In September 2023, the excavations conducted by the Aristotle University team in Philippi (the Macedonian city founded by Philip II, after whom it was named) concluded under the direction of Professor of Byzantine Archaeology Natalia Poulos, with the collaboration of Associate Professor of Byzantine Archaeology Anastasios Tantsis and Emeritus Professor of Byzantine Archaeology Aristotle Mendzo.

Fifteen students participated in the excavation, funded by the regular budget and the Research Committee of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

This year, the excavations continued east of the main southern thoroughfare (decumanus), at the point where it intersects with the northern axis of the city (known as the “Egnatia”).

The continuation of the marble-paved thoroughfare was discovered, upon which surface a bronze filis coin of Emperor Leo VI (886-912) was found, aiding in determining the duration of the thoroughfare’s use.

At the junction of the two streets, an expansion (square) seems to have formed, dominated by a richly decorated building. Evidence from last year’s excavation led to the hypothesis that it was a fountain. The findings from this year’s research confirm this view and help us better understand its form and function.

The 2022 investigations had revealed part of the rich decoration of the fountain with an impressive statue representing Hercules as a young boy. The recent 2023 excavation unveiled the head of another statue: it belongs to a figure of a man with a richly adorned crown topped by a laurel leaf crown.

This beautiful head appears to belong to a statue of the god Apollo. Like the Hercules statue, it dates back to the 2nd or early 3rd century AD and likely adorned the fountain, which took its final form in the 8th-9th centuries.

We know from sources and archaeological data that in Constantinople, statues from the classical and Roman periods adorned buildings and public spaces until the end of the Byzantine period, indicate the archaeologists.

This finding reinforces the hypothesis we proposed in 2022 about how public spaces were decorated in important cities of the Byzantine Empire, including Philippi.


Sources

Greek Ministry of Culture


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