Sikyon Project

Small temple to the west of the agora

2016 season

Orthophoto of the third area with the numbers of the architectural features.

In the third area, that we have been excavating since 2014, we focused on further investigating the foundation of the temple as well its surroundings, and especially of its relation to the later complex that bounded it. To this end, we excavated deeper strata inside the temple, coming down on bedrock both in the pronaos and the opisthodomos, while outside the temple we extended the excavated area by 2 m northwards. To the west of the temple, we continued cleaning the rocky surface sloping to the northeast (Contexts 2561, 2565, 2566, 2569), which yielded a few finds including a few Hellenistic sherds from table vessels among which were Early Hellenistic kantharoi. More fruitful was the excavation of a small context at the northwestern corner of the trench (Context 2593), from which we recovered 268 sherds dating up to the late 2nd/early 1st century BCE, along with tile fragments, animal bones and a few traces of burning. In this assemblage too, fine pottery dominates with several drinking vessels such as kantharoi and echinus bowls. This context relates to Contexts 2551 and 2552 that we dug last year in the same area but at a higher level.

The west side of the temple at the end of the season, looking south.

Along the north side of the temple, the removal of the top layer (Context 2583), which contained very little archaeological material, was done with the help of a small bobcat. In lower strata, we had more finds in the western half, at the level of ca. 168,3 to 168.6 masl, and near the temple. Thus, Context 2564 on the northwest side had a larger sherd, tile, and bone concentration than the other contexts. Its pottery, which includes both fine tableware and cookware (but very few utility vessels), dates up to the first half of the 1st century CE though most of the datable pottery belongs to the Hellenistic era with a few earlier (Late Classical) sherds. In the underlying layers (Contexts 2570 and 2577), Hellenistic tableware including a few sherds from moldmade bowls continue to be strongly represented, but with a fair number of sherds from utility vessels. In addition, despite the fact that the Hellenistic material prevails in the assemblages we have examples dating all the way to Late Roman times, i.e., we are dealing with disturbed strata or with later fills. The composition of Context 2588, under the zone of extension (2 m wide), was similar with mixed pottery dating from the Late Classical to the Late Roman period. In this layer we also found a terracotta figurine, unfortunately missing the head, and a few examples of glass vessels such as the rim of an unguentarium. By removing Context 2588 we discovered an in situ rectangular stone basin, parallel to the north wall of the temple and just 0.7 m apart. It measures 1.09 x 0.81 m and has a wide raised border and a rough inner surface. Manifestly we are dealing with a base of a dedication – the only one found around the temple. At 1.3 m east of the base we found a dislocated ashlar block with drafted edges, which continues in deeper layers.

Along the south side, we investigated the foundation of the temple vis-a-vis the sloping rocky surface as well as the relation of the temple to the south side of the pi-shaped complex. The finds here are clearly fewer than on the northern side of the temple and tend to cluster on the eastern half of this side. On the western side, above the sloping conglomerate bedrock, we recovered very little pottery, mostly from the Hellenistic period (Context 2589). The cutting of the bedrock at the southwestern corner of the temple was the minimum required in order to set the foundation blocks into place. The distance of the outer face of these blocks from the cut bedrock ranges from 10 to 25 cm. Further to the east, the parallel Contexts 2582 and 2584 contained small tile fragments, stones, and pottery dating as late as the Late Roman period but mostly from Hellenistic and Roman times. The underlying Context 2591, which we excavated to the level of 168.09 masl, had far fewer sherds and tiles, dating into the 1st century CE. On this side too, the archaeological horizons are richer in finds from the level of 168.03 masl up, while the level of the euthenteria of the temple is 168.60 masl and that of the stylobate, a small section of which is preserved at the western half of the south side of the temple, is 168.89 masl.

The stone base and the dislocated ashlar block to the north of the temple, looking south.

The south side of the temple, looking east.

The pronaos at the end of the season, looking north.

Inside the temple, the excavation of the pronaos down to bedrock exposed three foundation courses and their foundation trench, as well as the entire foundation of the wall that separated the pronaos from the sekos. At the southwestern corner of the euthenteria, where the blocks are missing, we identified robbing trenches (Contexts 2571 and 2574) but with no finds in them. Context 2567, which goes down to the level of 168.30 masl, yielded 307 sherds the latest of which date from the 6th century CE. The underlying layer (Context 2576) with the characteristic compact, dark red soil ca. 25 cm thick (down to the level of 168.06 masl), produced just 130 sherds out of which the few diagnostic ones date up to the early 2nd century CE. In still lower strata (Contexts 2578 and 2579) we observed a few stone chips, manifestly from the trimming of the bedrock, but no pottery. The bottom layer (Context 2580), dark brown and dump from its contact with the bedrock, also produced no finds. This layer covered the foundation trenches of the bottom course on three sides (south – Context 2585, east – Context 2586, and north – Context 2587), 0.12 to 0.26 m wide. The bedrock is found at a maximum depth of 1.12 m from the top of the euthenteria.

The foundation courses of the north side of the pronaos with their foundation trench.

The southern half of the foundation of the cross-wall that separated the pronaos from the sekos and the opening corresponding to the entrance to the sekos, looking west.

The opisthodomos at the end of the season, looking northeast.

The discovery of the three foundation courses of the temple allows us to observe some interesting construction details. The two lower courses, 0.38 and 0.40 m, respectively, include reused stones which project towards the interior. On the contrary, the euthenteria, 0.28 m high, is perfect aligned both on the inner and the outer side. The four stones between the pronaos and the sekos, are positioned on their short sides. The two southern ones are founded on bedrock, whereas the two northern ones on the compact fill, which explains the subsidence of the northernmost stone by a few centimeters. In addition, at the section of the opening between northern and the southern part of this wall, 1.60 m wide, no traces of robbing trench of stones are visible, which suggests that it indeed corresponds to the opening of the entrance to the sekos from the pronaos.

In the opisthodomos, where we also dug down to bedrock, the bedrock rose to a much higher level than in the pronaos. Here there is one foundation course under the euthenteria which includes reused stones as indicated by their inner projections and the drafted edges and anathyrosis observed in two of them. The exposure of the bedrock both inside and outside the opisthodomos allowed us to measure the overall length of the foundation trenches of its walls (0.75 m wide), which is 1.20 to 1.25 m. In addition, with the excavation of the opisthodomos it became clear that the row of stones which was added later along the wall separating the opisthodomos from the sekos, rests partly on this wall (Wall 2544 and 2545) and partly on the compact fills of the opisthodomos. Unfortunately, these fills (Contexts 2557, 2563, 2575) which also covered the foundation trenches, and are of similar texture to the fills of the pronaos, were deprived of any finds.

The west side of the sekos, looking west.

Trench 11 (in the background) and part of the pronaos of the temple at the end of the season, looking south.

The parts of the walls discovered this year along the south scarp of Trench 11.

Inside the sekos, the subsurface of which consists of the same compact fill, this year’s excavation was limited to a zone 1.5 m wide along Wall 2544-2545 in order to investigate the foundation of the wall and the composition of the fill. We dug to a depth of ca. 20 cm (Context 2590) with almost no finds. The wall preserves only one course and is made mostly of reused stones of different sizes, one of which has drafted edges. It rests directly on the solid dark reddish fill, with a few pebbles and even less rubble, same as the fill of the pronaos and the opisthodomos. In Trench 11, that we opened last year perpendicular to the south side of the temple’s trench, in which we discovered the north wall of the south side of the pi-shaped complex (Wall 2558), we concentrated on the area south of this wall. In the upper layers the finds were very limited (a few sherds and tile fragments). Excavation was facilitated using a small bobcat. The lower layers also had scarce finds (Contexts 2562 and 2594), but by removing them a clay pipe came to light, of northwest - southeast orientation and a diameter of 0.11 m (Context 2595), as well as part of two walls along the south scarp of the trench. So far, only a small section of Wall 2596 is visible, consisting of two ashlars oriented east-west, 1.2 m long and 0.37 m wide. This wall appears to be overlaid by Wall 2597, also of an east-west orientation, but built with rubble and mortar, 0.50 m wide. This latter wall includes a small section 0.50 m long, perpendicular to the main line which has incorporated an ashlar block at its northern end. Two more scattered blocks were found in the proximity. More excavation is needed here in order to clarify the relationship between these walls. In any case, they do not seem to relate to the southern (exterior) wall of the pi-shaped complex which should be sought further to the north on the basis of the distance between the two walls (exterior and interior) exposed along the north side of the building (in the fourth area of excavation).