With the Franchthi cave, oposite of the village of Kiladha in the east of the Peloponnese, we had found a trace of human settlement which dates back until 38,000 BC!! We hiked there from Salati Beach, which is about 1 hour to the North, but you can also drive to a lovely bay much closer and walk from there.
Excavation was started here in 1967 by T. W. Jacobsen from Indiana University. It soon turned out to be much more fascinating than first expected and lasted nearly 10 years. It is one of the most thoroughly studied sites from the stone age in southeastern Europe. Lucky for us, the site was open and well explained.
Obsidian from Melos, a volcanic island about 100km to the south-east, appears at Franchthi as early as 13,000 BC, offering the earliest evidence of seafaring and navigational skills by modern humans in Greece.
One of the excavation shafts was still open, where different important layers were marked and explained.
The cave contains for example some of the earliest evidence for agriculture in Greece. Around 7,000 BC, the remains of domesticated plants and animals are found among the usual wild plant and animal species hunted and gathered during the Mesolithic, suggesting that either the inhabitants of Franchthi had begun to practice agriculture or were trading for seeds and meat with the Neolithic people who had recently arrived from the Near East.
As once the sea level was up to 120m lower, there are also traces of a settlement in front of the cave but now under water. Archeologists found the ruins of an Early Bronze Age city just several hundred meters to the North. It includes the foundations of buildings, stone paved surfaces that are likely roads, and what appear to be the remains of a fortification wall with three large towers. Such a defensive structure would be the first of its kind to be discovered from the Early Bronze Age in Greece.
After our trip far back in history, we will next explore a lost place from the 80s, a hotel complex just behind our beach. More on our next post!