AGIA PARASKEVI OF ARACHAMITAI
Report of work conducted in 2014
While looking for the eastern end of the early courtyard building in 2013 we came across three large flat limestone blocks that seemed to belong to another structure which would have been located to the east of the courtyard building. In order to gain more information about this structure and its relation to the early courtyard building we opened a trench at the structure itself and another one in the centre of the courtyard.
The trench in the centre of the courtyard gave us a very clear stratigraphy. Below the topsoil we detected an Early Roman layer (first century AD), which was followed by a Hellenistic layer (mainly third to second century BC) and at the bottom of the trench by a Late Archaic to Classical layer (sixth to fourth century BC). Most important of all is the fact that we here for the first time have a clear cultural layer that dates to the first century AD, i.e., to after the destruction of the early courtyard building during the last decades BC.
Further to the east we uncovered a total of five walls. The three blocks of 2013 belongs to one of these walls. This wall and three further ones resemble each other and may belong to one and the same building. They are all constructed of large white limestone blocks, which are reused from an earlier building (Late Archaic dowel holes). These four walls have belonged to a building with a size of at least 10 m (north to south) x 5 m (east to west). Of the fifth wall, WF 202, only the foundations remain, but it seems to have belonged to a different structure of an earlier date.
All layers on top of the walls are badly mixed, but can on the basis of the latest finds be dated to the Early Roman period (first to second centuries after Christ). The Early Roman layer continues deeper on both sides of the four walls with the reused blocks, thus suggesting a late date for them. Wall WF 202 goes much deeper and is in principle built into the lowermost Late Archaic to Early Classical layer at this spot. This dates WF 202 to the sixth or fifth centuries BC, a fact that is further supported by a Late Archaic to Classical small oinochoe with round mouth which was found built into the wall, obviously placed in between two of the stones in connection with the construction. On the basis of the evidence so far collected the four later walls may have been built reusing blocks from the early building to which WF 202 belonged.
There are several factors that speak for the centre of the cult having been located here. First of all a large amount of figurines and miniature vessels were found here. There is also the unique find of a small gold sheet on which the eyes and nose are hammered out as well as typical early votive offerings of bronze (e.g. a miniature shield of bronze and rectangular sheets decorated with punched dots). Secondly there is the fact that the early building to which WF 202 belonged seems to be located along the main axis of the early courtyard building. Anybody that entered the courtyard from the west would thus probably have been able to see this building on the opposite eastern side of the courtyard. Finally there is the fact that the cult activity at this very spot not only clearly begins before the construction of the early courtyard building, but also continues after the destruction of it.
It is still too early to tell with certainty whether the wall(s) belonged to a temple or not. The early WF 202 could in principle also be part of a monumental altar. Neither do we know when the Late Archaic building was destroyed. However, it may be that it was destroyed in connection with the early courtyard building during the last decades BC. The new building to which walls F 201, F 203 and F 204 would then be contemporary with the large later courtyard building which was destroyed at some stage during the third or fourth century after Christ. However, this interpretation needs to be checked by further excavations.
The Courtyard Building