Information about the place MYLI (Village) KARYSTOS - GTP - Greek Travel Pages

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The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites

Mt. Ocha

OCHI (Mountain) KARYSTIA
  This is the site of perhaps the best known of a series of stone-built structures first recognized in the rugged country of S Euboia, where peasants call them Drakospitia (Spitia or Sentia tou Drakou). Frequently mentioned in the reports of 19th c. travelers, these structures have certain architectural characteristics in common. All are built of a local gray-green schist which readily splits into flattish slabs that were laid (without mortar) in basically horizontal courses, sometimes with indications of polygonal masonry and stacking. There is very little evidence of the use of wood in the construction; even the floors and roofs were of stone. The latter are particularly interesting since, when sufficiently preserved, they reflect the use of corbeling.
  Although some 40 Dragon Houses have been reported, the best known examples are three in the neighborhood of Styra and one on Mt. Ocha. The latter is located near the crest of the mountain, some 1,400 m above sea level, and can be reached only after a difficult climb from Karystos (preferably in the company of a guide). It is a simple one-roomed structure (interior dimensions: ca. 5 x 10 m), entered by means of a single door in one (S) of the long sides. Two small windows flank the door. Although some of the earliest visitors mention an altar or offering table, there are no extant indications of special features inside the building. It is not certain whether the roof was entirely corbeled or only partially so, thus leaving a small opening through which smoke could escape.
  No excavation had been carried out at any of these sites until 1959, when a small investigation was conducted in the Dragon House on Mt. Ocha. The results indicate that the building itself had been used at least in Classical and Hellenistic times and the site had been frequented at least since the archaic period. There is no evidence of prehistoric occupation. The finds tend to support the early theories attaching a religious significance to this building, but no concrete evidence of the deity (or deities) worshiped here has yet been reported.
  In spite of the new information about the date and function of the Dragon House on Mt. Ocha, there is no reason to assume that all structures of this type in S Euboia ought to be regarded similarly. It is quite possible that some served no religious purpose at all and were nothing more than dwellings. (Those near the marble quarries of Styra, for example, may have been merely quarters for the officials or laborers in the quarries.) Nor is it necessary to regard all of them as of similar date, for village houses in the neighborhood are still being made of the same materials today. Although their architectural style has been termed Dryopian after the name of the early inhabitants of the region, it should perhaps be noted that structures of comparable style can be found in geologically related areas elsewhere, e.g., Andros, Tenos, Keos, and Mt. Hymettos in Attica. This suggests that local building materials played a more important role in the resulting architecture than has usually been recognized.

T. W. Jacobsen, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.


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