West KarkotisAtsasMandresAsinouKoutraphasLagoudheraEast
Iron Age 

4.2 Karkotis Valley: Iron Age

There is a thin scatter of Iron Age pottery across the entire valley, and two very obvious concentrations at Pano Limna and round Katydhata village. Other than these two concentrations, densities are never more than two sherds per 100m², and the pottery is widely scattered.

What does this mean, in terms of Iron Age activity or post-depositional processes? The surface stability is good throughout, thanks mainly to post-medieval terracing. The erosion type layer gives more detail: most of the area is tilled, with occasional patches of 'constructed' (in this case bulldozed), and some incision in the valley edges. There is, of course, some post-medieval deposition along the lower river terraces. The concentrations of Iron Age (and Bronze Age) material, however, show that we are not missing swathes of Iron Age surfaces.

We would expect such a broad scatter and low densities of material from activities such as intensive cultivation, manuring, and general living. These activities would have typified the hinterland of a substantial settlement and sanctuary in or around Katydhata. This is unsurprising, given the good water supplies and alluvial soil in this valley, and its proximity to the city-kingdom of Soloi, 8km to the north-west .

There are some substantial and continuous areas of Iron Age pottery to the south and south-west of Katydhata village (TS09). Interestingly, this does not coincide with the Bronze Age pottery distribution. The densest areas are immediately west and south of the southern tail of the modern village, rather than at the base of the ridgeline where geophysics suggested a possible Bronze Age settlement. Most of this area is free from any problems of surface loss as a result of erosion.

In comparison with other periods, densities in this area seem low, never rising above 5.6 sherds per 100m². This is characteristic of the Iron Age, however, and may in part be due to our inability to distinguish some utility wares from those of later periods: much of the rather similar Historical Antiquity distribution may in fact be Iron Age.

The evidence is much more striking at Pano Limna, on the far side of the valley 1km to the west (TS15). Block survey in the highest alluvial terraces on the western edge of the valley showed levels of Iron Age pottery similar to those at Katydhata. On the hillslope between two gullies, immediately above these alluvial terraces, a large scatter of terracotta figurines suggested the presence of a sanctuary (TP119).

TP119 Katydhata Panno Limna

Geophysical survey at Pano Limna showed two overlapping oval features, each c. 10m across. These may represent the walls of the sanctuary, possibly from consecutive periods. There are good parallels from Ayia Irini and Idalion (Gjerstad et al. 1935). Soil depth mapping showed a much deeper deposit here, clearly consisting of imported soil, presumably to build up the platform on which the sanctuary stood.

There were some 250 figurine fragments concentrated in this area. People were clearly entering the sanctuary enclosure and dedicating these representations of their vow, prayer or request. Most of them were from hand-made anthropomorphic figures dating to the Archaic or Classical period, including near life-size statues as well as figurines ranging from 100-200mm high. There were a also few mould-made figurines, and a horse's head was the only zoomorphic figurine. The majority of identifiable fragments are from small ring-dancer groups, very like those of the sanctuary of Apollo Hylates at Kourion (Buitron-Oliver 1996; Young and Young 1955).

The sanctuary has a striking view from its spur on the western side of the valley across the arable land with its low spread of Iron Age pottery to the presumed settlement at Katydhata. Similarly, the sanctuary and the small settlement that probably accompanied it were clearly visible to those living, farming and working in the valley. The activities of making and dedicating these figurines were as visible a part of the landscape as dwelling, farming and travelling.