Wednesday 17 March 2010

The Ancient Stone carrying road from Pentelikon to the Acropolis comes to light

A part of the road followed in the time of Pericles by Athenians transporting the marble used to construct the Parthenon has come to light after excavations were carried out of private property.

Τμήμα της διαδρομής που ακολουθούσαν κατά τον Χρυσό Αιώνα του Περικλή οι Αθηναίοι για να μεταφέρουν τα μάρμαρα του Παρθενώνα,αποκαλύφθηκε ύστερα από ανασκαφή σε ιδιωτική περιουσία «E» 12/3

The Famous road of Lithagogia (Stone Transporting), the road that during the Golden Age of Pericles carried marble of mt Penteli to the city of Athens, is revealed in Halandri [a northern suburb of Athens]. The archaeological digs bring a second portion of an important part of the ancient world to light: the road which was used to transport the marble uses to construct the Parthenon.

Until a year ago the Lithagogia road was shrouded in mystery, as its route was not proven but only supposed.

In January 2009 at no 133 of Pentelis Avenue, between Parnitha, Messinia and Laconia streets, and about 80 meters from the Halandri stream - following an excavation on private property the road dated to the classical period was unearthed.
Photo: Β. Zisopoulos, Ethnos.

The archaeologists believed it to be the ancient Lithagogia road, while a second excavation, which is underway covering a surface of about 200 meters, show that the scientists are on the track of the road that played an important role for transport in the ancient world.

It should be noted that the use of the road is believed to have been dense during the summer, and, based on the quantity of the marbles uses to build the Parthenon and the short time it was actually built in, it is probable that at least 15 cart loads covered the distance from Pentelikon to Athens per day and an equal amount of empty carts made the reverse journey.

As the archaeologists in charge stated to to the Ethnos newspaper "it is still early, but everything shows that it is part of the same road, a continuation of the previous finds. Until today we imagined that the road was to be found on this spot. Finally the theories are confirmed".

They explain that the road was unearthed by private citizens digging the foundations of a new building; the construction company which is going to build here has already expressed a wish to keep the finds exposed, covered by a protective glass cover.

The professor of Architecture at the National Metsoveio Polytechic School, mr. Manolis Korres, had tried based on geomorphologic and archaeological observations to define the course of the Lithagogia road. As is evident today, the maps that he had composed and are published in his book "From Pentelikon to the Parthenon" were exact!

As is shown there, the Lithagogia road followed the Halandri stream, following the Ethnikis Antistasis road and coming close to the course of Kifisias Avenue, passed through what is now the National Gardens and, crossing the northern slope of the Acropolis ended at the sanctuary of the Nymphs at an altitude of 96 m.

According to mr. Korres, the Lithagogia road was downhill for almost all its course, something that facilitated the transport of the marble, while its total length of 17.4 km, just 1 km. longer than a straight line between the points of start and arrival.

According to him, at the frontier between the municipalities of Vrilissia and Melissia there was a bridge of five arches over which ran the Lithagogia road, while according to his observation "the original narrow country roads that once ran through the empty spaces of the little villages, like Halandri, Koukouvaones or Arakli (today Palaio Herakleio), are as a rule incorporated or in various ways transformed through the indescribably irregular, but not hazardous plan of this roard".

During the previous excavation at the no 133 of Pentelis Avenue, the ancient road had been uncovered to a length of 19.70 m. and a width of 3.30 m. To its two sides supporting walls were found, which held up the road, while close by barriers against flooding wre uncovered. Amongst the finds were a lead weight, a cover of a nail and a stamped amphora handle, bearing the image of an oinochoe.

Source: Katerina Rovva, Ethnos, 12.03.2010

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