Ancient industrial hub discovered at Greek islet

Archaeologists have discovered evidence of organised metal-working at the island of Keros in the Cyclades, Greece.

Mould for making copper spearheads (by Michael Boyd)

Archaeologists led by Michael Boyd of Cambridge University have been excavating the small island between Naxos and Amorgos revealing how it may have looked between 3000-2000 BC. The researchers believe that Dhaskalio, a rocky islet once joined to Keros, was once almost completely covered in unique monumental structures of gleaming white marble. It also had metal-working facilities and houses, with a sophisticated drainage system underneath. The prehistoric builders created massive terrace walls that made the steep island look like a pyramid. It is believed that more than 1000 tons of marble were painstakingly shipped over from Naxos for the work. Archaeologists have also discovered two metal-working workshops, containing smelting debris and a stone mould for copper daggers, using ore imported from other islands. Excavated soil revealed food traces including pulses, grapes, olives, figs and almonds, and cereals, including wheat and barley.

Overview of the excavation site (by Michael Boyd)

The researchers believe that Dhaskalio served a central place, to which expertise and resources are being brought and where activities like the metalworking are being centralized and controlled. The island of Keros is also known for a large number of Cycladic figurines created between 2750-2300 BC – more than half of all known specimen have been found on the island. It is believed that they were brought from across the Cycladic archipelago and ritually smashed on the islet, home at the time to about half a dozen tiny settlements, at a sanctuary just opposite Dhaskalio.

Entrance staircase (by Michael Boyd)

(after Michael Boyd, The Guardian, PhysOrg & Greek Culture Ministry)

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