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Prehistoric settlement discovered in NW Greece

Excavations have brought to light two new prehistoric settlements, the oldest discovered to date in the regional unit of Arta in northwestern Greece, with a large variety of artefacts, such as pottery, tools and jewellery, and also burials.

Prehistoric settlement discovered in NW Greece
Panoramic view of Kokkino Lithari hill showing the location of the burials [Credit: Ethnos]
The sites were discovered this summer during the construction works of the Ionian Road highway at the section Kambis-Ammotopos, within the limits of the prefectures of Arta-Preveza, near the acropolis of Orraon on Kastri Hill, which dates back to the 4th century BC.

At the foot of Kastri Hill archaeologists detected a Mycenaean burial (1600-1100 BC) containing beads and jewellery, while on the hillside Kokkino Lithari, they found the remains of several buildings, cermaics and stone tools from the Middle and Late Bronze Age (2000-1000 BC), as well as four burials with grave goods and offerings.

Prehistoric settlement discovered in NW Greece
Stone beads from a necklace found in a tomb in Kokkino Lithari [Credit: Ethnos]
"The two new sites give valuable information on Arta's prehistory and constitute the oldest sites, which further enriches our knowledge of the area", said the director of the Ephorate of Arta, Barbara Papadopoulou.

The prehistoric settlement at the foot of Kastri Hill was not unexpected, given that the acropolis of Orraon sits on its peak. The new site on the hillside Kokkino Lithari, however, turned out to be a pleasant surprise to archaeologists.

According to archaeologist, Andromakhi Baladima, the stone built remains date back to the Middle and Late Bronze Age.

Prehistoric settlement discovered in NW Greece
Bronze dagger from the Mycenaean era [Credit: Ethnos]
The excavation revealed plain household pottery (large storage vessels and smaller wares), as well as numerous stone tools that reveal the lifestyle and daily habits of the prehistoric community.

Of particular interest was the discovery of a tomb lined with limestone slabs on the southern part of the hill. The tomb contained four burials, an undecorated drinking cup and a bronze ring.

The human remains will be examined by anthropologists to determine the age and sex of the occupants.

Prehistoric settlement discovered in NW Greece
Gilded studs which may have belonged to the dagger's handle [Credit: Ethnos]
The excavations at Kokkino Lithari are ongoing and archaeologists expect new discoveries will come to light in the future.

At the foot of the Kastri Hill, excavations revealed a burial from the Mycenaean era. The finds include a bronze dagger 17.7 cm length, 17 stone beads from a necklace and 8 gold-plated studs, which likely served to fasten a handle to the dagger.

"The identification of the prehistoric remains indicates that once, on that road that connected the Athamanes and Molossian tribes with the Ambracian Valley, there thrived a small community centuries before the Molossians establish the important fortress city of Orraon", said Ms. Baladima.

Prehistoric settlement discovered in NW Greece
Unpainted drinking cup found in a tomb in Kokkino Lithari [Credit: Ethnos]
The archaeological site of Orraon, atop Kastri Hill, and its associated settlement have been excavated and documented in detail.

It was a fortified hilltop settlement, founded by the Molossians in the second half of the 4th century BC.

It had a fortification wall some 750 metres in length and comprised around 100 dwellings, with an estimated population of about 2,000 individuals.

The ruins of the houses are preserved in excellent condition and many of them are distinguished by the walls of their upper floors.

In 168 BC the Romans razed the fortification walls in retaliation for the city's resistance to the Roman legions of Anicius.

Orraon survived until 31 BC, at which time its inhabitants we relocated to Nicopolis, founded by Augustus in commemoration of his victory at Actium.

Source: Ethnos [September 12, 2016]

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