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Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory

ARTICLES | 2012

27 April 2013

Early Bronze Age Laconia. An overview

Christopher Mee Pharos XVIII.1 (2011-2012): 141-145.

From the introduction

We now know much more about Early Bronze Age Laconia as a result of the field projects reported in these papers. There have been excavations at a number of sites, notably around Sparta and at Anthochori by the Fifth Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, as well as at Geraki, Kouphovouno and Pavlopetri. Also the excavations at Ayios Stephanos have recently been published. In addition there have been intensive surveys centred on the Eurotas Valley — the Laconia Survey and the Laconia Rural Sites Project — as well as the Vatika plain in southern Laconia. Extensive surveys have been undertaken by Emilia Banou, Nassos Themos and Elena Zavvou. Cave sites have been investigated by Ioanna Efstathiou-Manolakou and the Kythera Island Project has given us a fresh per­spective on developments in Laconia.

What have these projects told us and what questions still remain? It is appropri­ate to begin with the Final Neolithic (FN) period when we have evidence for an expansion in settlement. A number of the sites are caves, some of which were already occupied in the Late Neolithic (LN) period, particularly Alepotrypa and Kouveleiki A’. Ioanna Efstathiou-Manolakou has identified LN and FN pottery in a further 13 caves. As Peter Tomkins has suggested, cave sites may also have been a focus for ritual activities where communities came together to forge ‘new social relarionships and identities’. A regional or even supra-regional role could be envisaged for the Alepotrypa cave which was accessible by land and sea. The burials and the range of artefacts deposited in the cave indicate that this was certainly a special place. 

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