Dhaskalio The Pyramid Shaped Island

Archaeologists recently completed a four-year study of a site in the Aegean Sea called Dhaskalio. This little island is located about 90 meters (295 feet) west of the island of Keros. When Dhaskalio was taking shape 4,600 years ago, sea levels were lower, and the island was part of Keros, the researchers said. The settlement at Dhaskalio and the nearby sanctuary appear to have been in use for about 400 years before being abandoned. But who, exactly, lived at Dhaskalio is still a mystery. 

Complex architectural features including stairways and drainage systems that re-shaped the 150-meter-wide islet suggest Dhaskalio was home to an advanced civilization – one that that excelled in metalworking and possibly the circulation of weapons. 

Dating back 4,600 years, the site may also have been part of the inspiration for a key aspect of Greek religion – the idea that mountain tops were the dwelling places of the gods. Researchers believe that these ancient architects “terra-formed” the pyramid-shaped island “mini-mountain", to create around 1,000m of artificial terracing, arranged in six “steps” on its steep slopes.

They constructed what is thought to have been a huge religious sanctuary consisting of up to 60 marble buildings, which were created specifically to glisten in the sun. These roughly six-metre wide terraces appear to have been built specifically to accommodate all the buildings. The summit itself was not initially built on – but instead had a small, probably sacred, open area where votive offerings may have been deposited. 

Archaeologists with the Cambridge Keros Project launched first excavations at the site in 2015, and spent the next four years uncovering evidence of an advanced prehistoric civilization. 

“Our investigation has been transforming our understanding of early Bronze Age Cycladic culture and suggests that these very early Greeks were organisationally, technically and politically much more advanced than previously thought,” said the project’s co-director Michael Boyd, of Cambridge University’s McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. Nothing like this monumental complex has ever been found from this period in or around Greece before. 


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