Agistri history

Agistri history

By the archaeologist Iphigenia Deloulakou

Agistri’s forgotten antiquities

Fotis Sarris, the painter, spent many years on Agistri and was fascinated by its history, told the archaeologist Iphigenia Dekoulakou about some of its ancient sites. A few years later what the archaeologist discovered was presented for the first time at the “First International Conference on the History and Archaeology of the Argosaronic Gulf” which took place in Poros in 1998.

Agistri is the largest of the islets between Aegina and the coastline of Epidavros. It covers an area of 14.000 square metres and has three smaller islands nearby, Moni on the eastern side, Kira on the West and Metopi on the north-east.

Agistri is believed to have been known as the ancient island of Kekrifalia, mentioned by Pliny (Book 4, chap. 12, para. 19), although many think that Kekrifalia is Kira island and that Agistri is the old “isle of Pitounisos” (from the pitoun tree, ie, the pine), which Pliny also refers to (1.c.). However, Pliny describes Kekrifalia as being north of Methana and southwest of Aegina, which is why it is believed to be Agistri and that Pitounisos is Kira. But because Kira doesn’t have any pine trees, the identification of the island as Pitounisos is unsafe, while it is possible that Agistri went by both names. The name Pitounisos was fairly common in ancient times, if we think that Salamina was called Skiros, Kychreaia and Pitounisos – according to Strabo.

Close to Kekrifalia, according to Thucydides and Diodorus, the Athenians beat the massed fleets of Aegina, Epidavros and Corinth in the sea battle of 459 BCE.

Archaeological research hasn’t yet been done in Agistri, even though certain areas of the island show obvious signs of ancient habitation.

On the north side of Agistri on the Kapnodochi peninsular north of the present-day capital of Megalochori / Milos there is the shape of high terraces on the Mandraki cove. On the terraces one can see the traces of the foundations of ancient buildings. Artifacts have been found on the surface there which show habitation from the first Helladic age up to the Hellenistic. Stone tools have been found, as well as axes, pestles, shards of obsidian and pottery, traces of geometric shards and a few proto-Corinthian. From the same location pottery from the Classic and Hellenistic periods have also been found. West of Kapnodochi, all along the island’s coast between Milos and Dragonera where the electricity station is located, among the limestone rocks are ancient quarries which in many places have fallen into the sea. A lot of artifacts including black-glazed pottery (which can be seen in the office of the Milos Community). The office has a small collection of pottery from Proto-Helladic age as well as geometric, proto-Corinthian and black-glaze which were collected in the Milos area and around the old quarries, as well as parts of amphorae from the coastal areas.

On the west coast of Agistri, south of the quarries, on the peak of the peninsular Bariama which is found north east of the rocky islet of Aponisos can be found the ruins of prehistoric habitation. Obsidian blades have been found north of Limenaria in the Agia Varvara areas and in the little islet Aponisos, particularly on its northern tip. Close to Agistri, on the southwest is a small islet called either Dorousa or Theodorousa. The only building there is the chapel of Prophet Elias built on the foundations of an older church of the early Byzantine period. Mr. Adonis Kirou found a coin nearby from the time of Constantine ll which he gave to the Spetses Museum.

On the western part of Dorousa there is a subsequent period wall from limestone which was built on an older base, probably also from the early Byzantine.

1. Corinthian pottery from the 6th and 5th century BCE from the area of the ancient quarries. (Megalochori Community collection).

2. Helladic pottery.


[Source: Νεα του Σαρονικου, 21 Οκτοβριου-3 Νοεμβριου 2004, Τευχος 7] [Original article translated from Greek to English by Louisa O’Brien]