Vari House Virtual World-BetaDATING

It would be nice to find a note that read: "This building was built in the year so and so, by these people for this reason," like a cornerstone on some modern buildings, or like the information found on architects' drawings.  Rarely, if ever, are these types of documents preserved in the archaeological record.  Rarely did people bother to write down such information.  So, what is left that can provide dates? Some objects do have dates or datable information, on them, such as coins.

All the artifacts found in association with a building and found in relation to each other provide valuable hints. Sometimes an object is similar (for instance, in shape, size, decoration, or find location) to one from another site that has been securely dated.  Archaeologists then assume the two artifacts also were made around the same time.  When all the artifacts from a building are studied and compared, a picture emerges of the range of likely dates for the building.

Building construction details and spatial organization, again in comparison to other datable buildings, also provide clues to a structure's date.  Archaeologists recognized that the materials and layout of the building at Vari were similar to those in houses from the Hellenistic period of ancient Greece.  Could they be more specific about the date of the building?

The excavators at Vari were lucky enough to find some datable pot sherds (fragments) in the debris underneath the dirt floor of one of the rooms.  The date of these fragments gives us the earliest possible date for the building because the objects were found under the floor.  Therefore, they must have been in use before the floor was laid down, and thus the floor (that is, the actual occupation date) must be dated later than the fragments.

Evidence for the latest possible occupation date for the building was found elsewhere in one of the rooms.  Have you found it?

Thus the excavators have evidence for the earliest possible date and the latest possible date; so, the building must date somewhere in between.

Following are some of the reasons why archaeologists believe that the building was in use only for a relatively short time: When all the evidence was studied together, archaeologists could place the building between 325 and 275 BCE, during the Hellenistic period of Greek history, the period immediately following Alexander the Great's conquests.
Vari House as Reconstructed
Vari House as Excavated
Vari House Interior
Vari House Plan
Residents' Occupation
Building Function
Vari House Description
Suggested Reading
Return to Vari Home Page

© 1996-1999 Learning Sites, Inc.