Unique archaeological find in Thorikos

Iron Age house of the 10th-9th century BC in Thorikos (Attica/Greece): Courtyard
Iron Age house of the 10th-9th century BC in Thorikos (Attica/Greece): Courtyard with adjacent rooms. Photo: Thorikos Archaeological Project Gent-Göttingen

Archaeologists from the University of Göttingen have discovered the earliest Iron Age house in Athens in Thorikos (Greece), south of Athens. This is an important, unexpected and unique finding for early Greek history: building structures from this early period, from the 10th to the 9th century BC, have never been excavated anywhere in Attica before. Now the Gerda Henkel Foundation is funding the continuation of the excavations with around 82,000 euros.

The ancient settlement is located in the area of ancient silver mining, 60 kilometers south of Athens. Here you can see Mycenaean domed tombs and a classical settlement with dwellings, production facilities, sanctuaries, the theater and tombs. The unprotected location only 20 meters above the sea coast is remarkable - at that time there was obviously no danger from the sea. It was only in the course of the 8th century BC that settlement activity shifted to the safe hill plateau, which is over 100 meters high. After geophysical investigations of the southeastern slope, the scientists found a grave from the 5th century BC.

In 2019, an uncovered corner of the wall initially pointed to a classical burial structure. -But it turned out that there was no burial there before, but a building of the 10th to 9th century BC,- says Johannes Bergemann, director of the Archaeological Institute of the University of Göttingen. Last year, scientists further explored the extent of the building and identified five to six rooms. In the largest room, numerous pebbles still lay in association, suggesting a paved courtyard. An analysis of inorganic and organic features of the rock confirmed a use from about 950 to 825 BC.

-The presence of grinding stones for grain indicates a function as a dwelling house. The differentiated structure of the dwelling house speaks either for a complex society or already a developed social hierarchy-, according to Bergemann. -Naturalistic analyses will show whether there was animal husbandry here and whether the silver ore typical of the area was mined during this period.-.

This unique find will now be fully excavated, archaeologically and scientifically studied and analyzed with the funding received. The excavations will be continued together with Ghent University (Belgium) in July/August 2023 and 2024.