Νeolithic finds in the Prefecture of Drama, Macedonia, Greece

In this article we present the most official references for findings of the Neolithic period in the region of Drama.

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“The archaelogical finds record the gratual steps towards civilisation taken in the Drama region, firest by presenting the Middle Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers (50,000 B.C.), then the earliest Neolithic farmers and pastoralists of the Drama plain (5,500 – 3,000 B.C.) the first, patriarchal, Bronze Age communities (3,000-1.050 B.C.) and the mighty tribes of the Early Iron Age (1,050-700 B.C.).”

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“The first Neolithic farmers and pastoralists made their appearance in the Drama basin in the sixth millennium B.C. A large number of Middle and Late Neolithic settlements attests to the area?s rising population from the sixth to the end of the fourth millennium B.C. A full picture of Neolithic culture in Drama basin is provided by finds from the excavation at the sites of Sitagri and Arkadiko. Tools, jewelery and pottery fired in high temperatures and decorated with elaborate techniques represent the earliest technical achievements of Neolithic man in the Drama region, and his cultural relations with neighbouring areas. The finds throw light on Neolithic architecture, and Neolithic man?s activities connected with food preparation and storage processes, weaving, basket-making, and also the attempt to express his personality and to communicate with the forces of nature through idols and ritual vessels. In the prehistoric settlement of Sitagri we have the first evidence of metal-working at the end of the Neolithic Age.

Other finds from Sitagri settlement give us a picture of the area?s culture during the Early Bronze Age (3,000-2,000 B.C), a time of rapid cultural transformation throughout Europe. The pottery evidence shows that at this time the Drama area developed cultural links central Europe and the North-Eastern Aegean. Late Bronze Age finds from tombs at Potami and Exohi reveal links with the and the continental Balkans and Central Macedonia, while the local Mycenaean pottery provides the first examples of contact with the Mycenaean world. Pottery, weapons, tools and jewelery from the tombs excavated in the Drama Industrial Zone confirm that the region?s links with the Balkan hinterland and central Macedonia continued into the Early Iron Age (1.050-700 B.C.)”

(Sourcehttp://odysseus.culture.gr/h/1/gh151.jsp?obj_id=3409)

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(Source of Photograph: ‘Archeological sites of the Prefecture of Drama’, by Vassiliki Poulioudi)

“From the middle of the 6th millenium BC the inhabitants of the region organize the first permanent residences, begin to domesticate the animals and cultivate the land. They are gradually transformed from hunters to producers. Keeping close to farming and livestock sites, they create permanent facilities alongside rivers, water springs, soil suitable for crops and livestock farming either in the Drama plain or in low mountain ranges around it.

The most famous Neolithic settlements are located in the small villages of Sitagroi, Mylopotamos, Petrousa, Xiropotamos, Megalokampos, Kalos Agros, Kalampaki, Doxato, as well as in the city of Drama, in the well-known “Arkadikos” site. The most important “tumbes” that the excavation went through, giving valuable information about the daily life of the inhabitants, the cultivation and the domestication of the animals, are those of Sitagroi and Arkadikon.

The systematic excavation of Sitagroi took place after the collaboration of the English School of Archeology with the University of Los Angeles in 1967-70. The continuous inhabitation of the tumba was discovered, from the Middle and Newer Neolithic Era until the Early Bronze Age, which dates back to the middle of the 6th until the end of the 3rd millenium BC. In the city of Drama, in the location “Arkadikos”, the first systematic Greek excavation of the prefecture of Drama was done as a collaboration of the ΙΗ’ Archeological Ephorate and the University of Thessaloniki, which began in 1991 and continues. The Arkadikos excavation explores the continuity of life in the city of Drama during the Middle and Newer Neolithic period and the Early Bronze Age.

Based on the excavations, it is easy to observe the daily life of the Neolithic man in the region during the Middle and Newer Neolithic Era. The houses are single-spaced, rectangular, made of wooden skeleton and walls of knitted thick branches covered with clay. In Neolithic homes not only people live, but sometimes also animals. The houses are also workshops and storage areas where the inhabitants sleep or resort in difficult weather when they can not stay or work in the countryside. The building materials they use are located in the area of the settlement and are woods, branches, clay. The “εστία” where the fire burns and food is prepared internally dominates. The roof is double or quadruple, made with branches and a thick layer of mud.

The cottage industry is represented by tools and utensils. The stone chipped and sanded tools are cutlery, scrapers, grinders, knives, millstones, hooks, arrowheads, trimmers, hole-drillers, axes that help in the supply and processing of food and the cottage industry development. Cork tools are used as holes, grinders, spatulas. The clay tools indicate weaving works . Favored materials for weaving are flax fibers and wool of domesticated sheep. The Neolithic houses still store jewelry and figurines of stone and clay, as well as figurine-replicas of houses and housework of everyday life. The utensils are basic types for everyday use, storage or table or handmade kitchenware. The excavation of Sitagroi provided important insights into the life and organization of the Neolithic settlements and their relationship with the settlements in Aegean Thrace, in the rest of Macedonia and throughout the Balkan area”

(Sourcehttp://www.e-city.gr/drama/home/view/1107.php)

“The most famous Neolithic settlements are located in the small villages of Sitagroi, Mylopotamos, Petrousa, Xiropotamos, Megalokampos, Kalos Agros, Kalampaki, Doxato, as well as in the city of Drama, in the famous “Arkadikos”. The most important “tumbes” that excavations were carried out, or the ones that provided valuable information on the daily life of the inhabitants, the cultivation and the domestication of the animals, are those of Sitagroi and Arkadikon. The systematic excavation of the Sitagroi took place after the collaboration of the English School of Archeology with the University of Los Angeles in 1967-70. The inhabitation of the tumba was discovered to have been from the Middle and Later Neolithic Era until the Early Bronze Age, which starts from the middle of the 6th until the end of the 3rd millennium BC”

(Sourcehttps://www.gtp.gr/LocInfo.asp?InfoId=9&Code=EGRRDR0l&PrimeCode=EGRRDR0l&Level=6&PrimeLevel=6&lng=1)

Arkadikos

“The oldest permanent prehistoric settlement of the city of Drama came to light after an excavation research at the site of Arkadikos, south of the springs of Agia Varvara.

The inhabitation of the settlement dates back to the middle of the 6th millennium BC and continues in the early Bronze Age (3200-2000 BC) and sporadically up to the historical times. Excavations in the area give valuable data about the houses of the Neolithic settlement (6500-3200 BC) (*), which according to the data are single-spaced, rectangular, made of materials easily found in the area such as branches, mud and reeds. The walls are pillared, while the floor is made of clay.

(*) Therefore, unless it is a typographical error, there is a mention here for the middle of the 7th and not the 6th millennium.

1196081573_826_min_arkadiko_dsko_007_1-custom-3.jpgArkadikos Drama. Clay wall

In the settlement it is characteristic to find workshops for the manufacture of stone tools and objects, which demonstrates the occupation of Neolithic people with the cottage industry and specifically with the construction of everyday vessels, tools, figurines and jewels.

The findings from this site are exhibited at the Drama Archaeological Museum.”

(Sourcehttp://www.ipet.gr/thesaurusII/articles.php?lang=gr&id=826&thm=9&p_id=&sp_id=)

Sitagroi

“On a small hill (tumba) in the village of Sitagroi on the plain of Drama, archaeological research brought to light the homonymous Neolithic settlement, which gave valuable information about the character of the region’s culture in the middle (5000-4500 BC) and later (4500-3200 BC) neolithic period up to the early Bronze Age (3200-2000 BC).

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(Source of Photograph: ‘Archeological sites of the Prefecture of Drama’, by Vassiliki Poulioudi)

The houses during the middle (5000-4500 BC) and later (4500-3200 BC) Neolithic times are single-spaced, rectangular buildings, which are constructed with basic wood, twigs and clay structures and function as workshops and storage areas. The interior is dominated by the fireplace, while the tools and utensils found in the area are typical, which are considered suitable for everyday use, especially for the needs of food processing and the development of cottage industry.

During the Early Bronze Age (3200-2000 BC), at the Sitagroi settlement samples of metal treatment are witnessed, while there are changes in its residential character, as samples of paved arcade buildings with narrow streets between them appear. The houses have an anteroom, a main space and a smaller space used to prepare and store food.

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Evidence of the continuation of habitation in the prehistoric settlement indicates the desertification of the area before the end of the early Bronze Age (2000 BC) while the archaeological finds from the site are exhibited at the Archeological Museum of Drama.”

(Sourcehttp://www.ipet.gr/thesaurusII/articles.php?lang=gr&id=1025&thm=9&p_id=&sp_id=)

“The systematic excavation of Sitagroi took place after the collaboration of the English School of Archeology with the University of Los Angeles in 1967-70. The inhabitation of the tumba from the Middle and Later Neolithic Era until the Early Bronze Age, dating back to the middle of the 6th until the end of the 3rd century BC millennium. Archaeological finds from the site are exhibited at the Archeological Museum of Drama.

The Neolithic house

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With the beginning of the Neolithic Age, the first permanent residences were built. The materials are wood and clay. The skeleton of the building is made with thick branches and then a mesh of thin branches, which were covered with layers of clay. Inside the Neolithic house life is organized around the fireplace, where the fire burns and the food is prepared. Particularly frequent is the presence inside the house, of a small oven with a sunken roof and clay benches next to it. The surplus of each household was stored in large pots, jars of unprocessed clay or storage pits.

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From the Neolithic settlement of Sitagroi comes the big pithari (Pot) with the engraved decoration, a work of high, for its time, pottery and pyro-technology. A large part of the Neolithic home that was made of organic materials (wood, reeds, wool, flax, leather) has been permanently lost. Excavations, however, reveal objects of everyday life made of clay, stone and bones, such as vases, tools, jewelery, figurines, inside their houses and yards. Earthenware weights and flywheels testify to the occupation of the inhabitants with weaving.”

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(Sourcehttps://www.prosotsani.gr/el/index.php/enimerosi/nea-deltia-typou/toympa-sitagron-neolithiko-spiti)

Kalambaki

“In the area of Kalambaki, (the chief of the Drama Ephorate of Antiquities, Efstratios Papadopoulos speaks) a prehistoric settlement has been found from the fifth millennium of the Bronze Age, from the Neolithic Bronze Age. There, the excavating sections are larger in number. We have perhaps 40 excavating sections of 5X5 and the relics of this prehistoric settlement have begun to emerge. We have many prehistoric settlements in the area of Drama, but especially in the southern part, it is the first time – if we exclude the Arkadikos excavation – that we have the possibility to excavate quite carefully, systematically, with times that we decide and are not imposed on us by the two companies of the TAP pipeline. We have already begun to see the remains of this settlement.”

(Sourcehttp://www.proinos-typos.gr/vrethikan-tesseris-archeologikes-thesis-sto-nomo-dramas-kata-ti-dielefsi-tou-agogou-fysikou-aeriou-tar-synentefxi-tou-proistamenou-tis-eforias-archeotiton-dramas-ston-proino-typo/)

“If we refer to the history of the area, we can see that there has been habitation for many centuries according to archaeological finds. Especially in the Neolithic Age (4,900 – 4,600) BC. the settlements «Kalambak-Tepe» and «Sykia»”

(Sourcehttps://www.destanea.com/dimos-doksatou/istoria-dimou-doksatou/item/355-2018-08-26-17-18-25)

Petrousa

“At the beginning of the 3rd century BC millennium ends the Neolithic period and the Bronze Age begins. In the prefecture, life continues in neolithic settlements and new ones are also created.

In Sitagroi, as well as in the city of Drama in Arkadikos, in the villages of Petrousa, Mylopotamos, Kalos Agros, Ano Symvoli, Xiropotamos, Doxato, Kallifitos, Nikiforos, Platania, in the valley of Nestos, in Potamoi there are settlements of the Bronze Age.

New types of settlements are being created and cultural, social and economic changes are observed.

Moreover, metalworking occurs and the residents produce copper and tin alloys. Populations move and trade is developing.

In the prefecture, the first samples of metallurgy are given by the settlement of Sitagroi from the middle of the 5th millennium BC. (**) (Phase III)

(**) [Unfortunately, it was not possible to find further information on this exciting find. It is surprising that research on this issue has not progressed since, around the same, time metal objects appeared in the Middle East as well. Comparing and dating the findings could lead the archeology science to reinforce or overturn existing theories about ‘culture spreading’]

Excavation research found fragments of clay crucibles with molten copper sections along with needles and pure copper beads, as well as a gold bead.

Most evidence of everyday life in the early Bronze Age comes from the excavation of the Sitagroi settlement.

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(Top view of the “burnt house” belonging to Phase III)

In the settlement of Sitagroi there are three residential phases of the early copper age

a) Phase IV with examples of buildings made of piles that have narrow streets between them

b) Phase Va with an arched house that was destroyed by a fire and is called “burnt house”

c) Phase Vb with an arched house made of piles called the “long house”

The “burnt house” is a typical home of the Early Bronze Age. The anteroom, the main hall of the house and the small “arched place” in the background with storage vases are distinguished; and they continue to exist during the Late Bronze Age, as it is evident from the settlements of Nikiforos, Platanias, Xeropotamos, while others are created in new places, near rivers, such as in Kali Vrissi.

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The settlement of Sitagroi is deserted before the end of the early copper age (2000 BC).

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Some settlements in the Drama ‘Tumba’ plain , or in semi-mountainous and fortified places such as the settlements of Potamon and Exochi.

The settlements are small in size and have fortification enclosures. In the area of Potamon and Exochi, burial tombs are excavated with burial-burnings.

There are vases with engraved decoration and white paint, as well as Mycenaean vases of local workshops (Archeological Museum of Drama)”

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(Sourcehttp://petrousa.blogspot.com/2014/08/blog-post_28.html)

Potamoi

The Tomb of Potamoi and a vase found in this prehistoric settlement

(Source of Photographs: The following link, where the interested reader can read an interview, on the excavations in the Prefecture of Drama, of the Honorary Ephorate of Antiquities, Mr. Demetrios Grammenos  http://www.proinos-typos.gr/proistoria-tis-dramas-topotheti-tin-periochi-sto-kentro-tis-proistorikis-epochis/)

We have not been able to find, so that we present them to you, scientific studies and publications on the excavation work in the areas mentioned. Also, no scientific work has been found that refers to the precise dating of the findings, with the current-modern available methods – and we stress this because most of the dates listed, in almost all cases, are ‘estimates’ and not real ‘dating’.

Research-Selection-Translation: Philaretus Homerides

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