CORFU - North Cemetery - 2001
Tools/weapons - Dress and personal ornament - Sculpture - Wood - Metal - Bone - Cemetery - Find Type - Material Type - Site Type
Type of Operation
Corfu, north cemetery. Phylakon hill (new lawcourt building). G. Riginos (Η’ ΕΠΚΑ) reports that continued excavation across the entire 3,000m2 of the plot revealed a large section of the city’s north cemetery. This cemetery, which extended over the south slopes of the hill beneath modern Garitsa, remained in use from the seventh to the late fourth century BC.
Five hundred graves were found, mostly oriented north-south (with some minor deviations) and arranged in groups (both densely and more loosely packed) at depths varying from 2.5-7.5m. It remains unclear whether the depth is of chronological significance. The following tomb types are reported.
Pithoi (56 in total): large, round pithoi with pointed base were set upright or at a slight angle. The mouth was closed with a stone slab, terracotta basin or tile or, rarely, with a column capital or left open. Three has stone markers. The majority (40) were set in close array in the northwest part of the plot, with the remainder in the northeast. All but two contained enchytrismoi (the exceptions were extended, supine inhumations in tombs 28 and 188). Anthropological analysis of bones from 15 graves indicates that the deceased were young or middle-aged adults of both sexes, with just two children (in tombs 96 and 103). Forty-two pithoi contained grave goods (usually 1-8 pots, most commonly 3, of common types as trefoil-mouthed oinochoae, olpes, kotyles and more rarely pyxides and alabastra). Tomb 242, with 19 vessels, a loomweight, a glass bead and an iron pin, is exceptional. Eighteen pithoi can be securely dated to the Archaic period and three to the fourth century (two of which, 294 and 419, were used for refuse).
Inurned burials (192 in total) were contained in amphorae, pithoid amphorae, small pithos-like vessels and other transport/storage vessels, plus lebetes, craters, chytres and bronze bowls and basins. They are distributed over the entire area, in isolation or in small groups, with some directly associated with cremation pyres. Most were set down on the natural surface and covered with pan tiles (or occasionally stone slabs, basins, another vessel or nothing at all). In 43 cases vessels contained enchytrismoi, 26 of which had offerings. In 42 cases they held cremations, 18 of which had offerings. The rite involved in around half of the total number of inurned burials cannot be determined for want of evidence. These burials span all phases from the second half of the seventh century to the second half of the fourth, with particular concentrations in the seventh and sixth centuries. The most common grave offerings (1-7 items per burial) were oinchoae, kotyliskoi, skyphoi and smaller cups, aryballoi, alabastra, pyxides, exaleiptra, cups, olpai, and less commonly metal items.
Pit burials (173): burials in simple pits (the boundaries of which were not always clearly defined in the sandy soil) were scattered over the entire area in no particular arrangement. Forty were covered or had one or more side defined by tiles, and two (224 and 456) had gravel floors. Apart from two cases of double burials (85 and 360), these graves contained single inhumations in extended (or slightly contracted) position, of young or middle-aged men and women (noting the particularly poor state of skeletal preservation). Fifty-four graves (including those which were covered) contained offerings dating to the fifth and fourth centuries.
Tile graves (37) were arranged mostly in pairs across the entire plot. Three cists (27, 40 and 167) were lined and covered with tiles, while in the remaining cases, the deceased was covered with Corinthian-type cover tiles (and often set on a tile or gravel floor). These graves contained single inhumations, supine or slightly contracted, generally of young adults (25-30 years of age) of both sexes. Nineteen contained one to four pots (lekythoi, small oinochoae, trefoil-mouthed oinochoae, kotyles, skyphoi and miniature vessels). Tile graves are sixth- to fourth-century where datable.
Monolithic limestone sarcophagi with a stone cover slab (10). Generally 2.1 x 0.9m, they have a lifting boss plus pry-holes in the four corners to facilitate removal. Sarcophagi contained single inhumations in slightly contracted position (mostly adult men, although the remains were poorly preserved), with in two cases (111 and 186) the bones of a second reburial. Six of the ten sarcophagi contained one to three items as offerings, of unusually varied types – a loomweight, oval aryballos, oinochoe, kotyliskos, phiale, askos, bronze phiale and bronze rings. One (473) also contained ten small iron nails probably from a wooden chest, and had a terracotta basin set as a marker over the cover slab. The offerings in grave 193 were placed outside the sarcophagus. Three sarcophagi date to the Archaic period and two to the fourth century.
Reburials (15) consist of collections of bones or isolated crania set freely on the ground in no particular arrangements. Several had accompanying grave goods.
Nine cases of small assemblages which did not contain bone but where a selected offering was covered by part of a tile, constitute a distinctive group which is hard to characterise. There was also one terracotta larnax which probably contained a child burial.
Clay structures for primary cremation (24) of various shapes contained large pieces of carbonised wood, burnt bone, ash and sherds, and in many cases had an ash urn within or on the edge of them. Other less carefully made clay structures and concentrations of burned wood were found at various points in the cemetery.
Natural fissures in several part of the cemetery (especially in the east, and always on an east-west axis) contained extensive concentrations of pottery (more commonly Late Classical-Hellenistic than Archaic-Early Classical), tile and pithos sherds mixed with bone, small stone columns, fragments of funerary stelai and a sphinx statue, unworked stones and stone chips, and stone cannon balls. These indicate episodes of extensive destruction from antiquity to modern times, which resulted in scattering and re-use of material from the cemetery. This may also help to explain the absence of the funerary monuments and structures common in other Corfiot cemeteries.
Concentrations of unworked stones, pebbles and gravel containing flint and limestone tools (plus flakes and cores) and prehistoric pottery on stereo constitute the earliest evidence of human activity, dating to the Late Neolithic-Bronze Age. These were probably deposited by a stream running east-west across the plot.
ADelt 56-59 (2001-2004) B5, 221-224.
Date of creation