Sign of communal sophistication in Neolithic site of Koutroulou Magoula in Greece

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Sign of communal sophistication in Neolithic site of Koutroulou Magoula in GreeceMonumental buildings, closed ceramic furnaces, and impressive perimeter trenches were revealed in Koutroulou MagoulaPhoto Credit: Yannis Hamilakis

A  large, Middle Neolithic building was discovered at the top of the Koutroulou Magoula Neolithic settlement in Central Greece during this year's excavation season, archaeologists said on Friday, according to ANA.

The building has stone walls measuring a total of 9.5 m in length and almost 8.5 m wide, and is one of the largest of this period to be found in Greece. It also appears to have been supported by a massive external buttress. Its function remains unclear, but preliminary results indicate it was used over a long time and underwent rebuilding and modifications. At certain periods it also seems to have been shared with domestic animals.

Another important find is a complex of heavily burnt, closed pottery kilns found near the edge of the settlement. One of the kilns preserves extremely well its plastered floor, parts of its plastered walls and dome, and other architectural features. It was built on a coarsely plastered platform. "This is an extremely important find, and an indication of the technological sophistication of the Neolithic inhabitants of the site," noted Dr Nina Kyparissi-Apostolika, honorary ephor at the Ephorate of Palaeoanthropology and Speleology, and co-director of the excavation with professor Yannis Hamilakis of Brown University. 

Copyright: Fotis Ifantidis


Excavations this year proved beyond any doubt that the settlement in the Neolithic was surrounded by perimeter ditches, large, seemingly communal works with multiple social, symbolic and practical functions. The natural bedrock had been cut by people in the Neolithic to form steps in order to facilitate digging, but also enable its continuous use for collecting water and possibly clay. "Given the size of the settlement, the time and effort invested in the creation and maintenance of this system of ditches would have phenomenal. These ditches would have been a central feature in the material and social life of the community," pointed out professor Hamilakis. 

This season's findings included numerous clay figurines and house models, adding to the already impressive and diverse collection of figurines from the site which numbers more than 400 to date. Extensive ethnographic research was also carried out, and the season concluded with a site-specific theatrical performance titled "Woman" and staged next to the trenches. It was attended by more than 200 people and the theme merged archaeological narratives with contemporary discourses on gender relations. 

Copyright: Fotis Ifantidis


The tell settlement of Koutroulou Magoula measures 3.7 hectares, rises around 6.6 m from the surrounding plain, and was occupied during the Middle Neolithic period (6000-5800 BCE); it was also used for burials during the Late Bronze Age (c. 15-14th centuries BCE) and the Medieval periods (c. 12th century AD). 

The 10th season of the Koutroulou Magoula Archaeology and Archaeological Ethnography Project concluded last week. The project was launched officially 2010, and co-directed by Hamilakis and Kyparissi, is a collaboration between the Greek Archaeological Service and Brown University in Rhode Island, US. In the 2018 and 2019 seasons, the University College London also collaborated, under the directorship of Dr. VasilisTsamis. 

The excavation is executed under the auspices of the British School at Athens, and in the 2019 field season included students and archaeologists from Greece, the US, the UK, the Netherlands, and Taiwan.

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