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Pyramid island Keros in the Aegean reveals its stunning prehistoric secrets

Keros has been long famous for its flat-faced Cycladic marble statues. Latest excavations on the island reveal that the ancient inhabitants had an advanced system of plumbing long before the Mycenaeans built it in the palace of Knossos.

Around 4,500 years ago, ancient engineers and workers terraced the little island of Keros in the Cyclades archipelago in the Aegean Sea, creating a sort of step pyramid. They then imported hundreds of tons of gleaming white rock from the nearby island of Naxos, creating a bright outdoor shrine where early Greeks performed rituals. Now, Maev Kennedy at The Guardian has highlighted the recent excavations at Dhaskalio, the settlement adjoining the island shows it was more densely populated than researchers imagined, and two metal-working shops indicate its inhabitants were very sophisticated engineers.

Keros is an uninhabited island 6 nautical miles southeast of Naxos. Keros is especially known for the flat-faced Cycladic marble statues also known as “Keros Hoard”.

Μικροσκοπικό μαρμάρινο ειδώλιο

Archaeologists have studied Keros for years with serious work beginning in the 1960s.
Besides the terraces, the island is also covered in broken marble statues likely buried during rituals by religious pilgrims.
Πίθοι εγκιβωτισμένοι στο δάπεδο για αποθήκευση λαδιού ή σιτηρών
Recent excavations at the pyramid have also revealed a sophisticated system of drainage pipes in the lower levels, showing that the builders carefully planned their monument.
Η κλίμακα προς τη δίοδο που ένωνε το Δασκαλιό με την Κέρο
It also indicates they were dealing with runoff and sewage an estimated 1,000 years before the Minoans, who built Europe’s first drainage system and flush toilets at the Palace of Knossos on Crete.
Recent excavations show that Dhaskalio was full of monumental constructions made from the same gleaming white stone from Naxos and that its inhabitants were as advanced as the shrine they constructed.

The Keros has very few resources and farming is not possible in the rocky landscape. Elaina Zachos at National Geographic reports that food and every other resource must have been imported to the community at the base of the monument. As pilgrims came to the site, the village grew into a sophisticated urban center. The two metal workshops in particular point to this. The researchers found a lead ax, a mold for making copper daggers and fragments of a bellows in one shop. In the other a clay oven was found which will be investigated later this year.

Excavation co-director Michael Boyd of the University of Cambridge says the skills of the Dhaskalio metal smiths was probably unique in the region. “At a time when access to raw materials and skills was very limited, metalworking expertise seems to have been very much concentrated at Dhaskalio,” he says in the press release.

“What we are seeing here with the metalworking and in other ways is the beginnings of urbanization: centralization, meaning the drawing of far-flung communities into networks centered on the site, intensification in craft or agricultural production, aggrandizement in architecture, and the gradual subsuming of the ritual aspects of the sanctuary within the operation of the site. This gives us a clear insight into social change at Dhaskalio, from the earlier days where activities were centered on ritual practices in the sanctuary to the growing power of Dhaskalio itself in its middle years.” full story at smithsonianmag

Mέλη της ανασκαφικής ομάδας εν ώρα εργασίας

Λίθινη μήτρα για την κατασκευή χάλκινης αιχμής δόρατος, όπως ανακαλύφθηκε
Μικροσκοπικό μαρμάρινο ειδώλιο
Η κλίμακα στην είσοδο του οικισμού από ψηλά. Το επίπεδο της θάλασσας ήταν αρκετά χαμηλότερα κατά την Πρώιμη Εποχή του Χαλκού.

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