Human Ecology

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 255-272

First online:

The Long-Term Ecology of Agricultural Terraces and Enclosed Fields from Antikythera, Greece

  • A. BevanAffiliated withUniversity College London Email author 
  • , J. ConollyAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Trent University
  • , S. ColledgeAffiliated withUniversity College London
  • , C. FrederickAffiliated withDepartment of Geography and the Environment, University of Texas at Austin
  • , C. PalmerAffiliated withUniversity College London
  • , R. SiddallAffiliated withUniversity College London
  • , A. StellatouAffiliated withUniversity College London

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Terraces are ubiquitous, in some ways defining, features of Mediterranean environments, yet their longer-term history and relationship to human populations and food economies are not well understood. This paper discusses a complete system of terraces across the small island of Antikythera, Greece. We bring together the evidence from archaeology, ethnography, archival history, botany and geoarchaeology, supported by direct dating of buried terrace soils, and consider terrace investment in relation to major episodes in the island’s punctuated history of human activity. This broad-spectrum approach leads to a range of interesting insights on the spatial structure of terraces, on the degree of correlation between terrace construction and changing human population, and on the implications of terrace abandonment for vegetation and soils.


Landesque capital Agricultural terracing Mediterranean soils and vegetation Field abandonment Colonisation Southwest Aegean