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Fieldnotes by C Michael Hogan

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Catto (Long Barrow)

Catto Long Barrow is an extensive prehistoric stone structure with remnants of seven stone tombs. The site has yielded archaeological recovery of stone axes and its vicinity is replete with tumuli, hoards of worked flint and ancient battleground remains. Situated on locally high open ground, the site offers expansive views in all directions. The site has been suggested in the literature as a likely location of a major battle with invading Danes.

GEOMETRY. I measured the length of this ancient monument at 49 metres, one metre longer than published on the Aberdeen Council website. (Aberdeenshire, 2006) The stones are of considerable size ranging to characteristic length of greater than two metres, but more commonly having typical dimensions closer to 40 centimetres. There are seven sizable pit depressions within the stonework, others having suggested the pits are results of modern disturbance; however, based upon the considerable build-up of mosses on the surface of pit rocks, if the pits are of modern formation, I would judge the disturbance to be at least a century into the past. Ferguson (1875) witnessed the opening of some of the series of cists or stone tombs within the Catto Cairn. Subsequently archaeological publications (Society, 1904) noted that the Catto monument would have been of much greater original height, and states clearly that the pits are remnants of cist structures. The earliest literature reference I found of Catto Cairn is in Sinclair's 1795 account indicating an elliptically shaped monument of circumference 120 metres. (Sinclair, 1795)

Aside from the pits noted above and the necessarily uneven texture necessitated by the stone sizes themselves, the top of the cairn is a remarkably large expanse of relatively level surface, contrasted with the more conical or mounded shapes of many other large cairns of this region. The orientation of the cairn axis is approximately west northwest to east southeast, very similar to the Longman Hill orientation (Hogan, 2008) somewhat farther to the northwest from Catto.

AREA ARCHAEOLOGY. There are numerous archaeological sites in the local area of the southern extremity of the historic parish of Longside, especially on the eastern side of Laeca Burn. Among the notable local sites are Silver Cairn and .Dun-na-chaich, a large oblong mound. Somewhat to the west are the Skelmuir Hill standing stones. The vicinity has been documented as historically rich in surface finds including sizeable nodules rich in flint tools.

Immediately to the east of Catto there were hundreds of mounds which survived to the mid 1800s; the diameters of these structures varied from about three to six and one half metres. Furthermore, there were over 17 of these to the southwest that were exceptionally well defined circular features.with very flat tops; each of these finely crafted mounds were approximately 2.5 metres in diameter.

BATTLEFIELD. This region is portrayed by several early writers as a site of significant battles with invading Danes. (Smith, 1875) Sinclair (1875) also notes that the immediate local area of Catto is rich with archaeological features including many tumuli with square inner chambers. !8th century legends link the Catto site with history of the Moray Firth and with some type of ancient foreign invasion. The military connection is underscored by the fact that the plain to the immediate west is called "Battle-fauld"on older maps..

J.B. Pratt is the first author I found who suggested Catto Cairn as a battlefield, noting that the cairn itself, by its high ground position, was a likely point for the point d'appui, where troops would have marshalled. To the west the steeply ravined Laeca Burn forms a natural impediment to attack, whereas an historic morass lies to the north. In the 19th century there were many more tumuli, Pictish house sites, graves and circular stone campfire sites throughout the vicinity of Catto; however, aggressive local farming has destroyed most of these features in the last two centuries.

NATURAL FEATURES. The surrounding grain fields suggest that this locale would have been an agriculturally attractive area to Neolithic farmers. In addition to the nearby Leuca Burn, there is recorded 18th century evidence of prolific springs (historically termed "Kemp-Wells" or "Morris Wells"), whose prominence has subsequently been masked by agricultural drains installed as early as the late 18th century; however, as late as the last quarter of the 19th century, the Morris Wells supply potable water to Peterhead. The name "Leuca" undoubtably derives from the granite boulder exceeding 60 tons, which lies in the Leuca Burn streambed west of Catto .Based upon the large tree trunks found in the Leuca ravine, it is likely that most of the early Holocene landscape (even indeed the Medieval landscape!) would have featured a majority of the land forested with large deciduous trees along with Scots Pine. Presently dense gorse patches envelope much of Catto's perimeter, a common circumstance since gorse is a plant that thrives on stony soils, typical at the verge of ruined ancient stone monuments in Scotland.

North of Catto lay another dense historic forest, but due to deforestation by aggressive farming practises, by the 19th century the land was transformed to a barren wasteland known as the Moss of Savoch of Longside; this outcome provides an example of the failed attempt to cultivate an area not best suited for crops. This northern area yielded large numbers of spearheads and arrow points as reminders of the earlier great battle fought here.

To the southwest is the drainage of Leuca Burn with the Hill of Aldie beyond, where further prehistoric native forestation would have been found, now replaced by a monoculture coniferous plantation, virtually devoid of native understory or wildlife.

* Aberdeenshire Council (2006) "Catto Long Barrow"
* William Ferguson (1881) ''The Great North of Scotland Railway: A Guide'', Published by D. Douglas, 1881, 174 pages
* Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (1904) ''Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland'', pp 256-262, published by Neill and Company, Edinburgh, Scotland
* C. Michael Hogan (2007) ''Longman Hill fieldnotes'', The Modern Antiquarian
* Alexander Smith (1875) ''A new history of Aberdeenshire'', published by Lewis Smith
* Sir John Sinclair and William Creech (1795) ''The Statistical Account of Scotland: Drawn Up from the Communications of the Ministers of the Different Parishes. By
Published by William Creech
* William Ferguson (1881) ''The Great North of Scotland Railway: A Guide'', Published by D. Douglas, 1881, 174 pages
* Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (1904) ''Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland'', pp 256-262, published by Neill and Company, Edinburgh, Scotland

Longman Hill (Long Barrow)

Longman Hill is a Bronze Age long barrow situated atop a prominent rounded landform near the north coast of Aberdeenshire. An almost 360 degree panorama is available from the barrow top, including views over the North Sea. A salient feature at this archaeological site is a massive pit on the northwest flank of the barrow, which was used in modern times as an excavation for road base material; however, the pit may have been the source of some of the rock and earth used in the barrow construction. Judging from the massive barrow size as well as the existence of extensive subsurface shaly sides of this pit, it is likely that the barrow has a somewhat higher percentage of stone in its interior than suggested by the Aberdeenshire Council website.

ASPECT. Based upon the commanding view afforded by the Longman Hill, this location would have been attractive to early man of this region not only for ceremonial purposes, but also for the strategic reason of being able to see hostile forces by land and sea for considerable distances. Views to the south extend to the Bennachie Range and even the Grampians on the distant horizon. To the northwest is the coastal plain along the North Sea including Banff Bay. To the west are views of the Moray Firth and Foudland Hills. Other distant features easily seen are Ben Rinnes, Bin Hill near Cullen and the Buck of Cabrach. The best lookout post is afforded by the northwestern apex, which is termed a circular mound by the Aberdeenshire Council. In reality, this feature is rather ovoid in shape, but clearly commands the most extensive views, largely because its height of approximately 4.4 metres exceeds the lesser height of the eastern end of the barrow. The only defect in an otherwise full panoramic view is a small topographic rise to the northeast, which occludes a small slice of the otherwise full 360 degrees. Pictish peoples clearly favoured such sites having an expansive coastal view for ceremonial and intensive use, with Kempstone Hill providing a parallel siting opportunity further south in Aberdeenshire. (Hogan, 2007)

BARROW GEOMETRY. The barrow length approximates 66 metres by my measurement, one metre less than the Aberdeenshire Council estimate, (Aberdeenshire, 2006) but about ten percent higher than the value set by Callander. (Callander, 1924) The barrow axis is approximately northwest to southeast, with the higher elevation end being at the northwest. Callander's original photograph illustrates a western cairn face which is more clearly circular with evidence of more regular stonework than is now extant, suggesting that raiding of some of the surface stones likely occurred when the modern quarry was used to extract road construction material. The quarry pit is approximately six metres in depth.

At the monument's northern end, there is a nearly circular cairn or mound I measured to be 21 metres in diameter and 4.3 metres in height (consistent with the 1924 report of Callendar). My measurement of the total monument length is 67 metres, also consistent with Callendar's original recording and the more recent Aberdeenshire Council website. I also measured the elevation of the lower eastern end of the barrow, which earlier authors had not reported; that elevation is approximately 2.5 metres above grade level.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECOVERY. On September 18, 1886 a finely made urn 30 centimetres in height was recovered from the barrow's west end. (Transactions, 1897) This vessel contained calcined bones and is deemed a secondary burial. Seventeen months later a second urn was found approximately 20 centimetres in height; this specimen was decorated with a zigzag ornamentation but contained no obvious human remains, although the discoverers opined it had a funerary purpose, possibly due to the black mould-like residues on the interior. The second urn was found with its mouth within a second saucer-like ceramic. Both urns had been exposed by recent rain erosion and were not found at the base of the cairn. A nearby ancient monument is Cairn Lee, situated approximately 1.5 kilometres to the northeast.

ECOLOGY AND HYDROLOGY. Soils on the flanks of Longman Hill are very fertile and produce robust crops of barley and other grains in current times. With the mild climate afforded by proximity of the North Sea combined with such soil richness, this locale would have presented the Neolithic farmer with an productive environment. While there is a paucity of larger rocks in the general area, the barrow itself has some sizeable rocks, especially at the base of the western edge, re-enforcing my earlier suggestion that this specific area may be a locally rich rock source. The Burn of Myrehouse, which drains to Banff Bay, is an important source of surface water, lying approximately one kilometre west of Longman Hill barrow. Furthermore the headwaters of one branch of the Burn of Melrose are situated as a spring about 1.2 kilometres to the northeast. Surface water would have likely been abundant to early man here, as suggested by the presence of the Bogs of Melrose approximately 1.3 kilometres to the northwest, in addition to the flow of the Burn of Myrehouse. It is also likely that the Burn of Myrehouse formed a more extensive prehistoric bog before the advent of field drains that generally appeared in this region in the Late Middle Ages; in fact the word root "myres" is associated with boggy areas within Scotland. Finally, the immediate local area abounds with place names such as "Boghead", "Bloodymire" and "Burnside", all suggesting an early local abundance of water.

* Aberdeenshire Council (2006) "Longman Hill"
* C. Michael Hogan (2007) ''Kempstone Hill fieldnotes'', The Modern Antiquarian
* J.Graham Callander (Dec. 24, 1924) ''Long cairns and other prehistoric monuments in Aberdeenshire and Banffshire and a short cist at Bruceton, Alyth, Perthshire'', Proceedings of the Society
* Transactions of the Banffshire Field Club (1897-8) p. 38

Fetteresso (Burial Chamber)

Fetteresso is the site of a Bronze Age cairn near Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Numerous sepulchral urns have been recovered from the tomb. Evidence of a prehistoric cursus also has been discovered on the site from aerial photography. The site has a further burial discovery from the Early Middle Ages, and has moreover been developed by a Late Middle Ages monument, Fetteresso Castle.

AREA PREHISTORY The local area contains considerable Neolithic and Bronze Age history including standing stones at Kempstone Hill, Raedykes and locations further north along the Causey Mounth. Bronze Age finds have been also been made at Cantlayhills, (Society) Ury and Spurryhillock It is not unlikely that the Elsick Mounth ancient trackway leading north was an early connection between this locus and the important Mesolithic and Neolithic settlements (Balbridie, Ardlair, Bucharn) along the southern Deeside. The Elsick Mounth was certainly a major route between these north-south destinations during conflicts between the Romans and Caladonians in the first century AD. (Hogan)

SITE DETAILS Fetteresso has yielded a number of urns from its Bronze Age cairn, but whether they were principally for cinerary or food vessels is not clear. (Proceedings) A sizable flat granitic stone overlay the pit itself (RCAHMS) One of the most ornate finds is a cordoned urn found in the top of a glacial mound: "inverted; decorated on its upper cordon with horizontal lines and large triangles; the inner rim also evinced decoration. The contents of this cordoned urn contained elements of cremated bone, but no ashes. A stone pavement was discovered near the cairn, on which, from the residue of ashes, it has been suggested that bodies had been burnt.

In the year 2000 an aerial photograph revealed a cropmark of a possible ring-ditch not far from the Bronze Age cist (Air photography). The cursus clearly lay between two concentric arcs that run along the apex of a low lying ridge on a shelf at an altitude of 55 metres. (Greig) Neolithic cursi in Britain may have been used for ceremonial competitions.

Nearby the Bronze Age cairn has been discovered a later (probably Iron Age) tomb which has long been called Malcolm's Mount, after the presumed burial of Malcolm I; although this find is clearly an ancient site, its provenance is disputed regarding the relationship to Malcolm.

ENVIRONMENT Situated near the perennial clear flowing Carron Water with its freshwater fishery and at the southern edge of the primeval Fetteresso Forest, this site's appeal to prehistoric peoples is transparent. It is also proximate to the North Sea coastline and natural harbour at Stonehaven, for exploitation of marine resources and sea access; moreover, the slight buffering distance from the coast inhibits unwanted aspects of sea influence including saline mist and some of the ever-present local haar. Fetteresso is at an unusual position immediately south of the Highland Boundary Fault. As such it is within the fertile soils south of the Fault, but near to the coveted granitic stones north of the Fault.

* Society for the Benefit of the Sons and Daughters of the Clergy (1845) ''The New Statistical Account of Scotland'', W. Blackwood and Sons publisher
* C. Michael Hogan (2007) ''Elsick Mounth'', The Megalithic Portal
* Proceedings of the Society.of Antiquaries.of Scotland. vi, 88; ''Scotland before the Scots'', 108
* RCAHMS, Royal Commission of Archaeological and Historical Monuments of Scotland website (2007)
* Air Photography (2000) Aerial reconnaissance AAS/00/08/CT/73-80, flown 16 June, 2000
* M. Greig, (2000 ) ''Sites recorded during summer aerial reconnaissance, Aberdeenshire'',Discovery Excav Scot, 1, 2000, 7

Cydonia (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Cydonia is one of the five great cities of Minoan Crete, although exact location of the ancient city was not even resolved until the latter half of the 20th century. The most powerful center of western Crete, Cydonia produced Bronze Age pottery and Linear B writings circa 1700 to 1500 BC, and was one of the first cities of Europe to mint coinage. A temple of Britomartis was erected on Mount Tityros near the city.

HISTORY Cydonia was likely established as a Neolithic settlement in the fourth millennium BC. Archaeological excavations in the old town of present day Chania have revealed the remains of Middle Minoan Period Cydonia. These explorations are difficult, since the entire Venetian city of Chania was developed over Cydonia, with virtually no recorded medieval or modern mention of the ancient city specifics until the first finds in 1965. (Andreadaki,) Ancient mention of the civilization in Cydonia is also made by Polybius, Strabo, Scylax and by Hanno in the ''Periplus''. (Smith, 1878) Interestingly Pashley was able to work out rather accurately the location of ancient Cydonia without any archaeological data; he deduced the location near the port and Old Town from passages in the classical literature. (Pashley, 1837)

The Minoan culture likely peaked in Cydonia at a similar time to that of Knossos, (Hogan, 2007) around 1800 to 1500 BC. After the Minoan Period, the Dorians from mainland Greece colonized Cydonia, possibly as early as 1100 BC. By about the sixth century BC the Aegina peoples established control of Cydonia, although contact with Aegina has been verified to much earlier Bronze Age times; in particular, the Minoan goddess Britomartis was adopted by people of Aegina within the Bronze Age, and was one of the first images used in Aeginean coinage. During the maritime expansion of Aegina in the Archaic Period Cydonia would have been an ideal naval stop for the Aegina fleet on its way to other ports known to have been controlled or visited by that emerging power.

In 429 BC, the Athenians laid waste to Cydonia to assist the neighboring city of Polychna. In 343, BC, Phalaikos, leader of the Phokaians, unsucessfully laid siege to Cydonia. In the third century BC Cydonia was in war with Phalasarna, Elyros, Aptera and Polyrrenia. At 219 BC, the Cydonia joined the Aitolian and thence the Achaian Federation. As the Romans conquered other Cretan cities, Cydonia fell to Roman forces led by by Caicilius Metellus in 69 BC.. Panares, one general of the city, signed a truce, while Lasthenes, the other general, fled to Knossos.

ARCHITECTURE AND ART Recent excavations indicate a palace building at Cydonia dating to the beginning of the Neo-palatial Period (Middle Minoan III). Numerous elements of pottery, coinage and Linear B writing have been recovered in subsurface excavations, and considerable numbers of coins and ceramic objects have been found at other Aegean centers with whom Cydonia traded. For example, Cydonian inscribed stirrup jars for transporting perfumed olive oil or wine have been found at many sites in the rest of Crete and the Greek Mainland, while fine ceramic products of Cydonia have been recognized in many of the Aegean centers, including Cyprus and Sardinia. Many of the Minoan, Hellenistic and Roman finds are housed in the Khania Archaeological Museum.

COINAGE As one of the first European cities to mint coins, Cydonia first began this activity by overstriking coins of Aegina, with whom a close relation was maintained in the mid first millennium BC. One silver coin struck in Cydonia was that of a stater featuring the Minoan goddess Britomartis. Many of these early specimens were actually overstrikes of coins of Aegina. Britomartis exhibits the early custom of grape cultivation in this region with grapevines enwreathing her hair.

ENVIRONMENT Cydonia is characterized in ancient literature as having a highly protected harbor, which circumstance can be witnessed today. In addition to the sizable city developed by this natural harbor there was a considerable agricultural adjunct territory governed by Cydonia.

From its center at Kastelli Hill, Cydonia controlled an expansive area: the Khania Plain to its south towards Malaxa Mountain (Verekynthos) and Aptera; the Akrotiri peninsula to the east; and towards Polyrrhenia at the west. An an area of roughly 100,000 square meters has been deduced for the Minoan settlement of Cydonia, excluding the extended farms and outlying peasant communities. For example, the hilly countryside near the city was known to have been used for growing grapes, as attested by a third century BC stone inscription found at Cydonia. (Chaniotis, 1999)

* Maria Andreadaki-Vlasiki, "Discoveries at Khania in Western Crete" with Metaxia Tsipopoulou, Athena Review, vol.3, no.3,, pp 41-52
* William Smith (1878) ''A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography'', J. Murray Publisher
* Robert Pashley (1837) ''Travels in Crete''
*">C. Michael Hogan (2007) ''Knossos'', The Modern Antiquarian
* Angelos Chaniotis (1999) ''From Minoan Farmers to Roman Traders: Sidelights on the Economy of Ancient Crete'', Franz Steiner Verlag, 391 pages ISBN 3515076212

Castle Bloody (Souterrain)

Castle Bloody is a substantial souterrain mound prominently situated on the highest topographic point of southeastern Shapinsay on the island's sole remaining heather moorland. (Fraser, 1983) The structure has been described as a Pictish fort or earthen house, and likely predates the Burroughston Broch located somewhat further to the north along Shapinsay's east coast. Earlier records of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) classify this site as a chambered cairn, although more detailed analysis place the structure in the category of a souterrain.(RCAHMS, 1981) The interior geometry is comprised by a principal subterranean cell with multiple other cells or recesses branching from that central structure. There are two passages leading to the principal cell. Other nearby prehistoric monuments are the Mor Stein standing stone (about 1.3 kilometres northwest) and several cairns (about 0.8 kilometres north-northwest). The findings herein are based upon review of extant literature and my field visit in July, 2007.

EXPLORATION HISTORY. Since the site has only been examined in an elementary manner, the overall structure remains mysterious and has yielded an incomplete understanding of its architecture and function. Earliest noting of the site was in the 1880 Name Book and on the 1900 six inch Ordinance Survey map at HY 5358 1644 (OS, 1900). Sometime prior to 1928, M. Work of Newfield Cottage removed some of the massive upper slabs, which subsequently was determined to be roofing for the principal chamber. (RCAHMS, 1946)

ARCHITECTURE. The overall geometry is that of a turf covered stony mound approximately 13 metres in diameter. The mound height has been variously reported in the literature at 1.2 to 1.8 metres, which outcome is not surprising given the unexcavated nature of the monument and its position on undulating terrain. The mound classification can be likened to Ham, Caithness (ND27SW 1) and Midgarth (HY32SE 6). The principal chamber is offset somewhat east of the mound midpoint, with a north/south axis. The chamber's a roof is capped with of large flattish stones; thie approximate chamber dimensions are 1.5 by 0.9 metres. This main chamber has drystone sides with corbelling in evidence. There are apparently other cells or recesses on each side of the principal chamber.

The main entrance to the principal chamber is a slightly curved lintelled passage approaching from the southeast direction. A second and much lower passage, now blocked by debris, leads from the north end of the chamber, and thence turning northeast after the entrant reaches a short distance. (RCAHMS, 1987). The smaller north end passage is traceable for about one metre and appears to lead to a depression or cavity, filled with loose-packed rubble with voids, which may be another chamber.

ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS.. As in the case of Burroughston to the north the siting of Castle bloody served as a defensive lookout for sea marauders coming from other islands or nations. The structure is set back approximately 150 feet from the shoreline, sufficient to provide the Pictish inhabitants a buffer zone from the sea which pound the surrounding lands with salt spray driven by fierce Orcadian storm winds. Besides this buffer from surf and ocean noise, the situation of Castle Bloody is much more sheltered from high wave action than the cliff areas at the island's north; for example, a site selected near the Geo of Ork would have similar cliff defences of the Castle bloody site, but would be subjected to much higher wave action, making fishing and seal hunting unpromising.

Significantly, Castle Bloody is near fertile lands that are even today producing grain crops, as they no doubt did for the Picts inclined to farming at the ancient settlement, even though the immediate locale is moorland. A further food resource at hand for the ancient picts was the abundant birdlife at the immediate coastline situated near Langavi Geo a scant 150 from the doorstep of Castle Bloody. A further factor favoring the selection of Castle Bloody by the Picts is the rich seafood resource on the western shores of Shapinsay. (Hogan, 2007). There are two brackish lochs, Lairo Water and Vasa Loch, respectively 40 minutes and 1.3 hours walk respectively from Castle Bloody; furthermore there is a biologically productive estuary, the Ouse, adjacent to Lairo Water.

* David Fraser (1983) ''Land and Society in Neolithic Orkney'', B.A.R.
* RCAHMS (1981 ) Ordinance Survey visit (JLD) 18 May, 1981 (Confirmed by A S Henshall).
* Ordinance Survey of the United Kingdom {1900} 6"map, Orkney, 2nd ed.
* RCAHMS (1946) Original Name Books of the Ordnance Survey: Book No.18, 145, visited 1928
* RCAHMS (1987) ''The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Twelfth report with an inventory of the ancient monuments of Orkney and Shetland'',
3v, Edinburgh, 277, No.786,
* C.Michael Hogan (2007) ''Burroughston Broch'', The Megalithic Portal, ed. Andy Burnham

Lato (Hillfort)

Lato was a powerful Dorian city that in eastern Crete founded in the Bronze Age. Built on a rugged hill overlooking the Gulf of Mirabello, Lato's solid drystone ruins reveal temple, shrines, agora, winding walled streets, deep central cistern and acropolis. As the Bronze Age ended, a greater security emerged that allowed the population to expand into a Greek city-state and sprawl down the hillsides and into the nearby harbor. The analysis herein is based upon my on site research of June, 2005 augmented with literature review.

HISTORY The mainland Dorians colonized eastern Crete in the early first millennium BC, typically seeking inaccessible hilltop sites of refuge and defense. (Pendlebury, 1963) Lato, along with a number of other late Bronze Age sites on eastern Crete, was one of the first non-Minoan cities of the island, and likely evolved closely with the nearby city of Kastellos. (Hayden, 2005) Other Archaic Period development in eastern crete occurred on hilltops for communal safety including Dreros, Prinias, Polyrrhenia, Eleutherna and Hyrtakina. Although Lato may have been founded as early as the 8th century BC, it reached its zenith in the early Iron Age circa 600 BC, when it attained a substantial population and impressive art and architectural achievement. As the Iron Age proceeded, security evolved allowing the spread of its population to lower less protected elevations including the proximate companion harbor settlement of Lato pros Kamara. (Willetts, 2004) Lato minted its own coinage during its flourishing. (Greek, 2007)

By the early third century BC, Lato came into a turbulent period in which Philip V of Macedon became a patron of Crete, but instituted a war with Rome. Shifting regional alliances typically found Lato siding with nearby Istron, since both coastal locations were harried by pirates based in Rhodes, who at times was an ally. During some of this era Knossos was variously ally and enemy, with some Linear B writings found at Knossos bearing the name of Lato. Although Knossos had been a dominant force on Crete at its apex, (Hogan, 2007) it is not clear whether such ruling influence extended into Late Bronze Age with respect to eastern Crete, since the context of those inscriptions is not deciphered. Olous to the east was a sometimes ally, but had continuing boundary disputes with Lato settled in the early third century BC. Eventually Lato was abandoned in favor of its coastal harbor city, Lato pros Kamara, which Rome conquered at about 67 BC, a date inferred by the conquest of Cydonia, Knossos and Hieraptyna.

ARCHITECTURE AND ART The main gate and walled ascending tortuous entrance street is reminiscent of the defensive entrance to Dunnottar Castle in Scotland. Attackers who managed to reach this access to the hilltop fort would surely regret their entrapment in such a narrow space. Above one finds ruins of a stepped theatre, acropolis, agora, temple, deep central cistern and shrines. The agora is tightly set in the saddle area, allowing less expansive movement than customary for this land use. The temple at Lato consists of a pronaos, projecting at one side, and a cella. The double sided acropolis rises steeply on all sides, since it is perched on a knoll-type formation. Examination of the stonework reveals a construction most likely to have been originally drystone, with later use of mortar to repair and strengthen the structures. .

One of the important finds at Lato dating to 630/600 BC is a series of terracotta plaques with Syrian/Phoenician influence. (Richardson, 1991) One of the most striking of these artworks is a well preserved sphinx, similar to designs found on pithoi fragments retrieved at Gouves Pediada. The Lato sphinx evinces Daedalic (Orientalizing Period) features with characteristic inverted triangular faces. Many granodiorite wares have been recovered from Lato, which is hardly surprising since the site is a major source of that igneous rock.

ENVIRONMENT Lato sits in the saddle of an arid twin peaked boulder strewn hilltop. An expansive view of the Gulf of Mirabello across to the island of Pseiros greets the visitor who ascends to the top of the saddle. This outlook aided in the defense of the city, since the Lato people could watch the port of Lato pros Kamara, as well as the entire Gulf of Mirabello for invaders. The rocky slopes of Lato supplied abundant building materials for this ancient stone city. The ecosystem is a sparse Mediterranean scrub with little immediate arable land, underscoring the value early settlers placed on community security above agriculture and water supply. At Lato like most of the other Dorian Archaic Period hillforts, there are deep ravines that would have provided some water supply in periods of heavy rain.

* John Devitt Stringfellow Pendlebury (1963) ''The Archaeology of Crete'', Biblo & Tannen Publishers ISBN 0819601217
* Barbara J. Hayden, Archaiologikon Mouseion He-rakleiou (2005) ''Reports on the Vrokastro Area, Eastern Crete'', University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology ISBN 1931707596
* R. F. Willetts (2004) ''The Civilization of Ancient Crete'', Sterling Publishing Company, Inc,
280 pages ISBN 1842127462
* Greek Ministry of Culture (2007) ''Lato''
* C.Michael Hogan (2007)
''Knossos fieldnotes'', The Modern Antiquarian
* C. E. Vaphopoulou-Richardson (1991) ''Ancient Greek Terracottas'', Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England ISBN 1854440098

Phaistos (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Phaistos is a palace and Bronze Age settlement in southern Crete. Situated on a ridgetop with expansive views, the site has yielded significant finds of Minoan architecture and pottery as well as the undeciphered ancient symbol language of the Phaistos Disk. There are actually two palaces on site from different eras, with architectural elements of royal apartments, theatre, grand staircases, raised processional walkway, stormwater runoff systems, paved courtyards, magazines and offering basins for animal sacrifice. The fieldnotes herein are the result of my on site work of June, 2005 along with review of extant literature.

HISTORY. Phaistos has origins in the Neolithic era as in the case of Knossos, Kamarais Magasa and other locations; moreover, civilizations at Phaistos advanced steadily in the era between 3000 to 2000 BC and reached its zenith of art, language and architectural achievement in the middle of the second millennium BC. Iron Age re-occupation of the site eventually occurred after destruction of the Palace by earthquake, (Van Dyke, 2003) and eventually the rise of the center at Gortyn over-shadowed Phaistos by the late first millennium BC.

ARCHITECTURE AND ART The Old Palace is surprisingly well preserved, since the New Palace was set back eight meters leaving significant old palace elements in tact. The paved West Court of the Old Palace was covered with rubble a meter deep which became the ground level of the New Palace. A unique feature of the Central Court is its formal north facade, a symmetrical front with half columns and flanking niches for sentries. Phaistos exhibits numerous round subsurface pits known as 'koulouras'', probably used for storing grain.

Like Knossos and Zakro, Phaistos also boasts a labyrinth, although not nearly so elaborate as Knossos. (Castleden, 1990) A large private suite with bath at the north edge is similar to one at Mallia, especially with regard to designing to take advantage of views.

The quintessential artwork of Phaistos is the famed disk, with its 242 undeciphered symbols incised in spirals on both sides.(Mollin, 2005) On one side of the clay disk is an eight petaled rosette, and on the obverse is a helmet. Illustrating an advanced state of language development, the disk is also cited as the first version of movable type, since its design meets all requisite criteria.

Sophisticated pottery is found at Phaistos particulary in the Middle and Late Minoan periods. Examples of techniques include polychrome specimens and embossing in imitation of metal work. Bronze Age works from Phaistos include bridge spouted bowls, eggshell cups, tall jars and immense pithoi. Designs include complex geometric as well as zoomorphic shapes. Jewelry has also been recovered at Phaistos such as a gold necklace of beads with a double argonaut design. Iron Age Phaistos is known for production of terracotta figurines which emphasize facial detail.

CULTURE. Phaistos was the second most important Bronze Age settlement of the Minoan culture, and has many developmental and artistic similarities to its rival Knossos. Bronze Age Phaistos exhibited a strict caste system with an elite ruling class and small upper class enjoying most of the societal wealth. The larger number of peasants and slaves carried out the preponderance of labor, but subsisted in a simple manner. As in other Minoan cultures this arrangement appears to have been very stable over millennia, in that the populace revered the king and enjoyed the perceived protection from him. (Pomeroy, 1999)

ENVIRONMENT Phaistos is situated on a prominent coastal ridge, with expansive views of the Lasithi Mountains and the Asterousi Range, in addition to the broad fertile Messara Plain below. At the western end of the ridge sits the archaeological site of Hagia Triadha. The palace itself is aligned toward a prominent mountain saddle in the Psiloriti Range. Viewed from Phaistos, to the right of the saddle is the sacred cave of Kamares, which has yielded some of the finest Middle Minoan pottery. (Cadogan, 1991) The ancient water supply derived from the Ieropotamos River supplemented by deep wells on the ridge.

There is evidence that Phaistos expanded beyond its resource base during Middle Minoan I and II, especially in regard to over-exploitation of its surrounding agricultural resources. (Branigan, 2001) This attainment of the prehistoric population to local carrying capacity occurred at a similar time to that observed at Knossos through evidence of deforestation. (Hogan, 2007) In the middle to later Bronze Age, Phaistos expanded into the Amari area by founding the satellite center Monastiriki.

* Ruth Van Dyke and Susan E. Alcock (2003) ''Archaeologies of Memory'', Blackwell Publishing.
240 pages ISBN 063123585X
* Rodney Castleden (1990) ''The Knossos Labyrinth: A New View of the 'Palace of Minos' at Knosos'', Routledge ISBN 0415033152
* Richard A. Mollin (2005) ''Codes: The Guide To Secrecy From Ancient To Modern Times'',
CRC Press, 679 pages ISBN 1584884703
* Sarah B. Pomeroy (1999) ''Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and Cultural History'', Oxford University Press, 544 pages ISBN 0195097424
* Gerald Cadogan (1991) '' Palaces of Minoan Crete'', Routledge, 164 pages ISBN 041506585
* Keith Branigan (2001) ''Urbanism in the Aegean Bronze Age'', Continuum International
Publishing Group ISBN 1841273414
* C. Michael Hogan (2007) ''Knossos'', The Modern Antiquarian

Kempstone Hill (Standing Stones)

Kempstone Hill is an ancient site overlooking the North Sea which includes standing stones, tumuli and other megalithic elements. This relatively unexplored location is considered by many scholars as the likely spot of the first recorded battle in Scottish history, Mons Graupius. The expansive moorland ridge provides a commanding vantage point in all directions and an aesthetic setting for this prehistoric puzzle. The herein fieldnotes are based upon my site visits to Kempstone Hill in August, 2007 combined with literature analysis as annotated.

PREHISTORY. The glacial advance from the last ice age ice reached the 300 foot mark on the west slope of neighbouring Megray Hill, with the ice sheet likely overtopping Kempstone Hill, but probably not extending very far on the seaward slope. (Edinburgh, 1963) When the glacier retreated, this locus may have been an attractive zone for prehistoric men with a penchant for megalithic construction, since it is the southernmost coastal position where gneiss and other Scottish Highland boulder types are found immediately north of the Highland Boundary Fault.

Speaking of the pre-Roman era, Groome notes that Kempstone Hill holds numerous tumuli, some of them large, as well as the standing stones; he further asserts that these megaliths are: "supposed to be sepulchral monuments raised on a battlefield".(Groome, 1885) This is a remarkable observation, since he published prior to the confluence of numerous modern scholars endorsing Kempstone Hill as the site of the Battle of Mons Graupius. Thus he is clearly speaking of the site's use as a truly prehistoric tribal battlefield. It is not without coincidence that the very name "Kemp" is the Celtic word for battle, as first noted in the context of Kempstone Hill by an early endorser of this site as the locus of Mons Graupius.(Society, 1845)

Regarding the two large standing stones at Kempstone, RCAHMS records note that one measures 1.8m in height and thickens from 0.6m by 0.7m at the base to 1.3m by 0.9m near the top; it appears to stand in the centre of a cairn 4.5m in diameter. The other, situated 85m to the Southwest measures up to 1.3m by 0.9m and 2.4m in height. Human skeletal remains were found at the spot of each major stone. (RCAHMS, 1984) By the base of the east side of the smaller of these two stones, a small pit covered by a slab 0.3m square.. Stuart describes Kempstone Hill as containing five or six Druidical circles, one of which contained three very large concentric. All around, especially towards the north , are scattered a vast number of cairns and tumuli of different shapes and dimensions, some of them being of great height and circumference. (Stuart, 1841}

MONS GRAUPIUS. The local vicinity, including Kempstone and Megray Hills and Raedykes, has been suggested as the most likely site of the Battle of Mons Graupius, (Hogan, 2007) the first recorded battle in Scottish history. The topography of Kempstone is remarkably consistent with Tacitus' account of the conflict of the Romans and Caledonians, especially the ability of Roman soldiers to signal to ships in the North Sea. There is no similar location along the Roman marching line that offers this capability. In addition to sources already noted, Roy, Surenne and Watt have each advanced the tenet that the locus of Kempstone Hill was the site of this epic battle. Finds of chariot wheels, chariot axle rings and roman weaponry have been recovered in the vicinity and at Cantlayhills immediately at the north of Kempstone. (Marren, 1990)

ENVIRONMENT. The entire top of the rounded Kempstone Hill is covered in heather moorland with copses of gorse interspersed. The gorse patches are strangely distributed, as though they are formed from soil conditions that may have been modified in earlier times. For example, the areas that appear to be tumuli are typically overgrown with the higher gorse plants. I encountered a particularly mysterious tumulus/gorse patch toward the eastern end of the hill, which had a highly unusual patch within it containing a low grass, totally untypical of the entire hill; furthermore there was a very flat gneiss slab approximately 1.7 meters long lying prone within the thicket..

Below the moor level on the hill are fertile grain fields, and in the valley below flows Limpet Burn, with considerable wildlife habitat. Kempstone and Megray Hills are the southernmost coastal elements of the Mounth, which are rich in gneiss and granitic rock, suitable for use in the noble megaliths of Kempstone Hill.

* Edinburgh Geological Society (1963) "Transactions of the Edinburgh Geological Society", Neill and Co.
* Francis Hindes Groome (1885) "Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography", T.C. Jack publisher, Scotland
* Society for the Benefit of the Sons and Daughters of the Clergy (1845) "The New Statistical Account of Scotland", W. Blackwood and Sons. Scotland
* The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) (1984)." The archaeological sites and monuments of North Kincardine, Kincardine and Deeside District, Grampian Region", The archaeological sites and monuments of Scotland series no 21, Edinburgh, 18, No. 91
John Stuart of Inchbreck, Lit. Gr. P. Aberdeen (c. 1841) "Various accounts of the progress of Roman arms in Scotland and of the scene of the great battle between Agricola and Galgacus"

* C. Michael Hogan (2007) "Elsick Mounth", The Megalithic Portal, ed. Andy Burnham
* William Roy (1793) ''The military antiquities of the Romans in Britain''
* Gabriel Jacques Surenne (1827) ''Letter to Sir Walter Scott''
* Archibald Watt (1985) ''Highways and Byways around Kincardineshire'', Stonehaven Heritage Society
* Peter Marren (1990) "Grampian Battlefields: The Historic Battles of North East Scotland from AD84", Aberdeen University Press, 224 pages ISBN 0080365981

Knossos (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Knossos is the largest Bronze Age settlement on the island of Crete, and it also can lay claim to one of the most advanced civilizations of Europe of that era. It is an expansive palace as well as a religious and residential center, but is also steeped in legend and mystery involving King Minos,. the Minotaur and the Labyrinth as recited by Homer. Originally developed as a large neolithic village around 6000 BC, Knossos evolved into a sophisticated center of language and arts with significant Egyptian contact between 2500 to 1800 BC. The Palace, built at the zenith of Knossos culture, exceeded 1300 maze-like rooms, and was the source of the ancient labyrinth legend. The data herein are based upon my work at Knossos in June, 2005 combined with literature analysis.

NEOLITHIC. Knossos is the only city-sized Neolithic settlement on Crete, with three well defined layers of material bedded to a final depth of seven meters below the Bronze Age city; the Neolithic settlement on Kephala Hill actually extends well beyond the boundaries of the later Bronze Age city. The oldest Neolithic level reveals coarse hand-made brown clay bowls and other unornamented open containers. Pottery artifacts are burnished and many contain handles. (Castleden, 1990) The middle Neolithic manifests more refined pottery, with intricate incised geometric designs and some bird and animal motifs. Hatched triangles, dotted fields and chevrons are incised on ladles, partitioned trays and vases; some use of tubular handles is evident.

Late Neolithic Knossos offers remains of recognizable buildings. For example, numerous sun-dried brick-walled houses founded on large limestone blocks lie below the later Central Court. These structures are presumed to be "ben and but" style, like the extant late Neolithic specimen at Magasa in eastern Crete. Such homes range up to 40 sq meters for a largish home of four rooms with hearth, which heating fixture may be placed by a wall or in the middle of the room. High thresholds were in use as in modern times. Clay floors run under the walls suggesting a community plan level. The extensive maze-like arrangement of rooms is eerily suggestive of a labyrinth. (The word "Labyrinth" derives from the Minoan "labrys" meaning "double-axe", which axe symbol is also found widely at Knossos.) This communal array of houses with common walls is not unlike the Anasazi settlements of the American southwest (e.g. Chaco Canyon). Late Neolithic pottery educes new designs such as the chalice and carinated bridge spouted jar.

EARLY MINOAN. The Early Minoan period of Crete spans the era from 3400 to 2200 BC and is characterized by monumental building and by rough lime plaster over the earlier sun-dried brick and a fine surface wash of deep red which formed a cement hard stucco. (Pendlebury, 2003) Beginning in Early Minoan I, pottery evinces intricate incision designs. Influence of Anatolia and Cyclades (e.g. bottle-neck suspension pots similar to Antiparos) are seen; during the Neolithic period the only foreign influences found are Egyptian.

Notably in the Early Minoan II (EMII) period (2800 to 2400 BC) the Hypogaeum underground vault was created with an eight meter diameter and beehive dome extending 18 meters in height; this edifice was cut into the soft rock which would become the South Porch of the eventual Palace. Homes of this era were mostly razed to make way for the eventual Palace. Other Cretan cultures are now similar in pottery, designs, tools beginning in about 2500 BC. For example, a Knossos cup with high swung handle is similar to specimens from Vasilki and Trapeza. Dishes and bowls at Knossos show broad rim bands of colour and geometrics and in one instance over the rim to the inside of the vessel. Cycladic influence figurines begin appearance in Knossos in EMII. Copper daggers of Early Minoan III were recovered at the Tekke Tomb of Knossos and on the Candia road.

MIDDLE MINOAN. This era begins at 2200 BC with founding of the monumental Palace including: (a) insulae (with unusual rounded corners which may harken to an ancient a reed pallisade exterior); (b) magazines; (c) Throne Room; (d) Monolithic Pillar Basement; (e) raised causeways; (f) drainage and water supply systems of tapered clay pipes, with jointed sections 75 cm long. In Middle Minoan I (MMI), the great trackway appears from Komo via a guard fort at Anagyroi. Aqueducts brought water to Kephala Hill from springs at Archanes, which are the source of the Kairatos River. The Juktas Sanctuary, with a massive northern temenos wall where pithoi were recovered, is built on a hill a few kilometers from the Palace. Reconstruction of Knossos at Middle Minoan I is special, since other ruins on Crete such as Pseira are altered by later development.and are almost indecipherable.

Aiding the dating of Knossos MMI layers are a plethora of commingled Egyptian and Babylonian artifacts . Small jugs and handle-less cups appear in vast array in MMI Knossos with elaborate geometric designs and combinations of red, white, buff and black color; the earliest style of vase painting appears at Knossos, but nowhere else on Crete this early. Human figurines first appear at Knossos, males with only a codpiece and topless females with bell-shaped skirts. Pictographic linear writing first appears at Knossos and Phaistos in MMI, with one Knossos ivory cylinder seal manifesting intricate designs and proto-writing; a male figure on the cylinder seal resembles the Petsophas specimens. In the Vat Room a number of blue and green faience beads were found of spherical and disk shapes.

Middle Minoan II (MMII) begins about 1850 BC and lasts about 150 years until a great earthquake. Architecture, art and civil engineering attains great dimensions, paralleling Akrotiri in many ways. High column bases are made of breccia, porphyry, serpentine and conglomerate, while the columns themselves were milled tree trunks, inverted to prevent resprouting and also to minimize drip damage to the wood. To carry surface runoff elaborate stone lined drains were constructed large enough to crawl through. An intricate latrine system was devised including a candidate for the world's first flush toilet with incision in stone for a toilet seat and buckets nearby for flushing.

The adjunct Mavrospelio Cemetary was developed with chambered tombs, from which conical cups and burial pithoi have been retrieved. Two meter tall pithoi with rope designs appear at Knossos in MMII. The first expansive plaster murals turn up, notably the partially extant "Saffron Gatherer" illustrating the gathering of crocuses. Increasingly elaborate pottery designs appear such as rosettes, stylistic palms and scroll patterns.

By at least the latter part of MMI, a myriad of glyphs (read left to right) appear, some borrowed from Egypt. Glyphs depict the olive sprig, saffron, wheat, silphium, dog, ram, goat, snake, fish, short and long horned cattle, some appearing on three sided clay seals and some at Mavrospelio. (Whittaker, 2005) These glyphs blossomed into a full writing form at Knossos known as Linear A, likely the first complete writing system in Europe. Seals are made from carnelian, agate, rock crystal, chalcedony and jasper, with Knossos favorite shapes being signet, lentoid and circular. The first trials at portraiture manifest in MMI at Knossos, with subjects displaying both straight and aquiline noses. The first example of a Egyptian object in the Aegean that has a personal connection appears in Knossos MMII {a diorite statue of a man named "User" from the XII or XIII Egyptian Dynasty).

In Middle Minoan III (MMIII) the Grand Staircase is evident and the use of peristyle at Knossos and Phaistos. Inverted plastered timber columns are now numerous and have been imitated by Minorca and Malta. Lightwells are common in residences and other buildings. Architectural elements are decorated by stone carvings with human and animal motifs, such as a fisherman carrying an octopus; hunter lassoing a wild ewe; and scenes in the bull ring.

Magnificent paintings appear at Knossos in MMIII such as the "Blue Dolfins'', embellished by fish of all colors with bubbles flying off the fins, and edged with coral and sponges. The "Ladies in Blue" in the East Hall depicts women in elaborate garments toying with necklaces. A charging bull painting is reminiscent of an image in the tomb at Vapheio; morever, there is abundant evidence of a bull ring and other support for elaborate bull fighting events.

Some MMIII pottery continues to be barbotine, but polychrome and other finishes are present. Most curious is a round vase with suspension handle and curious side aperture; Evans suggests that this could be birdhouse for swallows. A lamp on pedestal design begins in this period, with an ivy motif purple gypsum spiral column specimen in the East-House. Bronze is now common, and at North-West House of Knossos were found double-axes, spearheads, socketed daggers, flared chisels, adzes and vessels. MMIII Sculpture is highly sophisticated as well as furniture, with a grand steatite libation table found at the Temple Repositories.

Literacy rates have been deduced to be very high, based upon ubiquitous writings found at all socioeconomic strata. Animal and human figures never face the beginning of text. Numerals are systemitized: 1 is a vertical stroke; 10 is dot; 100 is circle. Use of ink is widespread, found on pottery and many objects, and likely used on leather, papyrus or palm leaves. tablets are incised by bronze styli. Seals become elaborate such as an agate cylinder showing an ibex defending himself from a hunting dog.

LATE MINOAN. This period begins about 1580 BC with continuing advances in art and writing, but is generally an era of decline and conquest by Mycenaean Greeks. Architecturally there are certain room alterations and the introduction of the first clerestory windows. Environmental factors include manifestation of overpopulation and deforestation. (Pendlebury, 2003) Lack of trees is manifested by the unusual introduction of tall slabs of gypsum instead of wood for door jambs; vertical post timbers which tied in the masonry are missing in much of this era's construction; horizontal beams are notably smaller in diameter. Further evidence of reduction of carrying capacity is seen in the reduced size of Knossos compared to millennia earlier. Art continued to thrive in the earlier parts of Late Minoan, as exemplified by a finely carved sardonyx seal-stone showing the Mistress of Animals with a double-axe and griffins. The important Linear A Chariot Tablets derive from the Late Minoan, with Arthur Evans placing them just before the catastrophe.

Late Minoan II ends about 1425 BC with a catastrophic collapse of the Minoan culture. Mycenaean invasion commenced soon thereafter. While the Minoans never exhibited warfare, it is curious that the invasion came so close to the societal collapse. The syndrome seems mysteriously similar to the sudden demise of the Mayan civilization, where some postulate that carrying capacity was no longer able to serve an expanded population.

* Rodney Castleden (1990) ''The Knossos Labyrinth: A New View of the 'Palace of Minos' at Knosos'', Routledge ISBN 0415033152
* J.D.S. Pendlebury (2003) ''Handbook to the Palace of Minos at Knossos with Its Dependencies'', republication of earlier work with contributor Arthur Evans, Kessinger Publishing, 112 pages ISBN 0766139166
* Helène Whittaker (2005) ''Social and Symbolic Aspects of Minoan writing'', European Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 8, No. 1, 29-41

Akrotiri (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Akrotiri is a notable ancient city founded on the island of Santorini in the Late Neolithic period. Exceeding 20 hectares in extent, the settlement manifests sophisticated urban design, including multiple storey structures, complex street systems and intricate urban drainage; furthermore, there is considerable advanced art such as stunning wall murals, household furnishings and pottery. The herein observations are based on my site investigation of 2005 combined with review of literature.

HISTORY. While first habitation of Akrotori began at least as early as the fourth millennium BC on the island of Thera, the city advanced culturally throughout the Early Bronze Age (3000 to 2000 BC) and reached a peak of development in the Late Bronze Age (2000 to 1630 BC). Sometime between 1628 and 1520 BC a significant seismic event occurred followed by a violent eruption of the principal caldera on Thera.. (Gates, 2003) Since the initial earthquake took place many months before the eruption, the people of Akrotiri had sufficient time to conduct an orderly evacuation. Whether they fled to Crete, the Greek mainland or Egypt is the subject of debate, but they left little in the way of small precious objects such as jewelry, bronzes or coins; however, the the volcanic ash deposition engulfed the city so as to preserve structures and furnishings amazingly well. Spiros Marinatos began excavation on Santorini (the name of Thera from medieval times onward) in the hope of proving a volcanic/seismic event there was responsible for the Late Bronze Age destruction to Cretan sites.

SETTING . The city, still mostly buried beneath volcanic ash, stretches from the shoreline of the Aegean Sea to the top of the caldera, positioned at the southeast of Santorini; Akrotiri comprises an estimated area of one square kilometre,. the exact size Plato stated the lost city of Atlantis to be!. (Plato, 360 BC). When I visited the site, I also explored further west along the steep rocky cliffs descending from the caldera top to the sea. It became obvious that the city was well positioned to afford sea access to its people, while taking advantage of the splendid defencive landform that would deter an invasion over these western precipices.

ARCHITECTURE. During my site visit to Akrotiri, excavation, reconstruction and protective works were in high gear. An enormous scaffolded canopy had been constructed to protect exposed city elements from the weather. Construction includes elements of sizable rectilinear ashlar blocks as well as mud-brick walls. The rectilinear stone blocks are reminiscent of those I saw the week earlier on Crete at Knossos and Phaestos. Visitors were permitted to walk into the city on well defined constructed paths, in order to protect these ancient ruins. Photography was difficult due to the dark subterranean environment created by the canopy. Furthermore, since the entire exposed site was canopied, it was impossible to capture an overview image of the site. Weeks after my viewing of Akrotiri, a visitor was killed with a collapse of the giant canopy; the site was then closed for a time thereafter.

In any case, the up close view was stunning, with the obvious complexity of the stone and mud-brick city coming alive with its daily increasing exposure. The presence of individual and clustered buildings was evident, with some structures being three storeys in height. An incredible labyrinth of doorways and stairways interconnects rooms. Many doorway lintels had been re-created using Marinatos' technique of injecting concrete into the residual pumice moulds, where the original timber lintels had rotted. The geometrics of these complex room connections reminded me of the Anasazi ruin at Chaco Canyon. The intricacy of drainage works made me reflect that Akrotiri's infrastructure exceeds design standards for many modern Mediterranean cities.

ARTWORKS. Most of the intricate frescoes have been removed from the site itself and reside in Athens or the local Akrotiri Museum, with others being in process of conservation. These large colourful murals represent some of the best depictions of Bronze Age Aegean culture, providing details of dress, ceremony and even natural history. One of the first frescoes discovered involved a depiction of women. leading to naming its find location as the House of Ladies; moreover, the female form is rife, with women depicted in positions of prominence and also divine standing. (Preziosi, 1999). In 1969 Marinatos uncovered a mural of vervet monkeys cavorting on the steep ocean cliffs to the west (Castleden, 1998); such a depiction suggests that the Therans had contact with peoples of the Upper Nile, where this species is native. Attractive large pottery pieces have also been recovered as well as some figurines. .

* Plato (360 BC) ''Critias''
* Charles Gates (2003) ''Ancient Cities: The Archaeology of Urban Life in the Ancient Near East and Greek and Roman Worlds'', Routledge ISBN 0415121825
* Rodney Castleden (1998) ''Atlantis Destroyed'', Routledge, 225 p ISBN 0415165393
* Donald Preziosi and Louise Hitchcock (1999) ''Aegean Art and Architecture'', Oxford University Press, 264 pages ISBN 0192842080

Maeshowe (Chambered Tomb)

Standing inside this monument transports one to the very age of the builders and permits for an instant a glimpse of their world and time. As I studied the massive, finely hewn, precision fitted drystone, I had a sensation of the completeness of this simple design: a sensation rarely derived from contemporary architecture. Examining the alignment of the entrance passage, I enjoyed thinking of how incredible it would be at the time of the winter solstice sunset, when a narrow ray of light will pierce the chamber to its back wall. One should examine carefully the interesting side and back cells off of the main chamber, especially the lintel work. Finally be sure to analyze how the blocking stone (still present) would have been moved to seal the main passage.

Mine Howe (Burial Chamber)

The stonework on the vertical shaft is not unlike the well structures at Broch of Gurness and Hillock of Burroghston sites, providing footing through laterally protruding flattish rocks It could be that some of these shafts served a double purpose for their constructors of water supply and a hiding place.

Jelling (Complex)

Climbing the eastern-most mound gives an excellent perspective on the entire site. It is basically an earthen path and will only take you a minute if you are a strong runner.
Physicist with a strong interest in archaeology. Most of professional work has been in the environmental sciences.

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