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The Cave of the Cyclops

The Cave of the Cyclops: Mesolithic and Neolithic Networks in the Northern Aegean, Greece: Volume I: Intra-Site Analysis, Local Industries, and Regional Site Distribution

Edited by Adamantios Sampson
Yannis Bassiakos
Androniki Drivaliari
Yorgos Facorellis
Chryssanthi Ioakim
Lilian Karali
Ioannis Liritzis
Antiklia Moundrea-Agrafioti
Dimitra Mylona
Maria Ntinou
Konstantina Papakosta
Judith Powell
Anaya Sarpaki
Katie Theodorakopoulou
Katerina Trantalidou
Volume: 21
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: INSTAP Academic Press
Pages: 430
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  • Book Info
    The Cave of the Cyclops
    Book Description:

    This is the first volume detailing the excavation of the "Cave of the Cyclops" on the island of Youra in the North Aegean. The cave was occupied at various times from the Mesolithic through Roman periods. The setting and stratigraphy of the cave and a survey of the area are discussed. The Mesolithic and Neolithic ceramic, lithic, and small finds are organised into catalogues. Additionally, this volume provides insight into the means of survival and the flowering of culture on Youra during the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods, and it presents the connections between this outlying area and mainland Greece.

    eISBN: 978-1-62303-069-8
    Subjects: Archaeology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  2. Introduction
    (pp. xix-xxiv)
    Adamantios Sampson

    The archaeological material presented in the first volume has demonstrated the importance of the Cave of the Cyclops, which unquestionably constitutes a byword in the prehistory of the Aegean. The information set out in the second volume mainly comes from the archaeological material, organic residues, and the archaeometric studies that complete the image of this significant archaeological site. Organic residues form a vast amount of material, and its systematic study proved necessary in order to ascertain the significance of the cave.

    Particularly important is Prof. A. Moundrea-Agrafioti’s study of Mesolithic bone hooks, which are unique. Their typology cannot be compared...


    • 1 The Mesolithic and Neolithic Bone Implements
      (pp. 3-50)
      Antiklia Moundrea-Agrafioti

      This chapter presents some general issues on the bone industry of the Cave of the Cyclops on the island of Youra. It sets out the stratigraphic and chronological distribution of the bone tools on the site as well as the general features of the bone industry, including the selection of the bones and the species that constituted the raw materials for the manufacture of bone tools. It also discusses the differences that exist for each chronological period in relation to this selection and the general choices concerning the reduction and fashioning techniques. Finally, the morphological groupings of the tools in...


    • 2 From Mesolithic Fishermen and Bird Hunters to Neolithic Goat Herders: The Transformation of an Island Economy in the Aegean
      (pp. 53-150)
      Katerina Trantalidou

      The way of life, the production, the exchanges, and the social organization of the Mesolithic and the Neolithic island communities comprise some of the most interesting research problems in Greek prehistory today (Galanidou and Perlès 2003; Renfrew 2003).* For these periods, the subsistence economy and the ecology of the Aegean give rise to fascinating questions, especially for an island like Youra in the Northern Sporades (Fig. 2.1), whose total surface area is 11 km² (4 x 1 miles of surface, according to Sampson 1997, 90), and where it is possible to gain an insight into how man survived in hard...

    • 3 Non-Vertebral Fish Bones
      (pp. 151-236)
      Judith Powell

      The prehistoric site of the Cave of Cyclops on the island of Youra is described elsewhere in this publication, but in order to understand the relationship between the prehistoric occupants of the site and their surrounding environment, it is useful to consider the present environment in terms of ecology and marine resources.* While it is not yet possible to reconstruct all the paleoenvironmental conditions of Youra during the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods, similarities and differences between past and present marine conditions can be inferred from the fishbone evidence.

      The island of Youra is currently 570 meters above sea level (masl)....

    • 4 Fish Vertebrae
      (pp. 237-266)
      Dimitra Mylona

      The present study focuses on fish vertebrae from Trench CWest in the Cave of Cyclops on the island of Youra (for the excavation details and several relevant studies, see Sampson 2008a; a preliminary study was published in Mylona 2003).* Vertebrae have been considered of low value in zooarchaeological studies because of the difficulties they present in identification and quantification (Wheeler and Jones 1989, 108). Often, vertebrae of different species within a family cannot be separated on morphological grounds, and the fact that different species—or even different individuals within a species—have varied numbers of vertebrae, make any robust statistical...

    • 5 Malacological Material
      (pp. 267-288)
      Lilian Karali

      Modern archaeological research deals with all the evidence brought to light through excavation, both the artifacts and the biological remains.* All are essential for studying the past, which is confronted as a total of elements and events (Shackley 1981, 1985). In the framework of environmental archaeology, evidence is provided by material that at first glance goes unnoticed, such as floral, faunal, and human remains. Of considerable significance among these remains are mollusks, particularly in Greece (Karali 1999b, 1).

      The study of mollusks from archaeological contexts provides archaeologists, ecologists, and biologists with a wide range of information. Marine ecosystems, the exploitation...

    • 6 Palynological Evidence
      (pp. 289-296)
      Chryssanthi Ioakim

      The aim of this paper is to present the palynological study and to provide information on the environmental situation surrounding the site of the Cave of the Cyclops from an ecological view.* The results presented in this chapter are part of an archaeological research program directed toward the understanding of changes in cave patterns and land use in the Northern Sporades during the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods.

      Pollen analysis of the sediments from Trench CEast shows that the accumulation inside the cave began on a level of collapsed rocks, and the sediments were introduced mainly as detritus from the plateau...

    • 7 Charcoal Analysis
      (pp. 297-314)
      Maria Ntinou

      Excavations and research at the Cave of the Cyclops have revealed a long chrono-cultural sequence that covers the Mesolithic and the Neolithic while human activity continued intermittently during later historical periods.* The archaeological significance of the site is without doubt unique for the prehistory of the Aegean region. Furthermore, of special importance is the abundance of macrobotanical remains—charcoal in particular—in the stratified cave layers. The wood-charcoal remains resulted from human activities taking place at the site between the 9th and 4th millenium B.C. Given the long duration of such activities, the analysis of wood charcoal provided the opportunity...

    • 8 Archaeobotanical Seed Remains
      (pp. 315-324)
      Anaya Sarpaki

      The environmental program at the Cave of the Cyclops on the island of Youra was rather restricted in regards to the archaeobotanical remains.* Dry sieving was implemented for most trenches and levels, but the finer bioarchaeological remains—particularly seeds—definitely suffered, as the mesh size of sieving is much larger than the one used to trap seeds. Water flotation was not implemented on-site, because, as the excavator explained, it was impossible to transport large soil samples to the coast and water sieve at sea level. Instead, the procedure was to dry sieve using 1-mm mesh (for some levels, at least)....


    • 9 Neolithic Pottery: A Characterization Study
      (pp. 327-360)
      Konstantina Papakosta

      One of the first problems that an archaeologist faces when pottery from a specific site has to be studied is to classify it.* The reasoning for this is that the act of grouping similar entities helps with the conceptualization of the past civilization (Rice 1987). The object of a classification is to create homogenous groups, while the groups themselves share a low degree of similarity (Rice 1987). A pottery group that is subdivided according to macroscopic characteristics is called a “ware” (Rice 1982). The criteria used to form ware categories in each phase of the Neolithic represented in the Cave...

    • 10 Sequential Radiocarbon Dating and Calculation of the Marine Reservoir Effect
      (pp. 361-372)
      Yorgos Facorellis

      It is very well known that ¹⁴C is formed in the upper layers of the atmosphere and then distributed uniformly in the various compartments of the “carbon exchange reservoir”—the atmosphere, humus, biosphere, and ocean (Aitken 1990).* The concept of the “exchange reservoir” is that carbon circulates relatively fast, and the residence time in each compartment (apart from some places in the deep ocean) is much shorter than the ¹⁴C half-life of 5,730 years. It is also known that, due to the fluctuating production rate of ¹⁴C in the atmosphere through past millennia, conventional radiocarbon ages have to be corrected...

    • 11 Clastic Sediments
      (pp. 373-384)
      Katie Theodorakopoulou and Yannis Bassiakos

      Among the sedimentary formations occurring in speleoenvironments, the clastic cave sediments (silts, clays, sands, etc.) often comprise the dominant class of a cave’s interior deposits. Local breakdown and allochthonous sediments are the predominant categories of clastic cave deposits. Their main mineralogical constituents are kaolinite, illite, and, in a lesser degree, chlorite. Within the context of analytical studies, the clastic cave sediments can be sampled and handled by applying regular techniques, as with other sedimentary deposits (Ford and Williams 1989). Due to their anthropogenic relevance and paleoenvironmental significance, the clastic cave sediments have been more studied than other cave fillings (e.g.,...

    • 12 Stable Isotopic Analysis of the Mollusk Shells
      (pp. 385-390)
      Androniki Drivaliari, Ioannis Liritzis and Adamantios Sampson

      Stable isotope analyses of oxygen and carbon in marine (Patella ulyssiponensis) and terrestrial (Helix cincta) mollusk shells were effectuated for the Cave of the Cyclops on the island of Youra in the Northern Sporades. Samples were derived from 12 layers at excavated sections (Trench CWest levels corresponding to Trench CEast layers) of the cave, dated from the Lower Mesolithic (LM, 8546–8340 B.C.) to the Late Neolithic (LN) IB (4800–4300 B.C.). Isotopic data variations can detect climatic changes of an approximate scale close to a millennial period. Climatic changes within the Holocene are further correlated to transitional phases registered...