Ancient quarries found in Karystos during installation of Evia wind parks

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Ancient quarries found in Karystos during installation of Evia wind parksThe Ephorate of Antiquities of Evia reported the discovery during the construction of new wind turbines Ancient quarry of Anatoli (Photo1 Source: Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports)

Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports announced that three ancient quarries mining Karystos shale marble were discovered while wind parks were being installed by the ENEL and Silsio companies, in the greater area of the Karystos Municipality and the sites of Anatoli in the Kafireas region and at Trikorfo, Marmari, under the supervision of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Euboea island near Attica Prefecture and the Greek capital of Athens.

Ancient quarry of Anatoli in Kafireas (photo 1) During works on the new main road to the Anatoli wind park managed by the ENEL Company, northwest of the village of Amygdalia, an ancient shale marble quarry was unearthed, with two principal mining fronts faced by small areas covered with soil. The biggest mining front is close to the second one that is smaller in size and located at a higher spot to the north east of the first one, carved in tiers into the natural rock. In the greater area, south east of the smaller mining front there are huge carved rectangular blocks in situ, scattered around the natural rock.

While the greater quarry area was being archaeologically cleaned, two half finished columns were located in a clean layer of fine mining gravel.

 

Ancient quarry of Trikorfo (Photo 2 Source: Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports - Ephorate of Antiquities of Evia )


Ancient quarry of Trikorfo 1 (photo 2) The ancient quarry is positiones exactly above the main road of the works by the Silsio Company. High on the rock two small mining fronts were situated along with some long box-shaped carvings on their floor, while only a few metres to the east a low pile of mining gravel was discovered, the sole evidence of mining activity.

 

Ancient quarry of Trikorfos 2, with the half-carved columns in situ (Photo 3 Source: Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports - Ephorate of Antiquities of Evia)


Ancient quarry of Trikorfo 2 (photo 3) The second ancient quarry of Trikorfo 2 was found to the north west of Trikorfo 1. The quarry’s principal space is much larger than that of the first quarry with three big, Π shaped, tall mining fronts.

Three big gravel piles dominate the surrounding space, two to the east and one to the west of the main mining and quarrying area, whilalong with as well as other boulders partially worked on, bearing traces of carving and located on a downward slope to the south of the main mining area, most probably for their removal and transportation.

On the ground of the quarry’s main area there are three half finished columns, one next to the other, and most probably more stone blocks that are not exceptionally visible being covered by considerable backfill and vegetation. In front of the main fronts lies a small circular construction for collecting water, covered with slate slabs for washing tools as well as for other uses.

As pointed out by the announcement, the discovery of these ancient quarries provides more information regarding the location of new sites for the mining of Karystos stone, showing the latter’s significance as a critical factor in the region’s economic activity from ancient times to the present day.

The ancient marble quarries of Karystos

Karystos (Greek: Κάρυστος) or Carystus is a small coastal town on the Greek island of Euboea. It has about 5,000 inhabitants (12,000 in the municipality). It lies 129 km south of Chalkis. From Athens it is accessible by ferry via Marmari from the port of Rafina. Its urban plan was laid out by the renowned Bavarian civil engineer Bierbach, in the middle of the 19th century, near the site of the ancient city of Carystus.

In ancient years the region of Karystos was renowned for its marble and the ancient quarries are found on the southern flanks of Mt Ochi, between the villages of Mekounida and Aetos. Strabo writes about the magnificent monolithic "Karystian columns". The activity of marble extraction was so intensive that in Marmari, the main post for the export of Karystian marble, there was a temple dedicated to Apollo.

The intensive quarrying of marble was mainly done during the Roman period. In the time of Julius Ceasar and Augustus, the Karystian marble was well sought after in Rome, mainly for the construction of monolithic pillars. It was also used in the paving of floors and walls. Even today one can admire monolithic pillars made of Karystian marble in Hadrian's Library in Monastiraki, Athens, as well as the Roman Agora in Rome.

The most remarkable remains of ancient quarrying are found in ‘Kylindri', at the top of the valley of Myloi. Here we find lying in situ, hewn out of the rock, several giant monolithic columns of about 12 m long - the ‘kylindri' as the locals call them. The most fascinating of all is the fact that there may be a possible link between the quarries and the dragon-houses of South Evia. According to a theory, the dragon-houses were temples dedicated to the patron of quarrymen Hercules, who would watch them from afar and give them the courage and the strength to continue their arduous labour.

A military alert, the possible fall of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century AD, lead to the withdrawal of the Romans from the area and the ceasing of the quarrying activities.

Nowadays, many of these ancient quarries are still accessible and all that is required is a mild trek to reach them.

History of Karystos

Karystos apparently remained inhabited throughout the early Middle Ages. As part of the theme of Hellas, it was also seat of a bishop – a suffragan of Athens – at least since the reign of Leo VI the Wise (r. 886–912). It was among the towns listed in the 1198 chrysobull of Alexios III Angelos, where the Venetians were permitted to establish trade stations. In 1205 it was captured, as with the rest of the island, by Jacques d'Avesnes, and soon it became the seat of the southern third (triarchy) of Euboea under Ravano dalle Carceri.

It is likely that it was at this time, with the construction of the castle of Castel Rosso (some 4 km from the modern town, at the modern village of Myloi) and the rise of piracy, that the town was moved from its coastal location to the inland around Castel Rosso. The town remained an episcopal see under Latin rule, with the Greek bishop remaining in office; in 1222 however it was merged with the Bishopric of Euripos (Chalcis). In 1276/7 it was reconquered by the Byzantines under Licario and held until 1296, when it was recovered by Boniface of Verona. In 1318 it passed into Catalan hands as part of the dowry of Marulla of Verona for her marriage with Alfonso Fadrique. The town was coveted by the Venetians, who already in 1339 offered to purchase it; negotiations dragged on until 1365, however, and only in 1366 did Karystos finally pass into Venetian control when Boniface Fadrique sold the barony to the Republic. After the conquest of Euboea by the Ottoman Empire in 1470, the local Orthodox see was reactivated as part of the Metropolis of Euripos.

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinations Greek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

 

 

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