Preferred Citation: Munn, Mark H. The Defense of Attica: The Dema Wall and the Boiotian War of 378-375 B.C. Berekeley:  University of California Press,  1993.

Four The Date of the Dema Wall

Limits of the Archaeological Evidence

The previous section has demonstrated the singular appropriateness of the Dema defenses to the circumstances of the Boiotian War and has presented reasons why the preceding Corinthian War was decidedly less likely to have seen the deployment of this defensive system. The historical and archaeological possibilities for the date of the Dema wall are by no means thus exhausted, for the archaeological evidence discussed in chapters 2 and 3 has limited the possibilities only to the range of ca. 425-375.

Archaeological evidence is always to some degree subjective, however, and is therefore always liable to alternative interpretations. In this case, it must be pointed out that the significance of the relationships between the tower and wall, and between the cup sherds, catalog nos. 1 and 2, and the tower, are established by arguments, not by irrefutable demonstration. Although it is doubtful that any strong argument could be found to dissociate the Dema tower from the Dema wall, it would be easier to dismiss the cup fragments as irrelevant strays (though again, arguments would have to be offered to counter the case made here). If these sherds could be so dismissed, then the lower terminus for the date of the Dema system would move to at least ca. 350, and a date well into the second half of the century could not be absolutely excluded—the

[36] This is the fully developed "stratégic nouvelle" as described by Garlan 1974a, 66-86; cf. Garlan 1973, 154-60, and Ober 1985a, 69-86. All of the sources cited by Garlan and Ober as reflecting innovations in fourth-century strategic thinking postdate the Boiotian War.


date would only need to be earlier than the date of the reuse of the tower, which could be as late as ca. 300.

On the other hand, another analysis might leave unchallenged the association of the cup sherds nos. 1 and 2 with the original use of the tower but might differ in assessing the implications of their date. It is conceivable that one might argue that the cup sherds do not permit a date as late as ca. 375 and that something closer to 400 should be the lowest acceptable terminus for the date of the wall. Here again, though, the evidence and arguments cited in chapter 3 (see especially note 28) would have to be countered. Ultimately, however, with material as slight as this, and especially when arguments might seek to discriminate between dates as close as a quarter-century, the imprecision and subjectivity of the archaeological evidence does not allow a firm decision. The acceptance of the case that has been consistently advanced up to this point, namely, that the Dema wall belongs to the era of the Boiotian War, ultimately depends upon a convincing demonstration by arguments from historical probability that no other occasion within the broadest chronological limits allowable is either suitable or likely.

To those who may find themselves persuaded by the arguments so far adduced in favor of the date of 378, it may seem otiose now to review the possible alternative occasions from the last quarter of the fifth to the last quarter of the fourth centuries. The skeptic, however, needs no apology for the exercise. For in constructing an argument such as this which combines such various forms of evidence, it is essential that the comparative strengths of each argument and class of evidence be established so that it will be clear, in any case of real or perceived contradiction between argument and evidence, which has priority over the other. Potential disagreements with the interpretation of archaeological evidence advanced here have been noted above. They derive from the subjective nature of archaeological evidence. If one were to argue that the archaeological evidence either allows alternate possibilities or even excludes the explanation advanced here, then one must also demonstrate that one or more alternative occasions or explanations suit the evidence as well as or better than the scenario advanced here. If, in such a historically well-documented period, no such occasions or explanations can be found, then any objection on archaeological grounds to the interpretation of the Dema wall advanced here is unfounded.

This point is of considerable importance, for it entails the deduction of a cumulative proof of the date of the Dema wall. In this process, the associations on which the foregoing arguments have been founded, namely, that the Dema tower is integral to the wall and that other mountaintop towers were integral to the Dema defenses, and further, that the cup sherds, catalog nos. 1 and 2, were debris from the original use of


the tower, are all validated on the strength of the historical evidence (which is quite independent of the archaeological evidence in this case). This demonstration has implications beyond the subject and the monuments under consideration here, for it establishes a fixed point of reference for archaeological criteria such as techniques of fortification, masonry styles, and even pottery chronology. The last is potentially the most important archaeological implication of this study. For although at present the collection of pottery associated with the primary date for the Dema wall and tower is almost absurdly minuscule, there is little doubt that in the course of time more work on related towers and outposts in Attica will reveal more pottery to be associated with this point in time, and the accumulation of material will then become significant.

There is also little doubt, however, that the study of other Attic towers and outposts will prove complicated. The Dema tower has already revealed two distinct phases of activity within the space of a century, and this tower has every likelihood of having had one of the simplest histories of any such mountaintop outpost in Attica. Almost all others, once established, very likely were frequently reused for various purposes through-out the late classical and Hellenistic periods, as the evidence of sherds on the surface at many of these sites makes plain. The archaeological evidence, as its study progresses, is thus bound to be complicated even on such small sites. A historically fixed point at the Dema tower, however slight the archaeological material initially associated with it may be, is therefore of great importance for future work on Attic watchtowers and related sites.

In establishing the date of a monument such as the Dema wall, there-fore, the archaeological evidence is only indicative. It serves to show approximately where, in time, the historical occasion is to be sought. That occasion can only be found through historical inquiry.

Four The Date of the Dema Wall

Preferred Citation: Munn, Mark H. The Defense of Attica: The Dema Wall and the Boiotian War of 378-375 B.C. Berekeley:  University of California Press,  1993.