Α: Σπαρτιατικοί αρχαϊκοί τάφοι και επιτάφιος μετ’ αναγλύφων αμφορέυς του λακωνικού εργαστηρίου
Υπηρεσία Αρχαιοτήτων και Αναστηλώσεως
Αρχαιολογικόν Δελτίον, 1964, Τόμος 19, Μελέται/Μέρος Α’, 123-163.
ARCHAIC GRAVES IN SPARTA AND A LACONIAN FUNERAL FIGURED RELIEF AMPHORA (Plates 74-103, Figs. 1-7) The excavations on the area of ancient Sparta, Southeast of the acropolis, carried out by the Greek Archaeological Service in 1960, revealed among the other finds, four archaic graves — which are the first to be discovered in Sparta — and a Laconian funeral figured relief amphora. In this article the author discusses these finds and the problems of the Spartan graves, as well as the probable site of a cemetery. This new find shows that the graves in Sparta were scattered in the town and among the houses, but this fact cannot exclude the probability of the existence of a common cemetery in a yet unknown site, perhaps on the area West of the acropolis. A kiln, with its tunnel for stoking, was also discovered very close to the archaic graves and around them many tiles and plain sherds were found, apparently belonging to the products of the kiln. Two of the graves contained the bones (skeletons) of a man, the third that of a woman, and the fourth that of a child; they were lying in front of the kiln. Inside the third grave a little archaic statuette of a horse was found, while the others yielded no finds. The dead were lying with their heads to the South, the direction of the graves being from North to South. The graves were built of and covered with big schist slabs. A low wall was built around the graves to a height of 0,40 cm., retaining a mound formed of ashes and animal bones, such as of horses, oxen and boars. Among the three main graves a large archaic figured relief amphora was found (Plan 1 on p. 143 ) laid down among the slabs so that it could not be removed. The fact that the amphora was not originally placed erect among the graves, is of great importance. Only the one side of the amphora, that which was to be seen, was decorated with reliefs. Neither bones, nor ashes were found inside the amphora, and this proves it had not been used for a burial but as a grave symbol. No ashes were found around the amphora and the explanation for that is that it was covered with earth before the burning of the offerings. These finds, that is to say, the kiln, the four graves, which obviously belong to one family, and the relief amphora, set many questions, regarding not only Laconian history and art, but also the possibility we have to answer to certain problems so far unsolved. It has been proved now that our knowledge gained from the literary tradition is right; i.e. that the graves of the Spartan people were in the town and among the houses, The ones discovered belong to the owners of the kiln and perhaps to an archaic house, a small part of which was discovered near by. The area of the graves falls in one of the Spartan quarters, that of Messoa, a fact which indicates that they belong to a Spartan family to which also the kiln belonged. This fact — very important for the big problem of the origin of Laconian art — proves that at the period of these graves with the relief amphora, the “Legislation of Lycurgus” by which luxurious graves and grave offerings were forbidden, had not yet been introduced. The large amount of animal bones found, as well as the existence of the relief amphora itself, show that the offerings to the dead were rich, and that makes this possibility almost a certainty. The graves can be dated, according to the sherds found and the relief amphora, to the end of the 7th cent., about 610 - 590 B.C. There is another, almost complete, relief amphora in the museum of Sparta, discovered in the area of the theatre, and some other fragments from about ten similar amphorae, the date of which ranges between 625- 550 B.C.; all these confirm the view that until the middle of the 6th century no prohibition concerning grave offerings was established in Sparta. Another conclusion, based on the new Laconian relief amphora and the other fragments, concerning the origin and freedom of Laconian art, is more important. Since the amphora was offered on the graves of a Spartan family — for it is impossible that the Helots or the Perioikoi could have a kiln, a house, and graves of their own in the town — it is obvious that the amphora is a Spartan creation. This makes Plutarch’s information (Plut. Lyc. 24-5; Apophthegmata Laconica 212, 49; Epitedeumata Laconica 239) doubtful, i.e. that it was the Lycurgus’ Legislation which forbade Spartans artistic creation; the fact rather proves that the above prohibitions were introduced after the middle of the 6th century. Consequently they must be connected with the Ephor Hilon and the complete victory of the Ephors. This fact may give an explanation: a) for the decline of Laconian pottery after the middle of the 6th cent., b) for the complete absence of the relief grave amphorae after 550 B.C., and c) for the flourishing of Laconian bronze-work, particularly of statuettes of warriors. In this period (550 - 500 B.C.) the Laconian workshops produced bronze works for the most part, mainly for export, so that the production of the relief grave amphorae and of other clay vases which were made only for local use, ceased. That is the reason why the Attic ceramic workshops reached their full prosperity in that period and succeeded in surpassing all the provincial workshops, not only the Laconian ones. The basic reason for this absolute superiority of the Attic workshops after the second half of the 6th cent., which caused the decline of all the provincial work shops, is the excellent solution given by the Athenians to the problem of population. Instead of the colonisation by which most of the Greek cities tried to face the increase of population, or the imperialism of Sparta, the Athenians adopted an almost modern solution: they tried to produce the best quality of their products and they exported them to other countries. In that way they did not lose their citizens, and they managed to attract to Athens the most distinguished men of spirit, arts and crafts of the whole Greek world. So Athens became gradually the centre of the Greek world and the leading city in culture: «Ελλάδος παίδευσις».