Category Archives: GREECE

The origin of Greek Civilization on a Pyramid Island

The origin of Greek Civilization on a Pyramid Island

A new discovery has possibly revealed the origin of Ancient Greek culture. In a remote and uninhabited pyramid-shaped islet, archaeologists have found evidence of a rich cultural and monumental landscape dating from earlier than the Minoan period.

The evidence so far is that it was a major religious center created with technical knowledge pre-dating that found at Minoan Knossos by at least 400 years, indicating that it played a significant role in the development of Greek civilization.

The Curious Pyramid Isle

The barren islet of Daskalio lies just of the coast of the island of Keros, which is one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea, and was once part of Keros before sea-levels rose. Daskalio has been the subject of intense archaeological investigations since 2015 when an undisturbed site was located.

The research is being carried out by a multinational team, supported by the Greek government and the British School in Athens. The large-scale project is being funded by several international institutes.

Special Deposit South on Keros, with Dhaskalio in the background.

Earliest Greek Urban Center

The project is led by Colin Renfrew and Michael Boyd and has found ‘the earliest truly monumental complex of buildings ever unearthed anywhere in the Greek world’ reports The Independent.

The islet had a settlement with metal-working shops, buildings, and even indoor plumbing, and all of this a millennium before the Minoans, who are often thought of as the first European civilization. According to the Keep Talking Greece website, the team of archaeologists has uncovered ‘a complex, stratified and technically expert society’.

Daskalio has a distinctive pyramid shape which is due to the extensive engineering activities of the ancient people of the Aegean islands. They deliberately exaggerated the pyramidal shape of the rocky outcrop by creating a number of huge terraces on Daskalio, that measured in total about 1,000 feet (300 m).

There were 6 terraces and upon them were built a number of buildings, mostly in marble. Some of the buildings were two floors and had staircases and were built using marble. The cultural landscape was built within a four-decade period and based on a single design.

The island was sculpted with terraces and white stone to make it dazzle for miles around .

Ancient Religious Center

The complex has been dated to about 4,600 years ago. It is believed that the pyramid-island was a religious site that attracted pilgrims from far and wide, who buried small statues here as sacrifices to unknown deities. The summit of the pyramid- islet was an open-area possibly used for sacrifices or votive offerings. The identity of the gods that were worshipped here is unknown.

There is no arable land on the rocky outcrop and little on Keros. Therefore, the inhabitants of ancient Daskalio may have been dependent on religious pilgrims and also engaged in trade. 

Keep Talking Greece reports that archaeological finds indicate that the settlers’ “trade extended over a wide network reaching beyond the Cyclades.” There is evidence that the inhabitants specialized in metallurgy and they may have traded their metal products for food and other goods. Such a huge complex required a great deal of labor and organization, especially to bring the marble from the quarries on Naxos that was used in its construction.

According to the Independent, it is estimated that at “least 3,500 maritime voyages to transport between 7,000 and 10,000 tonnes of shining white marble.” This indicated that the builders of the complex were already great mariners and shipbuilders.

The huge scale of the work required would suggest a powerful and unified state or a league of smaller political entities. It is probable that the site was related to the first Hellenic state in history.

The engineering, complexity of the organization, shipbuilding and metal-working needed to achieve the building of such a place indicates that this civilization was already quite advanced by this time indicating the culture had existed and had been developing for hundreds of years or more. This political entity was at least contemporaneous with and may have influenced the development of the Minoans in Crete and later the Mycenaeans.

One-handled cup with grooved decoration from Dhaskalio.

Influence of Ancient Egyptians?

It appears that the Bronze Age complex was part of a wave of similar monumental buildings that occurred around the world at this time. This was a result of new technologies or the exchange of new ideas, spread via trade routes.

The pyramid shape of the islet would seem to indicate the influence of Ancient Egypt, who associated this shape with their creator-god. It is possible that the pyramid-shaped island represented to the early Greeks, the land rising from the primordial sea, a belief inspired by Ancient Egyptian myths.

The construction of the pyramid-shaped complex is arguably related to the importance that the Greeks attached to mountains in their religion. For example, Mount Olympus was regarded as the home of Zeus and the other deities in their mythology.

It is reasonable to assume that the idea that mountains were sacred may have originated in the Cyclades and indicates that the Aegean islands played a decisive role in the religious development of the Ancient Hellenic World.

The Independent quotes Michael Boyd, saying that the team’s research “suggests that these very early Greeks were organizationally, technically and politically much more advanced than previously thought.” This may indicate that the Cyclades Islands were possibly the cradle of Hellenic civilization. Their religious ideas, technology, and political organization may have influenced the Minoans and in turn the Greeks on the mainland.

It seems likely that the pyramid-island will continue to provide more insights into some of the earliest Hellenic societies.

Newly discovered mass graves could be filled with an ancient greek Tyrants followers

Newly discovered mass graves could be filled with an ancient greek Tyrants followers

A former Greek athlete named Cylon tried to overthrow the government thousands of years ago. It didn’t finish right.

Two mass graves near the Greek capital, including 80 skeletons of the men who may have been followers of ancient would-be tyrant Cylon of Athens discovered by the Archaeologists.

The bones – which had teeth intact – were found in two graves between 675 and 650 B.C., Agence France-Presse reported. They rest in an ancient cemetery where the National Library of Greece and the National Opera are being constructed.

The remains of men buried in a mass grave found in an area of the Falirikon Delta in South Athens

Regional archaeological services director Stella Chryssoulaki laid out the theory as she unveiled the findings at the Central Archaeological Council, the custodians of Greece’s ancient heritage.

Given “the high importance of these discoveries”, the council is launching further investigations, the culture ministry said in a statement.

Two small vases discovered amongst the skeletons have allowed archaeologists to date the graves from between 675 and 650 BC, “a period of great political turmoil in the region”, the ministry said.

The skeletons were found lined up, some on their backs and others on their stomachs. A total of 36 had their hands bound with iron.

They were discovered during excavations at an ancient cemetery on Athens’ seaside outskirts, on the construction site of the new National Library of Greece and National Opera.

Archaeologists found the teeth of the men to be in good condition, indicating they were young and healthy.

This boosts the theory that they could have been followers of Cylon, a nobleman whose failed coup in the 7th century BC is detailed in the accounts of ancient historians Herodotus and Thucydides.

Cylon, a former Olympic champion, sought to rule Athens as a tyrant. But Athenians opposed the coup attempt and he and his supporters were forced to seek refuge in the Acropolis, the citadel that is today the Greek capital’s biggest tourist attraction.

The conspirators eventually surrendered after winning guarantees that their lives would be spared.

But Megacles, of the powerful Alcmaeonid clan, had the men massacred—an act condemned as sacrilegious by the city authorities.

Historians say this dramatic chapter in the story of ancient Athens showed the aristocracy’s resistance to the political transformation that would eventually herald in 2,500 years of Athenian democracy.

The ancient buried city of Akrotiri, Santorini: Greece Pompeii

The ancient buried city of Akrotiri, Santorini: Greece Pompeii

The ruins of a Bronze Age sophisticated settlement that thrived centuries before being eradicated by a major volcanic eruption are tucked away from the southern tip of Santorini.

The remains of the Minoan town of Akrotiri are remarkably well preserved, like the Roman ruins of Pompei. In the middle of the second millennium BC, the settlement erupted, when Thera sat on a volcano, and its people fled.

The volcanic matter enveloped the entire island of Santorini and the town itself, preserving the buildings and their contents, and visitors can still identify houses and pots. 

The archaeological site of Akrotiri.

The settlement of Akrotiri is one such site. Unlike Pompeii, however, no literary evidence for the destruction of Akrotiri is available to us. As a matter of fact, the city was only discovered by an archaeological excavation conducted in 1967.

Akrotiri was a Bronze Age settlement located on the south west of the island of Santorini (Thera) in the Greek Cyclades. This settlement is believed to be associated with the Minoan civilization, located on the nearby island of Crete, due to the discovery of the inscriptions in Linear A script, as well as similarities in artifacts and fresco styles.

The earliest evidence for human habitation of Akrotiri can be traced back as early as the 5 th millennium B.C., when it was a small fishing and farming village. By the end of the 3 rd millennia, this community developed and expanded significantly.

One factor for Akrotiri’s growth may be the trade relations it established with other cultures in the Aegean, as evidenced in fragments of foreign pottery at the site. Akrotiri’s strategic position between Cyprus and Minoan Crete also meant that it was situated on the copper trade route, thus allowing them to become an important center for processing copper, as proven by the discovery of molds and crucibles there.    

Remarkably preserved artifacts are revealed from the ruins of ancient Akrotiri, Greece.

Akrotiri’s prosperity continued for about another 500 years. Paved streets, an extensive drainage system, the production of high-quality pottery, and further craft specialization all point to the level of sophistication achieved by the settlement. This all came to an end, however, by the middle of the 2 nd century B.C. with the volcanic eruption of Thera. Although the powerful eruption destroyed Akrotiri, it also managed to preserve the city, very much like that done by Vesuvius to Pompeii.

The volcanic ash has preserved much of Akrotiri’s frescoes, which can be found in the interior walls of almost all the houses that have been excavated in Akrotiri. This may be an indication that it was not only the elites who had these works of art.

The frescoes contain a wide range of subjects, including religious processions, flowers, everyday life in Akrotiri, and exotic animals. In addition, the volcanic dust also preserved negatives of disintegrated wooden objects, such as offering tables, beds, and chairs.

This allowed archaeologists to produce plaster casts of these objects by pouring liquid Plaster of Paris into the hollows left behind by the objects. One striking difference between Akrotiri and Pompeii is that there were no uninterred bodies from in the former. In other words, the inhabitants of Akrotiri were perhaps more fortunate than those of Pompeii and were evacuated before the volcanic dust reached the site.

Plaster castings of the corpses of a group of human victims of the 79 AD eruption of the Vesuvius, found in the so-called “Garden of the fugitives” in Pompeii. No such remains exist at Akrotiri, indicating the people had time to evacuate.
‘Spring flowers and swallows’ detailed in a delicate Akrotiri fresco

In 2016, Russian cybersecurity expert Eugene Kaspersky gave archaeologists interested in excavating Akrotiri a huge economic boost by funding three major projects at the ancient site. This is how he explained his reason for financial support:

“What I find magical about Akrotiri and the decades-long, ongoing archaeological research is the sense of an unpredictable past. The fact that following a volcano eruption 3,500 years ago, we modern people are trying to comprehend how these people lived back then. And I believe that we have plenty to discover. Do you think that 3,500 years from now anyone will be interested in finding out how we lived?”

The eruption of Thera also had an impact on other civilizations. The nearby Minoan civilization, for instance, faced a crisis due to the volcanic eruption. This is debatable, however, as some have speculated that the crisis was caused by natural disasters occurring prior to the eruption of Thera.

The short term climate change caused by volcanic eruption is also believed to have disrupted the ancient Egyptian civilization. The lack of Egyptian records regarding the eruption may be attributed to the general disorder in Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period.

Nevertheless, the available records speak of heavy rainstorms occurring in the land, which is an unusual phenomenon. These storms may also be interpreted metaphorically as representing the elements of chaos that needed to be subdued by the Pharaoh.

Some researchers have even claimed that the effects of the volcanic eruption were felt as far away as China. This is based on records detailing the collapse of the Xia Dynasty at the end of the 17 th century B.C., and the accompanying meteorological phenomena. Finally, the Greek myth of the Titanomachy in Hesiod’s Theogony may have been inspired by this volcanic eruption, whilst it has also been speculated that Akrotiri was the basis of Plato’s myth of Atlantis.

Thus, Akrotiri and the eruption of Thera serve to show that even in ancient times, a catastrophe in one part of the world can have repercussions on a global scale, something that we are more used to in the better-connected world of today.

The oldest submerged city: A 5000 old sunken perfectly designed city in southern Greece

The oldest submerged city: A 5000 old sunken perfectly designed city in southern Greece

There is a little village called Pavlopetri, in the Peloponnesus region of southern Greece, where a nearby ancient city dating back 5,000 years resides.

Pavlopetri – Laconia

This is however not a typical archeological site, the city is located about 4 meters underwater and is believed to be the oldest known submerged city in the world. 

The community is incredibly well built with roads, two floors with parks, temples, a cemetery, and a complex water management system including channels and water pipes. 

3D reconstruction image of the sunken city

In the center of the city, was a square or plaza measuring about 40×20 meters and most of the buildings have been found with up to 12 rooms inside. The design of this city surpasses the design of many cities today.

The city is so old that it existed in the period that the famed ancient Greek epic poem ‘Iliad’ was set in.

Research in 2009 revealed that the site extends for about 9 acres and evidence shows that it had been inhabited prior to 2800 BC.

Scientists estimate that the city was sunk in around 1000 BC due to earthquakes that shifted the land.

However, despite this and even after 5,000 years, the arrangement of the city is still clearly visible and at least 15 buildings have been found.

The city’s arrangement is so clear that the head of the archaeological team, John Henderson of the University of Nottingham, and his team, have been able to create what they believe is an extremely accurate 3D reconstruction of the city, which can be viewed in the videos below.

3D reconstruction image of the sunken city

Historians believe that the ancient city had been a center for commerce for the Minoan Civilization and the Mycenaean civilization.

Scattered all over the place there are large storage containers made from clay, statues, everyday tools, and other artifacts.

The name of the city is currently unknown as well as its exact role in the ancient world.

The featured image shows the original foundations of the city behind underneath the reconstructed pillars and walls of one of the buildings.