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2006-2008 Excavations

In 2006 Colin Renfrew returned to Keros to conduct the excavations of the Cambridge Keros Project (2006-2008). These excavations focused on two unlooted areas of the site. One of these areas proved to be the site of a second ‘special deposit’: an area of systematic deposition of choice material, all fragmentary, consisting mainly of marble figurines, stone vessels, and pottery. The figurines recovered from this ‘special deposit’ (designated the Special Deposit South), along with those recovered in the post-looting interventions in the Special Deposit North, amount to by far the largest single discovery of Cycladic figurines in context. The finds demonstrated a ritual practice carried out over a period of two centuries, whereby visitors from all around the Cyclades and beyond would congregate at Keros to carry out community-building rituals culminating in the deposition of figurine fragments.

 

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Figurine fragments during excavation in the Special Deposit South
 

The second area excavated in 2007 and 2008 was the summit of the rocky islet of Dhaskalio, located some 90m west of the Keros shore, but (as studies showed) joined to Keros as a promontory in the Early Bronze Age, when the sea level was some 4m lower. These excavations uncovered a series of buildings mainly of the last period of the site, 2400-2300BC. These buildings included the ‘Hall’, a substantial building 16m long and 4m wide, seemingly not domestic in nature. Study of the rest of the promontory indicated most of it had been built upon, making the site the largest of the Early Bronze Age Cyclades. More remarkably, study of the building stone showed that the stone was not local, but imported, by raft, from Naxos, some 10km distant – a prodigious undertaking for the time.

 

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Plan of part of the excavations on Dhaskalio in 2007 and 2008

 

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Wall of imported Naxian marble, Trench I, Dhaskalio

 

The excavations were directed by Colin Renfrew for the British School at Athens and the University of Cambridge, with Olga Philaniotou as Associate Director, and Assistant Directors Neil Brodie and Georgios Gavalas, and Michael Boyd as Stavros S. Niarchos Fellow, in memory of Mary A. Dracopoulos. The excavations of 2006-2008 are being published in a series of five volumes. Volume I was published in 2013, volume II in 2015, and volume IV in 2016. Volume III will appear at the end of 2017, and volume V will be published in the near future.

 

The Cambridge Keros Project is supported by Institute for Aegean Prehistory, the Balzan Foundation, the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation, the Leventis Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust, the N. P. Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art, the British Academy, the Society of Antiquaries of London, and the British School at Athens. The work of Dr Boyd as Niarchos Research Fellow, was funded by the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation from 2008 to 2012, and again from 2017 to 2019.