The Excavation of “Aiolos” Hotel in Plaka

The building known as “Aeolus” (Aiolos) in Plaka, at the corner of Aiolou and Dexippou Street, i.e. between the Library of Hadrian and the Roman Agora, was the first hotel built in Athens in 1837 and has therefore been declared as a Historical Monument. Large scale restoration works on the façade as well as renovation works inside the building led to a thorough excavation of the basement which is divided into two chambers.

Aiolos excavation. View of the Library wall and the gate or tower of the Post-Herulian Wall from the West

During last-year’s excavations conducted in the basement by the First Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities (1st EPKA), almost the entire south-east corner of the Library of Hadrian was revealed preserved in very good condition. A large part of the core of the Post-Herulian Wall was also found attached alongside the inner surface of the eastern surrounding wall of the Library.

One of the most important finds of the excavation among many others is a massive pillar of a gate or a tower of the post-Herulian Wall. It is located adjacent to the southeast corner of the Library, confirming the hypothesis of J. Travlos, who placed a gate of the post-Herulian wall at that point (see J. Travlos, The Post-Herulian Wall, Appendix to A. Frantz, Agora XXIV: Late Antiquity: A.D. 267-700, Princeton 1988, 140, pl. 5). It was constructed in its entirety with architectural members of different periods and provenance and by eight at least, preserved intact, marble inscribed pedestals, all belonging to the Roman Period as far as we can say at present. The dimensions of this construction are unknown because large part of it along with the gate itself lies beneath the foundation of the new building.

In the eastern chamber of the Hotel, a large building, probably a bath, of late antiquity was found, incorporated in the wall of the Library of Hadrian. Two partly preserved sections of lead pipes have also come to light only at a short distance from the outer surface of the south enclosure wall of the Library to the axis south-west lying just above a thick layer of concrete that was used as scaffolding for the construction of the precinct wall of the Library. At the same spot were found parts of the upper surfaces of the street that crossed in the early Roman period the area between the Roman Agora and the Library of Hadrian and led to the Hadrianic building that is more commonly known as the Pantheon1 . The pipeline and the scaffolding was destroyed in the late third century A.D., by the construction of the afore mentioned gate or tower of the post-Herulian Wall. The work is in progress.

Dimitris Sourlas

1st Ephorate of Antiquities


1 According to the latest excavations at the area, the width of the road must not exceed 10 meters, which was the distance between the two Roman monuments. For the course of the ancient road, see J. Travlos, Η πολεοδομική εξέλιξις των Αθηνών, Athens 1960, 105, pl. 60. For the excavations on the Pantheon (78, Adrianou Street), see L. Costaki, The intra muros road system of ancient Athens, PhD Diss. Toronto 2006, n. 25, 289-290. For the latest excavations in the area see, D.Sourlas, ‘Νεότερα στοιχεία για τη Ρωμαϊκή Αγορά της Αθήνας’, in S. Vlizos. (ed), Η Αθήνα κατά τη Ρωμαϊκή εποχή: πρόσφατες ανακαλύψεις, νέες έρευνες. Athens during the Roman Period: Recent Discoveries, New Evidence, Αthens 2008, 106. For the close connection between the road system and the drainage and water supply system in ancient Athens, see L. Costaki, supra, 77-81, eadem, ‘Οδικό δίκτυο των Αθηνών’, in M. Korres (ed.), Αττικής Οδοί. Αρχαίοι δρόμοι της Αττικής, Athens 2009, 104-106.