Sikyon Project

West Stoa

2017 season

Orthophoto of the fourth sector with the architectural features numbered.

In the fourth sector of excavations, where during the past seasons (since 2014) we had brought to light the northeastern corner of the large pi-shaped complex and of various architectural remains of earlier structures, this year we extended the trench by 6 m eastwards and continued the excavation of the well (Context 3118) as well as of the possible road surface that had identified along the northern side of the area. The removal of the top layers (Contexts 4500 and 4501), more than 0.30 m thick, brought to light three more walls (Walls 4502-4504) so that we now have four rooms uncovered to the east of the pi-shaped complex, which are numbered clockwise from 1 to 4. The walls are of similar construction with ashlar blocks but differ as to their width. The width of the east wall (Wall 4503) is 0.70 to 0.80 m while the other two (Walls 4502 and 4504) are 0.40 to 0.50 m. The 3rd room includes a rectangular exedra to the south. Two stone bases, measuring 0.94 x 0.85 and 1 x 0.73 m, placed against Walls 3065 and 4503, respectively, frame the access to this space, 3.25 m wide. In addition, a stone of Wall 4503, almost but not exactly aligned with Wall 4504, shows a semi-circular channel carved across its width, 0.28 m wide and 0.11 m deep. It may be a drain channel opened through the thickness of the wall, but other possible interpretations cannot be excluded, as for example being a case for an element made of perishable material.

The third room at the end of the excavation season, looking southwest.

The interior of the well (Context 3118) at the end of the excavation season.

Excavation inside Rooms 1, 3 and 4 to a maximum depth of 0.60 m, same as last year’s excavation in the second room, did not reveal traces of floors but confirmed that the walls are preserved at foundation level. In the corresponding layers (Contexts 4505 and 4506) we found artifacts of different periods, from the early Hellenistic to the 7th century CE together with two coins (inv. no. 150, 153). Undoubtedly the most important and productive excavation in this area was that of Well 3118 within the first room that we had started excavating last year. We continued the excavation by taking passes every half a meter down to a depth of 6 m. From the depth of 4.15 m downwards the diameter of the well shows a gradual increase from the original 0.70 m, a phenomenon often observed in wells and dictated by practical considerations when digging the well. We did not complete the excavation of the well but based on the broadening of its diameter we calculate that its bottom should not lie much lower than 6 m. Overall we removed 12 layers (Contexts 3130, 3134, 3135, 3139-3147) of which the first three in 2016. The uppermost layers contained much less rubble, tiles, worked stones and other architectural members than the lower layers. However from a depth of 3 m downwards (which corresponds to Context 3141) the number of the building material is reduced significantly while the quantity of pottery and of bones, from small and big animals, fishes, and birds drastically increases. Thus, whereas from the upper Contexts 3134 and 3135 we collected pottery weighing just 3.17 kg, the pottery from the lower Contexts 3145 and 3146 weighed 60.6 kg.

The ceramic material found throughout the well, weighing in total 140 kg, is homogenous as to its dating and kind: pots for preparing, cooking and serving food and drink, which date from the late 1st century BCE to the early 1st century CE. Among the vases we have local imitations of ESA, grey ware Ionian platters, a lagynos in local imitation fabric, thin-walled cups of the late 1st century BCE, Pompeian Red Ware frying pans, several lids, many round-mouth pitchers, various types of basins and kraters, and a few amphoras including local imitation of the Brindisi type. Out of the architectural members that we recovered from the well, a fragment of a raking sima stands out (A2017-006), decorated with light-colored palmettes and lotus leaves in alteration on a dark background, above a painted frieze decorated with meanders. The dating of the ceramic material indicates that the well went out of use during the reign of Augustus and provides a terminus ante quem for the abandonment of the building to which it belonged. We hope that the conservation of the 12 coins found in the well, 11 of which were found this year (cat. num. 155-159, 161-166) will further confirm this chronology. If we assume that the material thrown in the well comes from the building, as is reasonable, then we can argue that some of its rooms were taverns and shops focused on the sale of food and drink.

Ceramics recovered from the well: imitation Brindisi amphora (C2017-173).

Ceramics recovered from the well: ESA cup form 22 (C2017-181).

Terracotta raking sima with painted decoration from the interior of the well.

The northwest side of the agora with the three excavation sectors and the results of the geophysical prospection.

These rooms belong to a building of north-south orientation, which bordered the northwest side of the agora and which we had detected with geophysical methods while part of it had been exposed during the excavations of A. Orlandos. Thanks to the geophysical prospections, Orlandos’ old trench, and the current excavations, we can reconstruct a rectangular building, some 41 m long and 21 m wide, with two rows of rooms along the back (western) side. Judging from the solid, stone foundations of the exposed section (by Orlandos) along the eastern side of the building, we can fairly assume that it supported a colonnade, and therefore that we are dealing with a stoa facing east. The finds of our excavations and especially those from the well of the 1st room show that the stoa was built in the Hellenistic period, and that it had a commercial character.