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Ancient Gitana

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  • Address: Ancient Gitana, Thesprotia, Greece
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Ancient Gitana Ancient Gitana

Ancient Gitana was built on the south-western part of the Vrysella hillock, in the Municipality of Filiates and is beyond any doubt the most significant settlement in Thesprotia during the late Classical and Hellenistic period.

The archaeological site of Gitana extends on the southwestern slope of the gypsum-stone mountain of Vrysella, at the confluence of Kalpakiotikos stream with Kalamas river (ancient Thyamis). Gitana served as the political center and seat of the Thesprotian League from the time of its establishment in the 2nd half of the 4th century BC until its occupation by the Romans in 167 BC. The existence of a town named Gitana is attested by seals, inscriptions and literary tradition, and the exact type of the name is preserved on a bronze dedicatory inscription from the "Small Temple" of the settlement.

The site is surrounded on all sides by a strong polygonal wall with a total perimeter of 2,500 m. The fortification is reinforced with rectangular towers on the northern easily accessible side, while on the western and southern sides, where there is natural protection by Kalamas river, it follows the natural terrain forming successive projections (contusions). The wall reaches the top of Vrysella mountain resulting in a strong tower with semicircular facade. A bailey reinforced the city's defence on the western front and protected the area of the theatre from the North. Access to the ancient settlement was ensured through three main gates and three smaller gateways with the main entrance placed at the northwestern part of the fortification. The partition wall, an inner wall later than the rest of the fortification, traverses the settlement from north to south dividing it in two large residential areas.

Gitana had an urban design in zones adapted to the sloppy natural terrain. The roads are straight and mostly unpaved and intersect perpendicularly creating elongated rectangular building blocks or islets, while successive terraces render the steep slopes smoother. Depending on its length, each building islet comprises two or more buildings, separated by a narrow aisle. Larger buildings, public or private, can occupy an entire building islet.

Based on the data available so far, the area to the west within the partition wall, stretching over 50 acres, includes apparently some of the most important public buildings of the settlement. Examples include the so-called "Small Temple" with a vestibule, nave and a paved courtyard and "Building A", identified as the city’s Prytaneum - Archive, with symposium rooms decorated with mosaic floors as well as workshop and storage areas built around a central courtyard. From the “Archive” Room comes the majority of the 3.000 thousands clay sealings found within this building. The sealings were used for the validation of the public archives of the city and bear symbols found on coinage types, mythological scenes and various other depictions.

The Agora of the settlement is situated on a plateau at the northeast of the partition wall. It is formed as an open square enclosed by an elongated stoa in the north and a complex of shops in the south.

Outside the western part of the fortification the theatre of the settlement is located, with a capacity of 4,000 to 5,000 spectators, meant both for theatrical performances and gatherings of the Thesprotian League. Excavations have revealed part of the koilon, the orchestra and most of the stage building. A large number of the stone seats bear engraved inscriptions of names.

Buildings with potential public nature have also been identified in "Lower City" of Gitana, the eastern part of the settlement outside the partition wall and to the south of the Agora: a large building with at least two construction phases adjacent to the fortification and a building with a doric colonnade and architectural members with relief decoration, which has not yet been investigated.

 

Read 958 times Last modified on Tuesday, 26 April 2016 10:15
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