DIY archaeology in Crete

Knossos

Crete is clearly an island with a lot of history – millennia, in fact. Indeed, it has so much history that it doesn’t know what to do with some of it. The likes of Knossos are obviously going to be popular with millions of tourists:

But smaller, less famous, out of the way sites are a slightly trickier proposition. Sometimes, there may not even be room for a car park, let alone the staff to look after the site.

Take the Minoan settlement near the village of Στύλος (Stylos) in NW Crete. It’s a bit up a hill from the village itself and a bit of trek.

You’ll be able to find it easily if you’re walking though, because there’s a sign. Next to a ‘stock fence’.

Sign for the Minoan settlement near Stylos

All you have to do is undo the string securing the fence, peel it back, go through, re-secure the fence, then up the hill you go to the left, through the flock of sheep, turn right and keep going up until you come to a single building with a green roof.

The green roofed building near Stylos

Now you know you’re in the right place. Because there are no signs, no guidebooks, no nothing to tell you where you are. Which is a shame, because there is actually quite a lot further on up the hill, behind the green-roofed building.

More of the Minoan settlement

MinoanRuinsjpg

Of course, you’re better off reading this web page to find out exactly what.

Things get a little weirder up the hill from the settlement, because there’s actually a Minoan tholos tomb nearby. How do we get there? Well, a little further up the road from Stylos, there’s a grove of trees, behind a proper fence. Look here’s the gate. It’s been padlocked shut. Fortunately, there’s a key attached to it.

The gate to the Tholos tomb

Behind the gate is all the information you’re going to get about the tomb and its excavations. Maps? Not really…

The map of the excavation

So after a bit of wandering around the trees, avoiding (if possible) the cicadas that hurl themselves at you, you might find this:

The dromos to the tomb

Could this be what you’re looking for? Why yes, it’s the δρόμος (dromos or path/route) to the tomb. You knew that, didn’t you?

If you’re plucky enough to pick your way down through the grass and the weeds, this is what you’ll find – a Minoan arched entrance to a tholos tomb:

The entrance to the Tholos tomb

You can just go in. No one will stop you. What’s inside? A coned roof with a hole at the top.

The top of the Tholos tomb

You are now standing in something that people made 3,500 years ago. And you will be literally the only people there and may be the only people who will have been there in days or even weeks.

There’s stuff like this all over Crete. Just look and you should find something like this pretty much anywhere. It’s well worth it.

Greece is the word

It was an event in October to celebrate modern Greek culture and writing. We were there mainly for Bettany Hughes and Victoria Hislop, but both Katerina Vrana and Greece’s answer to Robert Downey Jr, poet/performer Vassilis Amanatidis, proved to be surprise discoveries of Greece is the Word.

And you can watch the whole day’s events below. You probably won’t spot us, though.

Editing Geo:International

Just a quick note to say that as of the February 2013 issue, I’m going to be editing Geo:International. It’s something of a homecoming for me, since I was editor of Mapping Awareness for over a year, back in the 90s, and it feels good to be back. More details about commissions et al once I’ve settled into the job.

A few pictures of Helsinki

I’m back from learning to be a hacker in Helsinki, which was actually very interesting, particularly with regards to advanced evasion techniques. Thanks to Stonesoft and Harvard for organising it all.

As with most press trips, I didn’t get to see much of the host city, but I did get to see a little on the first day. No snow, but Christmas has definitely arrived, as have the Moomins.

Helsinki

Helsinki

Helsinki

Moomins in Helsinki airport

Athens, the Parthenon and more

We were on holiday in Athens for a few days last week, which not only gave me a chance to try out some of my Greek – now in my fourth year, this time with CityLit – but to see some wonderful sights. Here’s just four:

The Parthenon

The Parthenon

The Erechtheion

Erechtheoion

The Temple of Olympian Zeus

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The Panathenaic Stadium

The Panathenaic Stadium