The large and well-organized prehistoric settlement of Dimini sits on a low hill overlooking the Pagasitikos bay, northwest of the modern village of Dimini, five kilometres from the city of Volos. It is the most important settlement of the Late Neolithic period and one of the best known in Greece. Dimini and Sesklo are the most systematically excavated Neolithic sites in Thessaly and provide valuable information on prehistoric architecture and economic organization. Dimini's location made it ideal for habitation and accounts for its longevity (Late Neolithic to the end of the Late Bronze Age). Today Dimini is three kilometres from the sea, but in the fifth millennium BC it was located only one kilometre from the coastline, which gave it easy access to the maritime trade routes of the Central Aegean. It was also surrounded by fertile flatlands suitable for agriculture and animal husbandry.
The earliest settlement at Dimini dates to the Late Neolithic period (end of the fifth millennium BC). It was an organized community of 200-300 people living in 30-40 houses. Agriculture, animal husbandry and probably fishing were the main occupations. The settlement is contained within six concentric stone enclosures built in pairs. The purpose of this unique architectural feature may have been both to retain the soil and to define the settlement's limits. The houses were built between these enclosures, of which the smallest one at the centre contained a large court, or 'square'. The decorated pottery found in the settlement features dark geometric motifs on a light-coloured background. Other finds include a large number of obsidian, chert, stone and bone tools, figurines and jewellery. The funerary customs of the inhabitants of Dimini are unknown. Only a few burials of small children inside vases were discovered within the settlement.
In the Early and Middle Bronze Age, the settlement moved into the flatlands south and east of the hill. We do not know the size of this settlement or whether occupation was continuous until the Mycenaean period. In the Middle Bronze Age the hill was used as a cemetery, of which sixteen cist graves have been revealed to date.
In the Late Bronze Age a large township and a palatial centre occupied the plain southeast of the hill, towards the sea. The township was tentatively identified with Mycenaean Iolkos, where the legendary Argonauts started off. It was founded in the mid-fifteenth century BC and flourished in the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries BC, and consists of a large street lined with houses and workshops, enlarged and refurbished during three major construction phases. A large pottery kiln at the edge of the settlement and two large tholos tombs, probably for the local rulers, belong to the first phase (Late Helladic IIIA2). The early thirteenth century BC (Late Helladic IIIB1) saw the construction of a palace for the ruling class. The palace, unique in the region, was the centre of political, economic and religious power, and had commercial contacts with the known Mycenaean centres. It consists of two large 'megara', surrounded by smaller buildings and connected by an internal courtyard. The building was completely destroyed by fire at the end of the thirteenth-beginning of the twelfth century BC, while the entire settlement was abandoned without evidence for destruction at the end of the thirteenth century BC (Late Helladic IIIC). The site was not inhabited again until modern times.
V. Stais and C. Tsountas first excavated the Dimini in the early twentieth century BC. Lolling and Walters investigated the first tholos tomb in 1886, while the second tholos tomb, at the top of the hill, was excavated by V. Stais in 1901. N. Verdelis conducted conservation work of the Neolithic settlement in the 1950's. Excavation and conservation continued in 1974-1977 under G. Chourmouziadis, whose aim was to re-investigate the Neolithic settlement's architecture and particularly the use of the enclosures. Excavation of the Mycenaean township began in 1980 and continues under V. Adrymi-Sismani. The Neolithic settlement was conserved again in recent years and the archaeological site has been landscaped to suit visitors.
The archaeological site of Dimini includes the Neolithic settlement on the hilltop and the Mycenaean township in the plain east and southeast of the hill. In the former, only the houses' stone foundations are preserved over an area of approximately 30,000 square metres. This organized community was contained within six concentric stone enclosures, an architectural feature unique to this site. These enclosures were built successively: three round the central court, followed by three more. The enclosures are cut by narrow perpendicular corridors, which divide the settlement into four parts. Between each pair of enclosures were the settlement's houses, with stone foundations and mud brick walls, all of them more or less equal in size and amenities. The houses were quite spacious with two or three rooms and facilities for food preparation and storage. A large single-roomed house, so-called 'House N', distinguished by its interior arrangement, had several hearths and a storage area separated by a low wall, with large storage jars containing carbonized grain and smaller jars with carbonized figs. At the centre of the settlement, the first two enclosures define a central open court, or square (30x25 metres), where all of the settlement's activities converged. A large 'megaron,' consisting of two chambers and a porch, was built at the northeast edge of the court at the end of the Neolithic period (end of fourth millennium BC).
Also on the hilltop are sixteen cist graves of the Middle Bronze Age (second millennium BC) and, at the southwest corner of the Neolithic court, the remains of a Mycenaean 'megaron' with stone slabs from the cist graves used as building material. The 'megaron' contained no finds.
Approximately 150 metres south and southwest of the hill are the remains of the Mycenaean township and palatial centre, tentatively identified as ancient Iolkos, which cover an area of over 100,000 square metres. The township consisted of large, 'megaron'-style houses with consistent orientation, built along a street, 4.5 metres wide, orientated north-south and still preserved over a distance of 45 metres. The street was bordered by tall walls, which restricted direct access to the houses. Each house had living quarters, storage areas and a clay washbasin, while several show traces of a drainage system. A pottery kiln and a workshop lie to the east at the edge of the township. The township dates from the fifteenth to the twelfth centuries BC, with three main phases of re-construction and refurbishment (Late Helladic IIB to Late Helladic IIIA and Late Helladic IIIB to Late Helladic IIIC).
The palatial centre lies between the hill and the township. Built in the early thirteenth century BC (Late Helladic IIIB1), it consists of two 'megara', smaller buildings and a central court. The palace appears to have been constructed over an earlier 'megaron', built in the fourteenth century and abandoned in the early twelfth century BC (early Late Helladic IIIC).
Northwest of the hill is a Mycenaean tholos tomb of the second half of the thirteenth century BC (Late Helladic IIIB2). The tomb is large and well built, with a relieving triangle and a built larnax inside, but is severely damaged - the dome has collapsed. Approximately 300 metres west of the hill is another, better preserved tholos tomb of the second half of the fourteenth century BC (Late Helladic IIIA2). Although looted in antiquity, it yielded rich finds, such as gold jewellery, glass-paste beads and necklaces, ivory implements and bronze weapons.Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DiminiWikidata ID: Q667357Trismegistos Geo: 33504
(Odysseus, Greek Ministry of Culture)