NEWS

Antiquities go under glass at downtown Aeolou and Kotzia

Kotzia Square and Aeolou Street in downtown Athens have not looked their best for years, but soon they will put on a better face for passers-by. Impressive new finds excavated near the Mela mansion during the unification of Athens’s archaeological sites are to be showcased under glass covers. A section of the ancient wall, an internal peripheral road, five stone courses of a proteichisma (a wall built in front of the city wall), a defensive ditch, the retaining wall of the ditch, and an external peripheral road will all be part of an archaeological site, together with finds unearthed beneath the National Bank of Greece’s new building (photo) and part of the Archanian Road found in Kotzia Square. The recently discovered antiquities (excavated by archaeologist Olga Zachariadou from the Third Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities) will be on display under three glass and metal coverings to be made by Costas Zambas. The glass will be glare-proof, making it easy for visitors to view the antiquities. The three covers will be in the shape of pyramids, rising a meter above the pavement, with wooden bridges. The whole project is budgeted at 1,750,000 euros and will be paid for by the company reunifying the archaeological sites of Athens (EAXA). The latest discoveries furnish yet more evidence about the fortification and topography of Athens in antiquity. During a five-month dig starting in August 1988, archaeologist Effi Lygouri-Tolia, also from the Third Ephorate, unearthed part of the city wall from the late Roman period, parts of a fourth-century BC proteichisma and ditch, and a road from the classical era. Other discoveries included parts of collection pipes, carved out of the natural rock, sections of pipes with clay components and the foundations of a circular tower. The ancient road began at the Archarnian Gate, and was a main road leading from Athens to the northern demes of Attica. Its continuation was found in Kotzia Square as were a large number of tombs from the classical era. Now they will all be part of an open-air site for antiquities, but without the garbage that used to accumulate in the square or the presence of street vendors selling their wares.