Sikyon Project

Southeast Stoa

2015 season

Plan of the second trench (combination of an orthophoto and a drawing), with the numbers of the structures.

In the second trench that we opened in 2014 directly southeast of the Hellenistic stoa and where we had exposed part of a second stoa, perpendicular to the Hellenistic one, we continued excavating the interior space of the stoa in order to find evidence for its inner arrangement, its construction technique, and its chronology as well as its relationship to the Hellenistic stoa. In addition, we excavated east of Wall 2025, uncovered in 2014, in search of traces of the ancient road that, according to our geophysical and surface evidence, existed here following a north-south orientation. Inside the stoa, the layers that we removed in order to reach the level of the stylobate (Contexts 2036, 2037, 2038, 2045-2049, 2051-2053) were disturbed from later interventions, particular of the 5th and 6th century CE. Moreover, in two cases we identify possible robbing trenches (Contexts 2039 and 2048). Having excavated these layers we discovered the foundation course of the back wall of the stoa (Context 2050), which sits at the same level than the stylobate (Context 2028). It consists of ashlar blocks 0.48 and 0.54 m wide, of which the widest are probably reused judging by their surface treatment and the visible cuttings. Now we know that the two stones, that we had partly uncovered last year (Context 2031) at the northern end of the wall, belong to orthostates that made the second course of the wall, 0.36 m wide and 0.70 m high.

The continuation of the excavation between the back wall of the stoa and the stylobate (Contexts 2056, 2058/2061, 2066, 2068) discovered a small section of the stone floor at the northwestern corner of the stoa, made of slabs 12 cm thick, as well as the subfloor layer (Context 2070) consisting of a hard and compact brownish red soil, 9 to 12 cm thick. The overlying layers contained material of various periods with the latest dating from the 5th century CE. From Context 2061 comes a certain amount of pottery as well as 11 coins that have not been conserved or identified yet.

The second trench, looking west.

The west side of the second trench with the northernmost section of the Roman stoa perpendicular to the Hellenistic stoa.

In order to locate possible foundation trenches for the wall of the stoa, we dug sections below the subfloor level down to bedrock. From the lowest layers (Contexts 2074-2076, 2079, 2080) we collected pottery dating mostly as late as the first half of the 2nd century CE. By removing them we exposed the foundation trenches of the south side of the Hellenistic stoa and of the stylobate of our stoa. In the fill of these trenches (Contexts 2083/2087 and 2085) a few diagnostic sherds were found dated to the Late Hellenistic and the Early Roman period respectively.

The contact between the back wall and the floor slabs of the Roman stoa and the lowest foundation of the Hellenistic stoa.

Excavation near the north end of the stoa also exposed the two lowest courses of the foundation of the Hellenistic stoa, invisible until today, made of ashlar blocks 0.39-0.43 m high. The relation of this stoa with our stoa was confirmed after excavation of a narrow strip exactly behind (west of) the stoa. In the lower layers (Contexts 2067 and 2071) we found mostly Early Roman pottery dating until the middle of the 2nd century CE. Furthermore, it appears that the northern end of the foundation of the back wall of our stoa as well as the short section of paving within the stoa cover by a few centimeters the lowest foundation course of the Hellenistic stoa. This suggests that before the erection of this stoa in Early Roman times, a large foundation trench was opened down to the level of the lowest foundation course of the Hellenistic stoa. In the process, the Hellenistic layers were disturbed and this accounts for the presence of Roman pottery in the foundation trenches of the Hellenistic stoa.

On the southern side of the trench, excavation (Contexts 2069 and 2081) around the spoliated wall (Context 2032) that we had uncovered in 2014 showed that it is a later addition, perhaps of the 5th century CE. This cross-wall must be related to another one, parallel to it, lying 3 m to the south and partly exposed in the course of the excavation of the stylobate in 1951. This second wall has not been investigated as it lies to the south of our trench. Yet it is possible that it enclosed together with Wall 2032 a space of still unknown purpose, which came into being most likely after the abandonment of the stoa.

The east side of the second trench looking southwest. The terracotta channel (Context 2062) is visible in the foreground.

On the eastern side of the trench, exactly to the east of Walls 2025-2026, we dug a section 3.80 x 2.50 m to a depth of 0.60 m without finding traces of a road. In the corresponding deposits (Contexts 2034, 2035, 2041, 2044) we found pottery, primarily but not solely of the Late Roman period (until the 7th century CE). In lower levels, and in the interest of time, we limited the width of the section to 1.50 m along the outer face of Wall 2025-2026 and continued excavating down to bedrock. By taking out Context 2042 we discovered the foundation trench of Wall 2026 with pottery of the Early Roman period. The foundation of the wall consists of irregular stones set on the coarse and uneven natural bedrock.

In the trench we also located part of a terracotta pipe (Context 2062), of southeast-northwest orientation, placed within a ditch (Context 2063) and cut into the bedrock, 0.30 m wide and 0.22 m deep. The pipe, which was cut by Wall 2026, consists of cylindrical pipes, 57 cm long and 12 to 13 cm in diameter. Their joins are covered with lime mortar which suggests that we are dealing with a water channel (as opposed to a drain) but the small length of the uncovered part (1.65 m) does not allow us to define the direction of the water flow. From the fill of its foundation trench (Context 2060) we collected a few sherds dating as late as the middle of the 1st century CE.

Based on the stratigraphy, it seems that Wall 2026 was built during the same period as the stoa, i.e., in Early Roman times. Given that this year’s excavation to the east of the wall did not reveal another, parallel wall, we must assume that Wall 2026 was the eastern boundary of the street, 4.5 m wide. This width is 1 to 1.5 m short of the typical width of the Sikyonian street that we had calculated on the basis of the surface and geophysical surveys. It is conceivable that it represents a narrowing of the street in the Early Roman period, even though in the section that we have dug we did not find traces of a Hellenistic phase of such street.