The Forum of Heraclea Sintica is becoming clearly shaped with the disclosure of the two massive columns and the magnificent Corinthian capital a few days ago. According to the head of the archaeological team Assoc. Prof. Dr. Lyudmil Vagalinski they were decorating the northern end of the square in the 4th century and are taken from buildings built in the 2nd century. In the late Roman epoch citizens of Heraclea have tried to recover their city after an enemy attack and partial burning, soon after 276 – they wanted to return the shine to the forum but not to incur high costs. And the open square space (without the buildings around it) in the 4th century has spread on the enormous 2500 square meters! That is why it was necessary to reuse not only columns but other structural elements from the buildings, raised there from 200 to 400 years earlier.
The columns with Corinthian capitals have worn horizontal marble ornamented “beams” (architraves) on which the marble blocks (cornices) were laid with culverts to drain rainwater running down the tiled roof of a portico. But do not imagine ordinary chutes – the water is blown out of the mouth of sculpted lion heads some of which were found within the forum during the excavations last year.
The columns and the listed elements on them (the so-called order) maintained one of the ends of the tiled roof, and the other was stepping on a row of 15 premises: some of which were commercial, others – sanctuaries. So along the northern side of the square its builders have formed a covered corridor, called portico. The goal was to protect the visitors from the rain and the strong sun.
According to results of the latest archaeological excavations in Heraclea Sintica the East and South side of the Forum did not have colonnades. It is not clear just how the Western looked, because it falls into an inaccessible private parcel so far.
It is, however, certain that in the 4th century the shape of the central square was rectangular – this is specific for the Roman forums, while the typical Greek agora has the shape of a square. And just like in the best Roman models there were sculptures on the square of Heraclea Sintica. Recently the team of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ludmil Vagalinski revealed two masonry pedestals for statues, raised along the central axis at the northern end of the forum.