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Voyage to Crete: Dreros
by Eti Bonn-Muller
August 3, 2009

Today I forged eastward again to visit the site of Dreros, known from excavations earlier in the 20th century to have flourished between the Geometric and the late Hellenistic periods. I met up with the French-Greek team working there—led by Alexandre Farnoux and Vassiliki Zografakis—three weeks into a brand-new five-year project.

The team’s goals are to investigate and document the extent of the site, as well as to clean and restore it. In the coming years, they hope to determine the earliest occupation date (nearby, in a small necropolis, Late Minoan tombs have been found) and the course of its later history (up to Byzantine times). They are also looking to glean information about how an urban center like Dreros, spread across two mountaintops, functioned.

Inscriptions from the site state that Dreros was destroyed by enemies from another Cretan city-state called Lyttos in the late third century B.C. The team has already started to see tantalizing traces of the destruction level, which they had wanted to illuminate.

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Zografakis (left) stands on the site’s agora, where steps have been unearthed. She and Farnoux believe citizens of the town may have gathered there to sit and converse.

Behind her is a modern structure built by archaeologists earlier in the 20th century to protect the remains of the Temple of Apollo Delphinos that dates to around the eighth century B.C. (possibly earlier). Inside, three now-famous statuettes (ca. seventh century B.C.), unearthed in the 1930s, are believed to depict Apollo, Artemis, and their mother Leto (the so-called “Apollonian Triad”). Made of a core of wood with sheets of bronze hammered over them, the pieces mark a technical milestone in the history of Greek art.

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One comment for "Voyage to Crete: Dreros"

  • Reply posted by Stuart Harris (September 9, 2011, 12:42 pm):

    As one goes up the hill at Dreros, the stones get larger, 4-8 tons, the walls get thicker, 2.5 to 3 ft thick, and the stones are roughly dressed. This does not seem like iron age construction to me, but Early Palace. By way of contrast, New Palace had walls 2 ft thick with undressed stones that a child could lift; the occasional large stones were finely dressed.

    The amount of labor required to build hundreds of miles of stone walls is astonishing. What grew on the terraces? Now there are only olive trees.

    Unlike the plains of Mesara and Lasithiou, the plain of Dreros still has a water table. In Septemeber it was everywhere green. The other two have been reduced to olive trees and grape vines that can survive on winter rain. All the other crops I saw had withered. The plain of Mesara once grew two crops a year.

         




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