SALAMIS Kanakia - 2010
Fortifications - Residence - Inscription - Dress and personal ornament - Architectural revetments - Domestic space - Sanctuary - Territory - Building Type - Find Type - Site Type
Type of Operation
University of Ioannina
Salamis, Kanakia. Y. Lolos (Ioannina) reports on the 2010 season of excavation on the Mycenaean acropolis above the head of the Gulf of Kanakia, and on the neighbouring plateau of Pyrgiakoni (the site of the associated cemetery). Limited surface survey was completed in the areas of Peristeria and Maroudi, on the southern shores of the island.
Work on the summit of the Mycenaean acropolis focused in sector Γ, which contains the central building of the late 13th-century BC palatial complex (Fig. 1). This complex developed in five successive phases and consists (to date) of 50 rooms and other spaces over an area of 750m2. The east part of the north wing of Building Γ was investigated: three new, small rooms were uncovered and mostly excavated to floor level. The two northernmost rooms are successive and form part of a four-roomed annex (a form of covered courtyard) on the north side of the central palace building. The westernmost part of this annex is the prothalamos for the north entrance to the complex, with a built bench and terracotta bath. The annex was fully or partially roofed (probably in an improvised manner), and bounded to the north by a zig-zagging wall of cursory construction (perhaps an animal pen). The third of the new rooms is a small, long and narrow room of uncertain function, part of a series along the north side of the long, wide corridor which runs from east to west (Fig. 2). In its southwest corner was a low, Γ-shaped bench (perhaps a workbench), partially built and partially rock-cut. Portable finds from the destruction and abandonment levels in the excavated rooms comprise quantities of LH ΙΙΙΒ-ΙΙΙC Early pottery, an almost intact coarse tripod chytra (Fig. 3) and spouted lekane (from the room with the Γ-shaped bench) and 19 stone tools of different types. Potters’ marks on three vertical handles belonging to Aiginetan chytra-form vessels add to the collection of such evidence from the buildings of the acropolis.
The plateau southeast of the Mycenaean acropolis was the location of burial and worship of the dead at various periods in antiquity. Τhe extensive west/southwest area contains two adjoining monuments - the Mycenaean tumulus-cenotaph and the Classical/Early Hellenistic temenos, investigation of which began in 2008. Excavation in 2010 was conducted in the temenos, in the heart of which a generally flat area of limestone forms a natural exedra (36 x 20m), with a face to the south and southeast (averaging 1.7m high) into which were cut orthogonal apses (Fig. 4). The entire area is defined by a peribolos 1-1.2m thick, which can be traced along the east and north sides. The monument is in contact with the peribolos of the Mycenaean cenotaph. On the lower level of the temenos, two successive rooms with separate entrances were in contact with the vertical face of the exedra. The smaller room (interior dimensions 5 x 1.5-2m) had a white lime plaster coating on the floor and walls, and may be a room for purification of worshippers (Fig. 5), to judge from the portable finds (pithos fragments, orthogonal vessels and stone basins to store water from the neighbouring fountain which was investigated in 2009). The second room (interior dimensions 5 x 5m), which contained a quantity of pottery, small finds and a number of coins, likely served an ancillary role (Fig. 6). The main cult area lay on the upper level of the temenos, and was defined to the north and east by a well-built Γ-shaped peribolos wall.
The junction between the two levels was bridged by a ramp or stairway at a point where there was a weakness in the rock face. This gave access to a narrow stone-paved corridor leading north-northwest directly to a Π-shaped construction (3.5 x 2.5m), open in front and with an exit door in the rear (north) wall (Fig. 7). Slightly to the west, a large roughly oval bothros or pit (5.6m long x at most 3m wide with a funnel-like base) probably received liquid offerings (Fig. 8). It was filled in two episodes during the same period, likely as part of the clean-up after the destruction of the temenos. The debris contained much building material and a large quantity of Classical and Early Hellenistic pottery (plainware and high quality black-glaze) of the fifth-early third centuries BC, which clearly indicates the period of use of the sanctuary. Indeed, much of the pottery from the 2010 excavation in this area dates to the Late Classical-Early Hellenistic period. The most common plainware forms are lekanes, wide-mouthed cooking pots, transport amphorae (from Thasos and Mende among other centres), pithoi and beehives. Common shapes in Attic black-glaze are phialae, small bowls, skyphoi, kantharoi, closed shapes as oinochoes and olpae, and lamps (Figs 9,10). Part of a red-figure bell-krater of ca. 400 BC was found with black-glaze sherds in a natural hollow in the rock (Fig. 11). The first inscriptions are graffiti on the bases of two black-glaze vessels: there are also two stamped amphora handles.
Many of the small finds from the 2010 excavation come from the floor of the ancillary room in the south sector. These include pyramidal terracotta loomweights, terracotta and stone tools, objects of iron, bronze and lead (clamps to repair vases, sheet, fishing weights, sling-shot, and an Athenian weight with a relief symbol of a 1/4 amphora, Figs 12,13), two faience beads, 13 perforated Luria lurida shells used as beads for necklaces, and 5 worked Spondylus gaederopus shells.
The 13 coins recovered from the south sector are particularly important for the dating of the destruction and abandonment of the shrine. Apart from one small Late Roman bronze coin, almost all come from the ancillary room. The bronze coins include several known Athenian issues of the end of the fourth to early third centuries (particularly from the beginning of the third): a fourth-century Athenian silver Triteteartemorion (three-quarter obol) was also found (Fig. 14).
In sum, the temenos was established at the beginning of the fifth century shortly after the annexation of Salamis to the Athenian state. Its destruction is placed in the early third century BC, perhaps in the period of the Chremonidian War (268-263/2 BC), on the basis of ceramic and numismatic evidence. The shrine, in immediate visual contact with the ruins of the acropolis, within an old burial area (noting the Mycenaean cenotaph), and with a large bothros for liquid offerings, was apparently intended for hero-worship, probably of Ajax (and perhaps also the mythical Kychreas) on the basis of epigraphical and literary sources. This cult may have continued within the city of Salamis.
Surface survey covered a limited area encompassing parts of Maroudi and the wider area of Peristeria. In the Maroudi area, part of the large Early Helladic II settlement on the Mertzani promontory was explored (Fig. 15). In the area between the last modern house and the upper part of the promontory (which is free of modern construction), all visible foundations of the EH II settlement were photographed and recorded, and a representative sample of EH II pottery collected. The six confirmed walls of this settlement were fully planned. To the north, Early Helladic sherds were found on the surface as far away as the south side of Ikarias Street (90m from the southernmost modern house).
Also in the Maroudi area, beside the public road in and around the artificial cutting at the entrance to the Ajax Club and the start of Mina and Dimitriou Palla Street, were traces of foundations (and perhaps tombs), tiles and numerous Classical-Hellenistic sherds which had probably eroded from a settlement of this period located higher on the slope.
As part of a study of the network of Early Helladic coastal settlements and shipping stations in the Saronic Gulf and the wider area to the south, the sites of Lykopoulo in the area of Peristeria, and Ormos Kolones (a fortified EH II settlement discovered in the 1990s) were explored. The EH II settlement at Lykopoulou extends over the upper levels of a high and rocky promontory free of modern building. The settlement is protected by a fortification circuit, the thickness of which varies from 1m to 1.4-1.5m, which follows roughly the line of the upper terrace of the promontory. This protects the settlement on the north, northwest, west and south-west sides, and extends to the point where the hard limestone bedrock falls away precipitously on the east and south sides. The main approach to the settlement is on the north side of the circuit, where a defensive tower, built of large and medium stones, is preserved to a height of 1.2m (3-4 courses) (Fig. 16). On the south side of the settlement, on the upper level of the promontory, the foundation of a wall (ca. 0.55m thick) running east-west for 9.4m, is probably the long side of a large building. Small, worn EH II sherds (including a sherd of an Urfirnis sauceboat) are scattered across the top of the promontory.
Unpublished field report, University of Ioannina (Y. Lolos); Akamas 5 (2011).
Date of creation
Fig. 4/ Pyrgiakoni, temenos: general view of the south-southeast face of the natural exedra, from the east.
Fig. 5/ Pyrgiakoni, temenos: south section. View of the purification room post excavation, from the southwest.
Fig. 6/ Pyrgiakoni, temenos: south section. View of the ancilliary room post-excavation, from the northeast.
Fig. 10/ Pyrgiakoni, temenos: lower parts of a black-glazed skyphos (left) and kantharos (right), Classical period.
Fig. 14/ Pyrgiakoni, temenos: south section. Fourth-century Athenian silver Triteteartemorion (three-quarter obol).
Fig. 15/ Maroudi, Mertzani promonotory. View of the house foundations of the EH II settlement from the east.