Iron Age house from the 10th-9th century BC discovered in Athens

Archaeologists uncover the earliest Iron Age house in Athens, shedding light on early Greek history and social structures.
Kavita Verma
Iron Age home at Thorikos, Attica, Greece,
Wall corner and door jamb from an Iron Age home at Thorikos, Attica, Greece, dating from the tenth to the ninth centuries BC. At the base of the walls were layers of stones, and on top were air-dried mud bricks.

Thorikos Archaeological Project Gent-Göttingen  

The earliest Iron Age house in Athens has been discovered by archaeologists from the University of Göttingen in Thorikos, Greece, under the Thorikos Archaeological Project Gent-Göttingen

Since there have never before been any building structures from this time period discovered in Attica, this find provides fresh insight into the early history of Greece. The continuation of the excavations is being supported by around 82,000 euros by the Gerda Henkel Foundation.

Unprotected settlement in a coastal area

The ancient village is 60 kilometers south of Athens, close to a historic silver mine. The region is home to Mycenaean dome tombs and a classical settlement with homes, businesses, temples, a theater, and graveyards. 

It should be noted that the hamlet was only 20 meters above the seashore, indicating no immediate threat from the water at the time. The safer hilltop plateau was more than 100 meters high and wasn't populated until the 8th century BC. Geophysical research uncovered a tomb from the fifth century BC on the southeast slope.

A surprising finding

2019 saw the discovery of an uncovered wall corner that, at first glance, appeared to point to a traditional tomb building. However, additional investigation showed that it was a building from the 10th to 9th centuries BC, not a burial site. 

Researchers have been looking into the building's size for the past year and have located five to six rooms. Numerous stones were in the largest room, which could have once been a paved courtyard. Its use between approximately 950 and 825 BC was substantiated by analysis of the inorganic and organic characteristics of the rocks.

The presence of grain-grinding stones suggests that the building once served as a residence. The rooms' intricate layout suggests a highly developed civilization or a well-established social structure. 

Additional scientific investigations will shed light on whether animal breeding occurred at the location and whether silver ore, which is pretty standard in the region, was mined during that time.

With the money received, a thorough excavation and in-depth scientific and archaeological analysis will be performed on the unusual discovery. For the planned holes in July/August 2023 and 2024, the Universities of Göttingen and Ghent in Belgium will work together. With these efforts, it is hoped that more and more strings about the Iron Age settlement and its importance to Greek history will be untangled.

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