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Halkidiki: Large ancient cemetery with over 1,000 graves unearthed

The ancient and modern history of Halkidiki, buried in the earth came to light and revealed over 1,000 of ancient graves on the peninsula of Kassandra and Sithonia. The touristic development can overshadow its archaeological wealth, but thanks to it, one of the largest cemeteries of the northern Greek area was revealed. The Agios Ioannis Coast of Sithonia hid more than a thousand burials of different types with numerous finds of an extensive cemetery of antiquity.

Over a thousand burials of different types and numerous findings have been unearthed in recent years on Sithonia’s Agios Ioannis coast.

The excavation surveys (2018-19 and 2020) by Halkidiki and Mount Athos Antiquities Ephorate archaeologists Eleni Lambrothanasi, Despoina Vovoura and Charikleia Koromila revealed graves from the 10th to the 5th century BC.

The graves were discovered when contractors began digging in the area, after the purchase of the property for the construction of a tourist unit.

 

The burials include amphorae, burial cases, pit latrines and a sarcophagus that testify to the burial practices of the wider region of Halkidiki from the Iron Age to the early Classical period.

 

Excavation in a plot of land where soft recreation facilities would be developed along the beach brought to light a number of tombs, mostly untouched, in a dense arrangement in a sandy and marshy layer, dating from the 10th to the 5th century BC.

Burials in pithos up to two meters high and amphorae inside stone enclosures, burial cases, built cist, pit graves and a sarcophagus bear witness to the burial practices of the wider area of Halkidiki from the Iron Age to the early Classic times.

The grave “gifts” that were saved were also rich. Clay vessels in the shape of the beetle and the krater, cauldrons, skyphos, amphorae and teats, figurines, bronze and iron jewelry accompanied the dead.

The first indications (132 burials) of the existence of an important necropolis had been brought to light by earlier investigations (K. Romiopoulou, 1977, E. Trakosopoulou, 1984-1988) which, with the new excavation data, raise the number to 1,044 graves.

Despite the three excavations, explains Lambrothanasis, it remains unknown to which ancient settlement the cemetery belonged. The first estimates probably refer to the settlement of the island of Kastri where in 1977 researches brought to the surface prehistoric and archaic building remains.

The continuation of the excavation will possibly provide the answers for his identification that archaeologists have been looking for for years.

More on the ancient graves in Halkidiki on daily kathimerini in Greek.

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