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Orraon: Best Preserved Settlement of Ancient Greece

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The remains of the palace at Orraon. Credit: Harrygouvas, CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikipedia

In Greece, the best preserved ancient houses from the Classical through the Hellenistic period can be found in the ancient city of Orraon or Horreum, in Epirus.

There are four well-preserved buildings of the late Classical period, three private houses and a public structure.

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In Orraon most of the houses are still standing two story high and the street plan is still visible. In the town plan twelve narrow parallel streets, in north and south direction, cross two wider streets. By the way the streets run form an oblong town blocks, the insula, and fifteen meters wide.

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Two of the ancient houses still partially standing today. Credit: Astrea12, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wikipedia

Orraon settlement in ancient Greece consisted of 100 houses

The settlement consisted of 100 houses, built of local limestone. One house occupies the full width of each insula. Some pieces of the houses still remain today. The main parts that are visible today are the stone the houses were made of, window frames, door frames, and a few more features of the house are still visible.

Everybody in the town of Orraon used a cistern. The cistern was located near the main gate, which was located in the northeast part of town. The cistern was located in this area because it was the highest point of altitude in the city. They had a closure wall located around the cistern. They put the antae frame placed at the south wall of the tank, and the straight stairs at the northeastern corner of the tank.

The stairs helped them to get to the bottom of the tank to clean it as well as getting water out of the tank. The wall was built out of rectangular stones, and limestone. The wall was higher than the cistern to keep people from throwing trash into the tank.

There are only a few ancient Greek building preserved and in most cases only public buildings – temples, auditoriums, stadiums, oracles, markets, cemeteries – are found in perfect condition. Private homes are usually not well preserved and, in most occasions, archaeologists can only locate their foundation.

Orraon was founded at the end of the 4th century BC, when Alketas was the king of the Molossoi or in the second quarter of the same century.

A notable feature of Orraon is its defensive character. With massive fortification walls reinforced with towers in places and a cistern for collecting water, this city-fortress was located in a a strategic position, guarding the passage from the Amvrakikos Gulf to the Ioannina basin, the territory of Molossoi.

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The remains of a building. Credit: Harrygouvas, CC BY-SA 3.0/ Wikipedia

Destroyed by the Romans

Orraon was destroyed by the Romans in 167 BC, but was subsequently rebuilt and finally was abandoned by its inhabitants, who were forced out to settle down in Nicopolis, after 31 BC.

Ancient Nicopolis, situated close to Preveza in western part of Epirus, is a well-preserved archaeological site, a whole ancient city with odeum, theatre, walls and many more relics.

A few years ago, Greek authorities constructed the modern Archaeological Museum of Nicopolis, which hosts several interesting exhibitions all year round.

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