CULTURE

The ground of Thessaloniki continues to reveal treasures of its glorious past

The new archaeological site in the area of Foinikas in Pylaia, Thessaloniki, has revealed an exquisite monument, one of the oldest and most impressive examples of a Macedonian tomb from the period before Christianity. This monument was discovered in the spring of 1987 in a location which was traversed by a section of the eastern ring road. It was, however, protected by a small makeshift bridge, recently replaced by more suitable shelter. The site around the tomb has been redone, and has now become an impressive construction of poros stone and glass bricks which also contains displays of finds from the dig, as well as explanatory material on the location and history of Macedonian tombs in the region. According to archaeologist Maria Tsimbidou-Avloniti, the Foinikas tomb was constructed in the last quarter of the fourth century BC and was intended for someone of rank – possibly a head officer of the Macedonian army – and his wife. Its facade is imposing and influences of the Doric order can be seen in all their splendor. The interior of the chamber is dominated by two altar-shaped pedestals – colorfully adorned and set on spectacular rectangular bases – which have survived the ravages of antiquity thieves. The site is open to the public every Saturday from 9.30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and although it has been in operation since last June, the official inauguration by Minister of Culture Evangelos Venizelos will take place this coming Saturday. What is especially interesting about this event is that it highlights the fact that while the government is making progress in refurbishing existing archaeological sites, the Thessaloniki area keeps revealing new sites. For example, the courtyard of the YMCA was recently found to be hiding sections of Byzantine buildings that were uncovered during digs for an underground car park. The local archaeological authority intervened and began excavations three months ago. It has since discovered a kiln – which was most probably used to bake clay vessels – and a bronze coin struck by Emperor Leo XI the Wise, which proves that the workshop must have been in operation during the 10th century. Now archaeologists are avidly following the developments of the excavation, looking forward to seeing what treasures the earth will reveal next.