OLYNTHOS - 2014
Antiquity - Classical
Fortifications - Hearth/Kiln/Oven - Domestic space - Road system/waterway - Building Type - Find Type - Site Type
Type of Operation
British School at Athens, 16η ΕΠΚΑ
Olynthos. B. Tsigarida (formerly 16th EPCA), Z. Archibald (Liverpool/BSA), and L. Nevett (Michigan/BSA) report on the first season of a project which aims to build a holistic picture of Greek households within their urban setting. Geophysical survey (magnetometry and resistivity), excavation and field survey were used to investigate the spatial organisation and preservation of a largely unexcavated zone in the north-east of the North Hill, and the eastern boundary of the site adjacent to the South Hill.
Geophysical survey was conducted to locate areas for excavation and to devise appropriate methodology for investigating and mapping buried remains. (Fig. 1) Data were collected both inside and outside the known city area in order to define the extent of past activity and observe differences between on- and off-site measurements. Initial results reveal some fifteen houses almost completely preserved plus partial plans of a further fifteen (the remainder lying beyond the survey area): compacted floor layers are suggested by contrasts in measurements inside and outside these buildings. The regular street grid continued to the north and east of the main area of David Robinson’s 1928-1938 excavation, although in the northern part of the survey area, close to the edge of the hill, structures backing onto a probable perimeter wall are differently aligned. The magnetic data reveal areas of intense burning or other fired features (e.g. hearths). (Fig. 2) Fewer anomalies in the northeast area of the North Hill may indicate less intense occupation or different construction, although a number of intense magnetic responses suggest the presence of burned or fired material. The supposed fortification wall on the east side of the North Hill appeared as a linear feature in the magnetometer survey.
Trial trenches were opened to explore certain features indicated in the geophysics data, including two of the new residential units on the North Hill and the supposed fortification wall. One of Robinson’s trenches was also reinvestigated in order to assess surviving evidence in and around it and facilitate comparison of field methodologies.
In the first of the residential units explored, a party wall between two houses had on the west side a cobbled surface covered with fallen roof tiles, and on the east, a further tile concentration on a floor identified by a light layer of white lime. A small amount of utilitarian pottery was retrieved. Excavation in another part of the same unit revealed a probable floor surface with numerous fragmentary vessels perhaps fallen from a shelf or upper storey. In the second unit explored, a trench was placed over the anticipated junction of two walls which define three spaces (apparently representing what Robinson termed a pastas with two adjacent rooms behind). The walls of one of these spaces were coated with red plaster which continued onto the floor. The second space contained a coarse limestone anta capital with a relief cornice.
Investigation of a circular magnetic anomaly in the northern part of the North Hill revealed a north-south rubble wall with a large pithos to the east of it, and to the west of it a circular pit- or well-like construction covered with tiles and ringed with stones. Inside the stone ring were two large and complete upturned ceramic vessels, together with a shallow bronze bowl. At a lower level lay an east-west wall of more carefully dressed blocks. Investigation of the supposed fortification wall revealed a 1.5 m-wide layer of river stones which may represent the foundation of a mud-brick defensive wall.
Preliminary assessment of the pottery shows no material earlier than the second quarter of the fourth century or later than the mid-fourth century BC. While some vessels find parallels in Robinson’s publication, the range of medium and coarse shapes is wider, and the majority of finewares were probably produced locally (Robinson held that the majority of his fineware finds were Attic). The vast majority of amphorae were probably also relatively local, with few imports even from Thasos. These suggestions will be further tested via a programme of fabric analysis in collaboration with the Fitch Laboratory.
The project’s 7km2 study area covers the ancient city site and its immediate hinterland. A field survey was conducted with the twin aims of gaining a better understanding of the functional and chronological distribution of artefacts over the North Hill, South Hill, and Eastern Slope (including definition of the eastern boundary of the Classical city), and of exploring systematically the immediate hinterland to assess the roles which it played in antiquity. On the North Hill, a surface collection was made in 30x30m grid squares prior to excavation. Random sampling combined with total collection and grab sampling of diagnostic artefacts provided artefact density figures for a select portion of each grid square plus information about chronology and function for the area as a whole. In the hinterland, field walking covered an area of 0.5km2 to the east of the South Hill. An uncultivated mound (approximately 40x40m) contained several large rock piles: a fourth-century BC date is indicated by the surface pottery. Close to the East Spur Hill (as defined by Robinson), an in situ pithos was found sheared off by mechanized agricultural equipment. A third feature of the landscape was the presence of artefacts mainly at higher (rather than lower) elevations. Whether this is due to alluvial or colluvial activity, to modern agriculture, or to cultural factors in antiquity remains to be ascertained.
Unpublished field report, British School at Athens.
Date of creation