Atkinson, Thomas [Mitarb.]
Excavations at Phylakopi in Melos — London, 1904

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THE OBSIDIAN TRADE.

231

lias sometimes been supposed, Cretan merchant-sbips sailed that w&y to the
mouths of the Nile.

The development in the fourth millennium before our era of this trade
with the northem islands and mainlands explains why Phylakopi, the
village on the north coast, came to overshadow other Settlements nearer
to the two great quarries. Mr. Edgar has suggested with reason (p. 235)
that Phylakopi originally possessed an obsidian-quarry of her own, a third
natural deposit, scanty remains of which may still be traced on the ei'oded
cliffs to the west. Thanks to her convenient sheltered Situation and prob-
ably also to this local source, she came to occupy the position held in
Hellenic days b)' Delos and in ours by Syra as the central mart of the
Cyclades. Then when the local obsidian was exhausted and ships loaded
their cargoes, as soine must always have done, in one of the inlets of the
great harboür or in the bay of Komia, the general trade of Phylakopi would
enable her to retain her position as capital of the island and headquarters
of Cretan influence in northern waters. In recent centuries the neighbour-
ing town of Argentiera, on the shore of the narrow straits that divido
Melos from Kimolos, secured a corresponding pre-eminence based not on
natural wealth but on geograjohical conditions ; sheltered on three sides by
the islands of Melos, Kimolos and Polivos, yet provided with several out-
lets, the roadstead of Argentiera was more frequented tharj any other in the
whole Archipelago, because, says Sonnini, no wind could keep a ship shnt
up there.1

It was jn-obably before rather than after the year 3000 B.c. that the
First or Pre-Mycenaean City rose on the ruins of the Cycladic village. Its
remains, likethoseof the Secondor Earl}' Mycenaean City which succeeded it,
teil a story of increasing prosperity and closer intercourse with Crete, that
tempts us to spcculate on the political relations between the two neighbours.
If there be any truth in the Hellenic legends about Minos and Iiis Empire,
Phylakopi has a good claim to be reckoned among Minoan dependencies.
There is no reason to suppose that the island was regularly colonised; but it
is difficult to believe that a dynasty whose power can oiüy have been built up
by financial and administrative ability of no common Order, kings who were
always in their counting-house, refrained for a thousand years from laying
hands on so profitable a monopoly and never made it pay toll to the
Cnossian treasury.

The low er levels of the Second City at Phylakopi were contemporary with
the Middle Minoan period at Cnossos and with the Twelfth Dynasty

1 .Sonnini, Voyaye en Oreceii. p. 5. Miliar-
akis, KlfiuAos, pp. 23, 27. See also C. de
Brnin, Voyage an Levant, 1725, i. p. 54, Ran-
dolpli, Present State of the Archipelago, 1687,
p. 35, and Nouveaux Memoire« (lex Jistliles, v.
1717-1753, p. 205. It was only at the close

of the eighteenth Century, when the town
had been sacket! again and again by pirates,
that the European Consuls and the hereditary
pilots einigrated from Kimolos to the safer
heiglits o Kastro in Melos.
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