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Terrace Archaeology

and Culture in Europe


Stymphalos, N Peloponnese, Greece:


Gentle to Steep Terrace


Geoarchaeological research in the NE Peloponnese has revealed agricultural terraces related to ancient sites which are now abandoned, and being destroyed. This provides an excellent opportunity for this project by revealing compete terrace exposures. The north eastern area of the Peloponnese has had both many archaeological landscape surveys (Berbati-Limnes, Nemea, Sykion, Argive Plain, Stymphalia) and several studies of alluviation and colluviation (Fuchs 2007). These show that the area has a complex history of soil erosion and fluctuations in settlement density, however, the role of terracing, which is ubiquitous in the area has never been researched. The Stymphalos valley, famous for Hercules 6th labour of killing the Stymphalian birds, contained a Classical and Late Classical City (700-375 BC & 375 BC - 6th C AD) which depended upon agriculture on the terraces on the lower valley slopes. Preliminary studies of these terraces at Bouzi reveals they are related to spring-fed irrigation systems. The collapse of retaining terrace walls also revealed exposures with a buried horizon of Roman tiles. The area is therefore ideal with exposures of unmapped Classical or earlier terraces and independent data on the archaeology, population density and sedimentation rates from the valley (Heymann 2013; Walsh et al 2017).



Tinos, Cycladic Islands, Greece:

Bronze Age-Modern

Gentle to Steep Terrace


Like many of the islands in the Aegean Sea, Tinos is covered in agricultural terracing. Mostly abandoned, the terraces in the north of the island date to the Classical period and even as far back as the Late Bronze Age, when terracing is believed to be first introduced in the Aegean.


Choiromandres, Sitia, E Crete:

Middle-Late Bronze Age, Late Classical/Hellenistic

Gentle terraces, Land Reclamation


The Choiromandres valley, in the vicinity of the Old Palace period settlement of Kato Zakros, was the site of an early land reclamation site. The alteration of the local stream channel to slow its flow began in the Minoan Old Palace Period (1900-1700 BC), but in the New Palace Period (1750-1430 BC) a megalithic dam was constructed across the head of the ravine. This dam stored and redirected the rainwater to a system of terraces and checkdams, allowing for the retention and irrigation of reclaimed agricultural land. The managment system at Choiromandres was reconstructed and reused either in the late Classical or early Hellenistic period. The water managment and land reclamation system at Choiromandres is an example of advanced landscape management techniques which are better known from the Mycenaean mainland sites during the Bronze Age. This is the only excavated example of such engineering from the Minoan Bronze Age.

Collaborator: Leonidas Vokotopoulos

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