Sikyon survey project

The 2005 season

Geoarchaeological study


The gully of Megali Vrysi and associated rock-cut channels and fountains. the 19th century fountain and the tunnel behind it

The work carried out during the first half of September built on the results of last years' study. Completion of the preliminary survey of the Upper and Lower Plateaus has enabled a good overview of the geology, the erosional processes and water resources of the study area. These observations have been interpreted in terms of natural processes at work on the landscape, and within the context of the steadily growing amount of data produced by the field survey teams (especially evidence of habitation, agricultural and industrial activity). Key information thus far is the identification of the main geological stratigraphic units that outcrop on and at the edges of the Plateaus, the scale and trend of deformation features (fractures, faults etc.) that could influence the distribution of water and the intensity of erosion at different locations.

A systematic search was made of the study area in order to locate all natural springs and surviving associated ancient constructions has revealed much information on water resource distribution. This information is being combined with information from the archaeological survey to obtain a picture of water resources in relation to remains of ancient domestic and industrial buildings. Of key importance also are the historical records of the region, and conversations with local residents, whose recollections of, for example, water courses, changes in relation to seismic activity and recent agricultural activity permit better interpretation of the field data, and identification of the effects of 20th century mechanised construction and agriculture.


View of scarp-edge conglomerate quarry. is located in the vicinity of the ancient defensive wall at the northern side of the lower plateau


The view of the theatre looking towards the East. shows the remains of the scene building and parts of the orchestra and cavea. cuttings are visible to the lower left of the image\'s centre


A systematic and detailed study of the Plateau edges was started this year, with the aim of identifying all areas of quarrying, the distribution of usable construction-stone, rates of erosion at different locations and the relationship with construction of fortification walls, gates and ancient routes down into the surrounding valleys. At certain locations, erosion has been very significant, with significant topographic differences between the present and the creation of the 1:5000 maps several decades ago. Clearly, a good understanding of the sites and possible rates of erosion are important for reconstructions of the defensive walls, and communication network in the area.

Detailed study of the man-made topographic modifications (produced mostly through stone quarrying) around the excavated site have enabled interpretation of details of the stadium and theatre, and the routes of neighbouring ancient roads. In the case of the theatre, the scene building was cut from bedrock, exhumed after robbing of the building's cut stone. Reconstruction of the landscape prior to construction of the theatre, by observation of the bedrock and current topography helps to explain the location of the theatre, enables calculation of the volume of stone obtained during its construction and places constraints on the routes taken by ancient roads.

The characterisation of construction-stones in ancient remains (completed during 2004) and the survey of the geology of the Plateaus has identified at least one lithology that does not outcrop on the Plateau in quantities sufficiently large to permit quarrying for monumental architecture. This indicates the transport of this stone from quarries further away, either within Sikyonian territory or beyond it. A survey in the wider region of the ancient Sikyonian territory will identify the locations of more distant quarries. During this wider survey, information on the distribution of clays will also be obtained in order to establish the distribution and nature of the clay resources in the region. This information will form one of the starting points to investigations on the question of differentiation between Corinthian and Sikyonian ceramic production.