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The residential quarter beside the Hermes Gate
This is an area of considerable interest which takes it name from the northernmost gate of the town which leads out to the ancient commercial port. It bears a rather damaged, early-5th century bc relief showing the god Hermes entering the town accompanied by the faintly discernible form of three female figures—perhaps the three Charites that accompany the god also on the relief in the ‘Passage of the Theoroi’. A faint cross has been incised just above the relief. At ground level to left and right of the gate there are two carefully-constructed channels—small tunnels almost—that perforate the walls to allow for the effluence of rainwater at this low point in the city. Originally these were fitted with iron grills for security: on the wall above, beside the modern street, can be seen two large, curiously fashioned stones of ogival form, whose size and shape correspond to the entrances to these drain galleries, and which were probably used as further security for closing them in times of flood, siege or attack.
The ancient street runs along the inside of the walls; from it radiate other streets going inland, and dividing the excavated area into housing blocks. The plan of these streets did not change in centuries, but the housing blocks it defined evolved constantly. There were latterly substantial dwellings here: some were two floors high with pitched roofs, built around open peristyle courtyards which had a paved impluvium to collect rainwater from the roof into cisterns below the building, still marked to day by the round caps and perforated flagstones at their mouths. These upper-level remains are mostly from the late Hellenistic and Roman Imperial times; but the area has been continuously inhabited since the late 8th century bc—i.e. before the colonisation of the island from Paros. The constant rebuilding after destructions by earthquake, enemy, or the attrition of time, means that a variety of different kinds of ancient masonry can clearly be seen here, from the decorative, polygonal stonework of the 6th century bc at the base-level of the southern and eastern blocks, through the smaller rectangular blocks of Hellenistic stonework built on top of it, up to the 2nd century ad alterations at the highest levels. Different again in method are the beautiful, regularly alternating layers of thinner (gneiss) and thicker (marble) rectangular blocks in the southeast corner under the hill, which constitute the massive terracing walls for the higher levels and are probably of the late-5th/ early-4th century bc. These walls are all grey today with the patina of time: but it is important to imagine them with the much more brilliant surface of newly quarried, white marble.
Thasos Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island Group, Greece.