West KarkotisAtsasMandresAsinouKoutraphasLagoudheraEast
Iron Age 

4.4 Karkotis Valley: Medieval-Modern

The Venetian village lists from the 16th century show six settlements in the part of the Karkotis Valley we intensively surveyed: Katydhata, Linou and Phlasou, which are still inhabited, and Krommidhiotissa, Ayios Epiphanios and Agroladou, which are abandoned (Grivaud 1998, 468-9). All except Krommidhiotissa also appear in the 1825 tax registers and 1831 census (Papadopoullos 1965, 123-4; Theocharides and Andreev 1996, 187-9).

In most cases we were able to find structural remains from these settlements, in addition to the 19th–20th-century mud brick houses of the surviving villages. Examples include an array of threshing floors at Katydhata (TP102); an exposed wall with sgraffito pottery and cooking ware eroding out of it at Ayios Epiphanios (TP254); the late medieval church of Ayios Yeoryios at Phlasou (BU0084); and an elaborate system of water mills, irrigation channels and weirs.

The management and control of soil, water and agricultural production was particularly crucial in this landscape. This is particularly evident in the southern area (.mov panorama). The pottery distribution shows a clear peak in the south-west corner, on the western side of the river. This is the site of the small 16th–early 20th-century settlement of Agroladhou (TP253).

TP253 Korakou Agroladou

All structural remains have been obliterated by modern construction. The peak in pottery density is particularly evident in the 16th and 17th-century material. There are also substantial densities from the Ottoman period. An 18th-century coffee cup from Kütahya (TCP325) suggests coffee drinking and its associated social practices (Baram 1999; Vroom 1996).

Immediately to the west is a line of old olive trees planted along a drainage running eastwards to the Karkotis Valley, a common pattern on this side of the valley. The two oldest date respectively to the first and last decades of the 18th century respectively, and suggest that the labour, practices and rhythms of olive production were as important for the inhabitants of Agroladhou as the pastoralism remembered by their descendants.

On a spur 350m to the north-west is the early 17th-century church of Ayia Varvara (BU0087). It has a prominent position on the spur, both aurally and visually. Like many of the spur-churches on this side of the valley, it is more clearly seen from across and up the valley than it is from down the valley to the north. Beside its west door is an edge-runner from an olive mill. This association between olive production and the church is common throughout the survey area and beyond (cf. BU0055, BU0089).

Below the church and clearly visible from it is a water mill which carries the saint's name: Mylos tis Varvaras (BU0099). This is one of a widespread and elaborate system of water channels and water mills.

The water mills mostly date to the 17th and 18th centuries. These mills were clearly capable of supporting the large-scale production of cereals, grown on the alluvial soil and elaborate terraces of the valley floor. In the medieval and early Ottoman period agricultural production was largely estate-based, but progressively during the 18th and 19th centuries it was more and more based on smallholders, with the mills owned by institutions such as the church or associations of wealthier villagers.

The Medieval-Modern pottery map shows an almost continuous distribution across the entire intensive survey zone. This is clearly not a product of erosion, nor of 'sites' being ploughed out, as field plots are universally small and have been for some hundreds of years (Christodoulou 1959, 74). It is interesting that the highest distributions are seen round the villages of Phlasou and Katydhata: these were the two largest villages in the 16th century and, with Linou, in the 18th and 19th centuries.

There are some apparent chronological changes, though these depend on the pottery that is more precisely datable. In the 16th to 17th centuries, the main foci are Phlasou, Linou and Katydhata. The early Ottoman period shows a much more limited range, with Phlasou standing out above anything else in the valley. In the later Ottoman and colonial periods the distribution is much more widespread.

There seems to be a similar pattern with the distribution of stone threshing sledge flakes. The most obvious concentration is north of Katydhata. The main group of threshing floors lies at the eastern end of that concentration (TP102). Similarly, those north of Pano Phlasou are in the area of the threshing floors there, which have now been ploughed out or built over (TP132).

The broader scatters of only one or two threshing sledge flakes per survey unit, however, have no direct association with floors. Given that the norm is for the floors to be concentrated on the outskirts of the village, distributions such as that south-west of Katydhata are most likely to be explained by manuring or dumping of household waste.

These haloes round the largest villages represent much more than post-depositional processes. They are a 'sedimentation' of the activities that make up everyday life in a nucleated agricultural village: commuting to the fields; manuring; cultivating; producing and disposing of household waste.