The site of Maroulas in Kythnos is along the coast, close to the modern settlement of Loutra. Due to the sea level rise, possibly 50-60 m lower than the present, the greater part of the settlement has been destroyed. A rescue excavation at the site was initiated in 1996, which, after an interval of several years, has been reactivated since 2001.
During the first excavation season of Maroulas, eight skeletons were recovered in a contracted position, characteristic for this period, at different points of the area. The dead used to be placed inside a rock-cut cavity or a pit, either slab- or stone-lined, and finally covered with large slabs. The most important find was a skeleton that was recovered in the northern part of the site lying on its back, but in a strongly contracted position, since the bent knees were drawn up to the shoulders. The arms were bent and placed on the chest. The skeleton has been preserved in a fairly good condition, although a hard rocky crust covered the bones.
Αn other site with Mesolithic burials is Franchthi Cave in Ermioni, Argolid. Eight burials, with two cremations among them, were discovered at the entrance of the cave. All of them date from the Lower Mesolithic save one, which dates to the following period, of the Upper Mesolithic. Many other bone fragments and teeth date from both periods, and were recovered among abundant animal bones. These burials and the concentration of scattered bones belong to approximately 28 individuals. A burial yielded the intact body of a 25-30-year-old man, who probably died of a strong blow on the head. His skeleton lay in a semi-contracted position, in a N-S direction facing the East. Stones and a pile of terrestrial molluscs were placed on the body, while other stones surrounded the pit, in which the man was inhumed. Two of the burials, of a man and a woman, consisted of burnt bones cremated intentionally, as indicated by the condition in which skulls were found, exposed to fire, and the variable incineration of the longer bones, which were obviously covered by clothing. These constitute the earliest cremations in
In Kythnos, marine shells have occurred in smaller quantities, while fish bones are also present. The majority of the shells belong to the patella species, most common in the Greek coasts. Animal bones have been scanty and mainly belong to small-sized animals still unidentified. Furthermore, the study of faunal material from the site, consisting of fish, birds, and mammals in less quantity, has shown suids (Sus scrofa) in early domestication.
Recent radiocarbon samples assign fairly accurately the settlement and the cemetery on Kythnos to the 9th millennium B.C. (9346±67 B.P., 9571±65 B.P., 9440±40 B.P., 9420±50 B.P.). These dates of the Lower Mesolithic correspond to the ones already known from the
and Cyclops Cave in Ermioni. Franchthi Cave
It is obvious that the people who inhabited Κythnos were orientated toward sea activities, notably fishing. At the same time, they were also involved in food collecting and hunting of small animals or birds, as the excavation has not yielded any bones from large animals. Moreover, it is possible that they did not settle permanently at Maroulas, but rather that they moved to different sites and islands.
From the position of the island one can assume that Kythnos was part of a chain formed between
Melos and the Greek mainland
that related to the trading of obsidian ( Melos – Kimolos – Siphnos – Seriphos – Kythnos – Keos – Attica – Argolid). Following
this route, one could avoid the treacherous open sea from Melos to the eastern Peloponnese in the Myrtoon sea,
especially in the case of Franchthi, where obsidian from Melos occurs since the Late
Palaeolithic period. The presence of the obsidian at Franchthi from as early as the 10th mill. B.C. has been commented upon a lot lately, even though it has not been easy to speculate that the inhabitants of the cave actually had the necessary skills in order to travel to the open sea of the Myrtoon area so early. It is more safe to assume that the transportation of the raw material was carried out by Palaeolithic populations from mainland , and probably also from the Cycladic islands, who cleared the ground for the later Kythnos inhabitants. The first occurrence of Melian obsidian at Franchthi corresponds with the warm Alleröd phase (9,800-8,800 B.C.), which probably facilitated traveling and fishing in the Greece Aegean. Fishing and seafaring activities at that stage suffice to prove that people had already started to turn to new systems of economy and adopt rapidly new diets based on sea resources as early as the 10th mill. B.C.
Thus, apart from the sea route in the northern
Aegean that united Thessaly with NW Asia Minor, the possibility of more sea routes in the
southern Aegean must not be neglected. Further evidence of early navigation is the
settlement of Crete in the 7th millennium B.C., by small groups of people
who are assumed to have come from the East. However, the likelihood of people
moving from the direction of the southern Peloponnese cannot be excluded in this case.It is certain that some
traveling took place between the Aegean islands, aiming at visual contact, at least.
Moreover, it is most possible that Mesolithic seamen would travel to the
western Asia Minor coast. Therefore, similarities between the stone
industry from on Youra and the
corresponding one from Cyclops Cave in Antalya Asia Minor should not come as
a surprise. The recent discovery of two Mesolithic sites in Ikaria, which bear
striking resemblances to Kythnos, reinforces this view. Off the southern end of
Euboea, the islands of Andros, Tenos, and Mykonos seem to form
another geographical chain. Mykonos is visible from Ikaria and it would not
be difficult for people of the time to cross this distance in good weather
conditions. From there, the Asia Minor coast and the SE Aegean islands would be
rather easy to travel to. All recent finds lead to the assumption that, at
least, 10,000 years ago navigation activities in
the Aegean were considerably more expanded than what we have
A typical feature of this period is the engagement in intensive fishery. For the first time in the history of prehistoric archaeology, we know so many details about the circumstances of fishing activities among so early population groups, notably the cases of the
on Youra, and Franchthi. On the contrary, very limited
archaeological evidence is available of similar activities in Neolithic times.
This can be accounted for by the fact that, although the Cyclops Cave Aegean Sea and, generally, the Mediterranean never ceased to
be rich in fisheries, new economical tendencies have come about in the Neolithic
period (e.g. cultivation, the expansion of herds, etc.).