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Aphrodite of Milos  

Phylakopi

(3000 BC – 1100 BC)

Cyclopean Walls

The area of Phylakopi is located at the Northern part of Milos. It is a small valley surrounded by hills forming a protective wall open only to the sea. There, on a small hill by the harbour, various prehistoric cities repeatedly flourished between 3000 and 1000 BC. 
 
The city of Phylakopi was an active commercial centre from where they traded the then precious obsidian to the islands of the Aegean, Crete, Continental Greece and Asia Minor. A clay effigy of a boat, of the 3rd mil BC, was excavated at the cemetery of the city, situated at the neighbouring hill Kapari. The boat effigy is considered a replica of the vessels used for the trade of the obsidian and is now exhibited at the Archaeological museum of Milos.

The toponymy, according to the prevailing opinion, originates from the Greek word “phylakas” (guard).
 
Initially, there existed a small settlement. At the end of the 3rd millennium BC (2200-2000) the first extensive settlement was built, with scattered, stone houses, characterized as Phylakopi I. Phylakopi I forged a new culture that spawned hand crafted, engraved ceramics, stone figurines; copper funerary gifts (“kterismata”) and tools from obsidian.
 
Two effigies of houses recovered from this period, provide significant information about the architectural patterns of the settlement. One effigy made of clay, is now displayed at the Museum of Milos, the other made of schist-slate, is exhibited at the Museum of Munich.

Phylakopi II (2000-1600 BC) is a city well organised, built on the hillside, more extensive than the previous one, with streets and staircases, that indicate demographic increase and extended activities, with drainage system and a cemetery built outside the city. Archaeological findings of that period provide evidence of fiery growth of relations and transactions with the Continental Greece and Crete (Minoan ceramics, “Kamaraika” ceramics – pottery of “Kamares”).
 
Ceramics are now processed on the potter's wheel and are usually decorated with vibrant colours. Of the most characteristic discoveries of this period are a fresco depicting flying fish and a vessel with fishermen (Archaeological museum of Athens) that reveal acme and economic prosperity with Minoan influences.

The bay of Phylakopi

This city was destroyed by invasion or by earthquake. Above her ruins Phylakopi III was founded – which flourished from 1600-1400 BC.
 
The new city is fortified with cyclopean walls (6m wide) and a main gate. It is a well-organized city with parallel streets paved with slabs, rectangular stone houses, stone and wooden staircases and drainage system. Art evolved, apparent of Minoan influences. Pottery and angiography depicting marine life, naturalistic subjects and the joy of life in vivid colours, frescos, micro plastics, tools and weapons.
 
Remnants of a clay plate in Minoan script (Linear A) found in the remains of a building -most likely an administrative mansion- indicate the existence of a recording system for traded goods, similar to that of the Cretans.

It is the period when people switch from the stage of rural life to an urbanised way of living with organisational and administrative centres, discrimination of social classes, writing and religion. 1400-1100 BC. Phylakopi IV flourishes with noticeable Mycenaean influences.

After the destruction of Crete, following the explosion of the volcano of Santorini around 1450 c. BC, the Mycenaeans were migrating from Peloponnesus to the islands of Greece. The mansion of the lord is erected in Phylakopi according to the Mycenaean guidelines and the fortification is reinforced. A sanctuary is built in which a clay figurine was found, painted with vibrant colours, perhaps representation of the Goddess known as "The Lady of Phylakopi" (around 1100 BC).

View of the town


At the end of the 2nd mil BC, Phylakopi was abandoned either due to the Dorian invasion or because of earthquakes.

Today, a big part of this prehistoric city lies submerged in the depths of the sea.


   
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