Fieldstone Building

by Anandi Salinas
6 years ago

Second quarter of the 4th century B.C.
Andesite fieldstone with painted plaster on exterior and interior walls
Eastern Hill
ca. 6.75 m (across the walls) x ca. 9.17 m


Soon after the remodeling of the Theatral Circle in the first half of the 4th century, the Fieldstone Building was constructed against its northwestern perimeter.  Although destroyed by the later construction of the Dedication of Philip III and Alexander IV, enough of the Fieldstone Building remains for a reconstruction of a rectangular building, with the entrance probably located on the building’s east side, which faced into the Theatral Circle.

Built of andesite rubble quarried from the outcrop on which it stood, the Fieldstone Building was of relatively humble construction but possessed elegant interior decoration.  Its exterior and interior walls were covered with painted plaster in imitation of more lavish stone constructions.  Like the interior walls of the Stoa, built later on the western side of the Sanctuary, the Fieldstone Building preserves fragments of graffiti and dipinti.  Recognizable Greek letters remain on its exterior stucco where individuals marked their presence in the Sanctuary with this small but public display.E-197_WEBThe interior walls are better preserved, and surviving pieces show that the plaster was painted to imitate drafted margin masonry of stone construction, with both flat and raised courses.  Beginning at the bottom, the wall was made up of three zones painted white: a projecting base fascia zone, a taller orthostate zone, and a projecting string course. Both the orthostate and stringcourse were lightly incised and painted with red lines to emulate the drafted margins of masonry blocks.  Above the string course, the wall was painted a deep solid red, giving the walls an impressive graphic quality.  The earliest example at Samothrace, the wall painting preserved in the Fieldstone Building is one of only a few examples of architectonic mural decoration on a public building or within a sanctuary prior to the Hellenistic period.  The close emulation of a costly marble construction shows an endeavor to raise the status of the Sanctuary through its built monuments.

ehillstucco map

Given its proximity to the Theatral Circle, the Fieldstone Building must have related to actions performed there, although its precise functions are up for speculation.  Three terracotta female figurines, which were found in and likely to be associated with this building, suggest that it may have been used to store votives and cult implements.  Moreover, the elaborate interior indicates that it was meant to be seen.  Perhaps certain people, officials of the cult or new initiates, gathered inside this building at some point before or during the rites of initiation.




Selected Bibliography:

Lehmann, K. 1998. Samothrace: A Guide to the Excavations and the Museum. 6th ed.  Revised by J. R. McCredie.  Thessaloniki, pp. 96-100.

Wescoat, B. D. et. al. forthcoming.  Samothrace.  Excavations Conducted by the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University, Vol. 9, The Monuments of the Eastern Hill.