In 1996 and 2001, we excavated as far as possible the street that gives access to the Upper Agora at its northeast corner. We intend to use this in the future to bring visitors to the Upper Agora by means of the original entrance. We began excavating in the Northeast Building on the southern side of this street in 2002. We continued this work in 2003. Excavation of the building, a row of shops accessible from a colonnaded street in the south, mainly revealed its most recent occupation. However, the northwestern part of the building originated in the early imperial period, as indicated by the structure of its walls.
In its origin, the Northeast Building can be related to the layout of the Upper Agora in Augustan times. At some point its back wall was re-arranged in order to accommodate a second floor level. The complex was newly conceived with shop facilities possibly at this very stage. Most likely during the aftermath of the earthquake around the turn of the sixth century, the shops were re-arranged as an arcaded complex behind a continuous corridor. In its final stage, the shop spaces were walled up and used for rubbish dumping. Stratigraphic analysis indicates that the building has seen further substantial damage as a result of the mid-seventh century earthquake, but that it possibly saw a final attempt at reconstruction, after which the building was abandoned and covered with erosional material.
During the 2004 season we intend to continue to excavate the inside of this building, toward the east, in order to accomplish the following:
- Establish its original nature and corresponding stratigraphy. The building could have been a kind of archive, a stoa-like structure or even a public fountain. It may have been associated with the Augustan re-arrangement of the Upper Agora. In none of the exposed rooms have we already reached the original floor level.
- Find additional inscription fragments of the Hellenistic, supposedly "royal" letter. Since the latter is still incomplete and since the two preserved fragments had clearly been built into the late Roman structure, other fragments might be found inside the Northeast Building.
- Document the subsequent chronological and functional changes to the Northeast Building up to its final occupation phase in the seventh century A.D.
- Document the subsequent chronological and functional changes to the colonnaded street in front of the shop complex, which in early Byzantine times accommodated a cistern.
- Perform contextual analysis on the content of the shop spaces.
See plan of the Upper Agora.