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Archaeological sites (1)
Perseus Site Catalog
Periods: Neolithic, Early Bronze Age, Middle Bronze Age
Summary: Archaeologically important Early Bronze Age settlement.
Lerna is one of the largest (ca. 180 sq. m.) prehistoric
mounds in S Greece and probably owed its importance to its position on the narrow
strip of land between sea and mountains that formed the route from the Argolid
to the S Peloponnese. It is located in the marshy area on the Gulf of Argos (10
km S of Argos). Early Bronze Age Lerna had substantial fortification walls and
a palace or administrative center in a central building referred to as the "House
of Tiles." This was a large two-story building with terracotta rooftiles and several
storage rooms where clay sealings were found. In Classical times the area was
claimed as home of the Nereids, place where Herakles slew the Hydra and location
of the entrance to Hades (through the Aleyonean Lake).
After a long period of Neolithic occupation (Lerna I and
II) the site seems to have been deserted for a time before it was levelled off
and reoccupied in the Early Helladic II period (Lerna III). The new settlement
had a double ring of defense walls with gates and towers and a number of substantial
buildings within. The largest building has been named the House of Tiles because
of the unusual early occurrence of terracotta roofing tiles associated with the
building. The walls of the large building are nearly 1 m thick and stairs indicate
an upper story. The building was perhaps still under construction when the whole
settlement was destroyed by fire. In the Early Helladic III period (Lerna IV),
the inhabitants (who supposedly destroyed the earlier settlement) covered the
site of the House of Tiles with a low tumulus surrounded by a ring of stones,
as though to mark off a sacred area. In the Early Helladic III period Lerna was
an open settlement of smaller buildings, some of them having an apsidal megaron
floor plan. Bothroi, or "rubbish pits" were an unusual characteristic of this
settlement. The Early Helladic III levels at Lerna produced, in addition to the
typical pottery of that period, a few examples of a pottery type known as "Minyan"
ware, which was sometimes wheel-made and is a common feature of the Middle Helladic
period. The clearly defined Middle Helladic level at Lerna (Lerna V) follows without
a break. The settlement at Lerna continues to exist throughout the Middle Helladic
period, but does not continue into the Late Helladic or Mycenaean period. At the
end of the Middle Helladic period, 2 rectangular shaft graves were cut into the
tumulus of the House of Tiles, indicating that the meaning of that monument had
Excavations: 1952-58, J. Caskey, American School of Classical
Donald R. Keller, ed.
This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains 2 image(s), bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.
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