Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


1 November 2018

Early Holocene Interaction in the Aegean Islands: Mesolithic Chert Exploitation at Stélida (Naxos, Greece) in Context

Tristan Carter, Daniel A. Contreras, Sean Doyle, Danica D. Mihailović & Nikolaos Skarpelis In M. Ghilardi, F. Leandri, J. Bloemendal, L. Lespez & S. Fachard (eds) 2016. Géoarchélogie des îles de Mediterranée, Paris: 275-286.


This paper details the Mesolithic component (potential date 9000-7000 cal. BC) of a recent geo-archaeological survey of Stélida, a chert source and associated stone tool making workshops on Naxos, the largest of the Cycladic islands (southern Greece). The history of research is provided, followed by a precis of the survey methods, and the results of the geological study. The techno-typological attributes of the Mesolithic chipped stone artefacts are detailed, and the material’s intra-site distribution discussed, followed by an in-depth comparison with Early Holocene material from elsewhere in the southern Aegean, both insular and continental, concluding that the assemblage can be situated within an “island lithic tradition”. Stélida is then located within the wider context of the Aegean Mesolithic to consider issues of chronology and the site’s significance within broader debates concerning the nature of Early Holocene insular activity and colonization. While the Mesolithic activity at Stélida forms part of an increasing dataset of Early Holocene sites in the Cyclades, Crete, Dodecanese and Sporades, it remains unclear as to whether (a) this evidence attests to perennial island habitation, or (b) to what extent these sites form part of a “slow-fuse” colonisation process, or simply a period of intensified maritime activity and/or the remnants of failed long-term settlement.


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