AGIA PARASKEVI OF ARACHAMITAI
Report of work conducted in 2012
On the basis of our work in 2010 and 2011 we knew that the Hellenistic rectangular building had at least two building phases, the first one dating to the late fourth and the second one to the early second century BC. The building which was used for preparing of food and communal meals/drinking belonged to the sanctuary of Artemis Lykoatis (Paus. 8.36.7) and was destroyed during the last decades BC. In 2012 our work continued on the Hellenistic rectangular building (RB I), although we also opened trenches on its south and north sides. The main aim was to gain a better understanding of the architecture and closest surroundings of the building. The preliminary results of the work in 2012 are as follows.
Rectangular Building I
During the four week long field season in June and July 2012 ca. 100 m2 of RB I was excavated. We now finally managed to localise its eastern short end, thus confirming that the total size of RB I is ca. 45x11 m. We also confirmed our general picture of the division of rooms, which are arranged in two rows divided by a longitudinal wall running in east to west direction. The only exception from this is Room 3 in the western end of the building, which stretches across it from the southern until the northern long wall.
This year our excavation work was concentrated on three parts of RB I, i.e., Room 5, Room 9 and Room 10. The outlines of Room 5 were revealed already in 2011. The inner dimensions of the room are 2.6x3.3 m. Room 5 was entered from the north through a door from a ca. 1.3 m wide corridor that leads further to the west into Room 2. Large amounts of pottery (e.g. parts of large amphorae, a lagynos, jugs, plates and kantharoi) found below the collapsed roof tile layer covering the whole room and the corridor can preliminarily be dated to the late third or second century BC. There were no coins or lamps and only a handful of fragments of cooking pots.
Originally Room 5 had been 4.1x3.3 m large and also included what later was separated from it and made to the corridor. During this first building phase the room had two doors, one leading to the west into Room 2 and another leading to the east into a part of RB I that remains unexcavated. Somewhat to the south of the centre of the room there was during this building phase a fireplace. The fireplace was connected with a terracotta channel to the southeast corner of the room, whereas there in the southwest corner was a 1.5x0.4 m large bench. A crucible was found next to the terracotta channel (leading fresh air to the fireplace?), possibly indicating some kind of production at the fireplace. This earlier phase of Room 5, which due to lack of time could not be entirely excavated, can be dated to between the late fourth and mid-third century BC on the basis of a one-handler and a small bowl with projecting rim decorated with grooves and stamped ovuli.
Room 9 has the inner dimensions of ca. 5x4.5 m and was entered through a door from the north. All of the room was covered by the collapsed roof, on top of which a small Doric capital was found lying upside down in secondary position. A Laconian coin dating to between 48 and 35 BC was found between the roof tiles, thus verifying the date of the destruction of RB I. Below the roof in the centre of Room 9 there was a fireplace that consisted of stone slabs covered with a layer of burned clay. The floor layer consisted of small stones mixed with compact soil. The layer between the floor and the collapsed roof contained a total of 16 coins and four loom-weights. Most of the coins date between the late third and late first century BC, although there also was a Megalopolitan coin dating to ca. 363-350 BC. The pottery range in date from the late fourth until the late first century BC, including e.g. two small black-glazed guttui with stamped decoration (late fourth to early third century BC), one unguentarium, a couple of early Megarian bowls and some terra sigillata sherds.
Below the floor level in Room 9 another, earlier cultural layer was found. The finds resemble those found below the floor level in Room 7 in 2011, i.e., they date roughly between the mid-sixth and mid-fourth century BC, and thus predate RB I. The pottery included e.g. craters and different types of jugs and drinking cups. This earlier layer also produced one miniature vessel, two loom-weights, two fragments of miniature votive wreaths of lead and the bezel of a bronze finger ring that was decorated with a flying bird. This earlier cultural layer could unfortunately due to lack of time not be fully excavated.
A third trench was opened up at the spot where we expected the eastern short end of RB I to be found. The east, north and south walls of Room 10 were found, but due to lack of time the western wall eluded us. The inner width of the room in south to north direction is 4.5 m. Parallel with and partly superimposed on the south wall of Room 10 runs the long west wall of the entrance to the Roman courtyard building. This wall had collapsed towards the west, partly covering the roof tile layer of RB I with fist-large stones. Some larger stones had also at a later stage been collected to this cairn, including e.g. a large cut limestone block, probably part of the foundation of a monumental building.
Under the collapsed roof of Room 10 an area of hard burned red clay was found, roughly mid-way between the northern and southern walls of the room. This has probably been a fireplace. Due to lack of time the fireplace was left unexcavated and the work was focused on the ca. 2.5x4.5 m large part of the room located to the east of the fireplace. Close to the eastern wall the foot of a Hellenistic lime-stone perirrhanterion was found, standing up-side-down on top of the floor that consisted of gravel and packed soil. The cultural layer between the collapsed roof and the floor contained e.g. a total of 14 coins, five loom-weights, five lamps and three unguentaria. The coins date, as in Room 9, from the mid-fourth century until 48-35 BC, the lamps in their turn to the third or second century BC..