The site of Plakari is located near modern-day Karystos on the southern tip of the island of Euboia (Greece). It was first occupied during the Final Neolithic period (ca. 4300-3300 BC). A second habitation phase spans the EIA to the late Classical period (ca. 1100-325 BC) when Plakari’s summit housed an open-air sanctuary.
The Plakari Archaeological Project has two main aims: to understand the nature of the human occupation of the Plakari hill top and its direct environs, and to investigate how in various periods Plakari functioned within its wider geographical setting – i.e. on a local, regional and supra-regional scale.
The project is multidisciplinary in scope, combining systematic excavations with geo-archaeological landscape research, palaeo-ecology, archaeobotany, zooarchaeology and the study of marine faunal remains. An important motivation to start fieldwork at Plakari is the fact that although the Karystia has been intensively surveyed, very few systematic excavations have taken place in this part of the island. In addition, past and future building developments pose a threat to the site which gives a sense of urgency to the investigations at Plakari.
Within this broader framework, the research addresses the following specific issues:
- Ancient landscape and environment
To understand how Plakari functioned within local and regional contexts, it is crucial to study landscape changes and landscape formation processes in this dynamic coastal area, and attempt to reconstruct the ancient environment, ecology, land use, and agricultural practices. Sedimentological and palaeoecological investigations have been carried out in the coastal areas west and east of Plakari, encompassing intensive coring to investigate the subsoil stratigraphy and take soil samples for micropalaeontological, palynological, lithological, grain-size and thermogravimetric analysis.
- Regional settlement history
The Final Neolithic settlement at Plakari is one of a number of contemporary sites, although it is probably among the earliest in the region. Also, it seems to have been fortified by a mighty defense wall. During the first half of the first millennium Plakari was for a long time the only main settlement centre. The Plakari project aims to investigate how the site developed during the various phases of its use and how these developments relate to larger trends in Karystia's occupation history, as can be reconstructed on the basis of, for instance, surface surveys.
- Organization of early Greek cult
The earliest items from the sanctuary’s so-called ‘open-air sacrificial refuse area’ (Sub-Mycenaean dress pin, Protogeometric pottery) allow us to date the start of cultic activities at Plakari to the 11th or 10th century BCE. This means that the Plakari sanctuary is one of a very small group of Greek cult places of such an early date. The hundreds of votive objects and tens of thousands of pottery and bone fragments provide detailed information about how this early cult functioned, in what kind of spatial and architectural setting cult took place, what sort of rituals were performed, what groups of people were involved in what sort of ceremonies, etc. Because the site was in use for a relatively long period, we are able to monitor developments over time in the spatial organization of the sanctuary and the organization of cult itself.
- Inter-regional networks
Plakari is located at an important crossroads between the Aegean and the Euboian Gulf region. Pottery, flint and obsidian from the Final Eolithic period can help us to reconstruct contacts that existed with both nearby and far-off regions (eastern Attica, Cyclades, eastern Aegean). Votive material from the Iron Age sanctuary constitutes a rich source of information about EIA regional networks and the role of sacred places in overseas communications.
- Site preservation
The continuous pressure exerted on the site and the landscape by ongoing building activities makes systematic archaeological research extremely urgent. One of the project’s aims is to explore how the sustainable preservation of cultural heritage can be combined with the further development of the area.