Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Excavations in the Cyclades

Photo from the Museum of Cycladic Art

Archaeologists are to begin new excavations on the Greek island of Keros in April 2006. From ABC News:

British and Greek archaeologists are preparing a major excavation on a tiny Greek island to try to explain why it produced history's largest collection of Cycladic flat-faced marble figurines.


Now experts are seeking insight into the island's possible role as a major religious center of the enigmatic Cycladic civilization some 4,500 years ago.


"What is particularly impressive is not just the bulk of the finds, which is larger than the total from the rest of the Cyclades, but also that they were intentionally broken during ancient times," Sotirakopoulou said. "Therefore, this is a very important, a unique site."

The Cycladic culture a network of small, sometimes fortified farming and fishing settlements that traded with mainland Greece, Crete and Asia Minor is best known for its elegant artwork: mostly naked, elongated figures with their arms folded under their chest. The seafaring civilization was eclipsed in the second millennium B.C. by Crete and Mycenaean Greece.


"The prevailing explanation is that this was a sacred repository, a sort of pan-Cycladic sanctuary where people left objects within the framework of rituals which included their intentional smashing," said Sotirakopoulou.

From the "Dean" of Classical Studies:

"We hope the forthcoming excavations will clarify further the nature of the occupation and activities at Dhaskalio and Kavos," Renfrew (that would be Colin Renfrew - afarensis) said.

"It is clear Kavos was an important site where high prestige artifacts were deliberately broken and left. It is possible, but not yet certain, these were ritual actions relating to ceremonies in honor of the dead."

Fascinating stuff.