previous sub-section
Four The Date of the Dema Wall
next part

Conclusions

We may summarize here the many and varied strands of evidence which coincide in demonstrating that the Dema wall was built in 378 B.C. Archaeological evidence for the date of the wall consists of its style of masonry and, more important, a well-dated sherd found embedded in the fill of its construction. The more precise limit established by the sherd, the Dema saltcellar, is that the wall can date no earlier than ca. 425, and much more likely after 400, within the period ca. 400-375 if the saltcellar was contemporary with the building of the wall. Masonry style is entirely in agreement with these conclusions and suggests, moreover, that the wall probably does not postdate the fourth century.

Excavation at the Dema tower adds significant confirmation to the above conclusions and probable inferences, for the tower is intelligible only if it and related towers elsewhere in Attica were built as part of the same defensive scheme as the Dema wall. Clear and abundant evidence for the reuse of the tower as a stand for beehives, somewhere in the period ca. 340-300, after the tower had fallen into ruin, indicates that the original use of the tower most likely fell within the first half of the fourth century. Two cup fragments distinctly earlier than the second-phase material at the tower indicate that a date later than ca. 375 for the first phase is unlikely. Purely archaeological criteria, therefore, narrow the range for the date of the Dema wall to ca. 425-375, with the later half of this range distinctly more likely than the earlier.

The dating thus defined by the archaeological evidence is entirely supported by the evidence of historical probability. The tactical principles embodied by the design of the wall are exemplified in the general-ship of Athenian commanders from Iphikrates to Phokion, and the most appropriate parallels for both fieldwork and tactics are associated with Chabrias in the Boiotian War. Strategically, both the wall and the tower, when associated with other towers around Athens and toward the western frontiers, make excellent sense in terms of the defensive situation contemplated by the Athenians in the spring of 378. By contrast, neither earlier nor later events so aptly suit the physical evidence. Finally, theoretical writings of the two decades following the Boiotian War prescribe


125

defensive measures of exactly the sort represented by the Dema wall and its outworks, making it most likely that this system in Attica and the Theban stockade built and manned by a joint Theban-Athenian force were innovations (or, more properly, refinements) that set their stamp on a generation of military theory and practice.

The cumulative evidence, deriving from a wide variety of historical and archaeological sources, is thus entirely consistent with the thesis that the Dema wall was built, and that it and related watchtowers in Attica were manned, in readiness for an attack which never came, during the periods of the Spartan campaigns across the Isthmus of Corinth from the early summer of 378 until the same season in 375. These arguments have thereby deduced a fixed chronological point for an archaeological monument, the Dema wall, and with it, the Dema tower. Other mountaintop towers in Attica can be related to the Dema defense system through both stylistic and functional considerations. The historical significance of the Dema wall can now be properly assessed, and it will be found to shed light on contemporary events from a perspective other-wise barely represented in our historical sources. The broader implications of this assessment of the function of the Dema wall for the study of fortifications in the classical world have already been outlined above in chapter 1. It will be appropriate to proceed, in chapter 5, to a thorough reappraisal of the Boiotian War, incorporating the new evidence that can now contribute to a narrative account of this episode in the history of land warfare in Greece.


127

previous sub-section
Four The Date of the Dema Wall
next part