Many of the great prehistoric monuments were built at the same time, including in Greece

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

Everything about this is amazing:

Although the current archaeological investigations on Dhaskalio have been going on for the past four years, it’s only more detailed examination of the resultant data over the past 12 months that has revealed the true scale of the complex, and the transport logistics and construction work associated with it.

But the remarkable nature of the site does fit into a much more widely dispersed series of monumental construction traditions from western Europe and the Middle East.

Intriguingly, it was built within 100 years or so of the creation of Stonehenge, the first Egyptian pyramids, the great cities of the Indus Valley and the first known Mesopotamian kingdoms.

This suggests that there was no communication between the different cultures building huge monuments, but clearly there must have been some communication, as the idea was so popular, but only for a limited amount of time:

This broader context shows quite clearly that Dhaskalio was part of a much wider cultural and political phenomenon involving huge ultra-ambitious construction and political projects.

These Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Indus Valley and western European traditions were almost certainly not directly related to each other – but were probably the result of a common stimulus, namely the spread and intensification of early metal usage, and the mercantile, cultural and political changes that process triggered.

This implies that thousands of boats, or many thousands of trips, were needed to assemble all of the needed material:

The 7,000-10,000 tonnes of white marble, needed for the project, were quarried in the southeastern part of Naxos, a large island around 6.5 miles northwest of Dhaskalio. Each return trip from Naxos to Dhaskalio would therefore have been around 13 miles.

Images of Aegean Cycladic boats survive – so it is known that they were each only 10-15m long and capable of carrying only between one and two tonnes of cargo.

What is strange is that there was apparently powerful kingdom able to organize this vast effort, decade after decade, yet we have no other evidence of it:

The prehistoric Aegean project engineers then had to create the mountainside terraces to accommodate the dozens of white marble buildings – some of which were two storeys and up to 10m long. Because the entire complex was constructed according to a set plan with buildings of very similar design, it is thought that the entire island sanctuary was constructed over a relatively short period – probably between 20 and 40 years.

Its existence – and the huge and consistent organisation of labour and transport that had to be deployed – strongly suggests that there was a strong and stable political entity involved, potentially based on Keros or possibly Naxos.

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