ARTA - Anc. Ambracia - 2004
Figurine - Lamp - Numismatics - Mosaic - Metal - Domestic space - Find Type - Material Type - Site Type
Type of Operation
Arta (anc. Ambracia), Unnamed public road (D. and I. Mitsokali properties). P. Gouni and M. Karaba (ΙΒ' ΕΠΚΑ) report the discovery of two houses (A and B) to the west of a central, covered drainage channel, with a third house to the east (Fig. 1: 253 α-β). The Mitsokali properties lie to the south of the properties of I. and A. Thanou, where houses were found on either side of a main, east-west avenue (ADelt 52  Chr. 569-70). A north-south road borders these houses to the east, just inside the ancient city wall. The drainage channel found on the Mitsokali properties also runs through the Thanou plots.
The channel, which was exposed for a distance of 22.4m, remained in use from the sixth century to the Hellenistic period, although it was narrowed by the insertion of interior walls or stone facings in the late fifth-early fourth century. Its earliest floor surface (of gravel in packed earth) is late Archaic, and the latest, tiled, surface lies 0.45m. The channel was covered with limestone and sandstone slabs.
An 11x10.5m area of House A was uncovered; this adjoins, and in places shares a party wall with, House B. The area of the house remained unchanged from the time of its construction in the Archaic period until late Hellenistic times (early first century). Four rooms (A1-4) and a courtyard with a stone-built well belong to the first, late sixth-century construction phase, which destroyed structures of the first half of the sixth century. The well, which destroyed an earlier floor or road surface, remained in use into the Hellenistic period. Room A1, the probably andron or focal point in the southeast corner of the house, had a grey and white pebble floor. During the second, Classical (mostly late fifth-century) construction phase, room A1 remained much the same, with the addition of a small rectangular structure in the centre, and A4 and the courtyard were also unchanged. However, room A2 was reduced in size and a grey and white pebble floor laid, and the north part of A3 was paved in stone (south of this was a fine pebble floor dated to the late fifth century, which remained in use until ca.350-300). During the first half of the fourth century, the west wall of room 1 was destroyed and rebuilt in situ (on top of the standing remains and re-using building material). During the Hellenistic (early third-century) phase, a covered drain was laid across room A1, likely feeding into the main drainage channel, and linked at the west end to a round stone structure in A1. The internal arrangement of the area previously covered by rooms A2-4 was radically revised into the final form which continued until the early first century BC.
In House B, three parallel rooms (B1-3) along the east side of the building date to the Archaic phase (ca. mid sixth-century, with minor additions later in the century such as the addition of a floor of grey pebbles and a few small stones in the north part of room B1). Within B3, one wall and part of a pebble and earth floor laid in the mid sixth century went out of use during the last quarter of the century – the only such case in this house. The relationship of this wall and floor to room B3 is unclear. The western part of the house was not investigated. During the Classical phase (late fifth- to fourth-century), walls were strengthened and in certain cases replaced after the episode of destruction in the second half of the fifth century. Rooms B1 and 2 remained the same, B3 slightly enlarged, and in the mid fourth century two new rooms, B4 and 5 were created to the west of B1. The corner of a further room was exposed south of B5. During the Hellenistic phase (early third-century) adjustments were made to the areas of most rooms, and a plaster floor was laid in B1. The resulting arrangement lasted until the early first century BC.
Byzantine and post-Byzantine incursions disturbed the stratigraphy in most parts of the excavation area (especially in the north); these included rubbish pits (e.g. in the southeast corner of room A1), at least one wall, and collections of plain and glazed post-Byzantine pottery. Earlier pottery from Houses A and B covered a wide chronological period. Archaic pottery was relatively slight, but groups included sherds with incised and black, brown and purple decoration, black-figure, bases of Corinthian kotylai, kylikes, lamps and a few pyxides and aryballoi. The Classical and Hellenistic pottery largely comprised domestic and cooking wares with fewer storage vessels (pointed amphorae and pithoi), and much black-glaze (skyphoi including examples of Attic and Corinthian type, kylikes, kantharoi, plates and fishplates, period lekythoi of Elean type, and oinochoes). Three red- or black-figure vessels were found, plus nineteen figurines, two stamped loomweights, a stamped amphora handle and a spool. A silver stater of Ambracia bore on the observe a head of athena to left and on the reverse, Pegasus: most of the 77 bronze coins were illegible. Other finds include iron and bronze nails, a bronze peg, and two grey andesite grinders.
The house to the east of the drainage channel, on the I. Mitsokali property preserved three rooms (Β, Γ, Δ) with further building remains to the north and south disturbed by post-Byzantine incursions. To the sixth-century construction phase belong the exterior wall of the house (which forms the east wall of the central drainage channel), plus fragments of interior wall. Rooms B and Γ were laid out during the Classical phase and retained the same dimensions thereafter. A dividing wall was soon added into room B), to the north of this was a concentration of Classical pithoi, amphorae, domestic pottery and fine black-glaze, plus figurines: large storage vessels were not present to the south of it, but rather smaller domestic vessels and black-glaze. The room retained its function (but without the dividing wall) in Hellenistic times, when a very large quantity of domestic pottery was found, including cooking wares, basins, pithoi, amphorae and black-glaze. During the Hellenistic phase room Γ was defined as the andron, with a pebble floor surrounded by a raised plaster floor on all sides. The pebble floor depicts a figure in a four-horse chariot above a sphere, with rich floral motif and other ornament in the corners. The north part of the floor, at the entrance to the andron, depicted two antithetical wild goats on either side of a kantharos. Post-Byzantine incursions destroyed evidence for the rooms north of B and Γ (including a likely antechamber to the andron. To the south, room Δ, laid out (over earlier rooms, noting a fifth-century destruction layer with fine Attic black-glaze and black-figure) and remodelled in the Hellenistic period: pottery found here includes plain and black-glaze wares and a black-glaze lamp. A further room, E, was identified in the southwest part of the plot, the east side of which had been destroyed. One wall was founded in a fifth-century destruction layer beneath which lay a Π-shaped stone structure of unknown function; to the south of the wall, an array of nine Corinthian cover tiles (one with floral decoration) runs east-west and leads to the central drainage channel.
The house produced a large quantity of pottery, figurines and plaques, loomweights, bronze coins (mostly illegible), bronze and iron nails and pegs, bronze vessel handles, rings and sheet, a bronze arrow and four pieces of grinders.
The size of this eastern house is notable. It occupies the same width of street façade as Houses A and B together on the other side of the drainage channel. Although there is no dividing alley, Houses A and B are assumed on the grounds of construction style and the position of cornerstones, to be separate establishments.
ADelt 56-59 (2001-2004) B5, 122-129.
Date of creation
Fig. 3/ Arta, Unnamed public road (D. and I. Mitsokali properties). View of the excavations from the north.