Psara Archaeological Park – Mycenaean You!

Yeah I know that’s a really lame title but I’m chucking these posts out with a vengeance at the moment. I’m just snatching moments before I go to bed and if and when I wake up early in the morning.

Today is my last full day on Psara. I head off to Chios in the morning and still need to pay Diana for the room and book my ferry ticket. There has been no sense of urgency from her for me to settle my debts and I like that sense of trust. Anyway – it’s not like I can escape from the island without paying as it’s Diana that sells the ferry tickets!

George is at the cafe on time but tells me that we are waiting for the lady who has the key to the Archaeological Park. She will come with us and open it up for us. I just find it incredible that these wonderful people will go out of their way for just one person. Whilst we wait, George passes me a large jar of honey from his cousin’s beehives. Thank heavens I only asked for 1 jar – it’s pretty hefty! I will carry it around like a baby for the rest of my travels!

The lady we are expecting, Anna arrives and jumps into the car and we drive out to the West coast of the island where the archaeological park is located. The Archaeological Park of Archontiki – to give it its full name is a Mycenaean settlement with a burial site, some of which were discovered under the sea.

When we arrive at the entrance to the park, Anna tells us that the archaeologists are on sight to day which she hadn’t realised until we arrived. She told me that I was very lucky because they will be able to show me around and tell me everything that I want to know.

I am introduced to George and Elpida who invite me into the small museum building. I am shown models of the settlement and burial chambers, which also recreates what the everyday living would have been like – a useful tool before going out onto the site itself. There are some replica’s of some of the pottery that was found on the site – exquisite shapes and beautiful decoration. They put on a short video for me which goes through a timeline of when the Mycenaeans came to Psara.

George (archaeologist) leads us out onto the site, pointing out the burial chambers. Next to each burial chamber is a board showing all of the artifacts that were given as offerings to the dead. These included the exquisite pottery that we’d seen examples of inside, weapons, jewellery and one that stood out was a small golden duck. I ask George where the artifacts are now. He says that some have gone to the archaeological museum on Chios and some to other museums. The bones of the dead have been sent to various universities to study. These studies will help understand further how the Mycenaeans lived, what they ate and their state of health etc.

We climb a platform to give us a view over the site. George points out the perimeter wall and says that this sea defence doesn’t always protect the site from the elements. When the weather is bad it isn’t unusual for the sea to breach the wall bringing with it a new covering of sand and debris. Maintaining the site is an ongoing neccesity. George has been on Psara for two years now, having lived and studied in Thessaloniki.

There are several large kilns that were used to fire the pottery, each with a large central stone that helps retain the heat. We are then able to see examples of some of the pottery that was unearthed during the excavation of the site. We then move onto the settlement itself and the low walls of what remains of the houses. From the information that I’d seen in the museum building I could see that the roofs were made from branches and reeds. The houses weren’t very high at all and George tells me that the Mycenaeans were very short in stature. You can read a little more here:

I really appreciate having this, what turns out to be a private tour and guided by the archaeologists themselves. I ask George (not the archaeologist) if I could make a donation. Elpida says I just can pay 3€ for the entry ticket – and if I hadn’t have asked I don’t think that they would have chased me for it. Elpida invites me to write in the visitors books which in which I thank them for this wonderful experience.

And that ends my trip to the Archaeological Park and almost the end of my stay on Psara.

I think that to round off my stay here I should spend a few hours on my favourite beach. After George drops me off at the port I walk to Agia Kyiriaki beach. There is a truck parked at the top of the pathway that leads down to the beach. It seems the season is also coming to an end here as the council workers are taking down the straw parasols that offer the only shade on the beach. I collect a few more heart shaped pebbles for my ‘art installation’ on the beach and head back to the apartment to pack.

It took a while to ‘feel’ a bit of what Psara was about. I could see as someone looking in from the outside that this was a tight knit and friendly community. I think that all that was missing for my first few days was having someone to connect with and speak to and to answer just some of the many questions I had about the place. I can say that I truly loved Psara. I was so enchanted with the higgledy piggledy village, a real mish-mash of the ancient and the new. I loved the old fashioned neighbourhood and the friendly locals who were always ready to greet you with a “Yiasou!” and a friendly smile. The fact that you could leave your door open – and the only reason why you wouldn’t is because you’d come back to find cats had set up home in your house. The quaint shops and the bakery were real throwbacks to when I first started visiting Greece over 30 years ago. After 6 nights here I could easily have stayed longer, not doing and seeing but just being.

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  1. Really enjoyed reading about your adventures on Psara – I most definitely want to visit here as well !

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