Νέα ταφικά ευρήματα από το δυτικό νεκροταφείο της ΘεσσαλονίκηςPart of : Το Αρχαιολογικό Έργο στη Μακεδονία και στη Θράκη ; Vol.18, No.1, 2004, pages 289-302
New finds from Thessaloniki’s west cemetery
On a plot of land in Thessaloniki’s west necropolis, at the junction of Apol- loniados and Oraiopoulou Streets, 24 graves were excavated, representing five levels and dating to between the Late Roman and the Early Byzantine period. To the lowest layer belong five pit-graves, hewn out of the rock, and one jar burial, all dating to the 3rd c. AD. To the next layer belong two vault-graves (T14, T15), built in pits hewn out of the bedrock on a north-south axis and dating to the end of the 3rd c. These graves were re-used in the late 4th-early 5th c., when they were frescoed and their entrances were enveloped by a single four-sided built enclosure. In T15, on the wall opposite the entrance, a Christogram survived in a circle with the letters alpha and omega. To the same period are dated a group of three vault-graves (T12, T13, T124) on an east-west axis, that were also built in pits hewn out of the bedrock, and their entrances had small, independent, four-sided enclosures. They were undecorated inside; T13 had engraved designs and letters. To the next, the fourth, layer belong two initially isolated above-ground vault-graves, which were later incorporated within the group of the last layer. One of the two (T7) was oriented, while the other (T2) had its entrance in the north side. When T2 was incorporated into the group of the last layer, it was reduced to half its original width and used as an ossuary. The graves in the last layer are the most numerous and extend into the east part of the site. Ten aboveground vault-graves were located, with built steps for access, unlike the older graves, which had projecting stones for access. The graves were arranged in two rows and were bounded to the south by a wide wall, while the earlier graves, which were considerably lower, were filled with chippings in order to bridge the difference in height between the two parts of the cemetery and enable family members to move about easily on the levelled top surface of the graves of the last layer when holding the funeral banquets. Probably for the purposes of ritual, a platform was built on one of the older graves (Tl 1). The later graves were all oriented, apart from T3, which was built alongside the older T2, and most were frescoed, though the decoration survives in only five of them. In T3 and T16 were found plain red crosses above a red band level with the springing line of the barrel vault. T4, T5, and T8 had foliate crosses and occupied two registers above and below a band level with the springing line of the vaults, while plain crosses adorned three sides of the entrances. These graves were dated to the second half of the 6th c. on the basis of structural details and their decoration.
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