The ancient Deme (municipality) of Koile

The ancient deme of Koile is located southwest of Athens, on the slopes of the hills of the muses and the Pnyx on either side of the deep ravine formed by the two Hills. The street, traversing the ravine has been identified as the ancient Koile road on which, according to Herodotus, the Olympic champion Kimon, father of marathonomachos Miltiades, was buried. The deme of Koile flourished especially during the classical period (5th-4th c. BC). To the north it bordered with the dem of Melite and to the east with the deme of Kollytos, whereas to the west and south it was protected by the Themistoklean Wall.

 

What distinguished the deme was the supra Koile road which traversed it, starting from the Acropolis, crossing the Long Walls and terminating at the port of Piraeus. This significant traffic axis served to transport trade and bring supplies to the city in times of siege.

The ancient road follows the natural grooves of the ravine with diip ruts(cartwheels) which converge and diverge at the crossroads for the transport of carts. A rock cut water channel defines the north side of the road. Koile road was a two-way road, between 8and 12 m. wide. Along its route between the Hills os Mouses and the Pnyx, to the east-west axis, it traversed the gate of Diateicheisma, the “Dipylon above the Gates” and to the west one of the Themistoklean fortification Gates. The section of Koile road that has been excavated is 500 m. in length.

The deme of koile expanded along the road (on either side of the slopes) with rock-cut structures, now attributed to public buildings, residences and shops. The agora of the deme was most probably located where the two Hills of the Muses and the Pnyx converge. It is characterized by a square, framed on three sides by a deep water channel, with enormous rock cuttings and steps on either side of Koile road.

 

To the west of the actual Antaiou str., a monumental fountain beras witness to the location of the west gate of the Themistoklean wall and the course of the road between the Long Walls. Following the construction of the Diateichisma at the end of the 4th century BC, the dem was gradually abandoned. The width of Koile road was reduced during post-Hellenistic period and later it was further reduced due to the expansion of the cemetery located alongside the road. The tombs took up parts of the road during the post-Hellenistic and Roman periods. The burial monuments and the cluster of tombs are identified by the inscribed columns bearing the names of the deceased.

 

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