Dikili Tash – Orthopetra

DIKILI TASH – ORTHOPETRA

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DIKILI TASH – ORTHOPETRA
Traces of Prehistory

The earliest archaeological evidence for organised life in the region, at the settlement of Dikili Tash, dates to the prehistoric period and is located in the tell of Krinides, a short distance from the archaeological site of Philippi. This is the oldest Neolithic settlement in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, and one of the most important in the Balkans.

Photo by Kavala and Thassos Antiquities Office’s archive

The location itself is in the form of a tell. With an area of approximately 4.5 hectares and a height of 17 m, it is one of the largest tells in the Balkans. Its current shape is oval and asymmetrical, as a result of the accumulation of prehistoric and historic remains and from erosion.

Representative finds from the excavations – figurines, vases, tools and jewellery – are on display in a temporary exhibition in the foyer of the Archaeological Museum of Philippi, while remains from the Hellenistic and Roman periods were also discovered in the region. A Byzantine tower was discovered at the peak of the tell.

They drank red wine at Dikili Tash in 4300 BC.

Recently, large quantities of the charred berries of pressed grapes have been found in the settlement, indicating that fresh fruits were pressed to extract their juice. This is a particularly important finding for European prehistory as it is at present the earliest evidence for winemaking in Europe.

The name Dikili Tash dates to the Ottoman period and means “upright stone” in Turkish. It refers to a Roman tomb monument set up along the length of the Via Egnatia (the Roman road that connected the Adriatic coast with the city of Byzantium), near the eastern entrance to the ancient city of Philippi and very close to the prehistoric settlement.

Research and Excavations

Photo by Kavala and Thassos Antiquities office

From 1961 to 1975, Jean Deshayes and Demetrios Theocharis carried out the first systematic excavations at the site, under the auspices of the French School at Athens and the Athens Archaeological Society. Their primary aim was to establish the archaeological strata and chronological order in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, which was effectively unknown until then. These excavations, aside from their historical contribution, displayed a particular richness in the archaeological site, and the high quality of various productive sectors, in particular during the Neolithic period (vases, figurines, jewellery, etc.). Many houses that had been destroyed by fire retained architectural features in situ (walls, heating devices, etc.).

Between 1986 and 1996 a second Greek-French research programme was conducted, under the auspices of the Athens Archaeological Society and the French School at Athens, directed by Haido Koukouli-Chrysanthaki and René Treuil. The research was supported financially by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Greek Ministry of Culture (18th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Kavala), the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the University of the Sorbonne-Paris Ι. This research focused on the building strata so as to better understand the techniques used, the arrangement of space in the successive settlements and, in general, the way of life, and the results are being used as the basis for broader research programmes.

In 2008, a new joint Greek-French research programme began at Dikili Tash, under the aegis – as were the two previous programmes – of the Archaeological Society of Athens and the French School at Athens, led by Pascal Darcque, Haido Koukouli-Chrysanthaki, Dimitra Malamidou and Zoe Tsirtsoni. The programme is being funded, on a long-term basis, by the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the Institute for Aegean Prehistory. It has also received financial support from the National Geographic Society (for a programme on Neolithic wine, led by Tania Valamoti) and the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (Balkans 4000 project, led by Zoe Tsirtsoni). The French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the Kavala-Thassos Ephorate of Antiquities and the Municipality of Kavala continue to support its work. The general goal of this programme is to reconstruct the totality of the site’s historical evolution, shedding light on the space and time continuities from the first human settlement to today.

Useful information

Ντικιλί Τας τομέας 6 ειδώλιο σε εστία - Φωτογραφία Αρχείο Γαλλικής Αρχαιολογικής Σχολής

Φωτογραφία Αρχείο Γαλλικής Αρχαιολογικής Σχολής

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Krinides, 64003 Kavala

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Archaeological Museum of Kavala
+30 2510 222335

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