Entrance Altitude: 259 m asl
Cave Formation: Horizontal
Main Research Years: 2000, 2006-ongoing
Occupation Eras and Dates: Late Pleistocene; Early Holocene; MN; LNi; LNii; EBA; Late Roman; Classical Period.
10,000 – 5,700BC.
Mavridis, F., Kormazopoulou, L., Papadea, A., Apostolikas, O., Yamaguchi, D., Tankosic, Z., Kotzamani, G., Trantalidou, K., Karkanas, P., Maniatis, Y., Papagianni, K., and Lambropoulos, D. Anonymous Cave of Schisto at Keratsini, Atticka: A Preliminary Report on a Diachronic Cave Occupation From the Pleistocence/Holocene Transition to the Byzantium Times. In F. Mavridis and J.T. Jensen. (Eds.) Stable Places and Changing Perseptions: Cave Archaeology in Greece. BAR Internation Series 2558, 248-267. Oxford: Archaeopress.
Cave Description: The cave lies behind an industrial park. To the east the cave would have had access to the unforested Aigaleo mountain, and directly opposite the mouth of the cave lies the tip of the Skaramanga Mountain. The exterior of the cave is rocky and the ancient entrance of the cave has collapsed, so that the modern day entrance to the cave is wide and arched. Nearby to the entrance, the remains of a rectangular building is visible, and slightly further back are a few carved blocks of stone. The chamber is approached by a slope along a narrow corridor. Stairs have been carved into the bedrock leading to an underground cavity formed after the collapse of very large rocks. The main chambers dimensions are c.70 x 15m. Natural cavities can be seen along the walls. Due to the collapse of the roof, the chamber floor is filled with rocks however the most characteristic is a massive boulder in the back end of the cave.
Research Chronicles and Data: In 2000 a salvage excavation was undertaken by Dimitris Hatzilazarou and Alexandra Zampiti. Numerous pottery sherds, clay figurines, a few minor objects of glass, faience, clay, and metal and a great number of animal bones. The ongoing excavations that began in 2006, aim to excavate the main chamber and interpret the prehistoric use of the cave.
Trench 1, measuring 2 x 3m lies along the north wall. There was a disturbance layer of up to 80cm thick. Below this there was evidence of burning and ash. This layer produced evidence of Prehistoric, classical and recent uses of the cave. There were very few pot sherds. At a depth of 2m, there were successive layers consisting of gravel. Found in these layers were stone tools, pot sherds, animal bones and sea shells and land snails. These layers had been formed by the actions of water. During the 2008 excavation season, habitation layers were found. They contained traces of ash/burning with no evidence of severe disturbance.
Trench 2, opened in 2006 was in a natural cavity, closer to the entrance. The layers seem to have also been created via the action of water. The SE corner of the trench produced repeated layers of fire and ash. Characteristic Neolithic sherds and obsidian tools in the form of blades and waste can be distinguished although they are fragmentary.
Trench 3, excavated in 2007 close to trench 1 measured 2 m x 2m. After the thick disturbance layer, many bones and flint tools were found but no pottery.
The sediments in the cave can clearly be distinguished into two layers. Although the actions of water caused damage to the prehistoric deposits, leaving none in situ. The upper layer is formed of mostly clast supported angular cobble and boulder limestone. The lower consisting of coarse and fine grained layers.
A total of 316 stone artifacts were recovered in the cave during the 2006-7 excavations. The density of lithic artifacts per layer is quite small. Three cores were found. Two had been exhausted, however all still retained substantial cortex on their surface. The most common lithics were the unretouched artifacts, consisting of 38 flakes, 15 blades, and 3 small flakes. As the excavation is still going on, the absence of microlithic tools should not be taken for granted since flotation results are still unavailable.
6305 bone fragments were excavated. 4284 of those have been examined. It can be split into two assemblages; Early Holocene, 14539-1280BP, based on the obsidian artifacts found in Trench 1, and Middle Late Holocene, documented on the basis of Ceramic sherds. Special reference must be made to a hooked type of fish bone object. As the cave is in the mountains with limited fish remains, more reliable data is needed to identify its use.
22% of the pottery can be dated to the Late Neolithic I. It is most visibly represented by matt painted wares. Not all the sherds are painted, and those that are painted are painted with dull colors.
24% of the pottery finds from the Schisto cave are from the Late Neolithic II period.
Cave Uses: Spiritual (B.c) - The quality and quantity of finds suggest the cave was an important shrine.
Preliminary results point to an economy of hunter gatherers with an important presence of wild cereals and pulses. The date and the contents of the layers are potentially important for the poorly attested and understood transition to the Neolithic period in the Aegean.
Knapping was not systematically undertaken in this cave since there are a limited number of stone artefacts and there is the apparent absence of basic stages of the operational sequence such as decortification.