10
October
17.00
Cost: Free

The house that ancient Olynthos built: using Lego to think about bricks, timber and mortar in ancient city landscape

The house that ancient Olynthos built: using Lego to think about bricks, timber and mortar in ancient city landscape

Lecture by Dr Zosia Archibald FSA & Dr Matthew Fitzjohn 

Ancient Olynthos is one of the most important Greek cities from antiquity. It is important and famous because of its houses. Almost 100 house plans were identified in the 1920s and 1930s. A new project (2014-2021), sponsored by the Greek Archaeological Service and the British School at Athens, involving scholars from the Pella Ephorate, the Universities of Michigan and Liverpool, and a wide international team of specialists, is collecting scientific data at the micro- and macro- scales, so as to enhance the historic data with information from historical documents, charcoal analysis, geophysical prospecting and environmental study, as well as excavation data and spatial analysis.

An award from the Society of Antiquaries of London have enabled a team from the University of Liverpool to examine house construction and its importance in the ancient economy. Over the last 18 months the team have been carrying out excavation and laboratory analysis to calculate the quantities of physical resources (wood, clay, lime, metals) used in the construction of two houses, one from the sixth century BC and another from that was built and occupied during the fifth-fourth century BC. There has been no previous attempt to estimate the economic investment required to build the kinds of houses that are considered ‘typical’ of Greek Classical architecture; much less to study how these structures evolved in time. Estimates of the resource and human cost of building these house units not only cast light on the entangled nature of construction and other parts of the ancient economy, but they also inform ongoing digital reconstructions and out understanding of how houses were built and modified through time. Our analysis of these houses will deliver more accurate data for a comprehensive reconstruction of materials needed for a simulated plan of the whole city, including the ‘old’ town on the crowded South Hill, and the more comfortably situated ‘new town, on the North Hill.