Abstract: The archaeological exploration of Sikyon: a comprehensive approach to the study of a Greek city-state

Lecturer: Yannis Lolos

Sikyon, an ancient Greek city in the northern Peloponnese, was famous for its artistic excellence, particularly in sculpture and painting. The earliest excavations carried out on Sikyonian soil aimed precisely towards recovering works of art. More systematic excavations in the late 19th century and during the first half of the 20th century focused on the center of the city and the discovery of major architectural monuments, namely the theater and the palaestra complex by the agora, and a temple, a bouleuterion and a long stoa within the agora. However, viewed in isolation, these monuments tell us little about the structure and evolution of the city (asty) and its territory (chora). The extensive regional survey and the intensive urban survey conducted under my directorship over the last 15 years came to address these central issues by mapping and examining a large body of material remains. Thanks to this work, we are now in a position to document the human presence and activity in the city-state from the earliest times to the modern era.

Within the city, intensive surface and geophysical survey over approximately half of the intramural area of some 250 hectares yielded rich information on the urban plan, the habitation pattern, the sacred areas, the industrial sectors of the city, the contacts of the Sikyonians with their neighbors and the outside world, and the evolution of the city from the early Hellenistic to the Ottoman era. Beyond the city, the survey documented the existence of major roads that connected Sikyon to its neighboring states and the rest of the Peloponnese, as well as various defensive works that dotted the territory and protected its borders and settlements. A large number of settlements, their overwhelming majority previously unknown, was mapped. They range from simple farmsteads to towns, and span some seven millennia from the middle Neolithic to the early modern period. In addition, ample traces of agricultural and various industrial activities were found across the countryside. Finally, the parallel examination of the archaeological evidence produced from surveying the city and its countryside allows us to investigate many aspects of the center - periphery relationship across the centuries.

 

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic (for lay reader):

Y. Lolos, Land of Sikyon: Archaeology and History of a Greek City-State [Hesperia Supplement 39], Princeton 2011 (in print).

Sikyon Survey Project: http://extras.ha.uth.gr/Sikyon

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