Sikyon Project

Southeast Stoa

2014 season

Plan of the second trench after the end of the 2014 season.

The second trench, 5 (north-south) x 15 m (east-west), was opened at the southeastern corner of the long stoa. This excavation was meant to explore the stylobate uncovered by A. Orlandos in 1951 and its relation to the Hellenistic stoa and to the street that we had identified thanks to the surface and geophysical survey of the past years. Our first concern was to remove (with a help of a JCB) the mounds of earth from the old excavation, and then to identify the extent and the depth of Orlandos’ trench on both sides of the stylobate. Once we took out the backfill layer of that excavation (Context 2002, ca. 1.50 m deep and 0.70 m wide), we continued with the excavation of undisturbed layers to the east of the stylobate. Having removed the surface deposits (Contexts 2003, 2004, 2005) a wall was revealed (Context 2025), of north-south orientation and a width of 0.48 m, built with rubble and mortar and lined with smooth mortar on both (east and west) sides. The construction technique and the form of this wall hardly fit a street-wall, which was usually built with stone blocks. In addition, the height of this wall in relation to the level of the stylobate (it stands 0.4 m higher) and its small distance from the stylobate, i.e., 4.7 m instead of 6 m of a typical Sikyonian street (based on the results of the surface and geophysical surveys), argue against this feature being a retaining wall of an ancient street. Excavation to the east of this wall (Context 2007) to a depth of ca. 0.50 m, failed to reveal traces of another wall, and thus we decided to focus on the area to the west of the wall. Here, directly underneath the surface layer, we came upon an artificial fill (Contexts 2006 and 2009) 0.50 m thick, filled with tile fragments. The fill was contained by wall 2025 to the east and the stylobate (Context 2029) to the west, and dates from the 5th to 6th century CE. In fact the height of the wall corresponds to the upper level of the fill, which shows that the role of the wall to the east and of the blocks that were later placed atop the stylobate to the west was to contain that fill. The reason for this fill must have been the elevation of the level of the street in Late Roman times.

Below it, we came upon a thin layer (Context 2015) ca. 15 cm thick, with small pebbles and a large quantity of ceramics of the Middle Roman period (2nd to 4th century CE; the latest sherds are of the first half of the 4th century), which sits on another thin deposit which contained fewer pebbles and sherds (Context 2019) dating to the second half of the 3rd century CE. Once we took out this context the foundation course of the stylobate was exposed along with a terracotta pipe that crosses the street to the east of the stylobate. The foundation of the stylobate (Context 2027) consists of ashlar blocks 0.41 m high and 0.92 m long, with rough exterior face given that they were invisible. The terracotta channel (Context 2030), of northwest-southeast orientation, is made of 10 cylindrical pipes 0.47 m long and 10 cm in diameter, with mortar sealing their joins. Careful examination of the north end of the stylobate (Context 2028) showed that a small part of it was removed in order to receive the pipe, and consequently that the pipe is later than the stylobate and its foundation (Context 2027). To the contrary, at its southeastern end the pipe seems to continue underneath the base (Context 2026) of Wall 2025, and that it is therefore later than Wall 2026. The layer into which the pipe is set (we did not recognize a foundation trench) is hard and has few inclusions and sherds. Once we took out this deposit, we were able to identify the foundation trench of the stylobate (Context 2033) along its eastern side, 14 cm wide and 15 cm thick. The excavation of this trench over a length of 0.74 m (Context 2023), yielded only a handful of diagnostic sherds of the Early Roman period.

The second trench after the end of the 2014 season, looking east.

The southeast corner of the South Stoa and Orlandos΄ oblong trench after its surface cleaning in the summer of 2013.

Wall 2025 and the stylobate, looking west.

The area between the stylobate (to the west) and wall 2025 (to the east), looking north.

The northwestern end of the pipe and the stylobate, looking northwest.

The excavated section to the west of the stylobate, looking south.

To the west of the stylobate, we began by removing the contaminated layers from Orlandos’ excavation to a depth of ca. 1.5 m which corresponds to the level of the stylobate (Context 2008). With the removal of these layers, we exposed the upper part of a wall perpendicular to the stylobate over a length of ca. 1.7 m (Context 2032). The wall is 0.84 m wide and includes a fragment of a small column drum, in secondary use. We continued with the excavation of the remaining trench, to the west of Orlandos’ trench. Underneath the upper and for the most part disturbed layers (Contexts 2012 and 2018) a north-south wall was uncovered, perpendicular to the south side of the long stoa. The wall (Context 2031) could be followed over 2 m and its width is estimated to 0.8 m although only its eastern side, made of ashlar blocks, can be clearly made out at this stage. It is possible that that Wall 2031 is the back wall of the stoa to which the stylobate belonged but only the continuation of the excavation can confirm this hypothesis as well as verify the relation of this stoa to the long stoa to its north. Already the fact that the northern end of Wall 2031 lies over the foundations of the long stoa shows that it postdates it.

The western part of the trench and Wall 2032, looking northwest.

The contact point of Wall 2031 with the foundation of the Hellenistic stoa.

On the basis of the data available thus far, we can reconstruct the building history of this area as follows: sometime in the Early Roman period the Doric stoa was built in a north-south orientation, perpendicular to the Hellenistic stoa. The width of the stoa was some 5 m, but its length remains unknown. A 1 m wide trench was opened in order to lay the foundation course of its stylobate (Context 2027), with half-dressed conglomerate blocks, 0.41 m high, perpendicularly to the eastern end of the southern wall of the Hellenistic stoa. The stylobate itself (Context 2028) consists of limestone blocks, 0.92 m long, 0.65 m wide and 0.20 m high. These stones have stepped cuttings on their underside and are probably in secondary use. The Doric column drum that stands between the (later) orthostates may belong to the original colonnade. To the east of the stylobate, underneath the thick Late Roman fill, no clear signs of a road surface were found as one would expect. The possibility that a stone, 0.75 m wide, 0.97 m long, and just 0.16 m high, preserved at the northwestern corner of the street and at the same level to that of the stylobate, belongs to an original paving of the street cannot be excluded but runs against the fact that no robbing trenches for similar stones have been detected throughout the excavated area. It is not clear what became of the road surface, but it is rather certain that the stylobate was its western limit. Its eastern limit is more problematic, and only further excavation to the east of the later wall (Context 2025) may clarify the situation. After the construction of the stylobate with the associated colonnade, but prior to the construction of Wall 2025, the terracotta pipe was put into place to convey water from the northwest to the southeast. Wall 2026 was built sometime in the Middle Roman period perhaps in order to limit the width of the original street, but again no surface associated with the Middle Roman phase of this road was identified. It was probably destroyed in the course of the filling operation which was carried out in Late Roman times in order to raise the surface of the street by more than 0.5 m. In order to contain that fill, ashlar blocks were removed from the nearby Hellenistic stoa and were set as orthostates atop the stylobate, whereas Wall 2025, which was apparently built then, served as the retaining wall on the east side. The robbing of the blocks from the eastern end of the stoa means that in Late Roman times the stoa had ceased to function and that parts of it were used for other purposes, as was also shown by last year’s excavations in the fourth room of the stoa. Road surface associated with the artificial fill was not found – apparently it was destroyed by soil cultivation in modern times.