We are grateful to Chief Editor Prof. J. C. Thouret, and to the Associate Editors Prof. E. Anthony and Dr. Y. Gunnell for their helpful comments on an early version of the manuscript.
1The embayment of Palamari is located on the northeast coast of Skyros island (Northern Sporades, Aegean Sea : fig. 1). One of the most important agents of the recent coastal evolution of the embayment is an intermittent stream, the Trichias River, flowing from SW to NE. The Trichias River has one of the largest hydrologic networks of Skyros, which drains an extensive area at the northeastern part of the island. A coastal plain has been formed at the mouth of the river, which develops a meandering channel for about 300 m before the coastline.
Fig. 1 – Geomorphological map of the area of Palamari settlement, including the location of excavated trenches (T1, T2 and T3) and drilled boreholes (P1, P2, P3, P4, P5 and P6).
Fig. 1 – Carte géomorphologique du site préhistorique de Palamari avec la localisation des fossés (T1, T2 et T3) et des forages (P1, P2, P3, P4, P5 et P6).
1 : schists ; 2 : conglomerates, marls and sandstones ; 3 : aeolian sand ; 4 : coastal sand ; 5 : calcareous sandstone ; 6 : probable fault ; 7 : seasonal channel ; 8 : marsh ; 9 : sand dunes ; 10 : beachrocks on the beach ; 11 : submerged beachrocks ; 12 : sandy beach ; 13 : coast with slope >30° ; 14 : coast with slope <30° ; 15 : coastal cliff with sand ; 16 : retreating coast ; 17 : terrestrial ancient ruins ; 18 : coastal ancient ruins ; 19 : submerged ancient ruins.
1 : schistes ; 2 : conglomérat, marnes et grès ; 3 : sable éolien ; 4 : sable côtier ; 5 : calcarénites ; 6 : faille probable ; 7 : cours d’eau intermittent ; 8 : marais ; 9 : dunes ; 10 : beachrocks émergés ; 11 : beachrocks submergés ; 12 : plage sableuse ; 13 : côte avec pente >30° ; 14 : côte avec pente < 30° ; 15 : falaise côtière avec sable ; 16 : recul du rivage ; 17 : ruines antiques à terre ; 18 : ruines antiques à demi submergées ; 19 : ruines antiques submergées.
2The broader area of the embayment of Palamari is of great archaeological importance due to a prehistoric site located on the northern part of the bay. Archaeological surveys in 1979 discovered ruins of a prehistoric settlement at the north side of the embayment. Preliminary excavations began in 1981 and have continued after 1985 (Parlama, 1992) until today, revealing the existence of a fortified settlement on the coast since the Early to Middle Bronze age, which was established before the middle of the third millennium BCE (Before Common Era). The continuous existence of the settlement until the middle of the 17th century BCE is remarkable. After that period the location must have been abandoned because deposits of aeolian sand covered the remains of the previous settlement. Today impressive fortification ruins and defense structures occupy an area of 17,000 m2 on the top of a 19 m-high hill. Such defense structures are found in various locations along the broader Mediterranean area during the third millennium BCE. The great archaeological interest of Palamari lies in the fact that fortification is more complicated and obviously modified through time with evidence of use of the site even in the Roman period. Archaeological surveys (Parlama, 1992) have proved that a well-organized skillful society occupied the site, producing and trading goods.
3In this study the tracing of the landscape evolution as well as the paleoenvironmental reconstruction and definition of the depositional conditions in the embayment are attempted for the time period concerning the establishment of the settlement and recent times. The paleoshoreline of 2800 BCE, when the settlement was still active, has been reconstructed on the basis of a set of archaeological, geomorphological, micromorphological, micropaleontological and palynological data.
4The broader area of northeastern Skyros Island consists of the Pelagoniki geotectonic unit formations. Two dominant fault directions are present in the broader area of the island : an older one, which trends NNW-SSE, and a younger ENE-WSW trending one. Calcareous schists with flint intercalations crop out in the vicinity of the study area (Melentis, 1973 ; Zervas and Pantziris, 1978 ; Baltatzis, 1988 ; IGME, 1989). Calcareous schists are overlain by micritic calcite crusts (Kissel et al., 1986a, b). Alternating layers of sandstones, conglomerates and marls represent Neogene deposits (Melentis, 1973). These deposits are locally overlain by calcareous sandstones formed by aeolian processes (aeolianites ; fig. 1). Loose Holocene sand deposits mantle the surface of the coastal plain at the mouth of the river. Abundant sand derives probably from the weathering of the calcareous sandstones (aeolianites) and is redistributed by the wind regime over a broader area. Coastal sand embryo-dunes are dominant landforms, which occupy an extensive part of the coastal alluvial plain even at 30 m elevation.
5In order to reconstruct the palaeo-environment and interpret the landscape evolution of the broad area of the Palamari bay, detailed geomorphological mapping, micropaleontological, palynological, sedimentological, and micromorphological studies of the late Holocene coastal alluvial plain were conducted. Two samples rich in organic material were dated using the AMS radiocarbon method, thus providing temporal control of the sedimentary units. Geomorphological mapping of both sub aerial and sub aqueous coastal parts of the bay was carried out using topographic maps at a scale of 1/5000e. Landforms of the coastal alluvial plain, the shoreline and the bed of the bay down to the depth of –10 m were marked and recorded. In addition twelve detailed beach profiles were mapped across the coastline of the bay (fig. 1, fig. 2, and fig. 3).
Fig. 2 – Beach profiles along the northern coastline of the bay of Palamari including the location of beach profiles in the inserted map.
Fig. 2 – Profils du littoral de la partie nord du compartiment de Palamari. Le site des profils de plage est indiqué dans l’encart.
1 : calcareous sandstones ; 2 : schists ; 3 : aeolian sand deposits ; 4 : beach sand deposits ; 5 : beachrocks ; 6 : location and number of beach profile.
1 : calcarénites ; 2 : schistes ; 3 : dépôts de sable éolien ; 4 : sable côtier ; 5 : beachrocks ; 6 : localisation et numéro des profils côtiers.
Fig. 3 – Trenches and borehole logs.
Fig. 3 – Fossés et lithologie des carottages.
1 : topsoil ; 2 : sand ; 3 : silt ; 4 : clay ; 5 : pebbles ; 6 : silty sand with pebbles ; 7 : silty sand ; 8 : sand, silt and clay ; 9 : sandy silt ; 10 : clayey silt.
1 : sol ; 2 : sable ; 3 : limon ; 4 : argile ; 5 : graviers ou galets ; 6 : sable limoneux avec graviers ou galets ; 7 : sable limoneux ; 8 : sable, limon et argile ; 9 : limon sableux ; 10 : limon argileux.
6In order to determine the paleoenvironmental conditions, a subsurface stratigraphic study of the coastal alluvial plain was planned. Sedimentary sequences have been studied through visual inspection of the sediments. Six boreholes at shallow depth were drilled with a portable drilling set and three trenches were excavated (fig. 1 and fig. 3), the deepest one reaching a depth of 4.40 m, at selected locations. They provide useful information on depositional phases prior to the recent alluvium of the Trichias River (fig. 1 and fig. 3). The drilling and excavation process was disturbed due to technical problems. The stratigraphy of the late Holocene sediments was studied in detail and fourty-three sediment samples, collected from selected sedimentary layers, were analysed using micropaleontological and palynological techniques. Four undisturbed and oriented blocks of sediment were collected from the excavated trench two, for petrographic and micromorphological studies. The samples were oven dried at 40°C for several days and then impregnated with polyester resin under vacuum. The dried blocks of samples were cut into thin slabs and thin sections of large format (70 x 50 mm) were prepared.
7For micropaleontological analysis, each sample was treated with H2O2 to remove the organic matter, and then washed through 63, 125, 250, and 500 μm sieves, and dried in an oven at 50°C. The residue of 125 μm was used for benthic foraminifer’s analysis and the coarser residue of 250 μm for ostracod analysis. A scanning electron microscope analysis (SEM Jeol JSM 5600) was used to help identify foraminifers. The taxonomy of benthic foraminifers in this paper is based on Loeblich and Tappan (1988, 1994) and Bronnimann et al. (1992), while ostracod taxonomy is based mainly on Athersuch et al. (1989). Foraminiferal and ostracod assemblages appear to be very rare ; therefore all individuals present were picked. Semi-quantitative results are summarized as rare (1-10 specimens) and common (>10 specimens). Palynomorph analysis was performed on selected samples from two cores and one trench. Sixteen samples of known volume were processed using standard preparation methods (Faegri and Iversen, 1989) and sieved using a 10 μm sieve. Residues were mounted in silicon oil. Pollen and spores were identified using the Moore et al.’s(1991) key and Reille (1992, 1995) pollen floras, while other non-pollen palynomorph identification was based on van Geel (2003) and van Geel et al. (1989). Pollen diagrams (both percentage and concentration) were constructed using the programmes TILIA and TILIAGRAPH. Palynomorph concentrations were calculated on the basis of comparison with the introduced Lycopodium spores, and expressed as grains per ml of wet sediment.
8The coastal alluvial plain southwest of the ancient settlement is the result of the infilling of the embayment by the Trichias River deposits. The main channel of this river shows an intermittent flow being enriched by spring discharge at the apex of the alluvial plain about 500 m upstream of the coastline. An extensive part of the alluvial plain surface is covered by sand dunes. Two beachrock benches represent the dominant coastal landforms (fig. 1). The first bench extends along the coastline maintaining a width of 20-35 m at a depth of -1.70 m (fig. 2). The second bench occupies the southern half of the bay lying between -1.50 m and -3.80 m in depth (fig. 2). Detailed mapping of the beachrock benches was carried out using GPS technique and altimeter measurements. The provided data were compiled in order to create beach profiles representing the precise position and extent of each beachrock formation (fig. 2). The 15-20 m wide submarine beachrock bench is strongly fragmented and locally displaced. Many archaeological remains and building stones from the adjacent archaeological site are incorporated in the upper beachrock bench. The beachrocks that were formed in the intertidal zone by carbonate cementation during the stabilization of the shoreline are good sea level indicators (Desruelles et al., 2004).
9Submarine geomorphological surveys revealed several remains of building structures and constructions interspersed at the north part of the embayment. Destroyed submerged building materials, detected at various depths between -0.5 m up and down to about -4 m, represent the ruins of the south-easternmost collapsed part of the ancient settlement. These archaeological findings indicate that the ancient settlement occupied a much more extensive area. The rocky island located in the middle of the bay (fig. 1) was connected to the mainland but now represents a residual landform from a previous headland. This headland probably provided an excellent natural shelter, strategically positioned to watch over ancient port facilities. Around the small rocky island two abrasion platforms were observed at depths of -1.5 and -2.5 m respectively. These submerged marine-erosional surfaces were most likely formed during the same period with the first and the second bench of submarine beachrocks (0 to –1.70 m and –1.50 m to –3.80m).
10Three sedimentary units labeled A, B and C, respectively, were recognized according to micromorphological, micropaleontological and palynological analysis of sediment samples collected from drilled boreholes and excavated trenches in the coastal alluvial plain (fig. 3). Unit A, which is restricted to trench 2, represents the deeper parts of the Palamari sequence. The age base of the sequence is older than 1750 BCE (sample PAL390, table 1) and the top is probably as old as the Hellenistic times (300–0 BCE). Unit A is overlain by unit B, which is present in all trenches and boreholes except for trench 3 and boreholes 2 and 3. Construction materials and walls since Roman times were found within the sediments of this unit B. The age of this phase ranges between the Hellenistic or Roman times and is older than 1235 CE (sample M6P1, table 1). The sedimentary unit C represents the uppermost part of the Palamari sequence reaching the depth of –1.65 m in the trench 1 (fig. 3). This sequence is younger than 1235 CE.
Table 1 – Radiocarbon ages for dated samples from trenches and cores of Palamari, calibrated after INTCAL 98 (Stuiver et al., 1998) (Beta Analytic Inc., Miami, Florida).
Tableau 1 – Datations radiocarbone des échantillons datés provenant des carottages et des tranchées de Palamari, et calibrées d’après INTCAL 98 (Stuiver et al., 1998) (Beta Analytic Inc., Miami, Floride).
11The lower part of the sequence (T2 : 3.30 m ; fig. 1 and fig. 4), i.e the sedimentary unit A, consists of a sandy silt mixture of siliciclastic material and micritic calcite. Lithological composition seems to be quite limited, namely chlorite, mica, and quartz schist fragments, and their mineral components. All clasts are quite fresh. Although faint lamination is observed due to fluctuations in the coarse size content, the facies is that of a stuctureless, massive sediment. Some local patches of calcite cement (nodules) in microscopic sizes also occur around voids, which have probably been root passages. Clusters of framboidal pyrite are usually associated with organic matter (fig. 5a). The content of shell fragments is conspicuously low.
Fig. 4 – Micro-photographs of sediments at Palamari.
Fig. 4 – Micro-photos des sédiments de Palamari.
a : Framboidal pyrite inside a void. The walls of the void are cemented with calcite (Plain polarized light, photo is 1.5 mm across) ; b : Charophyte oogonia in a mixed micritic-siliciclastic matrix (Cross-polarized light, photo is 1.5 mm across) ; c : Fragmented charophytic calcareous algae and decayed plant remains (Cross-polarized light, photo is 3 mm across) ; d : Oxidized clay-enriched spots (Plain polarized light, photo is 3 mm across) ; e : Matrix supported sand with weathered clasts (Plain polarized light, photo is 3 mm across) ; f : Moderately sorted sand in a silty matrix with signs of vadose forms (meniscus) around voids. Note the abundance of rounded shell fragments (Plain polarized light, photo is 3 mm across).
a : pyrite framboidale à l'intérieur d'un pore. Les parois du pore sont cimentées par la calcite (lumière polarisée ; diamètre de la photo 1,5 mm) ; b : un oogonia de charophyte dans une matrice micritique-siliciclastique mélangée (lumière croisée polarisée ; diamètre de la photo 1,5 mm) ; c : algues calcaires charophytiques réduites en fragments et vestiges végétaux (lumière croisée polarisée ; diamètre de la photo 3 mm) ; d : taches oxydées d’argiles enrichies (lumière polarisée simple, diamètre de la photo 3 mm) ; e : matrice de sable avec des clastes altérés (lumière polarisée simple, diamètre de la photo 3 mm) ; f : sable trié dans une matrice limoneuse avec formes de vadose (ménisque) autour des pores. Notez l’abondance de fragments de coquille arrondis (lumière polarisée simple, diamètre de la photo 3 mm).
Fig. 5 – Distribution of ostracodes, and palynomorphs in the trench 2 and environmental interpretation.
Fig. 5 – Distribution des ostracodes et des familles de pollen dans le fossé 2 et interprétation environnementale.
12The upper part of the sequence, i.e the sedimentary unit B (1.10-1.80 m), records a change in the depositional conditions. Between 1.50 and 1.80 m in depth the sediment consists of a stratified mixture of siliciclastic material, rounded shell fragments, and micritic calcite derived probably from calcareous charophytic algae (fig. 5b and 5c). The lithological component, which is very diverse, encompasses several types of schist, quartzites, and metavolcanic material with no signs of weathering. Coarse-grained layers alternate with fine-grained ones, but in all cases the material is matrix-supported at a macroscopic scale while the contacts of the layers are diffuse. At about 1.50 m in depth, the deposit is mottled with oxidized and clay-enriched spots probably around root passages (fig. 2d). At the same depth a large amount of the siliciclastic component has been weathered prior to deposition (fig. 5e). In addition sandy layers have a silty clay matrix with vadose features that imply post-depositional infiltration of fine-grained material (fig. 5f). Charophyte remnants were not observed. In the uppermost part of the sequence the content of the rounded shell fragments rises to reach almost 50% of the coarse component.
13The microscopic sedimentary structures suggest that the whole sedimentary sequence is probably the result of ephemeral fresh water flows. Rapid deposition from high to moderate energy flows with some suspended load fallout in water bodies characterizes the lower part of the sequence up to 1.50 m in depth. Grey colors and the presence of pyrite imply that reducing conditions existed in the water bodies. The upper part of the sequence is characterized by high to moderate energy fresh water flows. In addition the enrichment of this part of the sequence with weathered clastic material implies high erosion of the soil cover of the hillslopes around the area. This is most likely attributed to a decrease in the density of plant cover protecting soil from erosion. A climatic change to more arid conditions, or accelerated animal grazing could have resulted in the vegetation density decrease. The high amount of rounded shell fragments towards the upper part of the sequence points to reworked aeolian coastal deposits.
14Altogether twenty-one foraminiferal and five ostracod taxa have been recognized in the studied samples. The sandy texture of the majority of the Palamari deposits and preservation of palynomorphs were the limiting factors of the palynological analysis. Pollen flora of the analyzed samples indicates open dry vegetation with sparse pine and oak trees, and characteristic Mediterranean taxa like Olea, Pistacia, and Cistaceae. Herb vegetation dominates the spectra while taxa with minor soil requirements (Compositae Liguliflorae and Tubuliflorae, Sanguisorba minor, Plantago species, and Ophioglossum) are the most abundant.
15Microfauna in sedimentary unit A is represented only by poor ostracod assemblages (fig. 5). The ostracod fauna mainly consists of Candona neglecta accompanied by Ilyocypris gibba, which indicate a shallow freshwater environment (Sokac, 1978 ; Carbonel, 1980 ; Calderini et al., 1998 ; Mazzini et al,. 1999 ; Clavé et al., 2001). The pollen spectra are characteristic of open dry vegetation with typical Mediterranean features (fig. 5). Human presence is detected by the occurrence of Puccinia teleutospores (Carrion and van Geel., 1999), as well as secondary indicator species for cultivated land (Polygonum aviculare, Poaceae : Bottema, 1982). The presence of Spirogyra in some spectra is characteristic of shallow stagnant waters (van Geel et al., 1989).
16Unit B is characterized by the dominance of the brackish water ostracod species Cyprideis torosa, Cyprinotus salinus and the fresh water to oligohaline species Ilyocypris gibba, I. bradyi (fig. 6 and fig. 7). This assemblage indicates an oligohaline to low mesohaline environment (Gliozzi and Mazzini, 1998 ; Mazzini et al., 1999 ; Clavé et al., 2001). Hence the persistence of a restricted temporary communication with the sea is inferred. This is reinforced by the presence of the benthic foraminifer Trichohyalus aguayoi (fig. 7 and fig. 8).This speciesis generally considered as a brackish species, which dominates in oligohaline conditions under an influence of fresh water input (salinity less than 15‰ : Bronnimann et al., 1992 ; Triantaphyllou et al., 2003). The remaining foraminiferal species, Cibicidesrefulgens, Elphidium crispum, Peneroplis pertusus, Rosalina sp., R. bradyii, Quinqueloculina triangularis indicate a coastal marine environment (Levy et al., 1993, 1995, 1996) but the poor preservation of their shells suggests reworking from coastal marine material.
Fig. 6 – Distribution of foraminifers, ostracodes, and palynomorphs in the trench 1 and environmental interpretation.
Fig. 6 – Distribution des foraminifères, ostracodes et des familles de pollen dans le fossé 1 et interprétation environnementale.
Fig. 7 – Distribution of foraminifers, ostracodes, and palynomorphs in borehole 4 and environmental interpretation.
Fig. 7 – Distribution des foraminifères, ostracodes et des familles de pollen dans le forage 4 et interprétation environnementale.
Fig. 8 – Distribution of foraminifers in borehole 3 and environmental interpretation.
Fig. 8 – Distribution des foraminifères dans le forage 3 et interprétation environnementale.
17Open dry heath pollen spectra with strong evidence of cultivation and grazing, are indicative of Unit B (fig. 5, fig. 6, and fig. 7). The presence of cereal pollen (Cerealia type), Puccinia teleutospores (Carrion and van Geel, 1999), and secondary indicator species (Polygonum aviculare, Centaurea cyanus, Poaceae ; Bottema, 1982) reflect cultivation activities in the area. Pastoral activities are represented by the numerous coprophilous fungi (Sordaria – type 55A ; Sporomiella like-type 112 : van Geel et al., 1989), and secondary indicator species (Plantago lanceolata type, Sanguisorba minor type ; Bottema, 1982 ; Bottema and Woldring, 1990 ; Jahns, 1993) (fig. 5, fig. 6, and fig. 7). The high content of charcoal and the concurrent peaks of type 207 in the pollen diagram (a fungal spore indicator of soil erosion : van Geel et al., 1989) may suggest past fires. Spirogyra, Mougeotia, and type 128 indicate shallow, stagnant waters, not covered with vegetation (van Geel et al., 1989) with minor sea influence (foraminiferae linings : Bakker and van Smeerdijk, 1982). Different conditions are represented at the depth of 1.7 m in trench 1 whereas the presence of numerous Gloeotrichia-type (type 146) can be related to an open-water phase with slowly flowing waters (van der Wiel, 1982).
18Unit C is characterized by the common presence of the species Elphidium crispum, Peneroplis pertusus, Quinqueloculina triangularis, combined with few specimens of miliolids, Rosalina bradyii, Rosalina sp., Cibicides lobatulus, C. refulgens (fig. 6, fig. 7, and fig. 8). This assemblageindicates a coastal marine environment that occurs on the inner shelf (Levy et al., 1993, 1995, 1996). However most foraminifer’s specimens are not considered in situ assemblages in sand, as they bear rounded tests suggesting reworking from coastal / marine material and aeolian coastal deposits. Ostracod specimens are missing except for sample T2-1.00 in which specimens of I. gibba and I. bradyi are accompanied by very rare specimens of Cyprinotus salinus (fig. 5). This ostracod fauna indicates a shallow freshwater environment, as both I. gibba and I. bradyi can be found in springs, rivers, or stagnant water, which dry up periodically (Sokac, 1978 ; Calderini et al., 1998). The palynoflora of unit C is characterized by very high values of the erosion-resistant Compositae liguliflorae (reaching 60% of the pollen sum) and by the absence of algal remains (fig. 5 and fig. 7). The presence of numerous coprophilous fungi (Sordaria –type 55A ; Sporomiella like-type 112 : van Geel et al., 1989) in the spectra indicate pastoral activities in the area.
19The geological evidence for past sea levels in the Aegean deals with a number of issues, including the depths of submerged terrestrial or lagoonal vegetation and sediments, and with inferences drawn from seismic reflectors in shallow offshore sediments, and the age-height relation of marine solution notches and beachrocks (Van Andel, 1987). It is noted that the study of sea level changes in Greece is more complicated, considering that the Eastern Mediterranean is a region of active tectonics and Greece in particular is one of the most rapidly deforming continental areas on Earth.
20According to the sea level curve predicted by the glacio-hydroisostatic model of Lambeck (1996), sea level around the Skyros island should have been at –3 m at 3750 yr BP and –0.50 m at 765 yr BP. It is obvious that from 3750 yr BP-765 yr BP, sea level should have risen 2.50 m ; therefore, the estimated rate of sea-level rise should be about 1.19 mm·yr-1 (fig. 9). We have estimated sea level changes for the Palamari area, based on the dated sedimentary layers, and also on the underwater observations of the submerged beachrocks. The peat at absolute depth -3.80 m below mean sea level dated at 3750 yr BP (table 1 : PAL390 ; fig. 3), and the organic remains at depth – 1.05 m dated at 765 yr BP (table 1 : M6P1 ; fig. 3) may have been deposited several tens of centimeters above sea level (e.g. Vella and Provansal, 2000). Nevertheless, the present top surface of the lagoon in Palamari coastal plain in its northeastern edge lies 20 to 30 cm above the present sea-level. These samples therefore could represent the relative mean sea level at 3750 and 765 years BP respectively. Based on our observations, sea level had therefore been at -3.80 m at 3750 yr BP, and -1.05 m at 765 yr BP ; hence the estimated rate of sea level rise is 0.92 mm·yr-1 (fig. 9). The difference between the estimated and the predicted sea level rise during the last 3000 years can be assigned to the tectonic movements of the region. However, palaeoseismic data of the coastal uplift rates of Northeast Skyros are required for more precise results. According to our sea level curve, the first bench of beachrocks fluctuating from 0 m to -1.70 m, gave an age from 300 yr BP up to 1600 yr BP approximately (fig. 9). In addition the second bench of beachrocks whose depths lie between -1.50 m and -3.80 m was dated between 1500 yr BP and 3700 yr BP.
Fig. 9 – Sea level changes in Skyros island based on 14C datings and beachrock appearances.
Fig. 9 – Changements du niveau marin autour de l’île de Skyros d’après les datations 14C et l’occurrence des beachrocks.
Correlation with Lambeck's (1996) curve from the Aegean Sea. Correlation between the depths of the submarine beachrocks benches in Palamari bay.
Corrélation avec la courbe de Lambeck (1996) pour la mer Égée. Corrélation entre les profondeurs des dalles de beachrocks dans la baie de Palamari.
21Before 3750 yr BP (1750 BCE) the paleoshoreline of the retreated Palamari coastal area must have been located about 75 m to the east from the present mouth of the Trichias River and about 150 m to the south of the excavation area (fig. 1). At the same time the small rocky island was probably connected to the mainland. In fact, this island represents the southeastern extent of the headland. During this period the embayment was southeasterly connected to the sea, therefore sheltered and protected from northeastern winds. The deposition phase of the lagoon (Unit A) points to a shallow freshwater environment while pollen flora indicates an open dry typical Mediterranean vegetation and human activity in the area.
22The analysis of sediments and micro-faunal and pollen content has revealed that the area of the recent coastal plain southwest of the settlement was an active lagoon during the interval between 3750 yr BP (1750 BCE) and 765 yr BP (1235 CE). The lagoon was likely fluctuating but its exact extent remains unknown due to inadequate data. It was affected by high to moderate energy fresh water flows (unit A and B). Signs of in situ weathering in the sediment source of Unit B imply extensive soil erosion as well as a possible climatic change to more arid conditions during the deposition of this phase. Modification of the frontal coastal area and filling up of the coastal plain were probably amplified by soil erosion induced by animal grazing, pastoral activity and fire episodes as shown by the pollen analysis of this unit. From 765 yr BP (1235 CE) till recent time, coastal marine conditions prevailed in the environment, which was dominated by aeolian activity and affected by ephemeral fresh water flows or stagnant water. The palynoflora analysis indicates intense human interferences, mainly pastoral activities. The drier climate in combination with the coastal marine and aeolian processes have shaped the recent landscape.