The 2014 Campaign

The 2014 campaign of the Onchestos Excavation Project was conducted from June 2 to July 13 and began with a major geophysical survey of a large area over and around the known parts of the sanctuary. After the completion of the survey, a grid consisting of 2 x 2 m squares was laid over Site A. Here, the survey had revealed the existence of several previously unknown architectural remains particularly to the north of the expropriated plots. The 2014 campaign prioritized the recuperation and clarification of the structures unearthed during the 1971 rescue excavations. Nineteen trenches were explored. The team’s efforts focused on the Archaic hall, the foundations of which were dug in four areas down to the bedrock. Further excavations to the north revealed a small annex, most likely constructed in the late fourth century BCE. This annex was rich in portable finds and presumably served as a storage area for votive offerings to the sanctuary.

At Site B, the 2014 campaign was short and focused on identifying and mapping the remains unearthed in 1973 and 1991. A trench from the 1991 rescue excavation was reopened and yielded architectural fragments dateable to the fourth century BCE, including guttered paving stones and a small Doric capital. The geomagnetic survey indicated the existence of formerly unknown structures to the east of the 1991 trenches: five small almost square rooms lying adjacent to each other along a south-north axis, and south of these a larger rectangular building with substantial walls. Crossing the interior of this building was a circular structure with a prodigious diameter of approximately 40 meters.

The numerous finds from the 2014 campaign disclose much about the workings of the sanctuary. At Site A, the bronze leg of a horse figurine dating to the Classical period was discovered in the fill from the 1971 excavation. The annex to the north of the hall yielded several pottery fragments, some of which were inscribed with an abbreviation of the word hieron. The same area was also extremely rich in metal objects, including an intact strigil and a bracelet. Several weapons such as spear- and arrowheads, and, most spectacularly, a well-preserved sword, ritually bent and inscribed with the letter H–presumably another abbreviation of hieron–were also found. A number of coins from Boeotia, Lokris, and the Peloponnese were found both at Site A and Site B.