Excavation period 2006
During the month of July 2006 (from 5-27/7) the IAKA Department conducted a third excavation period in the suburban sanctuary of Apollo at Soros (ancient Amphanes or Pagases). The excavation project is conducted in collaboration with the 13th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities.
This year work was concentrated in the following areas:
Destruction level outside the temple
A small trench was dug near the E extremity of the North wall of the temple in order to investigate the stratigraphy. Within the destruction level which was encountered there were several Laconian roof tiles from the temple's roof, including front tiles decorated in relief (one type representing a horseman, the other a palmette). The temple's North wall is bordered near its base by a line of stones. The earth in between was very loose and sandy. A possible post hole was detected almost against the exterior face of the temple's wall.
The excavation of the room adjacent and to the South of the temple was completed. The two remaining bulks, A and B, were removed. The same mixed fill which was encountered the previous excavation seasons was observed this season as well. We are now fairly certain that the interior of the space Δ was filled at a period when the temple had fallen out of use. Nevertheless, approximately in the centre of the space a rough stone structure was encountered near the bed rock, surrounded by several archaic female terracotta figurines, a bronze mesomphalos phiale, and a number of small metal offerings. This area may have been the focus of cult prior to the construction of Room Δ. With this earlier hypaethral area of cult activities one may associate also the stone bench, fully revealed this season.
Area to the east of the temple
At the area to the East of the temple a grid of squares, 4 by 4 metres was laid (bulks 1 m wide). This season only a few of them were investigated.
Squares Ζ3-Ζ4, Η3-Η4
Outside, and to the East of the temple, a rather flimsy structure started to be revealed. It consists of one single row of stones. Since only a few non diagnostic sherds were collected it is at this point difficult to date the structure. Its function remains for the moment unknown (the idea that it may represent an altar cannot be substantiated for the time being; moreover, no animal bones were collected).
Squares Θ4, Θ5, Temenos wall (Τ15) and steps
At a distance of ca. 10 metres to the East of the temple's porch, down the slope of the hill, a wall (T15) was encountered and uncovered to a length of ca. 15 metres. Its outside face is constructed with medium and small sized stone blocks, and is well dressed, while the interior (West) face is carelessly constructed, suggesting that it served as a retaining wall. At the Northern part of the section of the wall which we uncovered, a rectangular stepped structure came to light. It probably represents the stepped East entrance of the sanctuary. No diagnostic finds were found, with the exception of a Corinthian bronze coin of the 4th c. B.C.
Most of the finds of the 2006 excavation season were conserved by N. Tsatsouli. Alongside, the recording of the finds of the 1973 excavation and the 2004-05 excavation seasons was continued.
The excavation team of the University of Thessaly consisted of Professor A. Mazarakis Ainian (director of the excavation), Dr I. Levendi (co-director), the architect Dr A. Gounaris, the conservator N. Tsatsouli, the postgraduate students of the IAKA Department G. Vitos, M. Panagou, Ch. Koukoulidou and I. Kralli and the archaeologist K. Tzavellopoulou. Approximately 25 undergraduate students of the IAKA Department participated actively in the excavation. A programme of scientific analysis and dating of carbon samples and sea shells is currently conducted under the direction of Dr. Y. Fakorellis. The Laboratory of Archaeology, and its staff, Ch. Mitsopoulou and E. Charalampidou, supported in various ways the project.
The excavation was funded by the Department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology (IAKA) of the University of Thessaly. The student expenses were covered by the EPEAEK European Community programme of the Department, whilst many of the postgraduate students and the senior collaborators offered voluntary work. The research group was transported to and from the excavation area with the university coach, driven by D. Kotrotsos.
A. Mazarakis Ainian, I. Levendi, G. Bitos and M. Panagou presented the results of the 2004-05 excavation seasons and a preliminary study of the finds deriving from the old and new excavation at the "2nd Meeting of the Archaeological Work of Thessaly and Central Greece" (AETHSE), held in Volos, between 16 and 19 March 2006. A. Mazarakis Ainian also has offered a number of lectures or papers at International Conferences concerning the Soros excavation [at the University of Thessaly, Oxford, Lyon, Paris, Piazza Armerina (Sicily), and various universities in the USA].
The excavation will continue the summer of 2007.
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