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Peristeria hill – Tholos Tombs

The imposing hill of Peristeria is located in northern Messinia, a short distance from the village of Myro and right alongside the southern shores of River Kyparissienta. The hill is accessed only via its southern side, since the other three sides are very steep, creating a natural fortress. Drosopigi is located on its northwest side and is a rich spring, which possibly decisively contributed to the habitation of the area. In ancient times, the hill was submerged under the sea, as indicated by the great number of pebbles found in the area, which were also used as building material for the monuments constructed on the hill.

The hill of Peristeria has been described as “the Mycenae of the Western Peloponnese”, since it is one of the most important hubs of the early Mycenaean culture in Greece, with a significant settlement and three arched tombs, one of which dates back to the 16th century and is the largest excavated in Messinia. This area appears to be particularly important, since there is evidence of habitation in the nearby hills of Kokorakou and Karageni, running throughout the Mycenaean era. Peristeria was the hub of all these settlements, as indicated by evidence of dense habitation, as well as of the rich tombs and the valuable artefacts they contained.

The arched tombs appeared during the late Helladic II era (1600-1400 BC) and constituted a typical example of Mycenaean architecture. This kind of tombs were created so as to resemble houses, with a corridor that led to the chamber, which is covered by a dome. After the burial of the dead, the entrance was sealed with stones. The arched tombs of Messinia were usually intended for families.

At the centre of the hill of Peristeria there is an imposing arched tomb, the largest and the newest of the area. Around this tomb there was a burial mound, surrounded by a retaining wall. It seems that it was used for several burials, but none have been preserved. Nevertheless, several golden artefacts and jewellery, a necklace of amethyst beads, as well as a scarab made of amethyst did actually survive. The second arched tomb was a little older and also hid various golden, silver and bronze artefacts, such as gold leaves, bronze vases and swords. At some point this tomb was no longer used, because its dome collapsed. The third arched tomb is the oldest of the three and is located to the west of the hill. It is the smallest one and was used for very few burials, which were however accompanied by rich golden offerings.

#mythicalpeloponnese

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