Koilon (depression) of Koile ancient municipality

“Koilon” was formed at the junction of Acropolis three western hills (Muses, Pnyx, Nymphs) is among Athens most interesting archaeological sites.

On this plateau, a road known to the historian Herodotus (6th c. B.C.) as the Koile road arrived from the east to join smaller roads coming form the slopes of the hills.

The road reached its maximum width (21 meters) at the “Koilon” and led to a gate belonging to the Themistoclean fortification wall which is today lost.

The existence of this gate is indisputable and the importance of the area is attested by the presence of large rock-cut chambers along the sides of the road which are identified as the residential remains of the densely-populated ancient Koile Municipality.

The road itself follows topography and crosses the ancient suburb, and its operation influenced everyday life of Koile Demos.

On street surface, deep wheel-ruts prove its long-term use. A large rock-cut drain for the runoff of rain water has also been indentified.

In antiquity this road was the main one connecting the ancient city of Athens to the port of Piraeus. Two parallel fortification walls (the “Long Walls”) ensured safe passage along the road. In times of peace, all sorts of products were transported along this road from the port to the city. During the Peloponnesian War, it provided shelter to the population of Attica.

On the slopes on both sides of the Koilon, several artificial terraces reveal dozens of rock-cut rooms. Some were used as “stoas”, shelters to passersby. They might also had a commercial use.

Impressive rock-cut staircases that once belonged to private buildings gave the name “Skalakia” (small stairway) to the area. Wells, private houses, niches of shrines, all hewn into the rock, testify to the flourishing life in the area between the Archaic period (6th c. B.C.) and the end of the Classical period (4th c. B.C.). During Helenistic period the construction of a new fortification wall, (Diateihisma) around 330 B.C., reduced the length of the fortification wall of Athens and the Koilon of Koile was left outside fortified area. The district was abandoned and alongside the road a cemetery of rock-cut cist graves developed during Hellenistic (3rd-3nd c. B.C.) and Roman periods (1st c. B.C. -3rd c. A.D.).

In 1939, in accordance with practices of European fascist regimes, a colossal open-air theater came into being but was never finished because of WWII. It was demolished during landscape restoration works between years 1998-2004.

The demolition of the so-called “Bastia” theater, excavation of the area and restoration of the landscape provided new archaeological evidence for the direction of the fortification wall, road network, urban settings, domestic architecture, public buildings, graves and customs of the inhabitants of ancient Athens.

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