Archaeologists have found the earliest monumental complex of buildings ever unearthed anywhere in the Greek World
It is evidence of a rich cultural and monumental landscape dating earlier than the Minoan period on a remote and uninhabited pyramid-shaped islet.
The islet of Daskalio, is located just off the coast of the island of Keros, which is one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea, and was once part of Keros before sea-levels rose.
The long-buried structure, dating back at least 4,600 years, was constructed of marble transported from nearby Aegean islands on tiny wooden ships.
“It is by far the largest prehistoric marine transport operation that has ever come to light anywhere in the world,” said Dr. Julian Whitewright, a leading maritime archaeologist at the University of Southampton, told the Independent.
“It demonstrates quite clearly just how important, and integral to their culture, seafaring was to these early Bronze Age Aegean people.”
The huge quantity of white marble, up to 10,000 tonnes, was shipped from Naxos, an island some six-and-a-half miles away. Archaeologists estimate that it would have required over 3,500 trips with 24 sailors rowing solidly for five hours in open water.
It was part of a worldwide explosion of monumental building – the ruined pyramid of Dhaskalio is roughly the same age as Stonehenge, the lost city of Eridu in Iraq, and the earliest pyramids in Egypt.
The pyramid structure seems to have occurred independently to the Greeks and Egyptians, and a little later the Aztecs, as the ideal shape for monumental building.
It is believed that the pyramid-islet was a religious site that attracted pilgrims, as small sculptures which may have been left as offerings have been found by archaeologists. Elsewhere on the island, innumerable knives and tools have been found.
Michael Boyd of Cambridge University’s McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, who is a co-director of the investigation, told the Independent: ”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.”
Daskalio has been the subject of intense archaeological investigations since 2015 when an undisturbed site was located.
The research is being carried out by a multinational team, supported by the Greek government and the British School in Athens. The large-scale project is being funded by several international institutes.