Subject: Results of preliminary works carried out in 2005 in the Spartan Sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios and an application for their continuation. Pr. No. 1763/25.10.2005
In accordance with the decision No. YPPO/GDAPK/ARCH/A2/F61/22669/799 of 15.06.2005 of the Department of Greek and Foreign Scientific Institutions, Organizations and International Matters of the Ministry of Culture, during September 2005 studies and research in the Spartan Sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios commenced. This preliminary investigative survey was conducted by the following team, under my supervision and in collaboration with Professor Manolis Korres: architects Maria Magnisali and Themis Mpilis, architectural student Manos Skoufoglou and archaeologist Stavros Vlizos from the Benaki Museum. However, the successful results and the positive prospects are due in large part to the exceptionally friendly atmosphere and the support given by the V Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities (EPCA) and the 5th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities (EBA), namely to Anastasia Panagiotopoulou and Emilia Bakourou, and Nasos Themos, as well as the personnel of the Archaeological Service of Sparta.
In the period 2-24 September 2005 the following works were carried out:
- Agia Kyriaki hill and the surrounding area were surveyed in detail by topographers of the National Technical University of Athens, Kostas Zafeiris and Giorgos Souris. The evidence surviving from previous research carried out by Ch. Tsountas (1890/91), A. Furtwängler (1904), E. Fiechter (1907) and E. Buschor (1925), was recorded in the new plans.
- The existing condition of the archaeological site was mapped and the surviving parts of the crepis of the Throne, of the Peribolos (surrounding retaining wall) as well as the later church of St Kyriaki were documented by measured drawings.M
- Most of the in-situ architectural members of the Throne and the Altar, which were either stacked in a pile of stones or were dispersed in various places and on the slopes of the hill, were drawn, studied, photographed and identified.
- All the architectural members from the monuments of the Sanctuary were gathered, sorted in categories and fenced inside the archaeological site and the already expropriated area. Thus, any further deterioration of the marbles’ surface will be avoided and their protection will be ensured until their final enhancement is decided upon. This task was carried out with the valuable assistance of a team from the V EPCA.
- Many architectural members of the Throne and the Altar, which were incorporated in the fabric of the churches of Prophet Elijah, Sts Theodore and St Nicholas in modern Amykles, as well as in the church of the Virgin in the community of Agios Ioannis, Sparta, were located, photographed and temporarily recorded.
- Last, those architectural members originating mainly from the Throne and presently kept in the internal courtyard of the Sparta Archaeological Museum were photographed, drawn and studied.
Although the timeframe of the first phase of research was limited, the results can be characterized as absolutely positive. Suffice it to say that, apart from the protection of the material in situ, many members from the upper structure of the buildings of the Sanctuary, which are not included in the publications of E. Fiechter (“Amyklae. Der Thron des Apollon“, JdI 33, 1918, 107-245) and W. von Massow (“Vom Amyklaion“, AM 52, 1927, 1-85), were discovered. Moreover, it was possible to propose a graphic reconstruction of the circular Altar, thanks to Manolis Korres’s study of the only five parts, at present, for which measured drawings have been made. Given the fact that many of the members of the Altar are built into the fabric of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine churches of the region, we have already begun to explore the prospect of an at least partial future restoration of this monument.
Subject: Report of the works completed in 2006 at the Spartan Sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios. Pr. No. 1549/20.11.2006
In accordance with the decision No. YPPO/ GDAPK/ARCH/A2/F61/12813/417-1.6.2006 of the Department of Greek and Foreign Scientific Institutions, Organizations and International Matters of the Ministry of Culture, for the ongoing project in the Spartan Sanctuary of Apollo, Amyklaios the following work was accomplished:
- The continuation of the Peribolos (precinct wall) was sought in the north and the southwest part of the Sanctuary, with the cleaning and the investigation of three trenches opened in sectors A2, B2, N8 by E. Fiechter (1907) and E. Buschor (1925). During this work it was confirmed that the function of the Peribolos was essentially that of a retaining wall. It was constructed to a height of approximately 7 metres, in order to retain the large fills of the hill so as to facilitate the construction of the Throne of Apollo at the top. With regard to the continuation of the course of the Peribolos to the southwest (A2), the conclusions of earlier excavations were confirmed. However, the need to extend research westwards, in order to identify its relation to the contiguous wall of rubble masonry became clear. At this point, roughly 5 metres to the north (B2), the west end of a probably previous wall was revealed, a precinct wall perhaps, with parallel direction and corresponding orientation. The investigation of the north part to the west (N8) confirmed the continuity of its course, but the direction it follows is still to be determined. In the course of our research, a host of potsherds dating from the Sub-Mycenaean to the Archaic period, metal sheets and miniature vases – typical finds in other ancient sanctuaries – came to light.
- The built bench in the portico of the hilltop church of St Kyriaki was dismantled and 20 architectural members of the Throne and the Altar were retrieved, which were transported to the fenced space for protection. The dismantling of the bench revealed a large number of architectural members in the lower part of the wall of the church, built into the masonry in a second use. This called for the removal of the plaster and the careful cleaning of the exterior surface. The church of St Kyriaki was built between 1907 and 1920, with many of the marbles uncovered in Fiechter’s excavations (1904-1907), after the demolition of the earlier church, which covered the surviving part of the Throne’s crepis. It is planned that next year all the architectural members incorporated in the wall will be documented, photographed and drawn. It will be decided which of these members can be removed in order to be used in future restorations and whether the cleaning of the surface of the walls should be continued in the interior of the church. Lastly, the remodelling of the church, so that it does not “offend” the archaeological site will be examined.
- The new architectural members located and assembled during the works of 2006 fill in, together with the already studied material, the drawings of the circular stepped construction of the Altar, to which Manolis Korres had been led during the first phase of research in 2005 with less material available.
- The surviving part of the crepis of the Throne with the arch of the Christian basilica was fenced within the already expropriated area, so as to avoid temporarily new vandalizing of the marbles (with incisions, spray paint, etc.), until the final decision is taken regarding the enhancement and protection of the Sanctuary. To this end, the adjacent trees, whose roots have caused serious damage to the monument’s foundations, were felled.
- The architects Maria Magnisali and Themistoklis Mpilis continued the systematic documenting, measured drawing and photographing of architectural members from the Throne and the Altar, now gathered in the fenced area on Agia Kyriaki hill.
- The detailed documenting, measured drawing and photographing of architectural members originating from the monuments of the Sanctuary and now gathered in the internal courtyard of the Sparta Archaeological Museum, was continued and completed. Corresponding work for the many other members exhibited in the Museum or kept in its storerooms remains to be done.
- Manolis Korres located and made measured drawings of two monumental bases from the Throne in form of a lion’s paw, which presently support the lid of a Roman sarcophagus in the garden of the Sparta Archaeological Museum. These new discoveries reinforce the indications deduced also from other architectural members that the Throne designed by Bathykles was in the form of a monumental seat.
- The search for other architectural members from the monuments of the Sanctuary continued in the wider area of Sparta as well as in the storerooms of the archaeological site of Mystras.
Participants in the research work of 2006, which spectacularly increased our knowledge of the Sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios and the form of its monuments, were Professor M. Korres, architects M. Magnisali and Th. Mpilis, and archaeologist Dr Stavros Vlizos, accompanied by a team of six excavation workers.
Subject: Report of the works completed in 2007 at the Spartan Sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios. Pr. No. 1517/21.11.2007
In accordance with the decision No. PPO/GDAPK/ARCH/A2/F42/10140/370-16.7.2007 of the Department of Greek and Foreign Scientific Institutions, Organizations and International Matters of the Ministry of Culture, granting permission to continue research in the sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios in 2007, where it is defined that the project is carried out systematically by the V EPCA under the direction of Professor Angelos Delivorrias, the following works were carried out in the period between 20 August and 30 September 2007:
- The entire course of the monumental retaining wall (“Peribolos”) was revealed on the south side of the Sanctuary. Its east side was cleaned and its end was sought at the north side (Section X 7), where, however the excavation was not completed. Concurrently, the thickness and structure of this wall in its upper courses was revealed in sectors A3-A8, so that architect Themis Mpilis could make a measured drawing of the monument and the possibility of a future partial restoration could be studied (see fold-out). In the course of removing the landfill at this point, copious sherds of pottery, mainly of the Geometric period, were found, as well as two bronze statuettes of a standing male figure, of the same period, which were conserved in the laboratory of the V EPCA. It was confirmed that later repairs had been made on the east side of the Peribolos, using lime plaster, clay and small stones. The precise dating of these interventions will be attempted with the continuation of the research. Last, in order to facilitate the access of equipment essential for the works, a spacious passage was formed along the south side of the hill and three olive trees were felled.
- During investigation of sectors B3, G 2-3 and B5, the existence of a hitherto unknown retaining wall (W. 1) was confirmed. Built of rude stones and 1.80 m. thick, it probably dates from the Geometric period, as is deduced from the large quantities of sherds found in its fill. Its west end had been uncovered for a length of 1.50 m. in 2006. The large amount of stones found on both its inner and outer face indicates that it was a sizeable construction. As investigations in sector B5 have shown, its course curves slightly at this point in order to end at the southeast corner of the “Archaic” Peribolos, which will be confirmed by the continuation of the excavation.
- The documenting, photographing and measured drawing of the architectural members incorporated in the fabric of the church of St Kyriaki, as well as of architectural material from the monuments of the Sanctuary, now in the Sparta Archaeological Museum, continued.
- The fencing inside the area already expropriated by the Greek State was extended, so as to deter temporarily any damage or vandalisms of the marbles, until the final enhancement and protection of the sanctuary takes place.
- Photographing of the bronze finds from the earlier excavations was completed both in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens, and the Sparta Archaeological Museum.
- In December, the relevant decision No. YPPO/SYNT/F44/5091/109026-5.11.2007, granting permission to take samples from the stones of the Sanctuary’s monuments, so as to facilitate tracing the ancient quarries, as well as studying possible restorations, will be implemented.
A collaboration has begun with Professor Yannis Pikoulas, on searching for the access and the road that connected the Sanctuary with ancient Sparta.
Participants in the research work of 2007 were Professor M. Korres, architects M. Magnisali and Th. Mpilis, archaeologist Dr Stavros Vlizos, and a team of six excavation workers.
Pending works: Since the decision of the Ministry of Culture did not include the request for replacement of certain architectural members of the Throne and the Altar, which had been used as building material in the churches of Prophet Elijah and Sts Theodore in the village of Amykles (Sklavochori), these works were not carried out, even though the necessary funding had been secured. For the same reason, the plasters were not removed from the church of St Nicholas in Amykles, incorporated in the fabric of which, according to valid information, are many architectural members from the monuments of the Sanctuary.
Subject: Report of the works completed in 2008 at the Spartan Sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios. Pr. No 1695/18.11.2008
In accordance with the decision No. YPPO/GDAPK/ARCH/A2/F42/76784/2341-10.10.2008 of the Department of Greek and Foreign Scientific Institutions, Organizations and International Matters of the Ministry of Culture, regarding the ongoing research project in the Spartan Sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios, the following works were carried out in 2008:
- The measured drawing and the architectural study of the monumental external Peribolos was completed. Aim of these works, inter alia, is the possibility of a future partial restoration, and the detailed architectural study prepared by the architects Maria Magnisali and Themistoklis Mpilis. Concurrently, excavations to find the northwest end of this wall continued. In this sector (X7), the last surviving course of stones was put back in place on the preserved part of the foundation. Located in the same area (Sectors N3, X3-4) were traces from later constructions, a cistern and a drain in which the lower half of a Late Roman inscribed herm had been used as building material, and part of the stylobate of an Archaic Doric colonnade, from the architectural members of the Throne of Apollo. The remains of the later constructions should be associated with the poorly investigated Early Christian basilica, which Christos Tsountas had located in 1890. During removal of the fill of the Peribolos, abundant sherds were collected, mainly dating from the Geometric period, and in the later buildings two coins and a finger ring were found.
- The excavation was completed on the south side of the Sanctuary, aimed at revealing the previous, also monumental, internal retaining wall of the Geometric period (W. 1), of length 30 m. and thickness 1.80 m. Its dimensions as well as the large number of stones found fallen on both its inner and outer face, confirm that it is a construction of monumental size. During removal of the fill, apart from the abundance of pottery, mainly of the Geometric period, a large number of bronze objects of the same period was found, among which statuettes of a standing female figure and of a bull, an axe of small dimensions and a pin, which were conserved in the laboratory of the V EPCA.
- Systematic checking of the dump from Tsountas’s excavations, which ran along the east side of Agia Kyriaki hill, at a distance of 5 m. from the external Peribolos, was completed. With these works, a path 3.00 - 8.00 m. wide was formed, suitable even for the occasional visit and tour of the archaeological site. From the sieving of the soil, several finds were retrieved, among them a bronze bowl (phiale), fragments of roof tiles with stamped inscriptions in which traces of the words ΑΠΟΛΛΛΩΝΟΣ ΕΝ ΑΜΥΚΛAΙΟΙ can be detected, as well as parts of glass vessels from the Roman period.
- Professor Manolis Korres, in collaboration with the architects Th. Mpilis and M. Magnisali, thoroughly studied the limestone blocks of the colossal pedestal that supported the 13 m.-high cult statue of Apollo and had been reused in the foundation of the Early Christian basilica uncovered in sectors D 4, 6-7.
- The measured drawing, photographing and documenting of the architectural members incorporated in the fabric of the church of St Kyriaki continued.
- For the protection of the archaeological site, the expropriated area was fenced in its entirety, so as to deter temporarily any damages and other vandalisms, until the final enhancement of the Sanctuary is decided.
- The measured drawing, photographing and documenting of the architectural members deposited in the courtyard of the Sparta Archaeological Museum continued.
- Dr Kokkorou-Alevras, Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Athens and Dr G. Maniatis, Head of the Archaeometry Laboratory of the National Research Centre “DIMOKRITOS”, completed the works on locating and identifying the quarries from which the marble structural elements of the buildings in the Sanctuary came. Specifically, there are two quarries on Mt Taygetos, at the localities “Gynaika” and “Platyvouni”. Appended are the results of the preliminary examination carried out by G. Maniatis and D. Tambakopoulos. This research will be useful for finding the necessary material when the imminent restoration of monuments is decided.
- In the framework of research aimed at locating additional architectural members from the monuments of the Sanctuary, a database was created and the sites of the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine monuments in the wider area were plotted on a general map. This work is in progress.
- In October this year, the head of the excavation, Dr Stavros Vlizos, presented the conclusions of research over the period 2005-2008, in lectures delivered at the archaeological institutes of the universities of Mainz, Berlin, Bonn, Munich and Vienna.
Participants in the research works of 2008 were Professor M. Korres, architects M. Magnisali and Th. Mpilis, archaeologist Dr Stavros Vlizos, students Erna Müller and Sophia Nomicos (University of Münster), and a team of ten excavation workers.
Subject: Report of the works completed in 2009 at the Spartan Sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios. Pr. No .1327/27.10.2009
In accordance with the decision No. YPPO/GDAPK/ARCH/A2/F42/18142/673/18.9.2009 approval of the Department of Greek and Foreign Scientific Institutions, Organizations and International Matters of the Ministry of Culture, regarding the ongoing research project in the Spartan Sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios, the following works were carried out in 2009:
- A systematic surface survey was made of the top of Agia Kyriaki hill, aimed at locating possible traces (cuttings) of the foundation of the Throne of Bathykles in sectors E, H 4-9. Due to the particularly disturbed area and the absence of thick deposits, the survey was exceptionally careful, in order to locate and investigate the earlier excavation trenches opened by Ch. Tsountas (1890) and E. Fiechter (1907). Six shallow, unfurnished pit graves were found, of dimensions approximately 1.75 x 0.55 m., two likewise unfurnished tomb of dimensions 3.00 x 2.30 m. each comprising two chambers, as well as six empty circular pits of dimensions of 1.20 x 0.60 m., in two of which two obsidian flakes were found. An intact Early Helladic vase was collected from the fill and without context.
- Investigations were continued in the northwest part of the hill and in sectors M4, N3-7, X 3, 5, with the further excavation of the remains from Late Antique constructions brought to light last year. Traces of walls (W. 2, 3, 4) and of later constructions were revealed, along with two unfurnished cist graves (T1 and 2 in N5), of dimensions 1.70 x 0.55 m.. The capstone and the walls of grave 1 consisted of parts of architectural members from the Throne of Apollo, from which resulted, for first time, two intact architectural members of the monument (one dokis and one voluminous orthostat). Bones from eight skeletons were found inside the grave and permission was requested to transport these to a laboratory in Athens, in order to acquire anthropological and other information. A copper coin of the 6th century AD was recovered from the fill of the area where the later constructions meet the preserved part of the Peribolos.
- The conservation and mending of broken parts from five architectural members of the Throne gathered at the archaeological site was completed. Tubular scaffolding and a lifting device with a 6 m.-long horizontal beam were installed for the needs of the task. The work was done by specialist marble craftsmen under the supervision of the architect Th. Mpilis and in accordance with the international standards governing this kind of intervention, both with regard to the materials and the execution.
- The architects Maria Magnisali and Themistoklis Mpilis initiated a programme of test placements of the architectural members in certain ensembles of the monument. Aim of this work is the certain identification of the scattered material and its correlation with the extant ruin of the Throne. This work resulted in new data for the study of the representation of the Throne. Stones from the steps of a colonnade and the floor of the pteron were placed in groups, as well as of one wall of the monument with its euthynteria. Also, a test placement was made of correlated stones of the circular altar. Last, a model of the profile of the bases in the form of a lion’s foot was made and thus these particular architectural members, which are presently in the courtyard of the Sparta Archaeological Museum, were correlated with the steps of the Throne.
- The programme of immediate measures of preventive conservation of the Geometric Peribolos (W.1) was completed. This was mandatory for the direct protection of the ruin, which was frail and exposed to the environmental conditions of the area because of its construction and its position on the hill slope. The application was in accordance with the international established principles governing analogous archaeological works.
- The documenting, measured drawing and photographing of the new excavation trenches, of the architectural members as well as of this season’s finds continued.
- The digitalization of architectural drawings was continued.
- A geodetic or total station was used to create a dense network of benchmarks on the revealed remains, and the grid of the excavation sectors was applied in the field.
- Professor Manolis Korres, in collaboration with the architects Th. Mpilis and M. Magnisali, studied thoroughly the limestone blocks of the colossal pedestal that supported 13 m.-high cult statue of Apollo and had been reused in a later building (Sectors Δ-Ε 4, 6-7). During this work, bronze nails that held in place the metal plates which adorned the exterior of the construction were located. The stones were drawn in large scale, resulting in the more detailed approach to the form of the dismembered pedestal of the cult statue.
- The measured drawing, photographing and documenting of architectural members incorporated in the fabric of the church of St Kyriaki, as well as of the members in the storeroom of the Sparta Archaeological Museum, continued. For the church in particular, it should be noted that there are over 60 fragments in its walls! Many of them had been measured by E. Fiechter, the first scholar involved with the Throne, and had been included in his study of its representation. However, instead of being safeguarded, this material was fragmented and included as building material in the walls of the modern church of St Kyriaki in 1930. For the architectural members in the Sparta Archaeological Museum, the photographing and the measured drawing of the unseen surfaces of stones in the exhibition and in the storeroom are pending, since this work requires the moving of the material.
- A cadastral table, essential for buying the properties surrounding the archaeological site today, was compiled, aimed at the new mapping of the limits of the archaeological site, its protection and its enhancement.
- Steps were taken to purchase two properties, of the parish of Agia Kyriaki and of Mr Evangelos Tragkas, approximately 5 acres in total, which border the archaeological site to the north, for the sum of 12,500 euros.
- At the beginning of this year’s research, it was evident that the temporary fencing of the site had been violated and the walls of the church had been vandalized with slogans in red spray paint, which harmed also the built-in architectural members of the monuments. We cleaned the exterior surfaces of church and repaired and extended the temporary fencing, including the newly acquired areas that border to the north.
- In the framework of research aimed at locating further architectural members from the buildings of the Sanctuary, visits to sites of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine monuments in the wider area continued. This work is ongoing. Concurrently, and in accordance with the decision of the Ministry of Culture (YPPO) regarding this year’s work, the plaster from the small church of St Nicholas at Amykles was removed and repositioned again, leaving visible only the architectural members certainly from the monuments the Sanctuary. Stones from the Throne and the Peribolos of the Sanctuary were located and documented, and measured drawings were made of the outside of the small church.
- Entering of information into the database and its updating with those data resulting from the sum of the works carried out in the framework of the research project (excavation trenches, finds, architectural drawings, topographical data, photographs, etc,) continued.
- The head of excavations, Dr Stavros Vlizos, presented the conclusions of research over the period 2008-2009 in a lecture delivered in the Archaeological Institute of the University of Göttingen.
Subject: Report of the works completed in 2010 at the Spartan Sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios. Pr. No . 1738/22.11.2010.
In 2010 and in accordance with the decision No. YPPO/GDAPK/ARCH/A2/F42/97724/ 2959/29.8.2010 of the Department of Greek and Foreign Scientific Institutions, Organizations and International Matters of the Ministry of Culture, regarding the ongoing project in the Spartan Sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios, the following works were carried out:
- The surface of the top of Agia Kyriaki hill was surveyed systematically in sectors H-Θ 1-2, with the aim of locating possible cuttings for the foundation of the circular stepped Altar. The stratigraphy of the area was badly disturbed, due also to the earlier excavations by Ch. Tsountas in 1890 and Ernst Fiechter in 1907. The volume of soil removed, ranging in thickness from 0.20 m. to 1.00 m., belonged entirely to a layer of more recent fill, with many modern objects, such as nails, fragments of roof tiles, pieces of lime plaster and shells from bullets. Under this fill and over the whole excavated area, a compact layer of pebbles was revealed, in which no traces from the foundation of the altar are preserved. However, just as in the area of the throne, which was investigated last year, it was ascertained that this layer represents the upper level of the bedrock of the hill. Nonetheless, for the present the thickness of the overlying layer has not been verified. Along the east limit of sectors H-Θ 1-2 and at a distance of roughly 0.20 m. to the west, some of the lowest courses of stones and traces of the foundation of a wall orientated north-south were found. Its construction with large limestone blocks in second use and lime plaster as mortar, suggests a dating in Late Antiquity or the Early Byzantine period. The north end was located in the northeast corner of sector K2, where the excavation was extended to include also sector I 2. As was verified in sector K2, this wall is founded on two of the three empty circular pits that were found there, together with an empty cist grave. The excavated part of the wall is 20 m. long, 0.40-0.60 m. wide and of maximum preserved height 1.10 m.
- Between this wall and the east edge of sectors H-Θ2, three destroyed burials were located, of which only one partly preserves walls of rude stones. A little further to the west, two more circular empty pits were excavated, similar to the seven that had been found between the crepis of the Throne and the church of St Kyriaki during the works in the last few years. A fragment of an ivory plaque with representation of a female figure, of the Archaic period, was recovered from the recent fill of the southernmost pit. This is an exceptionally important find, the first known one of this category, which obviously had been an oversight of the previous excavations. In the southwest corner of sector I 3 and at the level of the foundation of the later wall, two intact architectural members from the Throne building were found, part of an entablature and a threshold, which were transported to the area where the architectural material is gathered.
- In order to unify the areas in which the two most significant buildings of the Sanctuary stood, the Throne and the Altar, as well as to continue the investigation of the hill top, the excavation was extended in sectors H-Θ3 and Z-H4. After the modern fill was removed, approx. 0.20 m. thick, the same compact layer of pebbles was revealed here too, with no traces of the foundation of any construction.
- In order to locate parts of the recently-found earlier Peribolos – retaining wall –of rude stones, as well as to answer questions regarding the dating of the already known Peribolos of big conglomerate blocks, the continuation of these walls was sought to the east, in sectors Γ 8-10, Δ9-10. Due to the nature of the terrain, that is the steep east slope of the hill, excavation was by no means easy. After the removal of the modern fill, the artificially levelled surface of the poros bedrock was revealed for a length of 25.00 m. and a width of 15.00 m.
- The construction of the two Periboloi at the lower level of the hill should be linked with all the interventions made in Antiquity, in order to create terraces, which are connected with its similarly formed south side. The two terraces surrounding the hill in a semicircle from south and east to north are approx. 5.00 m. wide and the maximum difference in height is 2.00 m. On the lower is the foundation of the later Peribolos with conglomerate blocks. Along the upper terrace ran a shallow ditch, 0.40 m. wide and 0.17 m. deep, from where a thin layer of yellowish grey clayey soil was removed, along with a large quantity of Early Helladic pottery and one intact, two-handled cup of the same period. The remaining excavated area was covered by a layer of contemporary fill, with sherds of Late Geometric pottery decorated with representations of human figures, a fragment of an Archaic cup with incised letters, an Archaic bas-relief ivory leg of a male figure with greave and holes for its attachment to a wooden surface, terracotta figurines of animals and other objects.
- On the northwest part of the hill, in sectors N 3-4, investigation of the remains of Late Antique constructions revealed in the years of 2008-2009 continued. The destruction layer, approximately 0.20 m. thick, with a host of fragments of roof tiles and some sherds of undecorated pottery, was removed from the west part of sector N 4. The revealed remains can be attributed to two buildings of unspecified shape and different chronological periods. What appears to be the earlier one, which is totally covered by the destruction layer, is founded on the bedrock of the hill. Indeed, it seems that it extended more to the west of the wall that crosses sectors N-Ξ 4 from south to north as central axis. During works in sector Ξ 4, in 2009, part of the north section of the excavated building and the wall had appeared, on the bedding surface of which sporadic traces of hydraulic plaster are preserved. Above the destruction layer, a floor was uncovered with square terracotta tiles and lime plaster, which must be related to the small, brick-built rectangular cistern and the drain in sector Ξ 4. This floor appears to belong to a second building, which extends into sectors N Ξ 4-5 and which, according to the inscribed herm of early 4th century AD found incorporated in the drain, is dated after the mid-4th century AD. On present evidence, such as the hydraulic plaster, the floor with terracotta tiles and the brick-built cistern with the drain, it may be assumed that there were water-collecting installations in this area in Late Antiquity.
- Directly westward, in sector N3, a tomb was revealed, comprising two chambers of dimensions 2.00 m. x 1.30 m. and approximately 0.70 m. deep, the outline of which had already appeared in 2009. In the lower part of its walls is a zone of medium-size and large rude stones, 0.40 m. high, above which are successive courses of bricks, stone slabs and lime plaster. This last material has also been used to cover the whole surface of the floor. Dark soft soil mixed with small and big stones, crumbled bones and many fragments of roof tiles were removed from the interior of the tomb, confirming that it had been excavated in the past.
- During 2010, the mending of fragments from architectural members of the Throne continued both at the archaeological site and in the storerooms of the V EPCA. Aim of this work is to restore the structural independence of the monument’s components. Titanium coils of different thickness were used, along with white cement (Portland type) and fine-grained quartz sand, while, wherever necessary, some plaster casts were made in order to complete the missing parts with new marble. Specifically, the following were mended:
- two (2) fragments from an orthostat of the Throne (No 28).
- three (3) fragments (No. 6 a, b, c) from an orthostat of the Throne (No A 09) completed new material.
- two (2) groups of orthostats with three (3) and four (4) fragments respectively (with various inventory numbers).
- four (4) fragments from the cornice of the Throne (Nos M5ABCD, Λ417-Λ416-Λ415, Λ395).
- two (2) fragments (No M20-M19) from the cornice of the Throne, with small completions in new material.
- three (3) s fragments from the sima of the Throne (Nos M3 ABCD).
- In addition, one stone from the circular stepped Altar was restored partially (No 18) with the necessary completion in new material and the two parts of the herm were joined, the lower part of which had been found in the 2008 excavations and the upper part was identified by Nasos Themos in the storeroom of the Sparta Archaeological Museum.
- The architects Maria Magnisali and Themistoklis Mpilis continued the test placements of architectural members in certain groups from the structural elements of the Throne and Altar that could be used for the suggestive enhancement of these monuments in the final configuration of the archaeological site. This work and the study of the relevant material yielded new data not only for the identification of scattered architectural members, but also for the representation of the monuments. In order to facilitate the works, two (2) flat platforms of dimensions 5.00 m. x 5.00 m. were created in the site.
- Gathered on one platform was material that constituted the Throne’s crepis, as it is presented in photographs from 1920 in the German Archaeological Institute, before its looting for the construction of the more recent church of St Kyriaki. Placed on the same platform were stones from an entrance, from the steps of a stylobate with the contiguous internal floor, and from a wall with its eythynteria. The restoration of a wall entablature comprising numerous stones, most probably from the east wall of the Throne, took place in the storeroom of the V EPCA. In order to correlate the walls and the colonnades of the Throne’s wings (ptera), the traces from the contact of the small beams with the wall entablature and the cornices were detected, investigated and interpreted. This work will allow us to calculate the width of one of the wings of the Throne, as well as to proceed to the graphic restoration of at least one of the groups of small beams, for which we do not have the initial length. Gathered on the second platform and assembled in test placement were some of the correlated stones of the circular stepped altar.
- Progress was made in the photographing, measured drawing and documenting of the architectural members incorporated in the fabric of the church of St Kyriaki, as well as of those in the Sparta Archaeological Museum. The fragments incorporated in the church, many of which had been measured, drawn and included in the study of the representation of the Throne by Ernst Fiechter, are more than 60. Instead of being safeguarded, this material was fragmented and used as building material in the walls of the modern church of St Kyriaki in 1930. For the architectural members in the Sparta Archaeological Museum, the photographing and the measured drawing of the unseen surfaces of stones in the exhibition and in the storeroom are pending, since this work requires the moving of the material.
- The study of the conglomerate stones composing the conch of the earlier church of St Kyriaki continued. Indeed, the hypothesis that they might have initially constituted a continuous foundation in the internal structure of the Throne, for the bearing elements of its walls and the pedestal of the cult statue, is being investigated. These stones were scattered when the later buildings revealed in sectors Θ-I 2 and N-Ξ 3-6 were constructed. Based on their difficult interpretation and the even more difficult interpretation and dating of the conch, some data may emerge on the destruction of the Throne and the pedestal of the cult statue.
- The excavation trenches, the architectural members, and the finds from this year’s work, were documented with drawings and photographs, which have been digitalized. For a more integrated mapping of the archaeological site and the works completed so far, the aerial photographing of Agia Kyriaki hill and the surrounding area was carried out by the photographer Kostas Xenikakis (cf. attached photographs).
- In 2009, in the framework of the research project and in order to facilitate the works in progress on Agia Kyriaki hill, the Benaki Museum undertook (in accordance also with the approval YPPO/GDAPK/ARCH, A2/F42/76784/2341/10.10.2008) the compilation of a cadastral table, which is essential for the expropriation of properties surrounding the site. Aim of this necessary work is the mapping of the new boundaries of the archaeological site, for its protection and final enhancement. In February 2010, the process of purchasing two (2) properties (fields), of total area five (5) acres, was completed; these are adjacent to each other to the east and belonged to the parish of Zoodochos Pigi Ribiotissa and to Mr Evangelos Tragkas. Concurrently, all required actions for their transfer and donation through the V EPCA to the Ministry of Culture were completed, while the process of purchasing an area bordering the archaeological site to the south also began. A rubble masonry wall of dimensions 20 m. x 1.50 m. x 0.50 m. was built along the new east boundary, in order to retain the earth from the excavations.
- Due to the reaction of the 5th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities in Sparta, of the Holy Diocese of Monemvasia and Sparta, and of the Association of Greek Archaeologists, it has not been possible to remove the architectural members from the churches of Prophet Elijah and Sts Theodore, despite the approval of the relevant study by the Central Archaeological Council in May 2010.
- On 1 October 2010, the director of the Amyklai Research Project, Professor Angelos Delivorrias, presented the conclusions of research over the 5-year period 2005-2010 in a lecture organized and hosted by the Cultural Centre of Sparta.
Subject: Report of the works completed in 2011 at the Spartan Sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios.
In 2011 and in accordance with the decision No. YPPO/GDAPK/ARCH/A2/F2/113171/1872/4.8.2011 of the Department of Greek and Foreign Scientific Institutions, Organizations and International Matters of the Ministry of Culture, regarding the ongoing project in the Spartan Sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios, the following works were carried out:
1. Investigations were continued in the north part of the sanctuary and specifically in the area between the ruins of Late Antique constructions and the church of St Kyriaki (sectors Μ5-7, Ι-Λ6-7), in order to locate other possible interventions. In sectors Μ5-6, south of the late building remains and at a very slightly higher level, a horizontal surface was revealed, the floor of which is covered by a fine coat of lime plaster. This flat surface is defined to the south by a cutting (width 1 m. and depth 0.20 m.) in the bedrock, which covers the south limit of sector Μ5 along its entire length and its continuation eastwards into sector Μ6. There, two roughly worked boulders were found in a crevice in the natural conglomerate rock. This cutting has been uncovered for a length of 7 m. and may well have been the foundation trench of a wall that defined the flat space towards the hilltop in sectors Μ5-6. The same space extends eastwards but in about the middle of sector Μ6 its destruction by subsidence was ascertained. Its west end, in sector Μ4, where additional excavations are pending (sectors Μ1-3), remains to be clarified.
At about the centre of sector Λ6 one more circular ditch was located and uncovered. In contrast to the others, it had been opened in the poros subsoil and not in the conglomerate mass of the hill. The walls are revetted with rude stones of medium size. The inside was covered with similar rude stones and soft yellowish-grey earth. Only at the lowest level was a layer of soft dark earth and ash, 0.15 m. thick, removed.
At the northeast corner of sector Ι6 and the southeast corner of sector Κ6, outside the north wall of St Kyriaki church and about half way along its course, the west part of the foundation of an apse was uncovered. The surviving part is constructed of rubble masonry, of small and medium rude stones with mortar of lime plaster and gravel. This unexpected find can be attributed to the apsidal building excavated by Tsountas in 1890 and destroyed during the building of the new church. In technique, shape and dimensions it is comparable to the apse surviving in a symmetrically corresponding position about 20 m. further south and abutting the crepis of the throne. The excavated area yielded a relatively small quantity of pottery, from prehistoric to Byzantine, two fragments of terracotta zoomorphic figurines and one Byzantine coin.
2. In order to unify the areas in which the two most important architectural constructions of the sanctuary, the throne and the altar, are located, as well as to continue investigations on the hilltop, the excavation was expanded into sectors Ζ2-4 and Η3-4. The stratigraphy here is badly disturbed, due also to the earlier excavation trenches opened by Christos Tsountas in 1890 and Ernst Fiechter in 1907. The volume of earth removed, ranging in thickness from 0.20 m. to 1.00 m., belonged entirely to the level of the later fill and contained many contemporary objects – nails, fragments of roof tiles and pieces of lime-plaster. Under this fill and over all the excavated area, except Ζ2, a solid layer of pebbles was revealed. As in the area of the throne, which was investigated in the past, it was observed that this layer represents the highest surviving level of the natural surface of the hill. Along the east edge of sectors Ζ-Η4, a long and narrow ditch, 1 m. wide and 0.50 m. deep, was revealed, which to the south meets the large limestone blocks set at right angle in the northeast part of sector Ε4. The north end of the ditch has yet to be explored. In the course of removing the layer of contemporary fill in sector Ζ4, two fragments of architectural members of the throne were identified, a Doric column capital and a slab of the stylobate with traces of a mortise.
Two (2) destroyed burials were found in sectors Ζ3-4, one preserving parts of rubble-masonry walls, while the other – in the middle of the south edge of sector Ζ3 – fragments of architectural members of the throne (cross-beams and orthostats). In the same area a further five (5) circular empty ditches were excavated, similar to those found between the crepis of the throne and St Kyriaki church during works in recent years. From around the circular ditch uncovered in about the middle of the north edge of sector Z3, several bronze tubular necklace elements, two shells and one faience bead were recovered. Particularly interesting among the finds gathered from the remaining area of the sector is a bronze object with four symmetrical protuberances (one missing), which are interconnected and end in snake heads, one fragment of the body of a Late Mycenaean wheel-made clay bull figurine, one sherd of a Geometric vase with a male figure from a representation of a dance, the fragments of a small Ionic column capital and a smooth shaft of a colonnette.
In sector Ζ2 the surface was inspected systematically in order to identify possible cuttings to receive the foundation of the circular stepped altar. However, the removal of the contemporary fill, so as reveal here too the same solid layer of pebbles or to show some traces of the foundation of the construction, was not completed. The layer of contemporary fill, 0.20 to 0.50 m. thick, yielded numerous sherds of Geometric pottery, two clay anthropomorphic figurines of the Late Mycenaean and Geometric period, bronze hair-rings (sphikoteres) and one stone bead.
3. To facilitate the future laboratory analysis, the final study and yhr resolving of issues relating to the dating of the five (5) burials found during works in 2009, in the area between the crepis of the throne and the church of St Kyriaki (sectors Ε-Ζ 5-6), the skeletons were removed and transported in special boxes to the storeroom of the V EPCA.
4. Trial trenches were opened on the southwest side of the monumental enclosure (peribolos)-retaining wall (sectors Α2, 3 and 6). This measure was considered necessary in order to reveal fully the structure of the wall, the foundation ditch and the surface of the bedrock on which it was founded, as well as to resolve issues relating to its dating. In sector Α2, outside the corner formed by the enclosure at this point, a flat limestone slab (2.30 x 1.20 m.) resting on the blocks of the monumental construction was removed. Under the slab and around the lowest corner block of the foundation, an L-shaped ditch was revealed, 1.30 m. long, 0.40 m. wide and 0.50 m. deep.
Inside the peribolos, within the spaces formed by the buttresses in the northeast corner of sectors Α2 and Α3, a layer of fill about 0.20 m. thick was removed, revealing the solid structure of the construction, the same as that already visible in the remaining part of the wall.
Two other trial trenches were opened for the same reasons. The first (dimensions 0.60 x 0.30 x0.50 m.) inside the enclosure and the lowest layer of its foundation in sector Α5, the second (length 1.50 m., width 0.60 m. and depth 0.30 m.) along the west edge of sector Α6 and outside the lowest surviving part of the enclosure. Both trenches yielded scant potsherds of the Geometric, Archaic and Classical periods.
II) Mending, restoration and trial correlations of architectural elements
During 2011 the mending of fragments of architectural members of the throne continued, both at the archaeological site and in the storeroom of the V EPCA. This task was carried out by the experienced marble craftsman Dimitris Lambrou, under the supervision of Themis Bilis and Maria Magnisali, and is aimed at restoring the structural integrity of the monument’s components. Titanium coils of varying thickness, white Portland cement and fine-grained quartz sand were used, while plaster casts were made, wherever deemed necessary, so as to complete the missing parts with new marble. Specifically, the following pieces were mended:
- one stylobate slab (column base) with a completion of small dimensions,
- two fragments of a cross-beam of the throne,
- two ensembles of ‘koronides’ (members of the superstructure) with two and three fragments respectively,
- cornice from four fragments which were mended in 2010 and one marble completion,
- furthermore, three steps of the circular stepped altar were restored partially with completions in new material.
The architects Maria Magnisali and Themistoklis Bilis continued the trial placements of architectural members in certain ensembles from the structural elements of the throne, which could be used in the final configuration of the archaeological site for the suggestive enhancement of the monument. From this work and the study of the relevant material, new evidence emerged not only on the identity of scattered architectural members, but also on the restoration of the architectural construction. For this purpose, the lower part of one column was moved from the storeroom of the V EPCA to the archaeological site and placed upon the step of the stylobate. This part, together with the already restored entablature of many stones upon the wall, in the V EPCA storeroom, will enable the calculation of the width of one of the wings of the throne and will facilitate the graphic, at least, reconstruction. Last, the two orthostats that were mended in 2010 were also placed on the same terrace.
Study of the conglomerate stones constituting the conch of the earlier church of St Kyriaki continued. The hypothesis that these may have originally formed a continuous foundation in the interior of the throne, for the load-bearing elements of the floor and the walls, is being investigated. These stones were dispersed when the later buildings brought to light in the north part of the archaeological site were built. Their interpretation and the dating of the conch may provide evidence on the destruction of the throne and of the pedestal on which the cult effigy (xoanon) stood.
Professor Manolis Korres completed the study of the large limestone blocks that had been placed in second use to the west of the crepis of the throne. His research led to a proposal for the restoration of the pedestal on which the xoanon of Apollo stood and which, according to Pausanias, enclosed the tomb of Hyakinthos.
The excavation trenches, the architectural members, as well as the finds resulting from this year’s works, have been documented, drawn, photographed and digitized. The photographing, measured drawing and documentation of the architectural members built into the walls of St Kyriaki church, as well as of those kept in the Sparta Archaeological Museum, continued.
In the Sparta Museum the exhibition of architectural members from the Amyklaion was rearranged, in order to examine more thoroughly the lower surface of the well-known architectural member (epistyle) with the incised inscription ΔΑΜΟΚΑΜΟΣ.
III) Other works
- A survey was carried out in a zone of mean width approximately 800 m. from the Amyklaion and northwards, parallel to the Sparta-Gytheion national road and east as far as the southernmost suburbs of modern Sparta (Magoulitsa torrent). Particular attention was paid to the beds of the intermediate streams (Μylopotamos, Skatias, Magoulitsa). The geographical coordinates of the area and the sites were defined with the help of two (2) portable GPS appliances (GPS) and the sites were recorded with digital cameras, without any collecting of finds. Ultimate aim of the research is to chart on the ground, at least by approximation, the course from the north of an ancient approach road to the Amyklaion. The collaborators of the Amykles Research Project, Giannis A. Pikoulas, Associate Professor of Ancient Greek History at the University of Thessaly, Dr Eleni Kourinou, Keeper of the Sculpture Collection in the National Archaeological Museum, are responsible for this survey.
- The most recent excavations in the sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios in Sparta brought to light a significant quantity of pottery from Early Historical times. Study of this material, by Dr Vicky Vlachou, confirms, contrary to earlier views, continuous use of the site during the transitional period from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age. Central issue of the study is to enhance the character of local pottery production and its place within the more general historical framework of the period. The identification of imported pottery at Amykles attests the sanctuary’s relations with other important centres of the period, such as Argos and Corinth. The pictorial representations, though fragmentary, offer significant information on the nature of cult in the early phases of the sanctuary.
- In the framework of studying the material collected in the course of the research project, a new database has been set up in MySQL by Dr Sophia Stamou. When a satisfactory number of entries has been made, the database will be available on-line (protected by a password) and its inventory will be transferred to the Benaki Museum server, with the possibility of access by all the agents involved. In order to achieve the above, groups of users will be defined with rights of access to and management of the database, which will be a pilot function on the Research Project website. Concurrently, it will be monitored at a technical and a functional level, improved and modified wherever deemed necessary.
- On 26 Μay 2011 a one-day scientific colloquium was organized in the Benaki Museum, on the subject: ‘The Amykles Research Project: Report of works 2005-2010’. At the meeting members of the research team presented all the evidence from the works and studies carried out to date in the framework of the project (see detailed programme at http://amykles-research-project.wdfiles.com/local--files/workshop2011/Workshop_2011_gre.pdf).
Participants in the research project in 2011, were Professor M. Korres, architects M. Magnisali and Th. Bilis, archaeologist Dr S. Vlizos, students David Biederman (University of Münster), Chrysovalantis Kanaridis (University of Munich), Niki Simitzi (University of Ioannina), as well as a team of 8 specialist workmen. Last but not least, we are grateful for the invaluable support of the V Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, and of the Sparta Cultural Hearth.
Subject: Report of the works completed in 2012
During the year 2012, in accordance with decision no. ΥΠΠΟΤ/ΓΔΑΠΚ/ΑΡΧ/Α2/Φ42/54670/675/15.6.2012 of the Ministry of Culture, the following works were carried out in the Spartan sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios:
1. The excavations of 2011 continued investigations in grid-square Κ6, revealing part of the foundation of an apse that abuts the north wall of the church of Saint Kyriaki. The surface on which the apse is founded was located and the stratigraphy of the surrounding area was studied. This apse is constructed of rude stones with lime plaster and gravel as mortar. It can be attributed to the triconch building excavated by Ch. Tsountas in 1890 and destroyed in 1907 by the works of E. Fiechter, and later by the building of the new church. From its shape, dimensions and masonry, it can be correlated with the apse that survives approx. 20 m. south, in symmetrical corresponding position, touching the preserved part of the crepis of the Throne.
In the southeast corner of the same grid square, the excavation reached down to the poros bedrock on which it is bedded, and in the southwest part to the solid surface of fine pebbles on the bedrock. Removal of the fill so as to reveal the natural surface in its entirety has not been completed. Nonetheless, in the excavated area a clear prehistoric level was found, from which a large quantity of pottery of the Early Helladic II period was recovered.
2. In order to explore systematically the natural surface of the hill, to unite the already excavated parts of the area in which the Throne is placed, and to locate cuttings in the bedrock to receive the foundations of this monument, the excavation was extended into grid squares Θ4-Κ4.
The stratigraphy turned out to have been badly disturbed by the earlier trenches opened by Tsountas in 1890 and Fiechter in 1907. The volume of earth removed, 0.30 m. to 1.80 m. thick, belonged to a level of later fill with many recent objects. Among these were three coins, one Venetian of the 18th century and two Greek of the 19th and the 20th century respectively, nails, fragments of roof tiles and lime plaster, pottery of various periods, from the Geometric to the Byzantine, and several miniature aryballoi. Under the recent level extends the familiar solid layer of pebbles. As in the area of the Throne, it was ascertained that this layer represents the upper level of the natural surface of the hill.
Along the length of the central N-S axis of grid squares Θ-Κ4, an oblong ditch 1.00-2.00 m. wide and 0.40-0.60 m. thick was found, perhaps relating to the history of the Throne. This is the northward continuation of the ditch that had been uncovered in 2011 in grid squares Ζ-Η4 and to the south meets the massive limestone blocks set at right angle.
The removal of the contemporary fill revealed large architectural members, most probably from the Throne, one conglomerate block of the under-foundation, two marble blocks and one marble beam, which had been discarded there after the breaking up of the monuments in the sanctuary.
The fill, mainly in grid squares Ι-Κ4, also yielded several other marble fragments, parts of the marble revetment (dado), of an antae capital and of a trapeza, as well as large sherds of a pithos.
Along the length of the ditch, three of the familiar circular pits were identified, empty and relatively shallow, similar to those found at other points in previous years. These too have been opened in the natural solid layer of fine pebbles on the hill, one near the south limit of grid square Θ4, the other on the south limit of grid square Ι4, the third at the south limit of grid square Κ4. A short distance from the west edge of this last square, a well of diameter approx. 1.00 m. was found. The contemporary fill was removed to a depth of 1.85 m., yielding a large quantity of domestic pottery, mainly Byzantine, as well as one rectangular bronze sheet of the Geometric or the Archaic period.
In the north part of grid square Ι4 and at a depth of approx. 1.30-1.80 m. below the present surface of the hill, beneath the solid layer of fine pebbles is the yellow porous bedrock. The later cutting of it to form a longitudinal trench, transverse to the central ditch running through grid squares Ζ-Κ 4, is clear.
The contemporary fill and the pockets of yellowish clayey soil were removed, but were devoid of finds. The opening of the trench should be associated with the excavations conducted here by E. Buschor in 1927 (Buschor E., Massow W. von, Vom Amyklaion, AM 52, 1927, 25-26, fig. 12). At the east edge of grid square Κ4 a fourth circular pit was revealed, of diameter 1.25 m. and depth 0.58 m., with sterile yellow clayey soil. Last, at the west edge of the same grid square, upon the natural conglomerate layer of the hill, the east part of an oblong grave, destroyed and disturbed, 0.86 m. long and 0.58 m. deep, with walls of small rude stones, was brought to light.
3. With the aim of exploring the area of the Altar, excavations that had begun from grid square Z2 in 2011 were resumed. In grid square Ε4, with the blocks originating from the pedestal of the cult effigy (xoanon) in second use, the level of the contemporary fill, 0.40 m. thick, was removed, without characteristic finds.
In grid square Ζ2 removal of the contemporary fill was completed, revealing over its entire surface the natural solid layer of pebbles. A large quantity of pottery was found, which is dated from Geometric into Byzantine times. Noteworthy among the numerically greater finds of Geometric painted pottery is an amphora fragment with representation of two nude male figures facing right and holding sword and spears. Interesting too are a sherd of the same period with depiction of a male figure, possibly in a representation of dance, several almost intact Geometric cups, many miniature aryballoi, bronze sheets and fragments of bronze objects, as well as two fragments of lead votive offerings in the shape of a wreath. On the natural conglomerate surface of the ground, two more circular pits were found, empty and relatively shallow. Last, worthy of mention are the sporadic traces of burning.
4. In order to reveal the structure of the monumental precinct-retaining wall to the north, so as to resolve open issues relating to dating, and to locate the continuation of the earlier corresponding wall of rude stones, the excavation was expanded eastwards into grid squares Θ-Ι 9-10, Κ10, Λ8-10, Μ8-9 and Ν7-8.
Along the west part of grid squares Θ-Κ 10 and Θ-Ι 9, after removing the contemporary fill of thickness 0.10 m. to 1.00 m., the manmade surface of porous stone was revealed over an area of maximum width 3.00 m. Here too the stepped formation of the natural ground is analogous to that on the east and south sides of the hill, verified in the excavations of 2010. This year’s excavation data demonstrate beyond doubt that these interventions are related directly to the successive building of the two periboloi.
In grid squares Θ9 and Ι9 it was ascertained specifically that the horizontal cutting of the rock shaped the upper level. Thus was formed the bedding for the foundation of one wall, length 5.60 m. and width 1.80-2.20 m., of medium-size rude and roughly-worked limestone stones, with earth as mortar. This wall follows the lie of the land along the N-S axis and curves sharply eastwards in grid square Θ10.
From the position, the structure and the relation of its construction to corresponding remains on the south side of the hill, it is certain that this is part of the Geometric retaining-cum-precinct wall, and indeed its north, probably reinforced, end. Its building is possibly related to the ditch, 1.60 m. wide and 0.30 m. deep, along the length of grid square I9, which was formed by cutting away the rock on the upper level.
Exactly the same formation had been uncovered in 2010, in the excavations conducted along the length of grid squares Γ-Δ 9 and Ε-Ζ 10. Yellowish grey clayey soil was removed from inside the ditch. The large quantity of mainly LH II pottery recovered from this fill indicates that it belongs to a purely prehistoric level.
Bedded on the second terrace, which is to the east and lower than the aforementioned one, with the almost vertical and then horizontal cutting of the bedrock, are the conglomerate blocks of the foundation of the monumental precinct-cum-retaining wall. Removal of the fill, varying in depth from 0.40 m. to 1.10 m., from grid squares Θ-Λ 10 revealed the internal structure of the foundation, of maximum width approx. 1.80 m., between the outer course of blocks of the under-foundation and the bank of the artificially formed surface of the bedrock. This is a construction of large and medium-size conglomerate and schist stones, more commonly limestone, rude and roughly worked. Their systematic placement along the length of the east limit or diagonal to this in grid squares Ι-Κ10, presents a more irregular arrangement to the west.
The stratigraphy of the fill in the grid squares in this area is badly disturbed. This is due on the one hand to ancient and recent interventions, and to slippages of material from the upper surface of the hill after the collapse of the peribolos, and on the other to the levering of the soil by the roots of trees that existed there. In grid squares Θ-Κ 10, in the space around the part of the Geometric peribolos uncovered, the fill contained pockets of soft brownish yellow earth with a remarkably large quantity of prehistoric pottery, mainly of the EH II period. Noteworthy is the similarity of these finds to those recovered from the purely prehistoric level in grid squares Γ-Δ9 and Ε-Η10, during the 2010 excavations. The rest of the fill yielded pottery of various periods, from prehistoric to Byzantine, as well as a few contemporary artifacts. Outstanding are four fragments of clay zoomorphic figurines, the lower part of a Mycenaean figurine of Psi type, a sherd of an Archaic pithos with relief representation of a chariot, several sherds of Orientalizing Corinthian pottery of Archaic times, an intact ovoid ribbed aryballos, part of a terracotta probably architectural member with relief spirals and small crosses, as well as two fragments of obsidian.
In order to reveal in full the external course of blocks, as well as the internal structure of the foundation of the monumental peribolos, the excavation was expanded into grid squares Λ-Μ 8-9 and Ν7-8. In this area the peribolos curves to the northwest, inside grid square Λ10.
The fill, ranging in thickness from 0.25 m. to 1.70 m., yielded pottery of Geometric and prehistoric times, and a handle fragment of an Archaic pithos with relief decoration of meander pattern. Concurrently, certain rectangular conglomerate blocks of the outer side of the peribolos and a pile of medium-size rude stones on the inside were revealed.
It is possible that this pile of stones is related to the ‘filling in’ of the inner side of the peribolos, given that after its removal the artificially cut, steeply sloping bedrock, as well as the rude stones placed systematically or irregularly along its length, from the internal structure of its foundation, were revealed.
The pottery recovered is exclusively Late Mycenaean and Geometric, now a decisive datum for dating the monumental peribolos to Archaic times.
B) Mending, restoration and trial correlation of architectural members
This season’s works at the archaeological site included the mending of fragments of architectural members of the Throne. Carried out by the marble technician Dimitris Lambros, under the supervision of the architects Themistoklis Bilis and Maria Magnisali, aim of this measure is to restore the structural self-sufficiency of the monument’s components. The materials used were titanium coils of assorted cross-sections, white Portland-type cement and fine-grained quartz sand. Wherever deemed essential, plaster casts were taken, in order to complete the carving in new marble of the completions of missing parts.
The architects continued the trial placements of architectural members in certain ensembles of structural elements of the Throne, which could be used in the final presentation of the archaeological site for the at least indicative enhancement of the monument. From the processing and study of the material new data emerged, not only relating to the identification of dispersed architectural fragments, but also to the at least graphic restoration of the monument. For this purpose the following pieces were transferred from the storeroom of the V Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities: the shafts of columns inv. nos Λ410, Λ408, Λ402, Λ407, the capitals of the antae inv. nos Λ 428, Λ421, parts of entablatures inv. nos Λ400, Λ409, Μ10 (study cat. no.), of cornices inv. nos Λ415-6-7/ Λ385, Μ19-20 (study cat. no.) and of crownings inv. nos Λ379, Λ368, Λ275, and the sima inv. no. Λ411.
The excavation trenches, the architectural members, as well as all other finds resulting from this season’s investigations, have been drawn, photographed and digitized.
C) Other works.
In the framework of studying the material gathered in the course of the research project, the electronic database was updated. It is planned to make the database available on the Internet, facilitating on-line access for all agents involved.
For the fullest mapping of the archaeological site and the works carried out to date, aerial photographs were taken of Agia Kyriaki hill by the photographer Costas Xenikakis.
Subject: Report of the works completed in 2013
Excavations started in previous years, with the aim of investigating the subsoil in the northwest part of the sanctuary, were expanded in 2013 into grid-squares Κ 3-6, Λ 2-5, Μ 2-4, Ν 1-3, Ξ 1-2. The procedure was particularly careful, due to the absence of thick fill, and the stratigraphy proved to be considerably disturbed by the earlier excavation trenches opened by E. Fiechter (1907) and E. Buschor (1925).
The volume of soil removed, ranging in thickness from 1.10 m. to 1.20 m., belonged to a later fill containing many recent objects, among them nails, broken roof tiles and lime-plaster fragments, as well as pottery of various periods, from the Geometric to the Byzantine. Below the recent fill extended the familiar surface of the yellowish porous bedrock. As in the area of the Late Antique buildings, the layer was ascertained to represent the upper level of the natural surface of the hill.
At about the midpoint of the upper level of Agia Kyriaki hill, the natural interface between the geological stratum of the pebbled surface in the south half and the solid porous surface in the north was revealed, running diagonally east-west. This interface, in which the north wall of the church is also founded, meets almost at right angle a cutting in the pebbled surface immediately east of the church. In all probability this cutting belongs to the subfoundation of the Throne and extends correspondingly into grid-squares Ι-Θ 8. That is, the straight line it forms for a length of about 20 m. meets at its south end and at right angle the imagined eastward projection of the existing part of the krepis of the Throne. The excavated area yielded a small quantity of pottery of all periods and a fragment of a palmette antefix of Hellenistic times.
At the point of contact between grid-squares Κ-Λ 5, a wall was revealed (l. 1.60 m., th. 1 m. and h. approx. 0.60 m.), constructed of small and medium-size fieldstones, tile fragments and lime plaster. Both the technique of its construction and the composition the plaster refer to the eleventh century AD, that is the same period as the two apses found respectively south of the krepis and north of the church.
An undisturbed archaeological level of yellow argillaceous earth, rich in prehistoric pottery mainly of the Early Helladic period, was removed from exactly above the solid porous bedrock in grid-square Κ 6 and the east part of grid-square Κ 5. This fill should be related to the Early Helladic settlement and the earliest use of the hill. Indeed, in the course of removing the level from grid-square Κ 5, a rubble-masonry wall of medium-size fieldstones laid in a course was uncovered, parallel to the north wall of the church of St Kyriaki. This careless construction, about 1.50 m. long, most probably belonged to a house in the Early Helladic settlement. Likewise, in grid-square Κ 6, on the natural solid fine-pebbled level of the hill and along the length of the north wall of the church, two semicircular shallow pits were found, similar to those uncovered at other points in previous years.
At about the centre of grid-square Κ 5 a rock-cut rectangular construction orientated northwest-northeast (l. 1.95 m., w. 0.54 m., depth 1.20 m.) was brought to light. Its walls, 0.30 m. thick, are of schist slabs, mud-bricks and mortar, coated with greyish-white plaster creating exceptionally smooth internal surfaces. From these features the construction is possibly identified as a cistern, even though its typology would not rule out the possibility that it is a tomb. The fill removed from its interior was disturbed and contained a considerable quantity of Byzantine glazed pottery. Also found in the interior was half of a worked marble plaque (l. 1.28 m., w. 0.94 m. and th. 0.10 m.), as well as the fragment of one other plaque from the bedding of a Doric column of the Throne (l. 0.17 m., w. 0.13 m., th. 0.04 m.).
In the area between the church and the corner formed by two conglomerate boulders known from earlier excavations, specifically at the point of contact between grid-squares Κ-Λ 3-4, a cavity in the bedrock (l. 10 m. and w. approx. 2.50 m.) was uncovered. This is due on the one hand to ancient and later interventions, and on the other to the levering of the soil by the roots of the trees that grew there. However, the opening of it should be associated mainly with the excavations conducted here in 1925 by Ε. Buschor (Buschor E., Massow W. von, Vom Amyklaion, AM 52, 1927, 25-26, fig. 12). The stratigraphy of the fill in the grid-squares in this area was particularly disturbed. A cist grave, without grave goods, with schist capstone and orientated north-south (l. 2.47 m., w. 0.80 m., depth 0.32 m.) was unearthed at the centre of grid-square Λ 3. Constructed of schist slabs and tile fragments, its north edge has been cut in the porous bedrock. It dates most probably from Byzantine times and three adult skeletons were found inside it.
In the wider area to the west and northwest of the church, six relatively shallow figure-eight and semicircular pits were located, their interior disturbed by later fill.
Along the south side of grid-squares Μ 2-5, under the recent fill, a wall of overall length about 15 m., maximum width 1. m. and, standing to a height of 0.50 m. was uncovered. It is constructed of small and medium-size fieldstone, tile fragments and lime-plaster mortar. The technique brings to mind the two apses, south of the krepis and north of the church, as well as the aforementioned wall in grid-squares Κ-Λ 5. These constructions are related chronologically and could be dated to the eleventh century AD. It should be noted that the wall in grid-squares Μ 2-5 is patchily preserved. However, in those parts that have not survived its foundation trench cut in the natural porous bedrock is visible. Its west end was located in grid-square Μ 2, while in grid-square Μ 5 its southwards turn at right angle can be seen. From there the continuation of the south branch was followed for a length of 1.10 m. inside grid-square Λ 5.
North of this particular wall, five shallow circular pits were found, the interior filling disturbed by later fill. The westernmost pit, at the junction of grid-squares Μ-Ν 1-2, is about 1 m. in diameter and constitutes the south limit of a wall that extends northwards. This wall, approximately 6 m. long and 1.40 m. thick, is constructed of roughly-dressed small and medium-size fieldstones of conglomerate and limestone, with earth as mortar. The technique of its construction recalls the inner structure of the Archaic precinct wall (peribolos) of the sanctuary, with which it is very possibly contemporary. It runs parallel, at a distance of 6.30 m., to the Roman wall in grid-squares Ν-Ξ 3. In all likelihood these are the two sides of the entrance to the sanctuary, the position of which in this part of the hill was expected, also for geomorphological reasons. To the north of the west wall, a destruction level was found, consisting entirely of roof tiles. These could be interpreted as attesting that the sanctuary entrance was in the form of a roofed propylon.
The propylon must have been destroyed and abolished in the Early Byzantine period, as deduced from the existence of two graves in the middle of the entrance.
Surely one of the most important results of researches at Amyklai is the discovery in the northwest part of the hill of the westward continuation of the monumental peribolos of the sanctuary. And this because it refutes earlier hypotheses on its horseshoe plan and on free access to the sanctuary from the west side. This section of the peribolos, about 5 m. long, was located at its point of contact with the north end of the west wall of the entrance. Orientated north-south, it was revealed to a height of two courses, about 1.50 m. thick, and is constructed of roughly-dressed large conglomerate fieldstones. Directly west of and abutting it, part of the subfoundation of one other robust construction was excavated, which appears to occupy a square area of side approx. 4.50 m. (fig. 5, white square). In all probability this is a building that reinforced the peribolos and the entrance to the sanctuary.
In grid-squares Π 3-4, Ν 8, Μ 10, Z-H 11, A 8, -A 8, A 5 excavation trenches were opened along the length of the passage immediately outside the Archaic peribolos-monumental retaining wall encircling the hill of Agia Kyriak on its north, east and south sides. Aim of these works was to uncover the foundation trench of the precinct wall along its visible exterior flank and to resolve issues relating to its dating.
Found in the excavation trenches in grid-squares Π 3-4 was a Byzntine wall (l. 2.60 m., th. 0.50 m.) that had already been located by Ε. Fiechter in the early twentieth century and is constructed of small fieldstones and roughly-dressed stones.
In grid-squares Ν 8 and Μ 10 fill disturbed by later interventions was removed, of maximum thickness 1.10-2 m. Uncovered at a depth of about 0.90 m. in grid-square Ν 8 were three of the four cement bases of the recent metal water-tank that had been removed from the site in 2005, in the course of clearing operations. The ancient level below these included a small quantity of Early Helladic and Geometric pottery with parts of zoomorphic and Psi-type Mycenaean figurines. The bedrock on which the Archaic peribolos stands slopes steeply northward here (to a depth of 0.90 m.-1.10 m.), ruling out the existence of a passage.
This situation is observed also in grid-square Μ 10, where the surface of the bedrock slopes northward to a depth of 1.35 m. to 2.10 m. Furthermore, it was ascertained that in the southeast corner of the grid-square, between the two sections of the peribolos that meet there, there is a void about 0.50 m. long. Thus it is deduced that these two sections of the peribolos are independent of each other (peribolos section Α: grid-squares Μ 9, Ν 8, peribolos section Β: grid-squares Ι-Κ-Λ 10).
Nonetheless, the existence of a passage outside the peribolos is confirmed in grid-squares Ζ-Η 11. Here and for the entire width of the trenches, the flat surface of the cut porous bedrock in which the Archaic peribolos was founded, was exposed directly after the removal of the surface layer of the modern fill, at a depth of about 0.30 m. Indeed, the outside of the peribolos in grid-square Ζ 11, with the visible disturbance of the masonry, generates the hypothesis that at this point, where the curved end of the preceding Geometric peribolos also terminates, an entrance must have existed.
The existence of the same Archaic passage over the entire width of the present terrace outside the peribolos is confirmed on the south side of the hill too. Specifically, in grid-squares Α 5, Α 8, -Α 8, as well as in grid-square Α 2, the flat surface of the cut porous bedrock, of maximum width 7 m., appears. Particularly notable are the finds from grid-square Α 5, as the stratigraphy has not been disturbed by later intervention. On the north side of the trench the courses of the subfoundation of the peribolos are bedded in the first level of the ancient fill, approx. 0.15 m. thick, which contains Geometric and Archaic pottery. Beneath this is the second level, approx. 0.10 m. thick, with pottery of prehistoric, Protogeometric and Geometric times, while the lowest third level, 0.60 m. thick appears, yielded exclusively pottery of the Early Helladic and the Middle Helladic period. Found in the second level were sporadic concentrations of ash and one bronze Geometric warrior figurine (h. 0.10 m.).
The picture from grid-square Α 8 is similar. Along its north flank was revealed a large number of fieldstones defining the continuation of the trench southwards. At the centre of the adjacent grid-square –Α 8, the concentration of randomly fallen fieldstones mixed with ash and plaster points to some later intervention in the space and disturbance of the stratigraphy down to the level of the Early Helladic pottery.