By continuing the excavation of the well (Context 3118) that we discovered to the northwest of the agora, we retrieved a large amount of information on its fill and the history of the area where it is located. Dr. Nicola Nenci was in charge of this excavation with a four member crew: Anna Aslanoglou and Anastasia Paliatsi, graduates in archaeology of the University of Thessaly, Alice Ognier, doctoral candidate in Classical Archaeology at the Universities of Bordeaux and Thessaly, and the workman Andreas Rotsios. This year, and after having installed the lifting mechanisms, we proceeded from the depth of 6.07 m where we had stopped in 2017 (Context 3147) to the depth of 12.22 m (Context 3172) without reaching the bottom of the fill. Same as last year, removal of the dirt was done in passes 0.50 m thick except in cases where the soil changed and we had to change context accordingly. In addition, following the collapse of a small chunk of marl from the sides of the well while digging, we decided for safety purposes to install an iron grid around the wall of the shaft. Overall we removed 14 passes (Contexts 3157-3172) by sieving all the soil (more than 10,000 liters) and systematically collecting one sample by context for phytolith analysis. The senior student in the Department of Architecture of the University of Thessaly Vaitsa Makresia was put in charge of drawing the well. Two sections, on the north-south and east-west axis, were drawn at the scale of 1:20 on the basis of measurements taken manually (with a tape measure) every half meter starting from the mouth of the well and going down to the depth of 12 m. Following this, the architect Dimitris Bartzis and the land surveyor Vaso Evgenikou drew the upper part of the well with photogrammetric methods after having placed fixed markers on the mouth and the shaft of the well. They defined vertical zones for photography and have taken in total 600 overlapping shots. The result is four sections oriented along the cardinal points and extending from the mouth of the well to the depth of 2.5 m.
The fill of the well consists mainly of sherds, and a fair amount of tile fragments, bones (from animals, birds and fish), charcoals, stones, and architectural pieces. Already during the excavation of the upper layer of the well in 2017 we observed that from the depth of 3 m downwards the number of building material and of tile fragments diminishes while the amount of pottery and bones increases. Distinct layers of whitish marl within the darker artificial fill of the well were interpreted as remains of the collapse of the wall of the well in ancient times. We identified at least four episodes of such collapse, within Contexts 3164, 3167, 3169, and 3171.
At least down to the depth of ca. 10 m (down to Context 3164 where the pottery has been read) it appears that the fill of the well occurred in one phase within the third quarter of the 1st century BCE. The successive layers of collapse of the wall that we identified in lower levels are probably to blame for the abandonment of the well (since the soil presumably plugged the aquifer) as well for the appearance of the interior, which is not smooth nor of standard diameter but varies in section and features an irregular surface. When the well went out of use we cannot tell for certain before its excavation is completed and the pottery from the lower layers is examined.
Ceramic analysis by professor Scott Gallimore (Wilfrid Laurier University) showed on one hand the uniformity of the ceramic material almost through the entire excavated depth of the well, and on the other hand a certain differentiation in the percentage of some vessels, occasionally significant. The excavated layers contained many tableware (cups and plates of various types including grey wares, red wares and thin-walled examples), stewpots and casseroles of various types including Pompeian Red Ware frying pans and lids, and many coarse wares such as craters, basins, mortaria, and amphoras. Certain types occur much more in certain layers, as for example the Pompeian Red Ware frying pans and lids that proliferate in the upper layers but are less frequent in lower contexts. This, in connection with the differentiation in the percentage of other finds, such as the coins (out of the 55 coins retrieved this year from the well, 41 come from two successive contexts (3166 and 3167) and the osteological material, suggests that we are dealing with distinct episodes of filling of the well within the second half of the 1st century BCE.