in 2013 on the western side of the trench. The cutting on the Wall 1089, V-shaped and of a maximum width of 17 cm, leads directly to the cistern from Room 4 where we uncovered one more stone platform. In this case we can connect with reasonable certainty the liquid product which flowed towards the basin with the processing taking place on the stone platform of Room 4.
Room 4 has almost the same dimensions to Room 3 (4.5 x 2.8 m) and walls of similar masonry, i.e., made of rubble, tiles, and a few spolia among which an Ionic capital built into the eastern wall of the room. The upper layers of this room (Contexts 1090 and 1092) contained ash and pottery dating at the latest to the middle of the 7th century CE. The underlying layers (Contexts 1094, 1095, 1097) had many large fragments of tiles covering the level of the stone platform (Context 1113) on the western half of the space. The platform, of preserved dimensions 2.31 x 170 m and 0.32 m thick, is built with ashlar blocks, similar to the platform of Room 1, some of which are in secondary use. It rests on a foundation of rubble stones visible there where the stones of the platform were robbed out at a certain date. The stones which define the platform to the north and to the south are slightly elevated (by a few centimeters) in relation to the large stones of the floor, no doubt so that the liquid produce is concentrated at the center and subsequently channeled towards the cutting of Wall 1089 thanks to a slight slope. Within the layers that covered the western half of the floor of the platform (Contexts 1095 and 1097) we found 11 coins, six of which together. These coins have not been cleaned and identified yet.
On the eastern side of the room, an anta with engaged half-columns (Context 1114) lies flat at the level of the stone platform. Its visible dimensions are 1.24 x 0.66 x 0.16 m. Based on its similarity with fragments found by A. Orlandos in the gymnasium, we suppose that this member comes from the palaestra of the gymnasium. It is possible that this member was part of a continuous stone platform that would have filled the entire width of the room, extending from the western to the eastern wall. It is also worth noting that the eastern end of the reused anta is incorporated into the eastern wall of the room, which means that this wall or at least part of it was built after the construction of the platform.
The excavation of the layer below the level of the stone platform to a depth of ca. 20 cm (Contexts 1100 and 1102) produced pottery dated as late as the first half of the 5th century CE, which is a terminus post quem for this installation. If the treading floor that we discovered in 2013, the stone platform of Room 4 and the basin of Room 3 that we discovered this year are connected, as is suggested by the preserved section of the channel found in 2014 to the west of Room 3 and the cutting on the western and the southern walls of the same room, then we can legitimately suggest that these basins functioned as vats towards which the liquid produce would flow. The examination of the results of the floatation of samples from the relevant contexts will help us to understand which was the product in question.
In the southern area of the trench we continued the excavation in order to better understand its building phases and its stratigraphy. For this purpose we extended the trench by 2 m towards the south. By removing the upper layers of this extension (Contexts 1564 and 1566/1568) we exposed the continuation of Wall 1561 that we had first located in 2014, the upper surface of a distinct layer with rich pottery to the east of this wall (Context 1569) as well as the outline of a ceramic kiln (Context 1577) at the southeastern corner. By excavating Contexts 1564 and 1566, of a total thickness of 0.95 m, our extension came to level of the trenches of 2014, and thus we were able to dig lower throughout the area east of Wall 1562. Context 1569 appears to be a dump layer for pottery and tiles that date mostly from the second half of the 1st century CE. From the pottery we single out the thin-walled mugs some of which are overfired and an incense burner (thymiaterion). In lower levels we encountered a surface consisting of small pebbles (Context 1582) which is better preserved along Walls 1562 and 1526.
On the southern side, around the ceramic kiln, we dug one more dump fill of pottery and tiles (Context 1583). Among the hundreds of sherds that we collected including some whole vessels, the thin-walled mugs, the jugs either trefoil or round-mouth, various cups and plates, and a large fragment of a table amphora stand out. Almost all of them date from the Early Roman period, as late as the first half of the 2nd century CE. Under this deposit we encountered a thin layer of ash (Context 1587) rich in ceramic finds including an almost complete lamp. This ashy layer overlaid a hard, reddish surface (Context 1592) on which rest both the kiln and the deposit of vessels to the southeast of it (Context 1591).
The keyhole-shaped kiln (Context 1577) at the southeastern corner of the trench was built against the earlier Wall 1561. It measures 2 x 1.60 m, its walls are 0.30 m thick, and is preserved to a height of 0.40 m. The entrance is from the east. Its masonry is mixed with layers of tiles and small irregular stones with mud as bonding material, whereas the inner surface of the wall is covered with mortar. Mortar also covers the floor of the kiln consisting of tile fragments. At the center stands a pillar made of circular bricks 16 cm in diameter which rests on a lower level than the floor. The pillar manifestly supported the perforated floor of the kiln (eschara) which is not preserved. From inside the kiln (Contexts 1578, 1588, 1589, 1590, 1594) we collected many segments of clay pipes which belong to at least four different types, and much pottery with the overwhelming majority belonging to thin-walled cups and jugs dated to the first half of the 2nd century CE. The number of the pipes, some of which bear traces of burning, may indicate that they were also products of the kiln along with the cups and the jugs. The lack of ash in the firing chamber is odd, probably the result of the thorough cleaning of the chamber after it was last used, and its subsequent abandonment. The ash together with the misfired products of the kiln were discarded in the surrounding area. Some of these discarded items we were able to recover from layers around the kiln.
At the northeastern corner, formed between the kiln and Wall 1561, we found a distinct layer (Context 1591) with dozens of large, joining pieces of vessels or even whole pots placed there, manifestly products of the kiln and ready for circulation. The thin-walled mugs and to a lesser extent the jugs constitute most of the vessels dating solidly from the first half of the 2nd century CE. The type of characteristic cups with banded neck produced here (“boccalini a collarino”) is encountered in many places including Athens, Corinth, Argos and Knossos. The comparanda that are closer to our examples come from the Athenian Agora (Agora XXXII, 268 no. 1605) and date from the early 2nd century CE. Regarding the round-mouth pitchers, unfortunately their typological evolution is not well known but examples similar to ours come from Corinth (e.g. Corinth XVIII.2, 107 no. 225) and date from the second half of the 1st century CE. On the other hand, the presence of certain vessels in the layers around the kiln and the table amphora pieces, which resemble examples from Corinth (Corinth XVIII.2, 122–3 nos. 267–268) and notably from Argos (Abadie-Reynal 2007, pl. 61 no. 387.2), as well as the incense burners, which also find parallels in Argos (Abadie-Reynal 2007, pl. 66 no. 424.1) suggest that our ceramic workshop operated during the first half of the 2nd century CE.
On the western side of the trench, due west of Wall 1562, we investigated deeper strata in an effort to clarify the relation of Wall 1526 oriented east-west, which we have been following since 2013, with its perpendicular Wall 1562, as well as to trace possible floors of the Early Roman or even earlier period. In Contexts 1579 and 1580, which are manifestly remains of the larger Context 1558 that we excavated in 2014, we found many pieces of thin-walled mugs which must be connected to the ceramic production of the early 2nd century CE. We moved onto to lower levels, in a small trench 2.50 x 2 m that we opened at the corner between Walls 1526 and 1562, and discovered the boundaries of three pits, of irregular shape, which contained the usual pottery (thin-walled cups constituted the majority of the vessels) of the first half of the 2nd century CE. The filling of these pits was only partly excavated because of lack of time and space. On the other hand the excavation progressed enough to confirm that Wall 1562 was built after Wall 1526.