2,700-year-old portico unearthed in Greece is one of the oldest structures in the region

Archeologists digging at the site of the ancient city Argilos in Northern Greece found a 2,700-year-old structure known as a portico, a row of shops and other businesses. According to a news release from the University of Montreal, the find is unique in northern Greece and one of the oldest such structures known to man.

Jacques Perreault, Professor at the University of Montreal's Centre of Classical Studies, said, "Porticos are well known from the Hellenistic period, from the 3rd to 1st century BC, but earlier examples are extremely rare. The one from Argilos is the oldest example to date from northern Greece and is truly unique."

Perreault and Zisis Bonias, an archaeologist with the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, are leading the excavation of Argilos together. The city flourished in the 5th century BC, a wealthy seaside trading city located on the Aegean Sea.

Roughly 40 yards of the portico -- or "stoa" in Greek -- have been unearthed this year. There were 7 open rooms to the portico, five of which have been excavated. Initially, archeologists expected to find that the rooms of the portico were all identical, but in fact, they're all different from each other.

"The construction techniques and the stones used are different for one room to another, hinting that several masons were used for each room," said Perreault. "This indicates that the shop owners themselves were probably responsible for building the rooms, that 'private enterprise' and not the city was the source of this stoa."

[Ancient Greek ruins at Delphi via Shutterstock]