House A vii 4, looking N (courtyard in center, andron at lower right), Oly...

View of the house, House A vii 4 Olynthos, Olynthus.

Plan, Olynthus, House A vii 4

Andron in house A vii 4, Olynthus

House A vii 4, looking N (courtyard in center, andron at lower right), Oly...

Context: Olynthus
Type: House
Summary: House of regular plan in block A vii on the North Hill of Olynthus.
Date: ca. 432 BC - ca. 348 BC

17.2 m. EW x ca. 17.0 m. NS.

Period: Classical/Late Clas.


This house is frequently taken as the "type house" for Olynthian dwellings: a central courtyard, with an open portico or "pastas" to its north; a series of rooms opening onto the north side of the pastas, including a three-room "kitchen complex"; a small storeroom on the east side of the pastas; an andron entered from an anteroom in the SE corner; a workroom or shop in the SW.

Date Description:

Not built before 432 BC, when this part of Olynthus was planned and laid out; destroyed by Philip II in 348 BC.

Other Notes:

House A vii 4 contains a full range of rooms found in Olynthian house: a well-defined pastas and cobbled court, a kitchen with bath and flue in the northeast part of the house, an andron and anteroom in the southeast; two rooms opening onto the pastas, and a shop in the southwest part of the house.

The fairly large court was cobbled, and a drain led from near the center of the court south into the street. The court contained a variety of finds and, unlike the courts of the House of Many Colors and the Villa of the Bronzes, seems to have been heavily used. Sixteen loomweights were found apparently scattered on the floor; these might be the remains of a loom, or perhaps were lost from a loom previously set up in the court. The court also contained a fair amount of domestic equipment: vases including bowls, a coarse spouted bowl or mortarium, a guttus, a lamp stand, three lekythoi and fragments of many other vessels; a bronze cup or vessel; fragments of four terracotta female masks; various pieces of hardware and other miscellaneous finds. Two bronze weights and a "lead loomweight" (probably another weight) from the court are probably connected with commercial activities in the house, as are other weights from this house.

Like the court, the pastas of A vii 4 was the site of a variety of activities, and their assemblages are generally similar. The pastas contained a variety of tablewares, metal vessels, and the like: a hydria, and olpe, a bowl, a guttus, two kantharoi, two lekythoi, and other vases, swinging handles from two bronze vessels, and other such finds. Most of these were found in the west part of the pastas, probably stored on shelves or in chests along the wall, as in the houses discussed above. In this area was a stone "pithos lid or table top," 42 cm. in diameter; these disks could have served a variety of uses, not just as pithos lids but as portable working surfaces.

The two rooms north of the pastas (a and b) are almost identical in size, and both had plain walls and an earth floor. Room a contained only a single coin; like so many rooms at Olynthus, its function remains enigmatic, but we should always keep in mind the possibility that it contained perishable furniture. Room b, however, contained 23 loomweights, twelve of them clustered closely, the others scattered nearby. Together with the court, then, this room was seemingly used for weaving. Like the pastas and court, this room contained tablewares, including a red-figure pelike, two plates, a lekythos, a cup, a saltcellar and other fragments, and like the pastas, more jewelry, a fibula and an earring.

The "kitchen complex" (rooms c, d, e) shares with the other houses on this row the anomaly of lacking a pillar-partition (at least at the level preserved), despite the house's two stories. The wall between the kitchen and flue is thickened at the south, perhaps to form a kind of platform or counter.

A large stone mortar was set towards the west end of the "kitchen" (e), showing that this room was used for processing food. Somewhere in the room was a piece of furniture, which burned leaving a scatter of nails and ash. A few table vases and two lamps might have been stored in this although their exact situation was not noted. Like many other "kitchens" at Olynthus, it was relatively bare of finds.

No finds were recorded in the flue (d), but a layer of ash and traces of burning show that this was used for cooking, like flues elsewhere. The tub had been robbed out of the bathroom (c), leaving a gap in the cement pavement; two lekythoi found in the bathroom might have been for oil or perfumes used in bathing.

A small room (g) walled off at the east end of the pastas contained a pithos sunk into the floor, with a stone disk serving as a lid.

The andron is of the usual seven-couch size, entered from the court through an anteroom. As usual, these two rooms were the most highly decorated in the house. Except for the bathroom, whose walls were plastered, all the other rooms of A vii 4 had plain walls; but the andron and anteroom were painted in three colors. The andron had a white baseboard, yellow surbase and red walls, while the anteroom had a black baseboard, red surbase and yellow walls. The platform around the andron, on which the dining couches were set, was painted bright yellow.

And as so commonly at Olynthus, both rooms were all but bare. The neck of a red-figured pelike was found in the anteroom, and nothing at all in the andron. Symposium equipment such as fine cups and kraters, funnels and strainers, kottabos stands and the like were perhaps made of bronze or precious metals, and so would have been carried off by fleeing Olynthians or looted by Philip's soldiers; the absence of such assemblages here and in other houses is striking.

The large room in the southwest corner of the house had doors to both the courtyard and the street, and so probably served as a shop belonging to the owner of the house. It contained only miscellaneous finds: one coin, a lekythos, a saucer, a bronze swinging handle imbedded in the wall, three loomweights, and hardware. However, the domestic portion of the house contained a number of artifacts which seem related to retail trade: four weights and possible scales in the pastas, and two bronze weights and "lead loomweight" in the court.

Sources Used:

Olynthus, 8, 118-121, 141ff.; other Olynthus volumes; unpublished excavation notes.