ARSENALE NAVALE DI NAXOS

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Corsie dell'Arsenale

The port area with the arsenal, which has been state property for some time and is close to the site of ancient Naxos, can be used from the modern Via Larunchi, extending north of the city center, in the bay protected by Capo Schisò.
The building occupies the extreme eastern slopes of the hill of Larunchi, acropolis of the city, and aligns with the back wall and with the path of the stenopos 6 , from which it stands 150 m.

 

With certainty the complex falls within the fortifications, and is flanked to the south by the space of the agorà located on the terrace above. The discovery of ostraka within the neoria may be a confirmation of this. The complex is 28 m wide with a reconstructible length of 40/42 m, as modern sea-front constructions have obliterated the end of the ramps. These data provide important geological information about the position of the ancient coastline, which is 160 m behind the present one, and about the sea level, which is about 2 m higher.

 

The complex consists of four parallel and descending lanes, separated by wide polygonal walls, which communicate with each other through openings. The lanes are of different widths (5.42 and 5.24 m for lanes 1 and 2, respectively; 5.64 and 5.74 m for lanes 3 and 4) and have a unique feature at the moment in the panorama of the neoria The centre of each lane is occupied by a sandy ramp which, held in place by stone walls, contained the ship's keel. The stop wall of ramps 1 and 2 is straight, that of ramps 3 and 4 rounded to accommodate the stern momentum. The sandy ramps are flanked by paved walkways that facilitated the movement of the sailors in charge of the custody and minor maintenance of the ships. Traces of red (haematite) and blue pigments, found mainly in lanes 3 and 4, document hull painting work.

 

The excavations have ascertained two construction phases, the first dating back to the end of the 6th century BC / early 5th century BC, and the second after 460 BC, coinciding the latter with the return of the exiles and the restoration of democracy. Two different roofing systems correspond to the two phases: the oldest of Sicilian type with antefixes that show the unusual alternation of gorgoneia and silene masks; the later type mixed with Corinthian pentagonal joint covers, but with semicircular curved tiles.
According to J. Pakkanen's reconstruction, the lanes would have been covered in pairs (1 and 2; 3 and 4) by a series of descending roofs with asymmetrical pitch and would have reached a height of 10m.

 

The discovery in the upper part of lane 2 of a burial of the first half of the fourth century BC indicates the abandonment of the complex, probably destroyed by Dionysius I of Syracuse (403 BC). On it in the advanced second century AD the built-up area of ​​the mansio, or station for changing horses, overlaps, which in the Itinerarium Antonini is reported with the name of Naxion.

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