Sikyon Project

Ceramic workshops area

2017 season

Orthophoto of the first sector with the architectural features numbered.

In the first sector, we focused on the north and south areas by extending the trench by 3 m towards the north and opening a new trench, 7 x 11 m, at its southeastern corner. On the north side, the upper layers (Contexts 618 and 620, ca. 1.30 m thick) contained large quantities of tiles and mixed pottery together with bones and other scattered material which indicate that it is a dump fill of the early 7th century CE. By removing these layers we exposed the northern continuation of the parallel Walls 556 and 538. The underlying layers (Contexts 623, 625 and 633), ca. 0.50 m thick contained similar material which also dates to the Late Roman period. The floor of the room, which we conventionally call “northwest,” is to a large extent destroyed (with the possible exception of the northwest corner preserving a small, mortared surface) by a pit opened in Late Roman times (Context 632). For the time being we are not certain whether we are dealing with a huge dump occurred in a single episode sometime in the 6th or 7th century or with successive dumps in the course of these centuries. Future examination of the 11 coins that we recovered from it, one in the surface layer (Context 618, inv. no. 13), three in Context 620 (inv. no. 41, 42 and 44), four in Context 623 (inv. no. 28-31), one in Context 625 (inv. no. 38) and two more in Context 633 (inv. no. 53 and 54) may clarify the situation. By digging Context 633 we exposed Wall 635, oriented east-west, and built with rubble and mortar. This rather casual wall does not bond either with the west (Wall 556) or the east wall (Wall 538) of the room, and was probably built in order to retain the thick Late-Roman dump fill.

The “northwest room” at the end of the excavation season, looking southwest.

The northern side of the trench at the end of the excavation season, looking west.

The other walls that define this space are built with more care. The east wall of the room (Wall 538) features the same masonry as the south wall (Wall 539) with which it bonds, which means that the two belong to the same building phase. The surface of both walls is covered with a yellowish mortar also visible in their foundations mixed with tile fragments. On the contrary the west wall of the room (Wall 556) differs in its masonry, with stone orthostates placed atop a toichobate consisting for the most part of reused stones, and is built against Wall 539, which suggests that the two are not contemporary. In the fill of the shallow foundation trench, 0.14 to 0.28 m wide, that we identified along the inner side of the wall (Context 636), we found a fair number of diagnostic sherds dating to the third quarter of the 1st century CE, which is a terminus post quem for the construction of the wall. The orthostates are missing from the northernmost exposed part of this wall where we identified a robbing trench containing a few diagnostic sherds dating as late as the 4th century CE (Context 626).

Excavation to the east of Wall 538 and of Structure 580 that we had revealed in 2015 brought to light successive layers and structures. On the north side of the trench, the removal of the upper layers (Contexts 618 and 619), ca. 1.25 m thick, filled with mixed material dating as late as the 7th century CE, revealed Wall 621 and the northern continuation of Wall 593. Wall 621, oriented east-west, is built with ashlars averaging 0.44 m in width, and is contemporaneous with Walls 538 to the west and 539 to the south. Together with Wall 648 that we discovered in lower levels, they define a rectangular room that we conventionally call “northern,” measuring 4.4 (east-west) x 3.8 m (north-south). The underlying layers along the north side of the trench (Contexts 622, 624, 627 and 634), 0.60 to 0.70 m in overall depth, also contained mixed pottery and other material which is due to a single or multiple fills of the 6th to 7th century CE. Six coins come from these layers, four from Context 622 (inv. no. 21-22 and 26-27) and two from Context 624 (inv. no. 35-36). The specific fills are the equivalent of those excavated last year in the southern part of the trench (Contexts 595, 605 and 612).

The 2016 excavation directly north of Wall 539 and east of Wall 538, which is the southwest corner of the north room, had revealed layers rich in pottery (Contexts 608, 614, especially 617) which include many late 4th century amphoras. This year’s excavation revealed the entire destruction layer (Context 631), ca. 0.45 m thick, down to the floor of the room with its characteristic whitish packed surface at the level of 158.97 masl. No less than 55 coins were found in this layer (inv. no. 48-52, 56-91, 109-119, 122-124), together with large quantities of pottery weighing almost 100 kg, fragments of glass vessels and various metal objects. Together with those found in the same layer last year (Context 617), 11 amphoras were almost entirely mended, one pithos, three African Red Slipped dishes (types 50B, 52, 59A), a stewpot, many “sombrero” amphora lids, and at least two funnels. Of the amphoras, one is a LRA4 type, two are LRA2 types, two more belong to the Agora M334 type, two to the Medio-Roman Cretese type 2, and four to the Agora M325 type. These amphoras in connection with the specific types of red-slip dishes suggest a date for this layer in the late 4th century, perhaps before 390 CE. This date will be confirmed once the dozens of coins found in this layer are properly examined. The large number of coins and of amphoras found in the destruction layer of the north room suggest a commercial use of this space.

Amphora fragments as found in Context 631 of the “north room”.

Amphoras from Context 631 after their conservation.

Traces of the eastern wall of the room (Wall 648), which continues north beyond the boundaries of the trench, were found in deeper layers, ca. 0.20 m below the level of the floor. Parts of the foundation course of this wall were found, 0.40 to 0.50 m wide, in the northern and southern part of the wall but not in its middle where the entrance to the room must have been located. The overlying layers (Contexts 639, 645 and 669) date to Late Roman times, perhaps to the 5th century, when the wall was presumably destroyed. Reading of the five coins found here (cat. num. 93, 98, 100, 139, 140) will hopefully provide a safer date. Wall 648 extends north beyond the limits of the trench whereas to the south it surely joins Wall 1118 the two being aligned.

The area of the furnace on the north side of the trench at the end of the excavation season, looking west.

Excavation to the south of Wall 539, focused on the area east of Structure 580, the interior of which was dug in 2015, and produced evidence for the use and date of this structure. More specifically, in front (east of) the arched openings of this structure we found a small built chamber, measuring ca. 0.74 x 0.90 m, with its east side blocked by a rubble wall. The interior of this chamber is lined with mortar and appears to have been vaulted with an inner height of 0.83 m which corresponds to the height of the arched opening. Within it (Contexts 673-675, 677, 679, 680) we found clear traces of burning along with a few Late Roman sherds (dating as late as the 7th century). This, in connection with the chronological indications that we acquired in 2016 by digging the area directly south of the structure (Context 597) leads us to believe that this installation dates from the first half of the 7th century CE. For its construction, several spolia were used as seen particularly in the masonry of its west side. Its use has not been confirmed yet but surely involved fire with the combustion chamber to the east and the hot air passing on to the rectangular room through the arched openings. The layers to the east of this furnace (Contexts 641, 655) were characterized by dark brownish red soils with traces of burning and mixed pottery dating as late as the early 7th century CE.

The continuation of the excavation in the area east of Wall 648 that we started digging in 2016 (Contexts 595, 605, 612) did not reveal traces of a floor but successive and parallel layers of fill (Contexts 639, 640, 645-647, 650, 654, 657, 658, 667, 676) dating to the late Roman period. The coins found in these layers, two in Contexts 640 (inv. no. 103-104) and 658 (inv. no. 130-131), and one in Contexts 645 (inv. no. 98), 647 (inv. no. 120), 650 (inv. no. 125), 657 (inv. no. 129) and 676 (inv. no. 144) will hopefully provide a more precise dating. From Context 640 comes an inscribed stone base of a dedication, measuring 1.05 x 0.85 x 0.39 m, which preserves part of an inscription carved on a raised band 10 cm high and 0.80 m of preserved length: [---] ΛΟΥΔΑΜΑ [---]. The height of the letters is 7 to 8 cm. On the basis of the form of the letters the inscription should date from the Roman period.

The northeastern side of the first sector at the end of the excavation season, looking southwest.

The inscribed stone base as found inside the late-Roman fill.

With the removal of these fills, ca. 0.60 m thick, parts of fragmentary walls were exposed, two on the north side of the trench (Walls 649 and 678) oriented east-west and one near the southeast corner, oriented north-south (Wall 668). The northernmost wall (Wall 649) is manifestly built of spolia including a Doric column drum, 0.52 m in diameter. Its parallel wall towards the south (Wall 678), 0.65 m wide, is rather casually built with rubble and tiles. The parallel deposits 663 and 670 on the south side of the trench, directly north of Wall 1127, with pottery dating to the late 4th to early 5th century CE, provide a terminus post quem for the erection of Wall 1127 which sits precisely on these deposits. The examination of the three coins found in Context 663 (inv. no. 134-136) will hopefully further define this dating.

Excavation inside the circular built basin (Context 652) that we located in 2015 at the corner of Walls 1127 and 1118 to a depth of ca. 0.65 m yielded several plaster pieces coming from the inner lining of the basin but very few diagnostic sherds. At the lowest excavated layer (Context 662) we found two handles from the characteristic Early Roman round-mouth pitchers which surely do not provide a secure dating evidence for this installation. The pottery collected from higher levels inside the basin (Context 644) is mostly Late-Roman in date. We are also uncertain about the use of this installation, ca. 0.60 m of inner diameter, which seems to have been inserted into the ground with an outer shell made of tiles and an inner lining of thick mortar. Digging around this basin encountered layers containing very few finds (Contexts 646 and 664) but clear traces of ash. The examination of the floatation samples taken from inside the basin as well as from Context 664 to its north may help us with determining its use.

Context 665, under Context 664, contained a few diagnostic sherds that date as late as the first half of the 2nd century CE and is clearly limited towards the west by the hypothetical northern projection of Wall 1118. It is clear that this deposit was formed before the stones of that wall were taken out, unlike the overlying Context 664 and the successive deposits to the west of the basin (Contexts 638, 653, 666 and 671), which correspond to a dump fill or fills of the 6th to 7th century CE, and were formed after the robbing of the stones of Wall 1118. This in its turn suggests that basin 652 was built after Wall 1118 had been dismantled.

The last days of excavation in this area were spent to remove part of the extensive dump fill that covered the greater part of this trench (Context 672), ca. 0.65 m deep. It is a Late Roman dump (the latest pottery dates from the first half of the 7th century CE) which is defined towards the west, north and east by Walls 648, 678 and 668, and appears to extend southwards to Wall 1127, thus covering a surface area of about 20 m². We estimate to have dug a little more than half of this dump, where we counted more than 3,500 sherds weighing in total 120 kg, and other material including fragments of glass vessels, tiles, clayey pipes, loomweights, various metal objects, bones, etc. Four coins come from this layer (inv. no. 141-143, 145) still not preserved, as well as an inscribed tile (MF2017-68) with the name Alexandros, similar to the one found in 2015 also in this area.

On the southern side of the first sector, we continued the excavation of the two ceramic kilns (Contexts 1624 and 1640) that we had started last year, and uncovered three more (Contexts 1680, 5056, 5057) so that the total number of ceramics kilns from this area including the one that we excavated in 2015 comes to six. These kilns are found within four built enclosures, which we conventionally numbered from the west to east as enclosures 1, 2, 3 and 4.

In the second enclosure, measuring 4.2 x 4.6 m, the removal of deposits around Kiln 1640 (Contexts 1633 and 1650), up to 0.45 m in depth, revealed traces of a whitish surface which should correspond to the floor of the enclosure. From these deposits we collected more than 3500 sherds, of which the majority date to the Early Roman period, as well as 13 coins (inv. no. 1-5, 9, 17, 19, 20, 25, 94, 95, 101) which have not been conserved yet. Of particular importance is the discovery of a mass of ceramic wasters near the southwest corner of the enclosure from which the thin-walled mugs – characteristic products of our kilns, stand out. With these deposits removed, we exposed the south entrance to the enclosure, 0.75 m wide with its threshold at the level of 159.37 m, as well as traces of another, smaller kiln, directly south of Kiln 1640 (Context 1680), and of similar orientation. The smaller kiln must be the earliest one given that in its location a stone was set which is preserved in situ and likely belongs to the structure of Kiln 1640.

The second enclosure at the end of the excavation season, looking north.

A mass of wasters before its cleaning.

The two kilns of the second enclosure at the end of the excavation season, looking northeast.

Both kilns are pear-shaped with west-northwest orientation. The bigger Kiln 1640 was built against the inner corner of Walls 1526 and 1609 evidently for stability reasons. The preserved part of this kiln, which includes the lower parts of the combustion and stoking chambers, is dug into the soil and lined internally with thick plaster. No masonry is visible at this level, but certainly the upper part of the chamber would have been built. The combustion chamber features a diameter of 1.5 m and a maximum preserved height of 0.80 m, and had a cylindrical pillar at the center, of which only the imprint is preserved on the mortared floor. The stoking chamber is ca. 0.8 m long and 0.44 m wide.

Excavation within Kiln 1640 revealed a homogenous deposit (Context 1642) and below it a layer with chunks of mud brick (Context 1647), which likely come from the disintegration of the upper structure of the kiln. The pottery collected from these layers (1,170 sherds) dates to the late 1st and first half of the 2nd century CE, and includes for the most part sherds from pots fired in the kiln. With the removal of these deposits the floor of the kiln was exposed, covered with a thick layer of mortar.

Along the north wall of the enclosure (Wall 1526) the removal of Context 1643 brought to light the lower course of stones of the wall and allowed us to clarify the relation between Kiln 1640, the retaining wall 1526 and the alley that runs to the north of the enclosure. We established that the surface of the alley (Context 1551) is later than Wall 1526 and Kiln 1650, and that Wall 1526 is earlier than the kiln.

Context 1647 inside the kiln of the second enclosure, looking west.

The excavation of the relief pithos (Context 1653) at the NW corner of the second enclosure, looking north.

At the northwest corner of the enclosure, Contexts 1641, 1647 and 1653 covered a relief pithos, decorated with raised, banded lines, which is fragmentarily preserved in situ. The dark-colored Deposit 1653 contained mostly pottery of the 1st century BCE, a coin (inv. no. 108), and many small pieces of charcoal and burnt wood. Towards the east the space of the pithos is defined by a short wall of north-south orientation, perpendicular to Wall 1526, whereas to the south, the pithos is adjacent to a stone possibly preserved in situ, perpendicular to Wall 1561. Consequently, it seems that the pithos was placed inside a rectangular frame measuring ca. 0.76 x 0.94 m, for protection purposes. On the vertical face of the two lower courses that define the northern side of this space, two rectangular holes are visible, perhaps for inflow of water. If so, the pithos may be part of a hydraulic installation of the Late Hellenistic period, which was later covered by Kiln 1640.

Directly south of the pithos but at a higher level we identified the outline of a shallow circular pit (Context 1667). The pottery found in the fill of the pit (Context 1666) dates mostly from the first half of the 2nd century CE.

In the third enclosure, measuring ca. 4.6 x 4.6 m, this year’s work started by excavating the space to the east of Wall 1626/1627 (Context 1634) and continued by removing Context 1636 that covered the area around the kiln so that the outline of the entire kiln may be exposed. These layers, same as the surface layer that we had removed last year (Context 1614) contained mixed pottery with the latest examples dating to the 7th century CE. The underlying layer 1636, ca. 0.35 m thick, had mostly Early Roman pottery. Characteristically enough, out of the 484 fineware sherds collected from this context, 244 belong to thin-walled mugs.

The third enclosure at the end of the excavation season, looking south.

The kiln of the third enclosure at the end of the excavation season, looking west.

Kiln 1624 is the biggest of the six kilns that we excavated along the south side of the trench with its combustion chamber being almost inscribed in the square enclosure. Its south side almost touches the south side of the enclosure, but the other sides have a short distance (0.4-0.6 m). For this reason the north side was consolidated externally by a stone buttress three courses high, measuring ca. 0.44 x 0.40 m, and the west side by a built wall 0.46 m wide that connected the wall of the kiln to the wall of the enclosure. On the east side, the stones of the enclosure wall (Wall 1626-1627) also act as buttresses to the walls of the stoking chamber.

The kiln preserves its half-underground combustion chamber to a maximum height of 1.10 m, with walls 0.65 m thick made of layers of tiles with a few rubble stones, mud and mortar. The external diameter of the chamber comes to 3.80 m and the inner diameter equals 2.80 m. It has a circular central pillar, 0.50 m in diameter and 0.90 in preserved height, which once supported the firing chamber. The stoking chamber on the east side is 1.8 m long and ca. 0.80 m wide. The floor of the combustion chamber as well as of the stoking chamber, the central pillar and the lower part of the walls (up to a height of ca. 15 cm) are covered with a thick layer of mortar. It is not clear whether the mortar originally covered the entire inner surface of the walls or just their lower part. The floor of the kiln, especially of the stoking chamber, preserves clear traces of burning. In addition, the wall of the firing chamber features on its upper part a U-shaped cutting, 0.30 m high and 0.50 m of maximum width. It is possible that a second similar cutting existed ca. 1.30 m to the south of the first one but the specific part of the wall is not well preserved. It is not clear yet if this opening or openings were arranged from the start to serve the functioning of the kiln, as is more likely, or if we are dealing with later interventions.

Excavation inside the kiln (Context 1639), under the top layers that we had taken out last year, revealed a layer of tiles (Context 1644) that manifestly came from the collapse of the walls of the kiln. The pottery found in this layer dates from the first half of the 2nd century CE with the thin-walled cups being represented the most. The underlying deposits (Contexts 1648 and 1654) contained many chunks of mud brick, tile and terracotta pipe fragments, and parts of red plaster, as well as clay bars, also from the structure of the kiln. From the pottery dating almost exclusively from the first half of the 2nd century CE, thin-walled cups stand out with 270 examples, 16 of which are wasters, followed by round-mouth pitchers and a few examples of amphoras of Dressel 24 and 25 types.

The layer directly underneath (Context 1661) was characterized by the large number of terracotta pipes (192 examples) similar to those that we had found in the small Kiln 1577 in 2015. Out of the ca. 500 sherds found in this deposit, thin-walled wares again stand out with 204 examples, followed by round-mouth pitchers (19 examples) and three wasters of Dressel 24 amphoras. The shape of our thin-walled mugs allows us a closer dating for the operation of the kiln during the second quarter of the 2nd century CE. The last layers, directly above the floor of the kiln (Contexts 1670, 1671, 1675 and 1677) contained much less pottery and clear traces of burning, such as ash, charcoal, and pieces of overfired mud-bricks together with chunks of mortar from the floor of the combustion chamber.

Context 1661 inside the kiln of the third enclosure.

The basin (Context 1645) at the northeast corner of the third enclosure at the end of the excavation season.

At the northeast corner of the enclosure we discovered an ellipsoidal basin (Context 1645) dug into the ground and lined with pan tiles of Laconian type. The interior of the basin, measuring 1.35 x 0.90 m and 0.6 m in depth, was covered by a layer of rubble, pebbles, and tile fragments (Context 1646) together with limited pottery of the first half of the 2nd century CE. The use of this installation is still not clear but since it is contemporaneous to the nearby ceramic kiln, we can assume that it would serve the firing process.

After the abandonment of the kiln its entrance was blocked by a wall made of rubble, tiles, and mortar, and the area was filled with earth and dumped material. When this might have happened is not clear yet, that is whether it represents multiple episodes during the Middle and Late Roman periods or one specific period. In addition, it seems that the western wall (Wall 1630/1628) of the fourth enclosure, which was built almost parallel to the eastern wall (Wall 1626/1627) of the third enclosure at just 0.6 to 0.9 m, initially allowed access to the west through an opening 0.7 m wide which was later blocked with rubble. The dating of Wall 1630/1628, built for the most part out of spolia, is related to the dating of the fourth enclosure and its kilns.

The fourth enclosure at the end of the excavation season, looking southeast.

The fourth enclosure at the end of the excavation season, looking northwest.

The excavation of the fourth enclosure, measuring ca. 5 x 8 m, began and was completed this year with the opening of a 7 x 11 m trench. The geophysical prospection of 2006 in this area had detected a signal of a possible kiln of large dimensions, which this year’s excavation confirmed. The outline of the large kiln and a distinct layer of pottery were exposed once the top layers ca. 0.45 m thick were taken out (Contexts 5000 and 5001). The underlying layer (Context 5013), which covered the area around the kiln, yielded less pottery, mostly dating to the second half of the 6th and the first half of the 7th century CE. Further down, the layers that we encountered around the kiln (Contexts 5015, 5016, 5018, 5019, 5031, 5033, 5064) contained mostly pottery produced here, especially sherds from thin-walled mugs of the first half of the 2nd century CE as well from local amphoras of the late 4th century CE.

The two kilns of the fourth enclosure at the end of the excavation season, looking southeast.

The layer that covered the northwest side of the trench (Contexts 5002 and 5006) had a large quantity of pottery (weighing almost 75 kg) together with rubble and tile fragments. The importance of this homogenous layer, ca. 0.30 m thick, lies in that it represents a specific chronological phase of the settlement, which is the first half of the 7th century CE. From a ceramic point of view particularly important are the shapes of the round-mouth pitchers with an almond-shaped rim and of the stewpots which comprise the bulk of the pottery found in this layer and represent morphologically a transitional type between two types dated ca. 600 and 650 CE respectively. The dating of this layer to the first half of the 7th century is further supported by the presence of imported pottery, such as of three Phocaean Red-Slip form 10A dishes, one of which is nearly complete. In addition, it is possible that the reading of a coin found in this layer (inv. no. 46) could narrow further the chronological span. A second coin was found in the underlying layer (Context 5017, inv. no. 92) which had similar pottery and where we noted traces of the surface of that period. With the removal of these layers the outline of a second, smaller kiln was revealed (Kiln 5057), directly west of Kiln 5056. Given that in the layers around the small kiln we found a few wasters from stewpots and pitchers, it is possible that local pots were fired in one or in both kilns during that period.

The east side of the fourth enclosure, looking southwest.

The kilns are pear-shaped with northern orientation. The larger of the two (Kiln 5056) is more solidly built with rubble, tiles, and many spolia. These spolia, for the most part ashlar blocks and at least one column drum and two Doric capitals of different dimensions, characterize the walls that define the outer eastern, southern, and western sides of the kiln. In addition, walls built of rubble, tiles, and spolia (Contexts 5059 and 5022) have come to light. These walls, perpendicular to the west and east side of the enclosure of the kiln, extend beyond the limits of the trench. The inner side of the kiln is built with layers of tiles and mud as bonding material and is coated with thick mortar, the same that covers the floor of the kiln as well of the central pillar consisting of courses of circular bricks. The combustion chamber, 2.40 m in diameter, is preserved to a maximum height of 0.90 m, whereas the central pillar, 0.36 m in diameter, to a height of 0.41 m. The stoking chamber is 1.90 m long, and 0.61 (at outer end) to 0.91 (inner end) m wide.

Within Kiln 5056, the upper layer (Context 5020) was characterized by the large number of tile fragments, manifestly from the collapse of its upper structure. The lower layers, ca. 0.80 m deep, down to the bottom of the kiln (Contexts 5027, 5030, 5034) form a homogenous context made of many amphora fragments together with terracotta pipes, parts of clay bars, and chunks of calcined material. At least seven amphoras are mended almost completed and belong mainly to two local types which are similar to types produced in other centers of the Greek world during the second half of the 4th to early 5th century CE. The first type of amphoras is known from the Athenian Agora as Agora M325 type which is morphologically similar to the Cretan MRC2 type that we also found in Context 631 on the north side of the excavated area. The second type, with globular body, cylindrical neck, handles oval in section and attached to the upper shoulder and neck, and a flaring rim that is triangular in section (C2017-180), resembles Amphores Delphes type 1 vessels, manufactured at Delphi during the second half of the 4th century CE. From Context 5034, roughly at the level of the floor of the kiln, comes a coin (inv. no. 127) which is to be conserved.

Part of an amphora (C2017-180) of an Amphores Delphes 1 type from the big kiln of the fourth enclosure prior to its conservation.

Directly north of the east wall of the stoking chamber of the kiln we found a globular basin (Context 5037) dug into the soil and lined with thick mortar. A layer of mortar also covered the opening of the basin, ca. 0.40 m in diameter. Its depth is ca. 0.48 m and its diameter at the bottom is 0.62 m. From the soil inside the basin (Context 5029), comes a coin (inv. no. 97) and a few sherds dating for the most part to the second half of the 4th century CE with a few earlier examples. The use of this basin has not been confirmed yet, but same as the basin found in the third enclosure, it must be related to the process of the firing of the pots in the nearby kiln.

The west wall of the stoking chamber of Kiln 5056 also acted as the eastern side of the combustion chamber of the smaller kiln (Kiln 5057) with the necessary curvilinear adjustment. The rest of the combustion chamber is very poorly preserved. The survived part includes two parts of columns 0.29 to 0.33 m in diameter and ca. 0.75 m high, placed almost upright, which come from a building with half-fluted columns. The kiln is 1.40 m in diameter and preserves part of its central circular pillar, 0.24 to 0.34 m in diameter and 0.26 m in height. The stoking chamber of the kiln is defined by two stones, 0.80 m long, placed on their short sides. The stones converge outwards so that the width of the stoking chamber is reduced from 0.63 to 0.46 m.

From inside Kiln 5057 came a large quantity of ceramics, weighing over 60 kg, most of which are local types of amphoras, similar to those found in the bigger Kiln 5056. From the same layer (Context 5042), 0.34 m thick, come chunks of mud brick, many fragments of mortar manifestly from the walls of the kiln, many sections of terracotta pipes and one coin (inv. no. 137). Based on the pottery and despite the relatively small size of the kiln it appears that this kiln, too, was used for firing amphoras during the second half of the 4th century and the early 5th century CE.

The inscribed brick (MF2017-103) as found during excavation.

The continuation of the excavation in the northern area of the trench, brought to light layers that were for the most part disturbed in Late Roman times (Contexts 5039, 5040, 5044, 5047, 5048, 5052, 5053, 5062) but with strong presence of local amphora types of the 4th century CE as well as of thin-walled mugs of the Early Roman period. These layers contained many pieces of charcoal and their removal exposed a surface with clear traces of burning, particularly in front (north of) the stoking chambers of the kilns. At the northwestern corner of the enclosure we found the impression of a circular basin (Context 5065), ca. 1 m in diameter, with traces of its wall made of tiles set upright. The few diagnostic sherds collected from its interior (Context 5063) belong to thin-walled wares while we took soil sample for flotation. From this location (Context 5062) also comes an inscribed brick with the ethnic «Σικυωνίων» (MF2017-103), manifestly from a public building of the Roman period.

It appears that stone and especially orthostates of the north wall of the enclosure (Wall 1526) were removed during the second half of the 6th or the early 7th century CE judging from the few diagnostic sherds found in the layers deposited in these locations (Contexts 5012 and 5026). Against the south side of the surviving section of Wall 1626 we found remains of a structure (Context 5035), 1.87 x 0.62 x 0.41 (H.) m. This structure of unknown purpose is made of rubble, brick, and mortar, and sits on a row of column drums placed on their sides and in a parallel arrangement on the east-west axis. This row of columns goes under the surface that we have detected on the north side of the trench and therefore has not been explored further.

The bipartite structure (Context 5061) at the end of the excavation season, looking south.

The layers along the east side of the trench (Contexts 5007, 5008, 5010, 5011, 5023, 5024, 5028, 5046, 5050, 5051, 5054), due east of Wall 5009, are characterized by the quantity of tumbled stones and the mixed pottery, Hellenistic, Roman and Late Roman down to the first half of the 7th century CE. Out of the stone members a sizeable column drum and part of Doric epistyle stand out. Here, too, the number of local pottery is significant, particularly the thin-walled cups of the first half of the 2nd century CE. Under these fills, near the northwest corner of the trench, we found a bipartite structure (Context 5061), measuring 2.4 x 1.4 m and 1 m in maximum preserved height. It is defined by Wall 1526 to the north, Wall 5009 to the west, a smaller wall (Context 5021) 0.52 m wide to the south, built with rubble and spolia, and another small wall made of spolia (Context 6060) which is barely discernable on the east limit of the trench. A thinner wall (Context 5055), 0.39 m wide, also made of rubble, spolia, tile fragments, and mortar, divides Structure 5061 into two almost equal compartments. Each space has a floor made of Laconian pan-tiles set in mortar, while the southern compartment preserves part of a cover tile. The finds from the interior of each compartment are not particularly telling regarding the use of this structure and the contexts (Contexts 5028 and 5050 in the northern compartment, 5024 and 5054 in the southern compartment) were found disturbed with mixed pottery dating as late as the Late Roman period. Also uncertain is the functional relation of this structure to the kilns of the fourth enclosure.

On the south side of the trench we found many stone blocks that had been thrown here together with rubble and various other material that indicates that we are dealing with a dump of the late Roman period. The pottery from the upper layers (Contexts 5003-5005, 5018) was mixed, but in lower strata it was more or less homogenous with mostly Late Roman material. From the lowest layer dug here (Context 5058) come two coins (inv. no. 146 and 147) that have not been conserved yet. With the removal of these layers the upper part of an ashlar wall, oriented north-south, was brought to light. The wall extends northwards under the enclosure of the kilns and southwards beyond the limits of the trench.

In conclusion, the five kilns that we have excavated along the southern side of the area (of the sixth kiln only the impression is preserved) are preserved at the level of the combustion chamber as is often the case in ceramic kilns. They resemble as to their shape but differ as to their dating, construction, orientation, and size. Our ceramic kilns belong to the most common category of ceramic kilns, which is that of circular kilns with one central pillar. At least three of them (Kilns 1577, 1640, 1624) date from the first half of the 2nd century CE. The earliest, although we do not know by how much, is the small Kiln 1680 found within the second enclosure and partly covered by Kiln 1640. Out of these kilns two (Kilns 1577 and 1624) are built with layers of tiles, rubble, mud, and mortar, whereas the third one (Kiln 1640) is simply dug into the soil and coated with mortar. Kiln 1577 is oriented towards the west, Kilns 1640 and 1680 towards the west-northwest, and Kiln 1624 towards the east. Bigger of all is Kiln 1624 with an inner diameter for the combustion chamber of ca. 2.80 m, followed by Kiln 1640 with a diameter of 1.5 m, and Kiln 1577 of ca. 1 m in diameter, whereas the earliest Kiln 1680 must have been even smaller. All these kilns seem to have been specialized in the firing of mostly tablewares, specifically thin-walled cups and pitchers, and to a smaller degree of cooking pots, lamps, and amphoras of Dressel 24 and 25 types.

Two centuries later, around the middle of the 4th century CE, the two kilns of the fourth enclosure were built, this time with a northern orientation and using extensively earlier building material in their structures. They differ clearly as to their size: Kiln 5056 has an inner diameter of 2.40 m whereas Kiln 5057 1.40 m. Given that the smaller kiln uses part of the wall of the bigger kiln, it was certainly built later but not by much. It appears that they functioned simultaneously, during the second half of the 4th to early 5th century CE, producing local types of amphoras. It seems that the construction of these two kilns involved breaking the original southern wall of the enclosure (Wall 1629) which was aligned with the southern walls of the second and third enclosures. What the original fourth enclosure contained is not clear; however the large quantity of Early Roman pottery of local production that was found in almost all of its excavated layers is worth noting.

Towards the end of the 6th and the first half of the 7th century CE, the big kiln of the fourth enclosure (Kiln 5056) was reused this time as a lime-kiln. This explains the numerous remains of calcined material found inside the kiln, the obvious lime incrustations on the surfaces of the sherds, and perhaps the many architectural members that were tossed around the kiln on their way to calcination.

The stone channel (Context 1686) at the end of the excavation season, looking northeast.

The last trench that we opened on this side of our first excavation sector relates to the retaining Wall 1526 and the alley to its north in an effort to date the construction, to confirm the use of this wall and to detect earlier, pre-Roman horizons. With the opening of this trench, measuring ca. 2.50 x 3.50 m, we went deeper in trenches opened in 2013 and 2014, to the north and the south of Wall 1526. In order to do it, we had to remove part of the built channel (Context 1528) over a length of 2.5 m, as well as the later addition to Wall 1526 (Context 1527), built casually from spolia. The last layer that we had removed in 2013 to the north of Wall 1526 (Context 1529) had a concentration of sherds representing most likely a primary refuse of the first half of the 2nd century CE, over a hard-packed surface of soil, pebbles, and tile fragments (Context 1532). By resuming excavation this year, we brought to light successive layers of the Early Roman period (Contexts 1655, 1656, 1658-1660, 1662, 1663, 1669, 1676, 1681) down to depth of ca. 0.50 m. From the pottery recorded the shapes produced at the nearby kilns during the first half of the 2nd century CE stand out clearly in number, particularly the characteristic thin-walled mugs. Such sherds were also found inside Channel 1528 that we removed (Context 1687) but not in the underlying layer (Context 1682) which was deposited between the late 1st century BCE and the early 1st century CE. In the specific layer we also found two coins (inv. no. 151 and 152) which have not been cleaned yet. The still lower layers, down to the level of the stone channel (Channel 1686) that we discovered this year (elev. 159.48 masl) date from the 1st century BCE (Contexts 1683-1685, 1691-1695, 1697). The stone channel of east-west orientation, is 0.74 m wide and has a shallow, concave gutter ca. 25 cm wide and 4 cm deep. It is made of fitting sections of which the one exposed completely is 1.21 m long.

The south side of Wall 1526 at the end of the excavation season, looking north.

To the south of Wall 1526, the last layer that we had dug in 2014 (Context 1556) had pottery of the late 1st to the first half of 2nd century CE while underneath we had identified traces of a surface (Context 1558). Surface traces were also detected this year in the layer directly below Context 1558 (Context 1672) where we also found a coin (inv. no. 132). A second coin (inv. no. 133) was found in the underlying layer (Context 1673) together with the usual pottery of the first half of the 2nd century CE where again the locally produced ceramics stand out. Moreover, from Context 1673 comes a waster of a thin-walled cup found in many joining pieces. In general, all three layers excavated this year to the south of Wall 1526 and to a depth of ca. 0.70 m (Contexts 1672-1674) had consistently pottery of the first half of the 2nd century CE. With these layers removed the orthostates of Wall 1526 were exposed throughout their height of 0.74 m, as well as the euthynteria course of the wall, consisting of stones of various shapes and sizes, which project in relation to their overlying orthostates. We did not identify a foundation trench for Wall 1526, at least down to the level that we reached, and the pottery that was collected is mostly from the Early Roman period with a few, earlier examples. In other words, to the south of Wall 1526 we did not identify horizons and levels that can be consistently dated to the Late Hellenistic period as happened to the north of the wall. On the other hand the masonry of this wall and the use of dovetail clamps point to a date in the Hellenistic period. What is certain is that in Early Roman times Wall 1526 acted as a retaining wall for the alley along its north side. In addition the presence of the stone channel 1686 of the Late Hellenistic period that we found this year proves that the space to the north of Wall 1526 was an outdoor space since at least that time.