Phylakopi (Greek=Φυλακωπή), located at the northern coast of the island of Milos, is one of the most important Bronze Age settlements in the Aegean and especially in the Cyclades. The importance of Phylakopi is in its almost continuous inhabitance throughout the Bronze Age (i.e. from the half of the 3rd millennium BC until the 12th century BC), and in plentiful architectural and artistic findings; Phylakopi is an important site for understanding the development of the prehistoric Cycladic culture.
The excavations of the British School at Athens from 1896 to 1899 showed the continuity of life from the 3rd millennium BC to the late 2nd millennium BC, in three main phases. At the first phase (2300-2000 BC), the houses of the settlement were small, made of makeshift materials without squared rooms and without walls.
During the second phase (2000-1550 BC) the houses were made of stone with right angles, and in several instances they had a second floor. The walls are decorated with frescoes of flowers, birds and human performances. The relations with Minoan Crete were very close during this period. Perhaps Phylakopi was a Minoan settlement. Findings such as the fresco with flying fish (National Archaeological Museum of Athens, illustration) and the cylindrical vase stand with the representation of fishermen holding fishes indicate strong Cretan influence, or have been created by craftsmen of Crete. Plenty of Cretan vases have been found from the so-called "Kamares style" pottery. The city at that time was protected by strong walls.
In the third phase (1550-1100 BC) the city was at its largest and was protected by strong fortification. The roads converged at right angles. The settlement in this phase lived under the strong influence of the Mycenaean civilization on the Greek mainland. A Mycenaean palace was found at the northeast area of the town. The tombs are carved in the rock, consisting of one or two cells. Such tombs were found in Phylakopi, in Zephyria and in cape Spathi in the north-east of the island.
At the end of the Bronze Age, the city of Phylakopi was abandoned.
Today the sea has eroded a very large part of the city site.
- Dartmouth College: The Early Cycladic Period – Problems of the Evidence
- Dartmouth College: The Early Cycladic Period & Phylakopi culture
- Chr. Doumas, "The Early Helladic III and the coming of the Greeks", Cretan Studies 5, 1996, pages 51-61
- C. Renfrew and M. Wagstaff, An Island Polity: the Archaeology of Exploitation of Melos, 1982
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