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Culture Archaeology Archaeological Sights Settlements Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Prefecture of Evros Municipality of Alexandroupolis

Anthropomorphic vessel found within the prehistoric site of Makri
(Photo: D. Triantafyllos 'Ancient Thrace' 1994)

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Makri Archaeological site

Aikaterinh Balla
Source: C.E.T.I.
© Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
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A tumulus was found south of the village of Makri and west of the coast of Alexandroupolis, close to the sea. It is situated near the modern village of Platanos and lies on a natural rocky elevation with a length of about 400 m. While the northern side is smooth, the southern is rather abrupt. In the ragged coast that forms the southern boundary of the tumulus, a cave was found along with several carved constructions (niches and staircases). The cave that the locals call the Cave of Cyclops Polyphemus consists of two levels and three rooms. It appears to have been inhabited during the prehistoric era, while it later served as a place of worship of the Thracian deities. It is difficult to date with accuracy the carved constructions on the east of the cave. Still, the presence of these constructions denotes the exploitation of the rocky area throughout many centuries. Above the cave lies the Neolithic settlement of Makri (5th Millenium BC) extending to a significant distance from the centre of the tumulus and considered as a one of the most important settlements in Trace and the Balkans as well. In the same site signs of habitation from the Paleolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages as well as the historic times were traced. Apart from the Neolithic settlement, another important monument was revealed; it is a small trading centre founded by the Greeks in the 7th century BC that facilitated commercial relations with the Thracians. Repositories full of amphorae have been excavated.

The archaeological site of Makri was uncovered during the First World War, when the Bulgarians dug trenches along the Thracian coasts. After the end of the First World War, the first articles regarding the pottery found at the tumulus area were published. Following the Second World War, Professor Mr G. Bakalakis assumed that the cape of Sereio and the city of Zone (from the Samotracian Peraia) were located in this area, but this theory was rapidly abandoned after identifying this settlement with the above-mentioned trading centre. Other scholars were also involved in the investigation of the site, like D. Theocharis, D. Lazaridis and P. Pantos. In 1974, P. Pantos published an article concerning the superficial pottery sherds from the tumulus.

The archaeological finds and, mainly, the pottery denote the existence of a stable and continuous population in the region of Makri since the Paleolithic, Bronze and Iron Age as well as throughout the historic times. The pottery sherds from the Iron Age, found at the archaeological site of Makri, resemble the pottery of Mesembria and Petrota. The region seems to have been inhabited by a small community of farmers with a sort of central community authority. Apart from agriculture and farming, the archaeological finds bear witness to the involvement of the community in other activities like trade, pottery, stone carving, weaving, basketry, exploitation of row material (flint stone) as well as to the existence of the secondary sector of economic activity (including dairy products, agricultural products and weaving). The central area of the settlement is very characteristic since it contained repositories, or apothetes, full of amphorae on a clay platform. The presence of these vessels denotes, most probably, the existence of commercial relations and economic activity.
During the excavations in the central area of the archaeological site, rectangular private houses were found with various interior constructions (hearths, furnaces, pits) and several layers of floors demonstrating that these structures were used and restored many times. The pile-dwelling walls are built with stacked clay together with wooden building material that supported the architectural construction. Beneath the floor of a house, storage vessels along with three Neolithic burials very close to each other were uncovered. The revelation of these three graves is considered as one of the greatest archaeological achievements, since it is the first Neolithic burial found in the regions of Macedonia and Thrace.
The fortified (?) enceinte is also characteristic. With a NE to SW orientation, it bears the form of a wall made with irregular-shaped stones that sometimes reaches a width of more than 2 metres.
Anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines of the early Bronze Age were found bearing incised crooked lines as well as several big storage vessels and numerous small vessels decorated with parallel lines and other geometrical shapes like edges, rhombs, and circles with tangents. The number of these anthropomorphic figurines, though fragmentized and partially preserved, indicates that a sort of anthropomorphic worship of the fertility might have existed in this area.
In addition, several storage rooms from the Classical and Hellenistic times were found in the same site together with a retaining wall and Roman houses. The area was used as a cemetery in Byzantine times.