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Finding Old Sikyon

Carlsbergfondets ”Semper Ardens” forskningsprojekter

What

The project aims to explore the ancient Greek city of Sikyon, which was Corinth's western neighbour on the north coast of the Peloponnese. In Archaic and Classical times, Sikyon was a famous centre of arts and crafts, particularly of sculpture and painting. In 303 BC, the city was destroyed and rebuilt on a plateau close by. While this new site is well-known, the site of the old city has never been clearly identified. It is supposed to lie in the plain east of the plateau, whereupon according to literary sources its acropolis was, and had a separately fortified harbour. The primary focus of the project is to identify the location and extent of the city and its harbour, to analyse its urban fabric and cultural remains and to verify if life there in fact stopped in the end of the 4th c. BC.

Why

By exploring Ancient Sikyon, the project will uncover the remains of one of the most famous centres of art and culture in ancient Greece and make them known to the public. It will inform us about the structure and organisation of this also politically and economically important city and will allow comparison with other such centres like Corinth and Athens. Moreover, the project's results will mirror the accounts of the rich written sources on Sikyon in seizable archaeological remains and thus to evaluate their reliability. Finally, the project is intended to help to answer general questions of ancient urbanism, as it is a rare case that a major Archaic and Classical polis was given up at a specified date and was never substantially overbuilt afterwards.

How

The research area of the project extends over the whole plain. The first phase of investigations (2015-2016) was dedicated primarily to non-invasive research methods: remote sensing, intensive survey, geophysics, and augering. This served the purpose of locating the settlement, delimiting its extension and identifying special structures like city walls, the acropolis and the harbour, the street grid, major public or religious spaces and buildings, living quarters, and workshop areas. From 2017 to 2019, excavations are conducted in order to investigate important structures revealed by non-invasive research, to retrieve chronological information and to gain material evidence on the cultural, public, cultic, and private urban life.

SSR

Studying ancient civilisation leads us to the origins of our own culture, the roots of modern democracy, the meaning of art in different contexts, and thus may have considerable influence on present-day society. Studying ancient urbanism means analysing the main infrastructure of ancient civilisation in this way understanding and improving modern processes of urbanisation, infrastructure and society. By continuing a Danish research tradition on Ancient Sikyon that is by now 100 years old, the project enhances collaboration with cultural institutions in Greece, a nation facing severe difficulties at the present time, and supports archaeology and research in this country.