Sikyon Project

South Stoa


The long double stoa, measuring 106 x 16.5 m and having 20 rooms in the back, was excavated by A. Orlandos in 1951 and 1952. From the brief reports in Praktika it is unclear to what extent and what depth the monument had been excavated, but from the drawings it is clear that it was excavated enough to determine its ground plan. Based on archival photos and the condition of the monument today we understand that it was a wall-guided excavation with no stratigraphic method. This is more obvious in the case of the rooms where we observe a concavity on both sides of the partition wall whereas the interior of the rooms is raised. In addition, Orlandos’s excavation did not produce any ceramics or any other artifacts that would help us to date the monument and determine its uses. The excavation of 2013 aimed precisely at investigating stratigraphically one room of the stoa in order to find data that would allow us to date the erection of the stoa and its subsequent phases, and to examine its possible functions. With the ultimate goal of investigating the relation of the stoa to the structures in the south we began by excavating a room along the line of the southern trench (13th room from the west) and continued with the excavation of part of a second room (fourth room) closer to the western end of the monument.

The south stoa of Sikyon from the west.

The 13th room of the stoa (counting from the west) prior to excavation.

The area of the 2013 season with the numbers of the rooms of the South Stoa that we excavated, and the big trench that we opened to the south of the stoa.

In conclusion, the excavation of parts of two rooms of the stoa yielded important information on the construction technique and the dating of the stoa. With regard to the construction, we now know that the foundation of the stoa involved substantial fill that at its eastern end would reach 4 m in height in order to level the natural downward inclination of the surface from west to east. The fill consists of layers of terra rossa, pure or mixed with rubble and pebbles. The earth used in the fill comes from the surrounding area and was suitable for this purpose because it can become very solid by absorbing humidity. The fill of the stoa followed the erection of its walls judging by the correspondence between the layers of the fills and the height of the courses of the walls surrounding it. These courses were normally made of conglomerate stones which were either locally extracted for the needs of this project or were taken from pre-existing structures. Typical examples of the latter case are the highest surviving course of the western side of Room 13, which is of limestone and originally belonged to a circular or semi-circular building, and the highest surviving course of the eastern side of Room 4 with the large cuts. In addition, in various areas of the excavated stoa we observed traces of plaster on stone surfaces which do not continue onto their adjacent stones suggesting that the stones are reused. The use of stones from earlier monuments would have certainly facilitated and accelerated the erection of the stoa. Reused material we have also observed in other Early Hellenistic monuments of the city, including the walls, the gymnasium, and the theater. Undoubtedly the archaic and classical city, that Demetrios captured and destroyed, served as a source of building material during the foundation of the new building and the erection of its public monuments.

The pottery from the foundation trenches and the foundation levels of the floors of the rooms date between the Late Classical and the Early Hellenistic period. Of major importance is the presence of one-piece kantharoi that date from 275-265 BCE. and force us to question the attribution of the stoa to Demetrios Poliorketes. In the excavation of the two rooms we also found a relatively small number of sherds dating to the Early Roman period which suggests use of the stoa in that period. What is certain is that the western side of the stoa was reoccupied in Late Roman times and up to the 7th century CE. Traces of industrial activities had come up at the western end of the stoa during Orlandos’s excavations. Thanks to our excavation we can further substantiate this activity and to define more precisely the period of reuse of the stoa. The discovery of a large numbers of coins in Room 4 in combination with the discoveries of the early excavations could mean that the workshop operating here sold its products on the spot in exchange of money.

Our excavation failed to recognize any traces of the original floors or destruction layers of these two rooms. This fact in combination with the high elevation of the stylobate of the stoa which is preserved at its western end and the composition of the layers that we dug suggests that these layers are ancient fills for raising the floor levels of the rooms along the whole length of the stoa. What happened to the ancient floor is not clear, same as the condition of the monument prior to Orlandos’ excavations. At least we now know that the stoa underwent extensive looting already since the Late Roman period and that its stones were reused in other structures as well in order to produce lime. The thick, limy layer in Room 13 is possibly a left-over of the latter case. The absence of floors does not allow us to conduct a proper functional analysis of the rooms of the stoa.