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7 th International Colloquium of Funerary Archaeology

Al 7-lea Colocviu internaţional de arheologie funerară

Topic : “The society of the living – the community of the dead” (from Neolithic to the Christian era)

Tema: „Societatea celor vii”- „comunitatea celor care dorm” (din neolitic la epoca creştină)

Sibiu 6-9 october / octombrie 2005

The Byzantine Settlement on the Antikythira Island (Grece)(abstract)

Aris Tsaravopoulos, Nikoleta Pirou (Athens – Greece),
Cătălin Ovidiu Bojică (Romania)

In the summer of 2004, I was on Greek island of Antikythira where I dug several early Byzantine graves (6th century). The head of the site, Mr. Aris Tsaravopoulos, offered me the opportunity to continue the research in following years. He also gave me the material that had been dug out during the previous three years so that I publish it in the monograph on the Antikythira Island.
The research will include several elements:
- Surveys to identify all points where there are elements indicative of human presence in the Byzantine period of time (the surveys of the previous years will be continued); the mapping of all identified points is desired.
- During the previous years, several locations were identified where there are tombs of this period of time. Up to now traces of dwellings have not been precisely identified. It must be looked into to see if near the identified groups of tombs there are traces of Byzantine settlements (as it should be natural). It is possible that the materials the Byzantine dwellings were made of, we mean stone, be reused in the modern period of time and that is the reason why the traces may no longer be visible or there may have been wooden dwellings.
- The tombs identified as Byzantine coming from the 6th century based on a vessel and a fibula / cross buckle, and in 2004 based on earrings, have an east – west orientation, but this does not enable us to say whether they are Christian or not. We must search and find out whether on the island, there are traces of a concrete religious activity, and we mean a church. If there are none, we must see what the religious authority is that the people of Antikythira must have adhered to.
- Still starting from the tomb type, we must find out what the areas are where graves were found to have the same typology (dug in rocks and covered with stone plates). As to the discovered items, and we mean the cross buckle / broach, this type is also encountered north of the Black Sea as well. We must find out where the item comes from, thus determining what the islanders’ economic ties were. The same thing must be done for the earrings. An analysis of the metal of the two items will clarify that to a larger extent. The ties with the island of Crete must not be forgotten. Being aware of the fact that during the Hellenistic period the pirates’ fortress belonged to the Cretan fortress of Phalasarna, it is possible that in the Byzantine period as well the same dependence may have been preserved (we must also remember the modern and contemporary history: most of the current inhabitants of the island are Cretans. We should not forget that during the 8th –9th centuries Crete was under Arabic occupation (Nicefor Fokas conquers Crete back in the early 10th century). For instance, the silver coin found near Hag. Myron church coming from Leon IV – Hazar’s time, dating in the early 9th century, we could not say whether it comes from Byzantine locals or pirates who were paid with silver or gold coins.
- After digging the tombs, the bones must be analyzed to determine whether in a tomb where several people were buried those individuals belonged to the same family or whether the groups of tombs belong to a clan settled in a certain area. Currently we believe that there were families that owned a certain area where they had their dwellings and annexes and where they buried their dead. we believe that the discovered wine presses were jointly used by a family.
- Again based on the bone analysis, we could find out the age average and gender of the people who lived here, and we could also estimate the period of time when they inhabited the island. This estimation may be done if we determine the buried people’s relative chronology. Making the sum of the individuals’ ages, we could determine how many generations we are talking about.
- Another important chapter is the analysis of the Byzantine pottery. Until now, following the surveys, the discovered pottery is very fragmented, but identifiable. Most of the items are the Peacock - Williams LR4 type.
Having analyzed all these elements, we will try to determine what the positioning of the island was within the Byzantine Empire, what the religious and economic dependencies of its inhabitants were.


International Union for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences


The 30th comission

"Lucian Blaga" University Sibiu

Research Centre:

„BRUKENTHAL” National Museum


History Museum (MNBS)

Directia judeţeană pentru Cultură, Culte şi Patrimoniul Cultural Naţional Sibiu



For further information, please contact:

Prof.univ.dr. Sabin Adrian Luca: E - mail: sabinadrianluca@hotmail.com

Dr. Valeriu SIRBU: E - mail: valeriu_sirbu@yahoo.co.uk