KERKYRA - Garitsa - 2005
Figurine - Numismatics - Tools/weapons - Dress and personal ornament - Metal - Bone - Glass - Cemetery - Find Type - Material Type - Site Type
Type of Operation
Garitsa, Opera site. G. Riginos (Η’ ΕΠΚΑ) reports on continuing excavation in the ancient cemetery, where antiquities were found in a layer of clay soil sometimes mixed with sea pebbles and marine shells (at a depth of 1-1.1m). Concentrations of tile were revealed, plus two ancient roads. The complete absence of antiquities in a 15m-wide zone along the west edge of the plot defines the edge of the cemetery. The cemetery was established on this site in the fifth and fourth centuries BC; during the Archaic period its boundary lay some metres to the east. The Hellenistic western boundary is indicated by a stepped stone funerary monument preserved to the height of the krepis (5.65 x 3m). Cuttings for Z, Π and T-form lead clamps are preserved on the upper faces of the surviving blocks (two Z and seven Π clamps survive). Inside the monument were two funerary urns (black-glaze pelikes).
An ancient road in the northwest part of the plot had successive surfaces of tile fragments. The oldest and best-preserved was ca. 2.5m wide and revealed for a length of 35m, running north-northwest to south-southeast. A partially preserved grave monument lay immediately beside it. A second, east-west road in the southwest part of the plot, up to 5.7m wide and made of small stones and stone chips, was revealed for a length of 25m. Between the two roads lay a major part of the city cemetery. A total of 221 tombs were excavated, dated from the mid sixth to the second centuries BC by the 1,131 portable finds recovered (vases, miniature vessels, and vessels of lead, bronze and glass, alabastra, figurines, lead clamps, mirrors, strigils, bronze coins, grave stelai, columns etc.). The following grave types are represented:
• Simple cists (pits) and free burials are most common (95 examples): the body was laid with no consistent orientation, supine (or in one instance contracted) onto the ground or less commonly onto a gravel surface. Cist graves date from the first half of the fifth to the second half of the second century BC. Over half (49) had no goods, while the remainder generally had between one and five items (only five graves had more than ten). Vases were most common – squat lekythoi (up to 12 per tomb), lachrymateria (usually singly) in late fifth- and fourth-century graves, and in third- and second-century graves skyphoi, small bowls, basins, lagynoi, lekythoi, oinochoae etc. Metal items (as bronze and iron strigils, bronze mirros, knives and fibulae) were less so. Adult male burials were identified in 17 graves, adult females in 18, and there was one sub-adult girl: no children were buried in these ways.
• Tile-covered pits (49 examples) date from the late sixth/early fifth century to the second half of the second. The majority of burials (35) had offerings placed either around the body or on top of the grave cover. These were mostly vases, most commonly squat lekythoi, bowls, skyphoi, oinochoae, lachrymateria, and pyxides. Glass vessels and bone astragaloi were rarer (the latter in child grave 182). Only six graves contained metal offerings (an iron dagger, phiale and strigil, two bronze mirrors, and a lead clamp twisted round two iron nails). Late fourth-/early third-century child grave 172 was a distinctive case: 34 offerings placed on the cover include 16 miniature vessels (amphorae, kantharoi, kotyles, a lamp, pyxides and phialae) and 10 terracotta figurines (female and animal), with two miniature phialae, a lekythos and squat lekythos inside the grave. A further ten graves of this type contained child burials, four held infants, four elderly women (over 60 years of age), five adult women, and two adult men.
• Tile-graves (13): while of inconsistent orientation, these graves were often grouped. Two had no goods. Two (57 and 136) held 16 and 11 items respectively, and the child burial in grave 263 had in addition to vases, a glass lachrymaterion, a necklace of glass beads and a gold wreath. Offerings were mostly put inside the grave, but in two cases they were divided with half on the cover. The fourth-century child grave 57 uniquely had all offerings (small phialae, squat lekythoi, female figurines and a lachrymaterion) outside.
• Tile-covered cists formed of Corinthian cover-tiles, with the deceased laid supine (6, of which four contained offerings): three graves contained respectively flooring of tile sherds or of a sarcophagus cover, and a tile ‘pillow’.
• Large rounded pithoi with pointed toes, in most cases bearing three bands of relief wavy line decoration (16 examples). These mostly contained bone fragments on a layer of gravel, with just one case of an entire skeleton in contracted position. There were two instances of child burial, one of an elderly woman and one adult man. Seven pithoi lacked offerings, five held one or two items, and four more than two (trefoil-mouthed oinochoae, black-glaze kantharoi and kylikes, alabastra and aryballoi). Five are securely dated to the late sixth or early fifth century, and two to the second quarter of the fifth century.
• Burials in other vessels (28 examples: pithoid vessels with flat bases or pointed feet, amphorae, hydriae, a Lakonian krater etc.). Fifteen vessels, dating from the second half of the fifth to the mid second century, contained cremations; in eight of these cases, a large vessel found upside down on the ground had covered a smaller ash urn (a black-glaze amphors or pelike for example). The mouths of five ash urns were sealed with lead sheet. All of the pithoid vessels were set upright and contained inhumations; preserved covers were tiles or stone slabs. Very few contained offerings: two fifth-century burials contained an oinochoe and a kotyle and a kotyle respectively. Four amphorae containing inhumations (two of children) were laid horizontally. Inhumations as a whole date from the mid sixth to the early third century.
• Other forms of grave and burial rite, while rare, reflect practices attested in previous excavations in the city cemeteries. Places of primary cremation were in two instances defined by structures of unfired clay, and in five lacked any boundary: concentrations of pottery can be associated with several, as well as four limestone sarcophagi. Two ‘boxes’ formed of tiles contained respectively a cremation burial and an intact black-glaze amphoriskos plus sherds (in a structure built over the cover of grave 121). The child grave 102 is a unique case of an inhumation set on one eaves tile and covered by another.
Conservation and study of 90 skeletons has been completed, with sex identifiable in 42 cases and age attributable in fewer (due to poor preservation in acidic soil). Evidence of osteoarthritis, caries, and attrition fits expectations according to age; no sign of fractures or contagious diseases have been found. Infant and child burials approach 30% of the total, fitting standard mortality models.
AD 60 (2005) Chr. B1 559-564.
Date of creation