Naxos of Sicily in the 5th Century BC: New Research

Maria Costanza Lentini, Jari Pakkanen, Apostolos Sarris

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The fifth-century BC orthogonal city grid is the best-known and most-researched aspect of urban Naxos, the first Greek colonial foundation in Sicily. The recent excavations at the crossroads of plateia A and stenopos 11 and the area of the shipsheds have resulted in a wealth of new data. The topographical work carried out since 2012 has resulted in the first georeferenced plan of the city. This work has now evolved into a three-way collaborative fieldwork project between the Archaeological Park of Naxos and the Finnish Institutes at Athens and in Rome which will result in a thorough revaluation of the whole urban territory. Archaeological investigations undertaken in 2001 and 2003–2006 concentrated on two different sectors of the city: the north and the east sides of the Schisò peninsula. In the first the unique complex of fifth-century shipsheds was discovered immediately to the north of the most likely location of the city agora. The new survey of Naxos integrates what is previously known about the topography of the ancient town and the layout of the modern city with a first systematic total station measurements of the archaeological remains. The first campaign of geophysical prospection was carried out in 2014: magnetic gradiometry, electrical resistance and ground penetrating radar were used and the last method produced most consistent results. Small-scale test trenches have been excavated to verify aspects of the city grid and targets identified in the geophysical surveys. The urban space is defined by three wide streets or plateiai running approximately in an east to west direction and they are at regular intervals intersected by a series of narrower stenopoi. The preliminary preparations for the setting out the urban plan in the first decades of the fifth century BC involved systematic dismantling of the sixth-century structures. The orthogonal grid counts in every aspect as a re-foundation of the city: it cancelled the original colonial plan and removed all traces of previous urban identities and properties. The second post-460 BC urban phase with attested modifications of the house plans and restoration is best attributed to the return of exiles after the fall of tyranny in Syracuse.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGreek Colonisation: New Data, Current Approaches
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the Scientific Meeting held in Thessaloniki (6 February 2015)
EditorsPolyxeni Adam-Veleni, Dimitra Tsangari
Place of PublicationAthens
PublisherAlpha Bank
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)978-618-5072-16-2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

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