Sunday, February 26, 2012


Chantal Martin Pruvot, Karl Reber, Thierry Theurillat (ed.), Ausgegraben!:Schweizer Archäologen erforschen die griechische Stadt Eretria. Eine Ausstellung der Schweizerischen Archäologischen Schule in Griechenland in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig. Basel: Verlag Schwabe, 2010. Pp. 317. ISBN 9783796526701. CHF42.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Catherine Bouras, École française d'Athènes (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

With the expressive title Ausgegraben!, this catalogue documents the exhibition organised by the École Suisse d'Archéologie en Grèce and the Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig about the excavations carried out since 1962 by the Swiss archaeologists in the ancient city of Eretria, bringing together the archaeological finds of a long history of settlement, from the Neolithic period to nowadays.1 The exhibition first took place in Athens (Greece), in the National Archaeological Museum (April 26 - August 25, 2010), then migrated to Switzerland to the Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig (September 22-January 30, 2011). The catalogue of the Swiss edition was published in French and in German; the Greek edition was based on the Swiss volume.2

The book is divided into five parts and is written by authorities on Euboeia and Eretria. An important introduction is dedicated to the research history at Eretria and to the contribution of the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece in collaboration with the Greek Archaeological Society. After the first part consisting of four papers introducing the history of excavations, the four main parts reflect the important aspects of the ancient city.

The first chapter explores Eretria's place in the Mediterranean and through time. Traces of the first occupation on the site of Eretria were found on the acropolis and date to the end of the 5th or the beginning of the 4th millennium B.C., while an Early Helladic settlement, contemporary with the site of Lefkandi, was discovered at the bottom of the hill; it is located 10 km away from Eretria and the site is also presented briefly in this catalogue. Geomorphologic research has shown that the sea level was four meters higher than it is today and that the Early Helladic settlement was built very close to the coastline, whereas Middle Helladic pottery sherds have been found further inland, in the sector around the temple of Apollo, indicating that the settlement has moved (see Chronique des fouilles en ligne, n. 1988). The next section deals with the establishment of the city in the Geometric period and its history. It also outlines the Eretrian colonization in Northern Greece; for exemple, the Eretrian presence has been attested from the 9th cent. B.C. onward in the peninsula of Chalkidiki. After this, a historical overview of the city of Eretria and its institutions is presented with highlights on particular finds. This section ends with the finds and monuments that illustrate life in Eretria in the Early Christian period: remains of workshops built on top of the remains of Hellenistic private houses, finds in the archaeological museum pointing to an Early Christian basilica (chancel fragment, column fragments, etc.).

The second main part of the exhibition illustrates the city of the living. An important section is dedicated to private houses and to the objects linked to private life, since Eretria is one of the sites where private architecture is well-documented thanks to excavations south of the West gate, where several luxurious houses were brought to light. Another important find is the Mosaic house at the bottom of the acropolis hill: a separate essay describes its discovery in 1977 and its mosaic pavements, which can be dated to the mid 4th cent. B.C. Pottery groups are also discussed here: lamps, cooking, drinking and eating vessels, as well as activities that took place in the houses, such as textile production and religion in private context. Public life is represented by civic buildings and public spaces ,such as the agora, the stoai, especially the impressive 40 m long East portico, where a 5th-century coin hoard and amphoras and storage vessels testify to its commercial use. The next chapter gives an overview of trade: Euboean and Eretrian coins, measuring tools, and stamped amphora handles. Another aspect of Eretrian public life is represented by athletics: the remains of the gymnasion and of the baths are presented.

The third part documents the city of the gods: it presents the main Eretrian sanctuaries, namely the sanctuary of Apollon Daphnephoros in the centre of the city and its construction phases and architectural sculpture from the second half of the 8th century; the sanctuary of Athena on the acropolis; the Thesmophorion at the foot of the hill; and the North sacrifice area where Egyptian divinities were worshiped in Eretria. Two main religious festivities, the Artemisia and the Dionysia, are described and illustrated. The Tholos on the agora and the Imperial cult in Eretria are described as fine examples of monumental architecture in the Roman period: the Sebasteion was built in the first half of the 1st cent. A.D. by the main crossroad of the ancient city, south of the acropolis.

The fourth part covers the city of the dead and the Eretrian cemeteries from the 9th cent. B.C. to the 6th cent. A.D. Funerary practices, grave types, pottery and other grave goods are presented here, as well as particular funerary contexts: the pyra in the sector of the Agora, which contained ashes and early 8th century B.C. material, among which was a golden diadem and a crater with representations of intercourse between two black horses and between a man and a woman (crater no 265). The cemetery known as the Heroon was discovered near the West gate where 19 graves were brought to light. Other contributions present orientalising pottery in graves, particularly amphoras and oenochoai, the aspect and the architecture of the graves, the architecture and finds from the Macedonian tomb of the Erotes, funerary practices from the 1st cent. to the 4th centuries A.D., two graves of the Roman Imperial period, and the funerary stele of the sculptor Megistokles

This catalogue covers the most important aspects of the ancient city that are documented through archaeology. The catalogue is built following the conception of the exhibition, which was meant to open several windows into the life of the ancient city buried under the modern village of Eretria, reconstructing and recreating the context of discovery with archival photographs and ground plans. There is a catalogue of precise and well-documented entries on 367 objects. The 53 contributions in the catalogue, written by 59 authors, present the history of excavations and the most recent research in Eretria at a scientific level, but also address a wider public, adding to the recently published guide in French, English and Greek, Érétrie: guide de la cité antique (see: BMCR 2005.05.24). The illustrations throughout the book are also high quality: archival photographs, ground plans and maps, drawings, object photographs, and site pictures all contribute to a splendid publication.

Table of contents

Die Schweiz und Griechenland
Eine Stadt im Herzen des Mittelmeeres
Vor den Stadtgründung, S. Müller Celka
Ein Töpferofen, S. Müller Celka
Lefkandi, I. S. Lemos
Die Entstehung der Stadt, S. Verdan
Die eretrischen Kolonien in Nordgriechenland, S. Fachard
Die geometrische Keramik, A. Kenzelmann Pfyffer
Die Stadt im Verlauf der Geschichte, D. Knoepfler, angepasst von P. Ducrey
2010 : 2500. Gedenkjahr der Eroberung Eretrias durch die Perser im Jahr 490 v. Chr., P. Ducrey
Der Stier der Eretrier in Olympia, P. Ducrey
Die Statue eines jungen Eretriers, P. Themelis
Die letzten Jahrhunderte der Stadt, E. Gerousi
Objektbeschreibungen 1-62

Die Stadt der Lebenden
- Privatleben
Die Wohnhäuser Eretrias, K. Reber
Licht und Lampen, S. Gürtler
Das Mosaikenhaus: ein Rundgang, P. Ducrey
Die panathenäischen Preisamphoren, K. Gex
Rund ums Essen und Trinken, K. Gex
Das Leben der Aristokrateia: Frauenalltag in Eretria, E. van der Mejden Zanoni
Eine kleine Hausapotheke, K. Reber
Schutzgottheiten für das Haus, C. Riva
Aphrodite und Eros, P. Themelis
- Das öffentlichen Leben
Die Politischen Instituten und das öffentliche Leben: die Agora, D. Knoepfler
Handelsaktivitäten: die Stoai, T. Theurillat
Münzen und Münzprägung in Eretria, M. Brunner, M. Spoerri Butcher
Masse und Gewichte, K. Hitzl
Die Amphoren, M. Palaczyk
Ein gesunder Geist in eine gesunden Körper: das Gymnasion und die Bäder, E. Mango
Das Leben des Polychares, Sohn des Polyktis, S. Fachard
Objekbeschreibung 63-199

Die Stadt der Götter
Das Heiligtum des Apollon Daphnephoros, S. Verdan
Die Rekonstruktion des geometrischen Apollon-Tempels, S. Verdan
Der Tempel des Apollon Daphnephoros in archaischer Zeit, M. Glaus
Die Giebelfiguren des Apollon-Tempels, E. Touloupa
Der nördliche Opferplatz, S. Huber
Das Athena-Heiligtum, S. Huber
Zwei Heiligtümer unterhalb der Akropolis: die Thesmophorion, L. E. Baumer
Ägyptische Gottheiten in Eretria: das Iseion, A. Bignasca
Das Mosaik des Iseions, A. Psalti
Zwei grosse eretrische Feste: die Artemisien und die Dionysien, D. Knoepfler
Die Tholos von Eretria, A. Psalti
Das Sebasteion, ein Tempel für den Kaiserkultur, B. Dubosson
Objektbeschreibung 200-258

Die Stadt der Toten
Bestattungsbräuche und Grabbeigaben vom 9. bis zum 7. Jh. v. Chr., B. Blandin
Die orientalisierende Keramik, S. Huber
Eine aussegewöhnliche pyra aus geometrischer Zeit, A. Psalti
Die Gräber des Heroon, B. Blandin
Bestattungsbräuche und Grabbeigaben vom 6. bis zum 2. Jh. v. Chr., K. Gex
Von Eretria in den Louvre: auf den Spuren eines Mädchengrabes, I. Hasselin Rous, C. Huguenot
Das makedonische Eroten-Grab, C. Huguenot
Bestattungsbräuche und Grabbeigaben vom 1. Jh. v. Chr. bis zum 6. Jh. n. Chr., B. Dubosson
Zwei Gräber aus der römischen Kaiserzeit, A. Psalti
Die Grabstele des Megistokles, P. Karanastasi
Objektbeschreibungen 259-367


1.   A recent publication also outlines the history of Eretria from the Neolithic period, but its main concern is the modern settlement of Eretria in the 19th century: Pajor, F., Ερέτρια, Νέα Ψαρά: το χρονικό μιας πολιτείας, Melissa – Swiss Archaeological School in Athens, Athens 2010.
2.   Kaltsas, N., Fachard, S., Psalti, A., Giannopoulou, M., (ed.), Ερέτρια : ματιές σε μια αρχαία πόλη, Εθνικό Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο, 27 Απριλίου - 24 Αυγούστου 2010, Υπουργείο Πολιτισμού και Τουρισμού, National Archaeological Museum, Swiss Archaeological School at Athens, Athens, Kapon, cop. 2010. The contributions follow the same arrangement, but more objects are described than in the Swiss edition (437 objects).

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