ARACHAMITAI, Agia Paraskevi - 2011
Type of Operation
Finnish Institute at Athens.
Arachamitai, Agia Paraskevi. B. Forsén (Finnish Institute at Athens) reports on the second excavation season of a new five-year programme. Between 2006 and 2008, a magnetometer survey and trial trenches at Ag. Paraskevi located a Late Hellenistic rectangular building (RB I) connected to a Late Archaic to Late Hellenistic sanctuary, and a Middle Roman courtyard building (CYB) of unclear function.
In 2011 ca. 80m2 of RB I were excavated and certain 2010 excavation trenches re-opened. The walls of the building were traced further to the east, and although the east end was not located, it is known to be ca. 45 x 11 m in size. Most rooms were arranged in two rows divided by a longitudinal east-west wall (Fig. 1). At the west end the rectangular Room 3 (inner size ca. 9 x 5.5m) stretches across the full width of RB I.
Rooms 1 and 4 were used for bathing. Room 1 is round (inner diameter ca. 5m) and has a tile mosaic floor (Fig. 2): water drained out via a pipe line which ran westwards through Room 3. In the eastern part of the room a niche (ca. 2.1 x 0.6-0.65m with a tile mosaic floor) protrudes slightly into the room but is separated from it with a terracotta curb. Room 4 contained a furnace with a tunnel which ended abruptly not far from the niche in what must have been the foundation of the chimney-shaft. The type of tile mosaic floor and the drainage of Room 1 show similarities with Room G in Arcadian Gortys, although Room 1 does not have under-floor heating conduits. The closest parallel for the furnace in Room 4 is found at Olympia in the bath south of the gymnasium, where it was used to heat water in a bronze boiler. Room 2 (ca. 4.8 x 6.2m) was accessed from the east and gave access to the circular room, and to stoke the furnace. Room 6 (ca. 3.5 x 5m) was entered through a door from the west: a layer of tiles from the collapsed roof covered most of the room, as is the case in all other rooms so far excavated.
RB I was built during the first half of the second century and destroyed during the last decades of the first century BC. The pottery (cooking vessels, drinking cups, plates, amphorae, kraters etc.) indicates it was used for preparing food and communal meals/drinking. Several lamps were recorded plus occasional loom-weights, especially in Room 7. No clear sign of cult activity was noted inside the building, although stamps on the roof tiles and a large quantity of broken figurines and miniature vessels indicate a connection to a sanctuary.
Strata pre-dating RB I were for the first time located. Below the earthen floor in the south half of Room 7 a cultural layer contained black-glaze pottery of the mid-sixth to mid-fourth centuries BC and a Megalopolitan coin of the late 360s or 350s BC (the oldest yet found at the site). These finds cannot be connected to any walls and may be part of a dump.
In two restricted areas in Rooms 1 and 4, excavation continued below the tile mosaic floor level in the niche and the circular room. A closed deposit was found on top of another tile mosaic floor which lies below the floor of Room 1 and is thus connected with an earlier phase of the rectangular building. This deposit included an articulated kantharos (Fig. 3), a one-handled cup, two cups without handles and a lamp, all dating to the third century BC. An older north-south wall inside Room 2 ran parallel with, and less than 1m from, the wall dividing Rooms 2 and 3. The lowermost floor level inside Room 2, of beaten earth, exists only to the west of this older wall and continues below the dividing wall. Finds from this floor level date to the late fourth and early third century and include e.g. a posthumous silver coin of Alexander the Great minted between 319 and 305 BC. RB I was thus built on top of an older building, partly making use of its walls. This building, which was constructed in the second half of the fourth century and remained in use into the third, seems to have the same orientation as RB I and presumably had a similar function.
Outside RB I (to the south of Room 4) the dark, find-rich deposit previously discovered in 2007-2008 was shown to be the fill of a ditch running east to west a few meters behind, and to the south of, RB I. The fill was a deliberate deposit containing broken pottery, other finds and food remains.
The central court of the CYB was accessed from the west along a ca.15m-wide passage flanked on both sides by rows of small square rooms. Part of the northern flank of this passage was built on top of RB I. One of the rooms along the northern flank of the passage, and the passage entrance, were partially excavated in 2010 and 2011. Although the side walls of the passage seem to be part of the same building as the large courtyard they are built in a totally different way, being only ca. 0.50m wide and built of small schist stones with no foundation. The rooms surrounding the courtyard may have had two-storeys (on the basis of their well-built walls with good foundations), but the rooms flanking the passage certainly did not. Possibly the passageway was a later addition to the originally square CYB.
Some of the roof tiles from RB I were stamped. Fragments so far found all belong to two different, fairly long stamps (Fig. 4). The first is 0.31 x 0.038m in size and consists of 19 letters. One intact stamp of this type is preserved together with more than ten fragments. The letters are only faintly legible and not all are visible even in the intact stamp, which reads: ΑΡΤ[.]ΜΙ[..]ΣΛΥΚΟΑΤ[-]ΔΟΣ. However, comparison with two fragmentary stamps of the same type (ΑΡΤΕΜ[.]TΟ[.]ΛΥΚΟΑ[.....] and [.......]ΟΣΛΥ[........]), gives the full reading: Ἀρτέμιτος Λυκοάτιδος, ‘belonging to Artemis Lykoatis’. The second stamp is less common, with only four fragments so far found. It is at least 0.175 x 0.035m in size, although on the basis of the preserved letters the length was probably ca. 0.3m. The beginning of the text can be reconstructed on the basis of two fragments (ΔΕΣΠΟΙΝ.... and ...ΝΑΣΑΚ...) as Δέσποινας ΑΚ..., ‘belonging to Despoina AK.....’
Artemis appears only once with the topographical epithet Lykoatis, in the small Mainalian polis of Lykoa/Lykaia known from Pausanias’ description (8.36.5-8) of the route from Megalopolis along the river Helisson to the plain and mountain of Mainalos. The stamps prove that Lykoa/Lykaia was located at Ag. Paraskevi of Arachamitai, a fact that implies that the Arachamitai valley is to be identified with the valley of Mainalos and the Ag. Elias mountain with Mt. Mainalos mountain.
Date of creation