Pleistocene Occupation of the Greek Islands: The Perspective from Crete

Here we present the ‘Summary‘ of the corresponding conference record by Curtis Runnels, presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017.



Palaeolithic stone tools have been identified on a number of Greek islands recently. These include the oceanic island of Crete, where lithic artifacts on the southern coast at Plakias occur in association with raised marine beaches and paleosols in karstic depressions dated to > 130 kyr, and on the northern coast at Mochlos Bay associated with as-yet undated Pleistocene alluvial fans. Other islands, including Ayios Efstratios, Alonissos, Gavdos, Kephalonia, Lesvos, Melos, and Naxos, have also produced documented Palaeolithic materials, although excavations have taken place only on Lesvos at the site of Rodafnida (Lower and possibly Middle Palaeolithic) and Stelida on Naxos (possibly Lower and Middle to Upper Palaeolithic). Although Lesvos was connected to the mainland during most of the Pleistocene, other islands were separated by open sea. Crete in particular required a substantial sea crossing (or several moderate crossings) to be reached from the mainland at any time. These facts suggest two topics for future research: that hominins were present on many of the larger islands in Greek waters as early as the Middle Pleistocene, and that the sustained presence of hominins on some islands, notably Crete and Naxos, implies the ability of archaic hominins to make open-sea crossings.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: