Sikyon Project

Conservation and protection studies

The metal lid of the well of the West Stoa of the agora

In 2019, the study for the conservation of the excavated areas drafted by our conservator Amalia Siatou, and the study for the protection of the industrial complex drafted by the architect Stavros Moutzourellis and the civil engineer Thodoris Marinis were submitted to Corinth’s Ephorate of Antiquities. The conservation study includes detailed categorization of the construction techniques observed in our excavated areas, recording of their pathology, either natural decay or structural damages, and evaluation of their condition, which determine the kind and priority of interventions. The interventions that have been suggested are on the one hand the temporary and seasonal ones, such as the immediate coverage of the kilns, backing and partial filling of sensitive structures, and the management of the natural vegetation, and on the other hand the more permanent measures which include the consolidation of structural remains, the shaping of the edges of the trenches, and the complete filling of certain sections. At the end of every season, we covered our trenches with a protective tarp, we backed the more fragile of the excavated structures (such as the ceramic kilns and the clay pipes) with bags filled with gravel, and partially filled with earth the most sensitive areas. In addition we provided for a metal lid over the well (context 3118) of the West Stoa of the agora. It is made of stainless iron and was positioned over the well by simply inserting its legs into the ground (without using mortar or any other cohesive material).

Example of mapping of the structural elements in our fourth trench.

Mapping of the state of preservation of the structures in the same trench.

Photorealistic rendering of the big roof looking northeast.

Photorealistic rendering of the big roof looking southwest.

The ceramic kilns in our first trench need more than consolidation permanent roofs. The criteria for the design of these roofs and general access to the site by Stavros Mountzourellis and Thodoris Marinis were the need for close view of the remains given their small surviving height, their integration into the surrounding landscape and their correlation with the scale of the rest of the monuments, the desire the kilns to be reminded as one visits the area, the principle of reversibility of interventions, and their functionality. As a result, the suggested roofs, a large one 405 m² in the southern part of the trench and a small one 25 m² in the north part of the trench, have low height and a simple form, an open shape with natural lighting, and are structures that can be disassembled and have low maintenance cost. In addition, the big shelter has five skylights over the corresponding kilns, in order to recall the presence and volume of these kilns. The material that was chosen is perforated metal sheets made of polycarbonate panels so that it diffuses natural light underneath and blocks rainwater by directing it towards the roof’s edges.

Map of the pathology of the remains of the palaestra.

In 2022, the following studies were submitted to the Ephorate of Antiquities of Corinthia: 1) study of conservation and protection of the monuments that had come to light during the old excavations of the Archaeological Society at the site (from the early 1930s to the early 1950s), b) architectural and structural study for the restoration of the gymnasium, c) study of effective access to the monuments of the archaeological site. The study of conservation of the monuments that came to light during A. Orlandos’s excavations was drafted by the team of conservators of the Revive-Art.works Company headed by Amalia Siatou with the collaboration of Anna Koukouli and Apostolis Mimigiannis. The volume includes a presentation and evaluation of the state of preservation of the gymnasium, of the peripteral temple (‘temple of Apollo’), the bouleuterion and the South Stoa, and specific actions are recommended for the conservation of these monuments and the repair of the damages that these monuments have suffered during the last seven decades. It is a fully documented study, with thorough observation of the monuments, macroscopic and microscopic identification of their pathology, interpretation of their pathology in relation to the factors of deterioration, and categorization of these factors according to a risk appreciation methodology, categorization of the needs for intervention and description of specific actions proposed as well as of recommendations for the long-term preservation and enhancement of the architectural remains. The text (volume 1 of the study) is accompanied by a complete set of photogrammetric drawings of the building characteristics (volume 2), the pathology of the monuments and the suggested interventions.

As expected, the gymnasium is the monument that has suffered the most, with a disintegration or honeycomb-patterned weathering of structural parts, fragmentation and detachment of its plastered surfaces, recession of its slopes and resulting crumbling of parts of its masonry. The problem is especially prominent on the two fountains where, besides everything else, biological deposits and vegetation growth are observed on the fronts and the floors, as well as corrosion of the metallic elements added by its previous restorer (A. Orlandos). From the remaining monuments the visible remains of the Early Christian basilica built on top of the peripteral temple are the ones that have suffered significant damage, whereas the general condition of preservation of the remains of the bouleuterion and of the South Stoa is rather stable. The measures proposed include the repair of the sections subject to collapse with backing of the slopes, filling of gaps in the masonry and in the foundations, removal and reconstruction of a specific section that has suffered a deformation, cleaning of surfaces, sealing of joints, consolidation of the plasters and sealing of their gaps with appropriate mortars and injections, cleaning and consolidation of the pebble floors, mending and sealing of stones, clearing of vegetation, as well as targeted back-filling of structures most sensitive to erosion.

Proposal of restoration of one more Doric column and ca. 38 ashlar blocks on the south side of the upper terrace of the palaestra.

Proposal of restoration of the eastern colonnade of the lower terrace by setting up 8 more Ionic columns.

Detail of the north group of columns that are proposed to be restored along the east portico of the lower terrace.

The architectural study for the restoration of the gymnasium of Sikyon was drafted by the architect Dimitrios Bartzis. The study includes a detailed report on the material, the building methods and the architectural layout of the complex, the colonnades of the upper and the lower terrace, the rows of rooms of the lower terrace, the retaining wall with the three staircases leading to the upper terrace, the two monumental fountains, the south and the west wall of the upper terrace and the corresponding, rocky slopes towards the south and the west, as well as the dozens of ashlar blocks that lie at its southwest corner. Following this, the study briefly discusses the previous interventions, carried out almost exclusively by A. Orlandos (restorations, mends, and completion of architectural members, reconstruction of the south fountain and of two columns), and the present state of the monument. Then it proceeds with the analysis of the proposed interventions which aim at improving the general image of the site and the display of its architecture, and include:

  1. reassembling three Doric columns on the upper terrace, one on the south side next to the single column restored by Orlandos on this terrace, and two other close to the NW corner so that two interaxial spaces are created,
  2. placing ca. 55 ashlar blocks, which currently lie close to the SW corner of the upper terrace and come from the south and west walls of the terrace, to their equivalent positions atop the preserved sections of the south and west walls so that this vulnerable corner of the gymnasium can be raised by four courses,
  3. restoring the southern wall of the south staircase leading to the upper terrace, which features intense cracking, after digging out the back side of the wall and disassembling the corner so that the cracked blocks can be removed for conservation and mending before being remounted on their original positions,
  4. restoring eight Ionic columns on the lower terrace, four on the north and two on the south end of the east side, and two more approximately in the middle, across the façade of the ‘ephebeion’,
  5. resetting the misplaced fragments of the two Ionic columns and the antae of the ‘ephebeion’,
  6. restoring architectural members of the north fountain, more precisely setting in place the crowning members of the parapet of the basin as well as the fragments of the antae,
  7. restoring the inner face of the south fountain, which was reconstructed by A. Orlandos but is now in need of urgent intervention, and of the two columns of the outer, Doric porch. More specifically, we plan to disassemble all architectural members restored by Orlandos and assemble them back again, after removing all metal clamps and mortars used in that restoration, mending the broken stone members, completing the epistyle with artificial stone and filling the ancient clamp and dowel cuttings with new elements made of titanium,
  8. strengthening the retaining wall between the lower and upper terrace in order to check the progressing erosion of its earthen front, given that the ancient retaining wall is preserved at a low height. For the stabilization of the present slope, we suggest to dig out the earthen front going inwards by ca. 1.5 m, and then to backfill with inert material in layers which equal in height the first preserved course of the ancient retaining wall so that they recall the ancient structure,
  9. covering the spaces that were originally covered, that is of the porticoes and of the rooms, with overlapping tarps and quartz sand so that the native vegetation is reduced to the minimum. In addition, we suggest that the final layering made of river sand is of different color between the floors of the porticoes and of the rooms in order to facilitate site reading,
  10. resetting stones of the retaining wall of the small sanctuary established on the vertically cut face of the bedrock, directly to the west of the upper terrace, and,
  11. slope-shaping to the west and south of the gymnasium by smoothing the slope degree in order to face the on-going erosion and the danger of collapse.

All restorations will be primarily based on the extant ancient material, and supplements made out of artificial stone will be limited. The structural study for the proposed restorations on the south fountain, the two colonnades (of the upper and lower terrace) and the retaining wall of the south staircase was drafted by the civil engineers Nikolas Papailiou, Yannis Iliadis and Xenia Karabatsou on behalf of the Company of structural studies P. Panagiotopoulos and Associates. The study describes in detail the architecture of the specific spaces, evaluates the pathology of the members under examination, and suggests interventions according to the general principles of restoration standards. The proposal includes mending broken members or supplementing new material made out of artificial stone by means of rods, and adding clamps and dowels to epistyle blocks after dismantling the ones that need to be replaced. It also describes in detail the process of disassembly of the south fountain and the restoration of its epistyle which has suffered a crosswise fracture, the repair of joining pieces of the columns that are to be restored on the upper and the lower terrace by using small anchors made of titanium, the reinforcement of the new members with stainless steel, the addition of pi-shaped clamps, and the restoration of the fractured section of the retaining wall of the south fountain by disassembling the stones, joining them with titanium bars and reassembling them. The study also presents the method of analysis of the structure and calculates the dimensions of the interventions, which are checked as to their suitability and resistance through a simplified simulation.

Detail of the proposal of restoration of the north fountain.

Detail of the proposal of restoration of the retaining wall between the lower and the upper terrace.

Proposal of new visitor paths in the archaeological site.

The study of effective access to the monuments of the archaeological site was drafted by the architect Dimitrios Bartzis. It proposes on one hand repairing and widening specific sections of the extant visitor paths to the monuments of the site (implemented with EU funds in the middle of the 2000s) and removing others, and on the other hand extending the path network so that access to the recently excavated areas is secured. The suggested paths are of two categories: the main ones, that is the ones that follow the ancient city-grid as identified through the intensive surface and geophysical surveys of the 2000s, and the secondary ones, that do not correspond to ancient routes. In order for the visitor to easily tell the difference the study suggests that the two kinds of paths differ as to their width, 3 m for the main ones against 2 m for the secondary ones. Out of the four principal paths that are proposed, to the bouleuterion, to the gymnasium, to the monuments of the NW side of the agora and to the theater, only sections of two of them follow existing paths while the rest will be new creations. Out of the secondary paths, only a small section is now in place (along the façade of the bouleuterion), while the rest are new designs, along the south side of the South Stoa and around the industrial complex. In addition, the study proposes the creation of rest areas (‘plateaus’) at appropriate viewing locations. The bad surface condition of the existing paths, after just a decade and a half of use, dictates paving the new paths with resistant material that can be harmoniously integrated into their surroundings. Instead of cement that has been used in the past, the solution of a stabilized earth floor is now put forward.