In 2011, the fieldwork lasted from 3 to 28 October and it has been a new period of cooperation, on the basis of agreement between University of Warsaw and Parco Archeologico di Eloro e della Villa del Tellaro e delle Aree Archeologiche di Noto e dei Comuni Limitrofi. The excavations are led by dr Roksana Chowaniec and dr Lorenzo Guzzardi.
The excavations in 2012 has been possible thanks to the grant of National Science Centre (N N109 104940), directed by Dr Roksana Chowaniec, as well as private sponsors.
The first season of excavations based on earlier geophysical survey. First of all the area of site has been covered by an archaeological grid (divided into kilometres, hectares, area and 5 x 5 squares). Next, based on earlier geophysical survey, two trenches have been marked out and opened: trench no. I (20x5 m) and trench no. II (10x5 m).
The trench no. I has been situated in the central part of town, to the south of main road (plateia), partly discovered in the excavation in 70s of XX century, which passing from West to East. This place has been chosen on the basis of careful studying of geomagnetic maps, which suggest the existence of ancient structures and some anomalies correspond to the remains of stenopoi and insulae. In this area series of parallel linear anomalies aligned SE-NW also have been notice.
The trench no. II is located as well in the central part of town, however at the end of plateia. The location of trench in this place is connected with irregularity in the urban plan and streets grids in this part of the town. Here the main road sharply changed course, differs from the East-West axis and turns to NW. Some additional modifications in the urban plan were also visible in the layout of partly discovered buildings structures, which are different in that area than in eastern part of the town. Therefore we would like to investigate how and why it changed and in which functioning phase (Greek or Roman) of Akrai. Because Akrai as town is known just only from the public buildings (a theatre, buleuterion, fragments of agora and temple, part of plateia) till now, the excavations, started in both units in 2011, have to help to reconstruct the grid of city streets and buildings, as well as organization of town in the living area in particular phases of town evolution.
The first season of regular excavations gave many artefacts and few important information about archaeological structures in the Late Roman Period in Akrai. The superficial stratum in trench I has been strongly mixed, therefore found relics have been dated to different chronological periods. It could be observed a high intensity of clay finds: pottery, bricks, roof tiles (both tegulae and imbrices), lamps. The pottery has been represented by amphorae, tableware and kitchenware, e.g. from Greek black glaze pots, Thasian amphora from Hellenistic period, amphora type Dressel 20 dated to the first half of the 1st c. AD to the terra sigillata ARSW f. 59 dated to 320-420 AD. First of all however have been found: red and orange wares with the light slip (a percentage of all pottery finds: 30.9%), brown kitchen ware (17.1%), terra sigillata (7.2%), amphora type Dressel 1B (0.6%), light amphorae (3.3%), black glaze pots (9.2%) and red glaze pots (1.3%). (The pottery, discovered in 2011, was processed and identified by Marcina Matera from the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Warsaw).
Besides that numerous fragments of glass, mostly dated to the late Roman Period, metal artefacts (41 coins, belt buckles, pins, lumps of lead used in construction) and other artefacts (spindles of bone, fragment of marble vessel, etc.), have been found. The stratum has been filled with stones (also with broken stones and fragments of architectural decorations), especially at the area of are 65/sq. 1–2, where under that fall the remains of top part of wall number 2 have been discovered. Stratigraphically and structurally, this upper uncovered part of wall could be dated to the Late Roman Period, but surely with at least Middle Roman foundations. This construction passed from the NE to SW.
The next layer has been more homogeneous in clay finds (red and orange wares with the light slip – 25%; brown kitchen ware – 25%; terra sigillata – 20.8% and pink table ware – 12.5% and accumulations of amphorae), although were found also dissimilar fragments of pottery (black glaze pots – 4.2%), but also many fragments of bricks, roof tiles, lamps. During taking off the cluttered stones next stone wall (no. 3) has been uncovered This construction is perpendicular to wall no. 2 and probably would form the corner of the house building (?).
Among the most interesting finds in this layer could be mentioned two of them: an incensory (inv. no. AKI/3-189), coloured in white with red and yellow painted decoration and as well a fragment of terracotta with elements of triglyph, tenia and regula, which could be identified as a small altar.
The layers in trench II were completely various from the layers in unit I. Mainly the un-regularly accumulations of stones have been discovered. A few fragments of clay finds have been recorded there, mostly: pottery and some pieces of lamps. In layer no. 2 the pottery has been represented by red and orange wares with the light slip (16.6%), orange table ware (50%) and light table ware (33.3%). Among the remarkable finds in this trench are fragments of terracotta with stamped decoration in the form of circles and short slashes, as well as terracotta female figurine dressed in gown (dress?) and remains of veil, probably a chthonic deity. This stratum could be interpreted as secondary usage of previous constructions (probably Greek and Roman) in period dated to 4th–5th c. AD. This chronology could be also confirmed by 10 coins (all of the 12 in layer no. 2).
dr Roksana Chowaniec
Institute of Archaeology
University of Warsaw
Krakowskie Przedmiescie 26/28
PL 00-927 Warszawa
tel. +48 22 5522827
fax.+48 22 5522801