Research Methods and Aims
The research area of the project extends over the whole plain between the plateau of the Hellenistic city, the aforementioned two rivers and the coast. The first phase of investigations covering the years 2015 and 2016 was dedicated primarily to non-invasive research methods: systematic intensive survey (directed by Dr Kristina Winther-Jacobsen, assisted by Giorgos Giannakopoulos and Zoe Spyranti/Ephorate of Antiquities of Corinth), several methods of geophysical investigation (directed by Prof Wolfgang Rabbel and Dr Harald Stümpel/University of Kiel as well as Burkart Ullrich/Eastern Atlas, Berlin), geological coring (directed by Dr Wieke de Neef, assisted by Nikolaas Noorda/University of Groningen) and remote sensing (by Dr Jamieson Donati). This phase served the purpose of locating the core of the settlement, of delimiting its extension, and of identifying special structures like city walls, the acropolis and the separately fortified harbour, the street grid, major public or religious spaces and buildings, living quarters and industrial and workshop areas. The fact that most parts of this plain, and particularly the most promising ones, are not covered by modern settlement proved very fortunate for this purpose. The rich agricultural activity, however, mainly fruit orchards often fenced in, as well as the fact that much of the plain is covered by thick alluvial sedimentation complicate the investigations. From 2017 to 2019, excavations are envisaged in order to investigate certain structures and buildings revealed by non-invasive research, to retrieve chronological information and to gain more material evidence concerning the urban and cultural life of Old Sikyon. Through both phases, field research will be complemented by ancient historical and philological expertise (Dr Thomas Heine Nielsen/University of Copenhagen).
The primary foci of the project are the identification of the precise location of Archaic and Classical Sikyon with its acropolis and harbour, to investigate its urban fabric and cultural remains and to verify if life there in fact stopped short in 303 BC or if it continued for a while on a smaller scale. This, however, is intended to serve the greater purpose of answering general questions about Archaic and Classical urbanism, as it is a very rare case that a major Archaic and Classical polis was given up at a clearly defined date and never overbuilt afterwards, neither by later ancient, nor by larger medieval or modern settlements. Moreover, the archaeological investigation of Old Sikyon will allow us to evaluate the accounts of the written sources on this very active centre of art against the seizable archaeological remains and thus to evaluate their reliability. Finally, it will inform us about the structure and organisation of a famous centre of art and culture in comparison with other such centres like Corinth and Athens.