Sikyon Project

South Stoa

Excavation of the fourth room of the stoa (from the West)

The fourth room of the stoa before its excavation, from the southeast.

In order to check our conclusions from the excavation of the 13th room of the stoa, we decided to dig a small section of a second room, more precisely of the fourth room from the west which is closer to the western end of the monument.

We began by opening a trench 1.5 m wide along the eastern wall of the room (dimensions 1.5 x 5.5 m) and removed the surface layer (Contexts 32 and 33). Underneath it a layer of small tile fragments came to light, which does not appear to represent a destruction level. Subsequently we focused on the excavation of narrow trenches (0.40 m wide) along the three sides of the room in order to remove possible fills of Orlandos (Contexts 34-36). In the trench along the eastern wall (Context 35) we found nine Late Roman coins (of the fourth-5th century), which suggests that Orlandos had not dug along the wall of this room, and therefore we could go on with digging across the whole trench in a stratigraphic manner. In Context 37 (20 cm thick) we found large fragments of tiles, mostly pan-tiles and a few cover tiles. Their number is not enough to make us attribute them to the collapse of the room of the stoa, unless their majority had been subsequently rescued or looted. In this layer we also found substantial pottery (759 sherds) the majority of which belongs to Late Roman vessels with the latest dating to the second half of the 7th century CE. From the same layer and the one below it (Context 39) come 41 coins of the fourth and 5th century CE. These levels correspond to the Early Byzantine phase of the stoa. Further down (from Context 42 onwards) we decided to focus on the southeastern corner of the room hoping that that we can reach the level of the foundation trenches. The lower strata, where we did not find any more coins, appear to be part of the original fill – sub-foundation of the room that we also encountered by excavating the 13th room of the stoa. It appears that Contexts 46 and 47 of Room 4 correspond to Contexts 18 and 19 of Room 13.

The layer with the large tiles (Context 37) at the eastern half of Room 4.

Room 4 after the excavation, from the south.

The deep trench excavated in Room 4, from the northwest.

The calculation of the overall thickness of the ancient fill in the foundation of Room 4 is not easy because of the reuse of the room in Late Roman times. Yet, it is possible that Contexts 43 to 47, 1.3 m thick, belong to the ancient fill. The thickness of Context 47, ca. 0.84 m, is almost equal to the height of the two lower courses of the foundation, which means that the ancient fill of the room is contemporaneous with the erection of its walls. The lower course of stones of the southern wall, which projects by ca. 25 cm with relation to the courses above it, is the footing of the foundation of the south wall of the stoa. At this level we also recognized the foundation trenches of the walls which are thin (12-16 cm) with relation to the foundation trenches in Room 13 and continue down to bedrock (Contexts 50 and 51). This can be explained by the fact that the bedrock here is closer to the ancient surface level than in the area of Room 13, in accordance with the downwards surface slope from west to east.

The eastern side of Room 4 with the reused blocks.

The highest preserved course of the eastern side of the room consists of conglomerate blocks, measuring in average 0.96 x 0.39 x 0.48 m and having on their bottom side rectangular and trapezoidal cuts 0.28 to 0.31 m wide and 0.13 to 0.19 m high. At least the inner surface of these stones is covered with mortar. These stones are reused and were placed upside down to serve as regular ashlar blocks. Their original use is not certain but may be sockets for substantial, wooden beams from the roofing system of a large building. Their placement in the stoa probably dates from the original phase of the building.