The Athenian Agora’s 2008 Season: Preliminary Results
Workers at the Agora site
Excavations were carried out in the Athenian Agora from June 10th to August 1st, in the summer of 2008. A team of 62 individuals participated, about 50 employed in actual excavation, the rest as interns in conservation, architecture, and amphora studies. Twenty-three American colleges and universities were represented in the volunteer team, along with 7 foreign countries. It is a pleasant duty to record here some of the preliminary results, along with our thanks and appreciation for the efforts of so many individuals. Excavation funding was provided by the Packard Humanities Institute, whose support is also gratefully acknowledged here. Panorama of Stoa Poikile area. Our efforts concentrated on the building identified as the Painted Stoa. Both the back wall of the building and the interior colonnade were explored and found to be well-preserved at this eastern end of the stoa. Though built largely of limestone, the workmanship on all the blocks of the superstructure is of the highest quality; this was one of the handsomest secular buildings of ancient Athens. The back wall has limestone foundations on which three full toichobate blocks and part of a fourth remain in situ. The blocks measure 1.205 m. long by 0.325 m. thick, by 0.915 m. high and were originally joined with double-T clamps, now missing. The tops are finished with a claw chisel.  The backs are well dressed with a drove and there is a rebate along the bottom, 0.09 m. high and 0.01 m. deep. Each block also has a lifting boss preserved. Back wall of the Painted Stoa from inside, toichobate and orthostate at rear, earlier foundation in foreground. Detail of the back of the orthostate of the Painted Stoa Within the building we exposed parts of the two easternmost interior Ionic columns. The western of the two survives only in the form of the foundations, consisting of two poros blocks set side-by-side.  The eastern column is better preserved, consisting of a square limestone base or plinth, measuring ca. 0.88 m. on a side (ca. 0.30 high, by calculation), supporting a large cylinder of marble, 0.18m. high and 0.79 m. in diameter. On top of this is the unfluted limestone shaft of the column itself, 0.59 m. in diameter, preserved to a height of 0.50 m. There are a limited number of Ionic bases used by the Athenians in the first half of the 5th century BC and the canonical Attic/Ionic form was not standard at this period. The closest parallel for the simple marble cylinder as a base, with a limestone shaft, can best be found in the peristyle columns of the late 5th century Pompeion at the Kerameikos. Interior Ionic column of the Painted Stoa, with later blocking wall (to left of column) as described below Peristyle of the Pompeion in the Kerameikos A rubble wall was found running southwest from the easternmost column, 0.60 m. thick and preserved to a height of 0.60 m. It rests at about the level of the original stoa floor and may well represent a late blocking of the interior colonnade. Such closings of stoa colonnades in the late Roman period are relatively common. Legislation concerning them appears in both the Theodosian Code (XV) and the Codex Justinianus (I and VIII). Other examples in the Agora can still be seen west of the Royal Stoa and were also found in the northern stoa of the Library of Pantainos.   Further exploration of both the east end and the middle of the Stoa is planned for the 2009 season.