Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Archeologists discover huge ancient Greek commercial area on island of Sicily

Date:
November 15, 2011
Source:
University of Bonn
Summary:
The Greeks were not always in such dire financial straits as today. German archeologists have discovered a very large commercial area from the ancient Greek era during excavations on Sicily.

Archeologists opening a kiln. Dr. Gabriel (with white hat) moistens the earth with a red water syringe, in order to better recognize the layers.
Credit: Copyright Martin Bentz/Uni Bonn

The Greeks were not always in such dire financial straits as today. German archeologists have discovered a very large commercial area from the ancient Greek era during excavations on Sicily.

Led by Professor Dr. Martin Bentz, archeologists at the University of Bonn began unearthing one of Greek antiquity's largest craftsmen's quarters in the Greek colonial city of Selinunte (7th-3rd century B.C.) on the island of Sicily during two excavation campaigns in September 2010 and in the fall of 2011.

The project is conducted in collaboration with the Italian authorities and the German Archaeological Institute. Its goal is to study an area of daily life in ancient cities that has hitherto received little attention.

"To what extent the ancient Greeks already had something like 'commercial areas' has been a point of discussion in expert circles to this day," said Bonn archeologist Dr. Gabriel Zuchtriegel, a research associate who coordinates the Selinunte project together with Dr. Jon Albers from the Institut für Klassische Archäologie der Universität Bonn at the Chair of Prof. Dr. Martin Bentz. "A concentration of certain 'industries' and craftsmen in special districts does not only presuppose proactive planning; it is also based on a certain idea of how a city should best be organized -- from a practical as well as from a social and political point of view, e.g., who will be allowed to live and work where?" The University of Bonn excavations are now contributing to finding a new answer to such questions.

Huge kilns, used communally

Concentration in a certain city district applied primarily to potteries in Selinunte, which were massed on the edge of the settlement in the very shadow of the city wall. "Consequently, their smoke, stench and noise did not inconvenience the other inhabitants as much," explained Dr. Zuchtriegel. "At the same time, this allowed several craftsmen to use kilns and storage facilities together." The excavations showed that the potters joined cooperatives that shared in the use of gigantic kilns with a diameter of up to 7 meters. The craftsmen's district in Selinunte probably stretched for more than 600 meters along the city walls and is thus among the largest ones known today. The excavations are in the hands of faculty and students from Bonn and Rome -- and they are exhausting. For excavations go on in August and September, when the heat reaches its peak -- but in exchange, there is very little rain.

"This work is a challenge for all involved," commented dig manager Bentz. "This is no camping trip." But for students, it is a great opportunity to learn archeological methods by doing. The Bonn researchers were surprised to find even older remnants of workshops under the 5th c. kilns. While these finds have not been completely excavated yet, indications are -- so the archeologists -- that pottery workshops existed in the same location during the city's early phase in the 6th century B.C. This means that craftsmen were probably intentionally housed on the edge as early as during the design of the city, which was -- like many colonies -- planned on the drawing board.

Reconstructing the past

The finds from the craftsmen's district are not exactly treasures, but they are still valuable for reconstructing the past. In the early phase, widely ranging finds of clay vessels, tiles and bronzes -- among them also imports from Athens and Sparta -- indicate that living and work quarters were housed together. Over the course of the 5th century, the two areas were separated increasingly.

"We hope to improve our understanding of that in future," said Prof. Bentz. But so far, he continued, little was known about the social conditions prevailing during the founding of a colony. What was certain is that often, it was hunger and need that drove settlers to emigrate and found a new city. Why and under what conditions some of them became potters, other farmers, and others yet rich landowners who could afford to participate in the Olympic games -- these are questions that the excavations can shed some light on.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bonn. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Bonn. "Archeologists discover huge ancient Greek commercial area on island of Sicily." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111114093411.htm>.
University of Bonn. (2011, November 15). Archeologists discover huge ancient Greek commercial area on island of Sicily. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111114093411.htm
University of Bonn. "Archeologists discover huge ancient Greek commercial area on island of Sicily." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111114093411.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Japan Celebrates 'bullet Train' Anniversary

Raw: Japan Celebrates 'bullet Train' Anniversary

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) — A ceremony marking 50 years since Japan launched its Shinkansen bullet train was held on Wednesday in Tokyo. The latest model can travel from Tokyo to Osaka, a distance of 319 miles, in two hours and 25 minutes. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Battle of New Orleans Cannon Gets New Carriage

Battle of New Orleans Cannon Gets New Carriage

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) — A Spanish cannon used in the Battle of New Orleans and weighing nearly 3 tons was lowered Tuesday by pulleys, chains and muscle onto a new gun carriage like one that might have held it once aboard a navy ship. (Sept. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) — A 2,000 year-old Pre-Inca cloak that is believed to represent an agricultural calendar of the Paracas culture is on display in Lima. Duration: 00:39 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) — Considered lost for over two centuries, the original manuscript of one of the most famous works of Mozart's Sonata in A major has been uncovered in a library in Budapest. Duration: 01:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins