The archaeological site of Kerameikos, between Ermou, Pireos and Asomaton streets, is a small part of the ancient Attic municipality of Kerameon, one of the largest municipalities of ancient Athens, located at the northwestern edge of the city. As its name suggests, Kerameikos (from the Greek word for pottery) was a settlement of potters and potters and the main centre of production of the famous Attic vases. The parts of Kerameikos near the river bank suffered constantly from the overflow of the river, and the area was turned into a cemetery, which gradually became the most important cemetery of ancient Athens.
Potters were attracted to Kerameikos by the clay deposits of the Eridanos, the small river that runs through the archaeological site of Kerameikos. The river was buried for centuries under eight or nine metres of earth (at the level of Ermou Street), but was uncovered again in the 1960s during archaeological excavations.
The oldest tombs in Kerameikos date from the Early Bronze Age (2700-2000 BC) and the cemetery seems to have been continuously expanded since the Submycenaean period (1100-1000 BC). During the Geometric (1000-700 BC) and Archaic periods (700-480 BC) the number of graves increased; they were arranged in mounds or marked by funerary monuments. The cemetery was used continuously from the Hellenistic period until the early Christian period (338 BC to about the 6th century AD).
The most important Athenian vases come from the tombs of Kerameikos. Among them is the famous ‘Dipylon Oenochoe’, which bears the earliest inscription written in the Greek alphabet (second half of the 8th century BC). The excavations in Kerameikos began in 1870 under St. The first excavations at Keremeric were started in 1870 by St. Stoumanoudis of the Archaeological Society of Athens. They continued in collaboration with the German archaeologists A. Brueckner and F. Noack in the following decades, and since 1913 they have been carried out by the German Archaeological Institute.
The site is regularly cleared of undergrowth. A number of projects, such as the construction of a network of paths for visitors, the restoration of the buildings, the reopening of the Kerameikos Museum, the installation of information panels and the construction of an amphitheatre, were completed in 2004. In addition, recent expropriations of neighbouring plots are expected to expand the site and allow for further excavations in the future. The site’s small museum houses the finds from the Kerameikos excavations.
Θ. Iliopoulos, archaeologist.
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