Unexpected archaeological finds in Halkidiki

Agrepavli (3rd-6th century AD) in Polychrono, where the cemeteries of the ancient city of Aigi were located.

The pensioner Anagnostis Anestidis walked his dog, as he did every morning, on the beach of Fourka. It was the day after a severe storm hit Kassandra, the westernmost peninsula of Halkidiki in northeastern Greece. The sea had calmed down, but the huge waves of the previous night had left scenes of devastation on land.

Walking along the coast, Mr. Anestidis, just a few meters from his house, saw a statue lying among stones, wood, branches, sand and earth. He tried to pull it out of its muddy position, but it was too heavy. He then tied it with a rope, dragged it to his house, and without a second thought called it the Ephoria of Antiquities of Halkidiki and Mount Athos.

“I found a female statue,” he said, judging by her hair. As archaeologists later discovered, the statue was part of an archaic marble kouros (a free-standing statue, usually of a naked man). It is moderately well preserved, smaller in size than usual examples, but, as ancient kouroi are rare in Macedonia, it is considered an exceptional find.

The kouros wasn’t the only unexpected find in this corner of Greece. Extreme weather events in Fourka in the fall of 2020 and 2021 brought to the surface the ruins of an ancient pottery workshop, similar to the kiln from the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic periods found in the nearby town of Mendi. Removal of sand during the storms revealed the upper part of the kiln and a number of ceramic pots, including fragments of Hellenistic trade amphoras from the so-called “Pameniskou group”, which was spread across the wider area of old Moroni.

An image of the oven adorns the poster of the 34th meeting (online again this year) for archeology in Macedonia and Thrace (March 10-11), which will present, in addition to the discoveries of Fourka, the rich harvest of movable and real estate finds that have been rescued from various residential development projects on the Kassandra Peninsula. Salvage excavations at hotel construction sites, on private seaside plots and next to modern settlements have revealed antiquities at Athytos, Kallithea, Kriopigi, Polychrono, Paliouri and Sani, confirming that the area of Halkorikos has an unbroken history from ancient to modern times.

The finds come from both well-known ancient towns and villages and newly revealed locations on the peninsula. Among them is the ancient Afitis. Founded by Eretrian settlers during the period of Greek colonization (mid-8th to mid-7th centuries BC), Afitis flourished until the Roman occupation and remained in the same location until today. Excavations on private land at Athytos, at the center of the modern settlement, have revealed the remains of a building and part of a cobbled street (5th century BC), while at the west were excavated tombs (from the 5th to the first half of the 4th century AD) of the old cemetery with rich funerary furnishings (clay and bronze vessels, gold, silver and bronze jewelry, sticks, figurines and children’s toys) in burials mainly of young people and children.

A seaside villa dating from Late Antiquity, with a peristyle courtyard and a bath, was also unearthed during excavations of two coastal plots at Polychronos, on the site of the cemetery of the ancient city of Aigi. The settlement was probably owned by a wealthy Roman citizen of Cassandria, a Roman colony in which land had been distributed to veteran soldiers.

The removal and displacement of part of a building of a Hellenistic agricultural complex, revealed by the construction works of a hotel unit at Xyna in Kanistro Paliouri, was carried out by the local archaeological services. The old building is now kept in another location within the hotel facilities.

Antiquities have also been discovered during excavations at Kallithea, where the famous shrine of Zeus Ammon is located. At Mikri Kypsa, south of Sani, scattered residential remains from the late Roman and early Christian periods have been discovered over an area of ​​nine acres, while at the Kriopigi settlement, archaeologists have found 13 tombs from a cemetery up to ‘then unknown 4th century AD. , containing coins, unpainted vases and bronze jewelry.

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