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Young 1951, Sepulturae Intra Urbem

Young 1951, Sepulturae Intra Urbem

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Sepulturae Intra UrbemAuthor(s): Rodney S. YoungSource:
Hesperia,
Vol. 20, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1951), pp. 67-134Published by:
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Accessed: 02/12/2010 16:00
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SEPULTURAE NTRAURBEM
(PLATES
33-54)
INTRODUCTION
Ab Atheniensibuslocum sepulturae intraurbem ut darent, impetrarenonpotui, quod religione se impediri dicerent; neque tamien idanteacuiquam concesserant...Cicero,Ad
familiares,
IV, 12, 3.
YjMARCUS
arcellus,friend of Ciceroand of Servius Sulpicius,met his death
at the handsofan assassin nearAthensinB.C.45.Aletter fromServiustoCicero, from whichisquoted the aboveexcerpt, describes the circumstancesofthemurder. Servius washimself in Athens at the time, and he undertookthe arrange-ments for the funeral.Denied a place of burial"within the city"becauseof religioususage, he laid his friend to rest in the Academyoutside.Thisstatementinthe correspondenceof Cicero hasbeeninterpretedbyscholars asevidence for the existenceofa religious banagainst burial within the citywalls ofAthens; in fact, thepositions of long stretches of the city wall have themselvesbeenrestored conjecturally,in places where any tangibleremains are lacking,on the evi-denceofthepresenceor absence ofgraves.Onasite likethatofancientAthens,coveredtoday by agreatmoderncity, systematicexcavationinsearchofthewallsthemselves is impossible,and the evidence turned up bychanceinthelimited areasdugforthe foundationsofnewbuildingsmustnecessarilybescattered andhaphazard.The American Excavationsat the Agora,ontheotherhand, bythe clearingofa largeareawhichunquestionablyiesintoto"withinthecity"affordaunique opportunityfortesting the validityofServius'statementand thescopeofthe banimplied byit.The numberofgraves discoveredinthearea aroundtheAgoraincreases witheach campaign of digging. Up to1950nearlyone hundred fifty graves,whichincludeinhumations, cremations,and urn-burials, have beenfound.Thevery numberissomewhatstartlinginviewof Servius'statement,andforthis reason thetimeisperhaps ripeforan examinationoftheevidenceaffordedbytheexistenceofthisunexpectedly largenumber ofgravesin anareawherethereshouldbenone.Itmustof courseberemembered hatonlyaboutonehalfoftheareaincludedinthe AmericanExcavations hasuptothepresentbeencleared belowthelevelofRomantimes,andthatfuturediggingmayuncoverevidencewhichwillrequiresomealteration inthedeductionsofferedhere.Thesedeductionsarebased almostentirelyonevidencefromalarge triangulararea(plan,P1.33)whichlies outsidetheAgora properonthe lowerslopesoftheAreopagustowest andnorthwest.Adetailedstudyofthisarea will
 
68 RODNEY S. YOUNG
appearinthe ensuing number of Hesperia. It is defined by three of the main streetsof ancient Athens, which have been called respectively Piraeus Street at the north,running eastward into the city from the Piraeus Gate; Areopagus Street at the east,which skirts the slope of the Areopagus, running southward from the Agora; andMelite Street on the opposite side of the valley, following the lower slopes of the Hillof the Nymphs and the Pnyx at the west and southwest. The south branch of theGreat Drain, runningfromsouth to north and draining the valley between the hillsateither side,bisectsthe area. Its course was followedinearly times by a street which has been called the Street of the Marble Workers. The areaboundedby these streetswas an industrial and residential part of the city, occupied by private houses andworkshops. It would be surprising indeed to find any graves, unless of very earlyor very late date, in the Market Place itself. The areas surrounding it thus afford abetterproving groundforthe existence and scopeofthe ban than does the Agoraproper, and the particular area under present discussion may be taken as a fair sample,since it occupies a large tract of nearly two acres which has been cleared to bedrockalmost throughout.Allthe graves discussedindetail below were found in this area. They may bedivided into three groups: early burials and cremations, from the Late Bronze Agethrough Protogeometric and Geometric times; archaic cremations andinhumations ofthesixth century; and cremations of small children,orinfants madeinthefourthand thirdcenturies beforeChrist. Theearly gravesofthe firstgroup,foundovertheentire area oftheexcavationsincludingthe Market Placeitself, maybe takentohavebeenmade beforethe banonburialwithinthecitycame intoeffect.Conversely, gravesoflaterRomantimes,which have been foundintheMarketPlace andonthe eastwardslopesofthe Pnyx, maybe takentohave been made after the Athenianshadretiredwithin theirnewfortification,the "ValerianWall," bywhich timemostof theareaof the formercityhad become asuburb outsidethe newwall,and the ban nolongerapplied.Thegravesofthesecond andthirdgroups maybe more usefulto usinhelpingto determinethe date at whichthebancame intoeffect,and thelimits ofitsapplication.Afewexamplesofboth groups havebeen foundinareas otherthan the one underdiscussion.Achild'surn-burial andthe remains of a smallpyre,bothofthe latesixthcentury, havecome tolightonthenorthernslopeoftheAreopagus; and pyresofthe latertype,orthescattered remainsofsuchpyres,have beenfound in almostallpartsoftheexcavationsexcepting onlytheMarketPlaceproper.Theoccasionalburningorburyingofthedeadinresidentialor industrialareas withinthecitythusseems to have been unimpeded by any religiousbaninthe sixthcentury.Ifthis bandidnotcome intoeffectuntil the endofthe sixthcenturyorlater,it canhardlyhavebeenapplicabletostill earliergraves,andsowemay passoververy brieflytheburialsoftheLateBronzeAgeandofProtogeometricand Geometrictimes.

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