Kastro (Antikythera) Kastro - Κάστρον

Kastro, Classical to Hellenistic polis site at Kastro in Antikythera Peloponnese
Hits: 0
Latitude: 35.890200
Longitude: 23.295500
Confidence: High

Place ID: 359233PAig
Time period: CH
Region: Attica
Country: Greece
Department: Islands/Antikythera
Mod: Kastro

- Pleiades
- IDAI gazetteer ID

Modern Description: *Ancient Aegilia, lies on a peninsula to the north and east of Potamos, its ruins just visible (to the eastern side) from the boat as it enters the port. A footpath leads up from Potamos along the side of the headland to the white church of Aghios Nikolaos, one of the oldest on the island. As you go down the slope to the east of the church, the presence of scattered potsherds all around suggest that this hillside was also part of the area of ancient habitation. Below is the ravine of Xeropotamos (named “dry river” for obvious reasons), which ends at the pebble beach which forms a small harbour within the main bay. The shoreline in Antiquity would have been further inland since the level of the water was then substantially higher. On the hillside opposite, you see a clear, diagonal path leading up to the ancient town. At the base of the hill which you have just descended (west side of the beach) – there is evidence of dried springs which may once have provided water for the ancient town.
Climbing up the diagonal path above the east side of the bay, there are several carved niches in the rock face to the right; a quantity of potsherds can be found all around. At the top there are steps, cut into the rock, which lead into an area which was once a protected gate of entry. A plateau now opens out in front: the walls around the acropolis are visible crowning the hill to the right, the remains of the lower town are in front, and the bay, below to the left. In the main area in front and to the right, there are many points at which the natural bed-rock has been substantially cut and dressed; this, together with the use of natural fissures in the limestone, was for the storage of water and of goods. The most interesting and legible part of these ruins is straight ahead at the edge of the sea, where a clear, broad ramp descends steeply to the water's edge: this is an ancient boat-loading bay. In examining this, it is important to remember that the whole island appears to have been pushed up by tectonic movement above what would have been the water-level in Antiquity. The entire coastline of Antikythera has a dark band just above sea-level which is approximately 2.5-3m in height, with furrows formed by successive sea-levels. It is hard to know exactly how much of this rise has taken place since the 4th century BC, but in order to make sense of this loading bay, allowance has to be made for a substantial rise in the land or drop in sea-level since that time. There are clear signs (chisel striations) of the cutting of the stone on the floor of the ramp, the walls to either side, and the area immediately above and to the left (west). At the bottom of the ramp is a deeper cut to the right-hand side, which would have allowed one (shallow draft) boat to enter and be secured while loading and unloading onto the mole at the left-hand side. Just above this point is a deep transverse cut in the rock, running from side to side of the gulley, and possibly used for securing winching equipment attached to the boat. The berth and the whole surrounding area is remarkably well-preserved.
Directly uphill from here, to the east, is a hole affording entry into a small underground chamber, neatly cut with two loculi or tiny chambers, to south and east. A round, well- hole in the centre, underneath an opening above with dressed stone – possibly in the floor of a structure that stood above – suggests an underground nymphaeum. In fact, the whole of this area shows signs of terracing in the bare rock for the creation of cisterns.
The acropolis of Aegilia was on the ridge and the saddle to the north. Today this apron-shaped plateau is entirely surrounded with the visible remains of an enceinte of Hellenistic fortifications. The walls vary between 1.50 and 3m in thickness; and the ring of bastions or watch-towers is well-preserved – five are clearly visible, all are square, except the northernmost one, which watched over the entrance to the harbour and was circular with a diameter of approximately 4m. In the middle of the area which the walls surround is a long narrow fissure in the rock: this was most likely a cistern for collecting water, given that it lies at the lowest point within the enceinte.
Towards the summit to the south extends a stretch of wall, typical of the style of construction of the 4th century BC: above this, the remains of three rings of walls are visible, which protected the highest point: the bastion on the peak (fortified mostly on the north side) is in rougher stone. The peak itself is interesting, and suggestive of a place of earlier cult: steps cut in the living rock lead up to a small flat surface which marks the highest point (90m a.s.l.) and which is oriented exactly on an east/west axis. Below it more steps lead up from an empty cleft in the natural rock. From here there is a good view of the Themiones Islets – the rocks just off the coast below and to the east where the shipwrecked ancient boat with its precious cargo was found in 1900.
The acropolis walls subsequently descend from the summit to the south towards an area of recent (now deserted) habitation; some of these houses have been constructed using elements taken from the walls, and are often raised directly on ancient foundations. At the southern extremity of the enceinte a deep cleft in the limestone, below the eastern side of a small outcrop of rock, functioned in antiquity as a large, communal cistern. The remains in this area are harder to read because ancient pieces have been moved and re-arranged by recent inhabitants seeking to make threshing circles and animal pens; but several cisterns with spouts into rock-cut basins still preserve their ancient appearance. At the southwestern corner of the site the walls re-emerge clearly, and a gate is visible with a path running down to the ravine below to a point just upstream of the sanctuary in the valley.
Trismegistos Geo: 60800

Info: McGilchrist's Greek Islands

(From McGilchrist’s Greek Islands, © Nigel McGilchrist 2010, excerpted with his gracious permission. Click for the books)

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