Archaeologists have discovered ruins that date to 4,600 years ago on Daskalio Islet, an uninhabited islet about 10 kilometers from the holiday island of Naxos in the Aegean. What they’ve discovered may well disrupt everything we thought we knew about our origins.
The pyramid-shaped islet of Daskalio, adjacent to the island of Keros, has yielded evidence of Greece’s early history in the ruins of a compound from prehistory. As many as 60 buildings made of white marble from distant Naxos, attest to the importance of this ancient site.
Scientists from the University of Cambridge and the British School at Athens believe the site was a sanctuary of great importance, especially since the marble materials had to be transported in almost 4,000 maritime missions from Naxos to Daskalio. The scope of the undertaking punctuates the value of the discovery archaeologists are on to.
Excavations of the island began in 2015 as part of a Keros-Naxos Seaways research program. Since then, archaeologists have unearthed broken sculptures and vessels but nothing as monumental as their most recent discoveries. The Daskalio Islet discoveries are currently on exhibit on the nearby island of Ano Koufonisi. Michael Boyd, co-director of the project, issued this statement in a press release:
“One of the unique features of this site is the way that metalworking seems to be a feature from the very beginning until the end. Metalworking on this scale presumes a constant supply of raw materials from the western Cyclades or Attica, and social structures that allowed for learning and maintaining esoteric technical skills.”
Another interesting facet of the story is the fact that Keros did not have the means to support such a complex sanctuary city. But, scientists have unearthed advanced infrastructure engineering that could only have been set in place by a well-organized civic/political structure. An island-wide drainage system is but one discovery that has peaked the interests of archaeologists. The compound has scientists convinced that have discovered one of the most fantastic engineering feats of the early Bronze Age.
The site is pre-historic, but the architectural achievement surpasses most technologies of the time. Recent data analysis has revealed it only took 20 or so years for the builders to create this astonishing mountaintop settlement. The refined marble structures and intricate engineering at Daskalio stand in contrast to Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid. It was at this time that the Egyptian architectural influence became known in ancient Crete as well.
In addition, the fact that Daskalio, Stonehenge, the pyramids, and even Indus Valley and Mesopotamian engineering and architecture of this scale coexisted, leads scientists to believe in a widespread cultural and political phenomenon not previously examined. Theorists believe there may have been some common stimulus, such as the spread of metallurgy and/or merchant activity may have contributed. Since I live on Crete, where the mysterious Minoans created a vast maritime power, this piques my interest in Dr. Boyd’s discoveries even more. Right outside my window at gigantic pyramid-shaped mountain dominates Heraklion and the western sky. The concentration of these shapes here, seem more significant given Boyd’s finds.
For readers who might be interested, this video from the British School at Athens has Dr. Boyed and his colleague Dr. Colin Renfrew discussing the finds at Dhaskalio Islet. This story at The Independent is also worth reading.