a plague pit found just outside the site during the construction of the Metro station. It is estimated that it originally contained 150 bodies of men, women and children - arranged in some disorder. The date was 430 BC which corresponds to the catastrophic plague that broke out in the city when all the people from the surrounding Attic area had taken sanctuary there from the Spartans at the end of the first year of the Peloponnesian War. A large proportion of the population died so that the city was overwhelmed with dead on the streets, and in desperation the bodies were collected and buried in a mass grave at the edge of the city, without the usual rituals.
It was the first plague recorded in history (by Thucydides) and there has been much debate about the identification of the disease. A few years ago the Athenians analysed DNA found in the tooth pulps of some of these victims and found typhoid. However, the validity of their finding has since been disputed.
The best preserved skull, of an 11 year old girl has recently been constructed by a multidisciplinary team in Athens. She has been given the name Myrtis and there are a series of very interesting YouTube clips:
Video 1. Introduction.
Video 2. Interview with archeologist Efi Baziotopoulou-Valavani
Video 3. Interview with orthodontist Manolis Papagrigorakis and Dr. Manolis Maravelakison on the fabrication process of the skull.
Video 4. Interview with George Panagiaris, Professor of Conservation of Antiquities & amp; Works of Art and Dr. Chris Giapitzakis, Medical Geneticist
Video 5. Interview with painter Yiannis Stavrou who was asked to paint the portrait of Myrtis.
The museum displayed some of the items found from around the same time in the city excavations and included, from the top clay weights for looms (one of the chief occupations of Athenian women), a shrine, a dish with red figures, pots, small statues and oil lamps.
These were found in a house close by the city wall adjacent to the Sacred Gate. The building is on the right, the wall of the sacred gate to the left.
Here is a corner wall of the house. It was originally built in the year of the plague in 430 BC
Its plan was similar to many traditional Chinese houses with an entrance from the street leading to an alley way
and then an inner courtyard with a well
with two-storied buildings around it. There were men and women's apartments, a kitchen and a store room. Later it became a potter's house and bronze smiths, and it is still possible to see the remains of the kiln
the tanks for clay
and also the remains of a drainage system, perhaps.
In the museum were some of the pots
produced in this era: one of the hundreds of potteries giving their name to this very interesting region of Athens called Kerameikos.