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With the aim of continuing in 2024 and in the following years, the Ephorate of Antiquities of Ioannina completed for this year the excavations at the Bouleuterion of ancient Dodoni, which were carried out with generous funding from the Hellenic Parliament.
Apart from the finds in the excavations, such as coins, ceramics, etc., more important for the scientists, according to the deputy head of the Ephorate of Antiquities, Varvara Papadopoulou, is that these investigations yielded data concerning the geometry and architectural structure of building, and will form the basis of the studies that will follow, with the ultimate aim of protecting, restoring and highlighting the monument.
The Bouleuterion is one of the most impressive and monumental ancient buildings in the sanctuary of Dodoni, contemporary with the ancient Theater, which is connected to the socio-political history of Epirus during antiquity, as the seat of assembly of the Alliance and the Common of Epirus. The building is rectangular, measuring 43.6×32.5m. (1,300 sq.m.), with two entrances and a Doric portico on the facade. Internally, the hall is formed into a flat and inclined space for benches, while at least two rows of three Ionic columns each supported the roofed section. The outer walls are strong, reinforced vertically with buttresses and preserved to a height of 4 m.
The first excavations were carried out in 1875 by Konstantinos Karapanos, then by Dimitrios Evaggelidis in 1929 and 1953 and by the Epirus Professor of Archeology Sotiris Dakaris in the years 1965-1973. The last excavation investigation of the Parliament was carried out by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Ioannina in 2008.
One of the interesting findings for the archaeologists are the plinths, which appear to have formed brick columns, something they have not encountered before, as Ms. Papadopoulou mentioned.
The excavation works of the past, but also those done recently, did not remove the archaeologists’ concern about the huge roof, which was originally supported by two rows of three Ionic columns. The data gathered also concern this part, as mentioned by the archaeologist Ypatia Faklari.
Alongside the excavation work, rescue work is also being carried out, as reported by the antiquities conservator Melina Naka, pointing out that all the finds from the site have been transferred to the conservation laboratories of the Ephoria, looking for as much information as possible about their use, as well as about the whole of the building.
Of course, as part of the work, the necessary cleanings and excavating have been carried out, as the archaeologist Christos Kleitsas mentioned, noting that this is a monument, which also demonstrates the transition to the Roman era, and the changes that occurred both at the building and operational level.
According to the website of the Ministry of Culture, after the second burning of the building by the Romans (167 BC), the Parliament seems to have been casually repaired and probably functioned until the Augustan years, as long as the coinage of the new Koinos of Epirot lasted. (168/148 until the end of the 1st BC century), while in the 4th century A.D. a laboratory was established, in which purple was manufactured, because during the excavations, abundant flakes of purple were found and various small tools, which may have something to do with its processing.
“We are not digging just to find something, but we are setting up the infrastructure for the next phase in the building”, noted Mrs. Papadopoulou, adding that the goal of the Ephorate of Antiquities is to continue the work on the Parliament to join the new programming period. “I want to believe we’re going to get it done,” he noted, as the planning process is underway.