The sanctuary at Keros in the Aegean Early Bronze Age: from centre of congregation to centre of power

Colin Renfrew, Michael J. Boyd, Demetris Athanasoulis, Neil Brodie, Tristan Carter, Katerina Dellaporta, Marie Floquet, Giorgos Gavalas, Myrto Georgakopoulou, Myrsini Gkouma, Jill Hilditch, Ayla Krijnen, Irini Legaki, Evi Margaritis, Marisa Marthari, Ioanna Moutafi, Olga Philaniotou, Peggy Sotirakopoulou, Joshua Wright

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This paper presents an overview of three archaeological projects on Keros during the past 15 years: the Cambridge Keros Project (2006-2008), the Keros Island Survey (2012-2013) and the Keros-Naxos Seaways Project (2015-2018).
Keros first came to archaeological attention in 1963, but an understanding of the nature of the Early Cycladic site located at its western tip and its regional role was difficult due to the damage caused by looters. The Cambridge Keros Project investigated an unlooted ‘special deposit’: an area of systematic
and deliberate deposition of choice material consisting of marble sculpture, stone vessels, and a nondomestic pottery assemblage, all in broken condition. The lack of joins in any category of material indicated that only a small portion of the broken objects was brought to Keros for deposition, and analysis indicates the provenance of the materials elsewhere in the Cyclades and beyond. The acts of congregation and deposition indicated by the material led to the understanding that Kavos on western Keros acted as a pan-Cycladic sanctuary.
The Keros Island Survey of 2012-2013, a joint enterprise with the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades, was undertaken in order to determine the nature of settlement and land use on Keros throughout prehistory and later periods, with particular interest in defining the role of the sanctuary in the site hierarchy of the island. Occupation on Keros in the Early Cycladic period was more intense and widespread than might have been imagined. Other periods of intensive habitation were the Late Roman-Early Byzantine, and the early modern. The small islet of Dhaskalio, some 90m west of Keros (in the Early Bronze Age a promontory due to lower sea level), was investigated in 2007-2008 and 2016-2018. Unlike the Kavos area opposite, Dhaskalio is a densely built-up area of buildings set on massive terraces. Three phases covering the period 2750-2250 BCE have been defined. The main activity identified thus far is metallurgy, which
seems to have been ubiquitous throughout the site. The paper reflects on the results of all three campaigns on Keros, the nature of the site, the implications
for our understanding of Early Cycladic society, and what questions still remain to be answered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-36
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Greek Archaeology
Early online date23 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2022


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