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Gerald Cadogan

Minoan site in Crete. Karphi was a large town on the slopes of a prominent peak about 1250 m high (itself named Karphi, or ‘nail’, after its rocky, knob-like summit), on the north side of the Lasithi Mountains in eastern Crete. It was inhabited in the Late Minoan (lm) iiic (c. 1190–c. 1050 bc) and Sub-Minoan (c. 1050–c. 1000 bc) periods and possibly too for some years in the Protogeometric period (c. 1000–c. 900 bc). The ‘nail’ was probably also the site of a Middle Minoan (c. 2050–c. 1600 bc) peak sanctuary.

The excavations by J. D. S. Pendlebury and others in 1937–9 of much of the settlement (main area 130×130 m; east area 150×70 m) and some of its tombs gave a rare chance to see a large Cretan settlement of the very end of the Bronze Age with many details of its daily life preserved. Although on a high and bleak spot, Karphi seems to have enjoyed a surprisingly sophisticated way of life for a period generally thought to have been one of impoverishment. Finds of pottery, dress pins and other metalware attest to connections with settlements elsewhere in Crete, in the Aegean and even in Cyprus. The finds from the site (Herakleion, Archaeol. Mus.) are predominantly of ...


J. Lesley Fitton

Minoan palace and town in Crete that flourished in the Neo-Palatial period (c. 1650–c. 1425 bc). The smallest of the Minoan palaces, Kato Zakros lies at the edge of a very small fertile plain that opens on to the Bay of Zakros on Crete’s eastern coast. The palace and town seem to have owed their position to the sheltered anchorage afforded by the bay and to have been important as a trading centre, perhaps receiving goods brought by ship to Crete from the East. The unworked elephants’ tusks and copper ingots found within the palace are probably examples of such imports. Excavations carried out in 1901 by D. G. Hogarth, of the British School of Archaeology at Athens, revealed extensive remains of Minoan houses, but it was not until Nicholas Platon began work on the site in 1962 for the Greek Archaeological Society that the palace, and further substantial areas of the town, began to be revealed. Investigation of the site is still continuing. While traces of early buildings show that the town was occupied from the Proto-Palatial period (...



R. L. N. Barber

Reviser Gordon Campbell

[Keos; Ceos; Zea]

Greek island at the north-western extremity of the Aegean Cyclades. It has several Bronze Age sites, by far the most important of which, in terms of both architecture and finds, is the settlement of Ayia Irini, on a small promontory in the sheltered western bay of Ayios Nikolaos. First identified (1956) as an important prehistoric site by K. Scholas, it was excavated (1960–c. 1971) by the late J. L. Caskey for the University of Cincinnati. Ayia Irini was occupied for most of the Bronze Age. Some houses date from the Early Cycladic (ec) period (c. 3500/3000–c. 2000 bc), while the chief Middle Cycladic (mc; c. 2000–c. 1600 bc) remains are of fortifications—one system with horseshoe-shaped bastions and a later one with square towers (see Cycladic §II 2.). There are some cists and more elaborately built tombs of the ...


K. A. Wardle

[Cephalonia; Kefallinia]

Greek island in the Ionian Sea, opposite the entrance to the Gulf of Patras. In the Homeric poems it is recorded under the name Sami as part of the kingdom of Odysseus. Palaeolithic flints were found at Skala in the south of the island; in later Mycenaean times it was clearly well populated, since local versions of the Mycenaean chamber tomb, with rows of burial pits in their floors, occur at Lakkithra, Metaxata and Mazarakata. These contained poorly made idiosyncratic local pottery with Mycenaean characteristics, as well as bronze weapons and ornaments. Some of the latter are of ‘European’ types, showing that trade with Italy and central Europe persisted even after the destruction of the Mycenaean palaces (c. 1200 bc). Mycenaean pottery was also found during excavations at the Classical acropolis of Krane, which may indicate the existence of a prehistoric stronghold at that site. At Skala there are foundations of an Archaic temple (...



R. L. N. Barber


Small Greek island of the Aegean Cyclades, to the south of Naxos. Though no longer inhabited, it was evidently important in prehistoric times. There was a settlement on the small islet of Daskalio, now off the western tip of Keros but perhaps originally part of the main island. On the mainland opposite are extensive traces of what may have been a cemetery. Relatively little professional excavation has been carried out on Keros, though work has been under way since 1987. There has, however, been a great deal of illicit digging, and many fine objects are certainly or possibly from Keros, including marble vases and figurines. Among the latter are the famous musicians playing the lyre or pipes (Athens, N. Archaeol. Mus.; see fig.). They are Early Cycladic ii (c. 2800/2600–c. 2300 bc) in date and similar in style to the folded-arm type, though more complex—the lyre-player, for instance, is seated (...



Margaret Lyttleton and Iris Cornelia Love


Turkish town on the site of the ancient Greek city of the same name at the tip of the Resadiye Peninsula in south-west Asia Minor. The city was celebrated in antiquity for the nude statue of Aphrodite by Praxiteles, which stood in the circular temple dedicated to the goddess. Knidos was founded, according to tradition, by colonists from Sparta or Argos in the 2nd millennium bc or earlier and it reached the zenith of its wealth and power in the 4th century bc; it was abandoned in the 7th century ad. From early in the 1st millennium bc it was the capital of the Dorian Hexapolis. First excavated by Sir Charles Newton for the British Museum in 1857–9, the site’s antiquity was not established until the Long Island University Archaeological Expedition under Iris Love began excavations in 1967.

Margaret Lyttleton

The remains of the city occupy the headland of Cape Krio and the western tip of the peninsula; the cape was originally an island but was joined to the peninsula by a mole, forming two harbours: the trireme harbour to the north and the commercial harbour to the south. Knidos owed its prosperity to trade and was a noted exporter of wine. The residential quarter was laid out along terraces on the headland, while the public buildings and sanctuaries stood beyond the harbours at the tip of the peninsula. Remains include two theatres, a Hadrianic Corinthian temple, a Doric stoa and the Sanctuary of Demeter, where a life-size marble statue of the goddess was found (mid-...



Sinclair Hood

Principal palatial centre of the Minoan civilization in Crete (see fig.). It flourished during the Cretan Bronze Age in the 3rd and 2nd millennia bc and was the home of the legendary king Minos. (For calendar dates of Minoan chronological periods see Minoan, §I, 4.) The site lies c. 1. 5 km from the sea in the middle of the north coast of the island. It is concealed on its seaward side by low rises, and occupies an undulating slope bounded by the so-called Acropolis hill on the west and on the east by the Kairatos stream which runs at the foot of the high limestone ridge of Ailias. In early times the area was more riven by gulleys, and the Kairatos ran in a deeper bed, but during the Roman period the valley began to fill with washed-down debris. Good building stone was quarried from the slopes and summit of Ailias from the Bronze Age onwards, while beds of gypsum, used during the Bronze Age for façades and as veneer on slabs, were exposed on the south edge of the site. The area was well provided with springs in antiquity, and a high water table made the sinking of wells easy. Knossos lies near the centre of one of the largest expanses of fertile land in Crete, well suited to the cultivation of vines and olives....



J. Lesley Fitton


Minoan harbour town that flourished c. 2050–c. 1250 bc, and Greek sanctuary that flourished c. 1025–c. 100 ad, on the Bay of Mesara in southern Crete, some 8 km south-west of the Minoan sites of Phaistos and Ayia Triada. Excavations begun in 1976 by a team from the University of Toronto and the Royal Ontario Museum, under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies, revealed three main areas. At the northern end of the steeply sloping site, on the hilltop, is a group of Late Minoan (lm; c. 1600–c. 1050 bc) houses, while an extensive group of rooms of Middle Minoan date (c. 2050–c. 1600 bc) lies on the central hillside. In contrast to these relatively unpretentious remains, the southern, lower slopes of the hill have revealed buildings on an impressive scale, perhaps with some public or civic function. The earlier of these, Building JT, built in ...



Christopher Mee and William E. Mierse

Greek island off the south-west coast of Turkey. The island, the second largest in the Dodekanese, is long and narrow (l. 45 km) and very fertile on its northern side. The most important site is Kos town (founded 366 bc) at the island’s north-east end. In the Hellenistic period Kos was famous for its Sanctuary of Asklepios. The Knights Hospitaller ruled the island from 1315 to 1522, but they were driven out by the Turks. After World War I it was under Italian control; it was ceded to Greece in 1947.

Christopher Mee

Only two of the prehistoric sites on Kos have been systematically excavated, both by Luigi Morricone between 1935 and 1946: the settlement on the Serraglio in the town of Kos and the associated cemetery at Eleona and Langada. The earliest, unstratified, pottery from the Serraglio is of Early Bronze iii date (c. 2400–c. 2050...



Nicolas Coldstream and Ioanna Bitha

[Cythera; Kithira; Ven. Cerigo; anc. Porphyrousa]

Greek island, 32×19 km, immediately south of the Peloponnese. It was credited by Herodotus (Histories, with the oldest cult of Aphrodite, and its more romantic associations are recalled by Antoine Watteau’s Pilgrimage to the Isle of Cythera (Paris, Louvre). The landscape is rocky, with some fertile valleys. One such valley fed the eastern promontory site of Kastri (i), near the modern village of Avlemon, settled by Minoan Cretans from c. 2500 until c. 1425 bc. The historical Greek (c. 480–323 bc) city state of Kythera moved inland to the Palaiokastro hill and became a Spartan dependency, though with brief interludes of Athenian occupation. Kastri was fortified from c. ad 550 until c. 650 as a refuge against Slav and Avar invasions of Greece. After desertion in the 9th and 10th centuries the island’s mid-Byzantine recovery is attested by the building of numerous frescoed churches, continuing after annexation by Venice (...


Louise Schofield

Greek village between Chalkis and Eretria on the south-west coast of the island of Euboia. Nearby is the site of an important ancient Greek Bronze Age and Dark Age settlement (occupied c. 2100–c. 700 bc). Excavations since the mid-1960s by the British School of Archaeology at Athens, joined later by the Greek Archaeological Service, have revealed a site comprising the settlement area of Xeropolis and five cemeteries, the most important of which is 1 km to the west on the hill of Toumba. Most of the finds, including those discussed here, are now in Eretria Archaeological Museum.

Xeropolis is a steep-sided plateau (c. 500×120 m), extending east–west along the outer edge of a broad coastal promontory. Although badly eroded, the site (especially in the north-west of the promontory) has retained habitation levels dating from the end of the Early Bronze Age to late Geometric times. The earliest occupation dates from around ...



Carol Zerner

Prehistoric coastal site in the Argolid, Greece, that flourished from the Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age. It is located at the modern village of Myloi on the western shore of the Bay of Nauplion. North of the site, beside the stream Amymone, lie the Lernaian springs and marshes, mythical home of the Hydra, the many-headed monster slain by Herakles. Visible as a low mound of accumulated habitation debris, the site was noted as pre-Classical in the early 1900s. Excavations conducted from 1952 to 1958 by John L. Caskey, Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, uncovered a prehistoric settlement of major importance. Lerna is significant because an undisturbed sequence of strata dating from Neolithic to Mycenaean times was preserved, enabling archaeologists to reconstruct a continuous picture of human life in prehistoric times on the mainland of Greece. Excavated material is housed in the Archaeological Museum of Argos. Architectural remains from each period have been preserved on the site for visitors....



Hector Williams

[Gr. Lésvos; now Mitilíni]

Large and mountainous Greek island off the coast of Turkey in the north-east Aegean, south of Lemnos and north of Chios. An important centre in the Early Bronze Age (c. 3600–c. 2000 bc), after c. 1000 bc it became a principal area of Aeolic Greek civilization. Somewhat neglected apart from a systematic German survey in the late 19th century, Lesbos numbers Mytilene (the capital), Methymna, Eressos, Pyrra, Antissa and Arisbe among its cities (see fig.), but only at the first has much work been done.

The only Bronze Age site on the island excavated and published is Thermi, some 10 km north of Mytilene town on the south-east coast. British excavations in 1929–33 under Winifred Lamb uncovered an Early Bronze Age coastal settlement similar to Troy that passed through five stages before its abandonment, resettlement a thousand years later and final destruction by fire c....



K. A. Wardle

Ionian island just off the western coast of central Greece. It was named after the high white cliffs at its southern end, where the lyric poet Sappho allegedly committed suicide. The German archaeologist W. Doerpfeld was so convinced that it was the true Homeric Ithaka that he dug numerous test trenches on the coastal plain of Nidhri, and the discovery in 1908 of rich burials seemed to confirm his belief. These, however, date to the Early Bronze Age (c. 2200 bc), and thus they cannot be linked to the Odyssey. The earliest graves were placed in circular stone platforms (diam. 3–10 m), each with a central burial, often richly furnished, and subsidiary burials, perhaps of relatives or retainers. The artefacts (Leukas, Archaeol. Col.) found reflect both the pottery traditions of mainland Greece and the copper metallurgy of the Cyclades. Items of gold and silver include spiral bracelets and decorated sheathing from dagger hilts. The burials represent the westernmost settlement in Early Bronze Age Greece and suggest that even at this early date there was trade in the Adriatic. By the Classical period (...


Dimitris Plantzos

A distinctively Macedonian type of monumental chamber-tomb, consisting of a built chamber roofed with a barrel-vault, sometimes also preceded by an antechamber, and covered by an earth tumulus. The type emerged some time in the 4th century bc, and was widely used in Macedonia and its sphere of influence well into the Hellenistic period (323–27 bc).

Inhumations and cremations were practised contemporaneously in Macedonia, and are often found in the same tomb; it seems that the choice was a matter of personal preference or family tradition. Cremated remains were deposited inside a chest (larnax) made of stone, metal or wood, or a metal or clay hydria (water-jug). The tombs were furnished with couches, thrones, stools, chests, tables, benches etc reproducing actual interiors. The furniture presumably had a practical as well as symbolic role as it may have been used in funerary rituals. Movable offerings were also deposited to accompany the deceased in the afterlife, offering a glimpse into a world of skilful extravagance and sophisticated luxury....



J. Lesley Fitton


Minoan palace and town on Crete, which flourished c. 1900–c. 1425 bc. The palace stands on a small, fertile plain on the north coast of Crete, about 36 km east of Herakleion. It is relatively well preserved, and restoration has been kept to a minimum. While it is less elaborate than the Minoan palaces of Knossos and Phaistos it is nonetheless impressive. Excavations in the vicinity have revealed extensive remains of the town, while cemeteries have been found between the palace and the sea. The site was first excavated by Joseph Hazzidakis in 1915 and 1919. The French School of Archaeology in Athens took over in 1922, and by 1926 had effectively revealed the whole palace, although their programme of excavation and research continued into the late 20th century. Important finds, including those cited below, are housed in the Archaeological Museum, Herakleion.

Evidence for Early Minoan (c. 3500...


Narrow coastal plain hemmed in by mountains in south-east central Greece, which was densely occupied during the entire Bronze Age, especially in the west near the mountain passes connecting it to the rest of Attica. The region contains the remains of three known Early Helladic (eh) fortified settlements situated within 3 to 5 km of each other: Kato Souli to the east, Agriliki to the west and Plassi, the only one even partially excavated, on the coast between them. At Plassi a thick wall with a gate flanked by a tower enclosed a large Middle Helladic (mh) building covering cist graves of the same period and housing a pottery kiln at one end. About 2.5 km inshore, at Tsepi, lies an extensive eh cemetery of regularly aligned family cist graves, marked off by rows of stones and poorly furnished with imported Cycladic artefacts. Further west, near the entrance to the Vrana Valley, are four low ...



R. L. N. Barber


Greek island at the south-western extremity of the Aegean Cyclades. Its importance in the Bronze Age is evident from the finds at the main prehistoric settlement of Phylakopi, which suggest that Melian culture was influential throughout the Cyclades and beyond. This influence was probably derived from the fact that Melos was the main Aegean source of obsidian—an opaque glassy stone of volcanic origin, which was used, like flint, to provide cutting edges for tools and weapons and is found on all prehistoric sites in the Aegean, as well as farther afield. Two obsidian quarries have been located, as well as the debris of a workshop at Phylakopi. Although it is sometimes suggested that raw obsidian was collected by visitors to Melos and taken away to be worked elsewhere, it seems most unlikely that the indigenous people did not attempt to exploit this important commercial asset. The Melos Museum at Plaka contains finds excavated in ...



Keith Branigan

Region in southern central Crete that flourished in the Bronze Age. One of the most fertile parts of Crete, this flat alluvial plain is about 50 km east–west, but never more than 10 km north–south, and it is surrounded on the north, east and south by foothills and mountains. It was in and around the Mesara plain in the Early Bronze Age (for discussion of Bronze Age absolute dates see Minoan, §I, 4) that a distinctive culture developed, characterized by small village communities, perhaps composed of extended family groups, who buried their dead in circular communal tombs known as the Mesara type. The wealth of attractively painted pottery, finely carved sealstones and stone bowls, well-made bronze weapons and gold jewellery from these tombs suggest that the Mesara was a prosperous area and that its people were inventive and skilled. Early in the 2nd millennium bc the whole area was presumably dominated by the Minoan palace at ...



J. Lesley Fitton, Keith Branigan, C. D. Fortenberry, Philip Betancourt, Lyvia Morgan, D. Evely, Margaret A. V. Gill, Reynold Higgins, P. M. Warren and Susan Sherratt

Civilization that flourished during the Greek Bronze Age (c. 3500/3000–c. 1050 bc) on the Aegean island of Crete. The term was coined by Arthur Evans and derived from Minos, legendary king of Knossos. The rediscovery of the Cretan Bronze Age civilization was pioneered by Evans’s excavations of the great Minoan palace at Knossos beginning in the year 1900 (see fig.). Although chance finds had been made before, these excavations were the first that systematically recovered remains from the Minoan past. Others soon followed, revealing three further palaces at Phaistos, Mallia and Kato Zakros, as well as towns, country houses and sanctuaries throughout the island (see fig.). The chronological system devised by Evans remains in use, with modifications (see §I, 4 below). There was much cross-fertilization between the Minoan civilization and the Bronze Age cultures of mainland Greece (see Helladic) and the ...