The ancient history of Halkidiki, buried underground, revealed another facet when an ancient cemetery with more than 1000 ancient graves was discovered in Sithonia and Kassandra on the peninsula of Sithonia.
Tourist development may overshadow its archaeological wealth, but it has unearthed one of northern Greece’s largest cemeteries. On the coast of Agios Ioannis in Sithonia, more than a thousand burials of various types were found with numerous finds.
In recent years, more than a thousand burials of various types and many finds have been discovered on the coast of Agios Ioannis in Sithonia.
During the excavations (2018–19 and 2020) carried out by the archaeologists of Halkidiki and the Athos Ephorate of antiquities Eleni Lambrotanasi, Despina Vovura and Harikleia Koromila, more than 1000 graves were discovered 10th to 5th century BC. The graves were discovered when contractors began excavating the area after purchasing land to build a tourist complex.
The burials include amphorae, cists, pit latrines and a sarcophagus, which testify to the burial customs of the vast Chalkidiki region from the Iron Age to the Early Classic period.
During the excavations, when foundations were dug on a piece of land that had been purchased for the construction of the hotel, many tombs were discovered, mostly intact, densely located in a sandy-marshy layer, dating back to 10-5 centuries BC.
Burials in pithoi up to two meters high and amphorae inside stone enclosures, funerary sarcophagi and pit graves testify to a variety of funerary practices from the Iron Age to Early Classical times.
Many valuable finds were found in the burials: earthenware vessels in the shape of a beetle and a crater, cauldrons, skyphoses, amphorae and nipples, figurines, bronze and iron ornaments that accompanied the dead.
The first indications (132 burials) of the existence of an important necropolis were discovered by earlier studies (K. Romiopoulou, 1977, E. Trakosopoulou, 1984-1988), which, taking into account new excavation data, increased their number to 1044 graves.
Despite three excavation sites, Lambrotanasis explains, it remains unknown to which ancient settlement the cemetery belonged. The first estimates probably refer to a settlement on the island of Kastri, where, in 1977, research revealed the remains of prehistoric and archaic structures.
Continued excavation may provide answers to its identification, which archaeologists have been searching for years.