The Apollo Klarios Sanctuary: Aims 2008
Atop an artificially enlarged hill west of the Lower Agora, the remains of a late antiquity church are visible. It was obviously constructed with reused architectural elements from the Augustan Temple of Apollo Klarios on the same location. An architectural survey was carried out here in 1988 and in 2005 the first archaeological test soundings were made in the northern transept of the church. The difficult terrain conditions required larger-scale excavations, which we began in 2006, starting in the east: in the apse, the southern transept and the eastern ends of the northern and central nave.
In situ elements of the temple were scanty. Based on the architectural fragments found in the area (from a reconstruction phase of the temple dated to A.D. 102-103), the temple was built as an Ionic peripteros with 6 by 11 columns on top of a temple podium. The temple was surrounded by a temenos wall with several gates, giving access to the sanctuary from different directions. The remains of this sanctuary indicate that it was changed several times throughout its existence. It probably wentr out of use by the end of the fourth century, and when a tripartite Christian basilica with a length of 31.30m and a width of 16.60m was constructed, the earlier remains must have been completely erased. This late antique church was not destroyed by the late sixth-early seventh century earthquake that seems to have levelled large parts of the city. A concentration of burials in the area to the south of the church, can be associated with a Mid-Byzantine occupation of the area (tenth-thirteenth century A.D.) when the church no longer functioned as such.
The main construction phase of this elite house dates to the fourth-early fifth century A.D., whereas part of the building goes back to the first century A.D. After the fourth century, the mansion was rebuilt and restored at various times. Around the middle of the sixth century, the house was probably subdivided in smaller apartments, and some of the originally most luxurious parts of the villa got a rural function. All evidence suggests that most of the mansion was no longer occupied when it was finally destroyed by an earthquake in the period A.D. 540-620.
For the 2008 campaign, these are the most important aims:
- Excavations inside the Church will continue at the westernmost part of the monument, inside its atrium and narthex and around the supposed entrance, in order to establish the appearance of the route once followed by churchgoers. In addition, we wish to verify whether or not the builders used the favorable location of the structure by replacing the western wall of the atrium with an open colonnade, from which one could look over the western area of the town.
- Further research of some new questions concerning the evolution of the graveyard site:
- To check the impression that the burial area was directed toward the east rather than to the west and that previous walls were modified in function of the burial practices, by connecting last year's excavation area with the area excavated in 2005, where the first burials were discovered
- To proceed farther south in order to investigate whether the cemetery also extended in that direction, or whether the "temenos wall" formed the southern border of the cemetery precinct
- To check the hypothesis that, according to the bioanthropological report of last year, men, in contrast to woman and children, were buried closer to the church, because of reasons of prestige and importance. For that purpose, newly discovered human remains will be compared with the remains of last year.