Due to the construction of a golf resort, rescue excavations were conducted near Romanos between 2007 and 2011. Main result was the discovery of an Early Helladic settlement, so far, the biggest settlement in Messenia dating to Early Helladic II. Workshops for obsidian and copper/bronze were present, illustrating connections to the Cyclades. An Early Helladic well produced pots which had been ritually deposited.

Extensive rescue excavations have been carried out by Jörg Rambach between 2007 and 2011 in the area of a huge golf resort and hotel complex as part of the program P.O.T.A. Romanou (POTA = Περιοχή Ολοκληρωμένης Τουριστικής Ανάπτυξης, i.e. area of Tourist Development) for the construction of the hotel complex Costa Navarino – Navarino Dunes. The complex is close to the coast of the Ionian Sea, north-west of the village of Romanos, which now operates under the name ‘Navarino-Dunes’. The excavations took place under the supervision of the 38th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Messenia of the Greek Ministry of Culture, and the developers had to bear all costs incurred. Archaeological remains were found mainly south of the Selas River, close to the southern and eastern borders of the site. In addition to a hitherto completely unknown Early Archaic Greek sanctuary with Early Archaic temple, a large Hellenistic farm house, a early Mycenaean beehive tomb and graves and settlement remains from the proto-geometric to the Geometric Period, a part of the largest known Early Helladic II settlement (minimum expansion 40,000 m²) in Messenia was uncovered. The settlement began already in Early Helladic I or at the transition to Early Helladic II, as pits with Talioti ware confirm. In general, the Early Helladic II settlement seems to have been very well organized. All buildings, rectangular and spacious, had the same SSW-NNE orientation, and streets were set at right angles to each other. 

The most important findings were:

  1. A densely built settlement with several stratigraphically overlying houses on both sides of two streets intersecting at right angles. Nowhere else in Messenia has such a rich sequence of layers full of ceramics and construction details dating to Early Helladic II been observed.
  2. A large storage room was uncovered in the area of EH II houses at the south-eastern corner of the Navarino-Dunes property, which contained several broken storage jars (pithoi). The contents of some pithoi were preserved by a fire disaster in the form of carbonated grape seeds or figs.
  3. A workshop for smelting and processing copper/bronze and obsidian.
  4. A large oval pit with a dimension of about 10 × 15 m was found east of a wall supporting a slope with a ramp set in front. This pit was filled up to the edge with thousands of small stones and incredible amounts of EH II sherds or completely preserved EH II-vessels, which sometimes had a vertical perforation in the centre of their base. Unexpected and surprising was the discovery of dozens of cattle/bull-horns in this pit that can be interpreted in a cultic context.
  5. A well with brick enclosure, filled in the Early Helladic II period, was investigated west of the workshop for copper and obsidian processing in square Θ23. The southern half of the well enclosure and lining had fallen into the shaft. It was thus rendered unusable and was, still during EH II, filled up completely with masses of EH II-ceramic remains, including many fully reconstructable or even partly complete vessels of fine and coarse tableware. It has to be stressed that the extensive ceramic ensemble of completely preserved or fully reconstructable pottery of EH II that could be salvaged from the well is unique in Messenia. It can be assumed that at least 200 complete or almost complete vessels will emerge from the processing and restoration of the material from the well alone. A comparable number of completely preserved or almost complete pottery vessels of EH II from the Peloponnese can be found only in the EH II settlement of Lerna III in the Argolid. This important ceramic assemblage from the well is to be analysed and published in the course of the project funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).

It seems that the settlement of Romanos was the central place of the wider environment in EH II and was safely connected to the Cyclades by means of procurement and processing of large amounts of obsidian. A further indication of connections to the Cyclades is the smelting of copper or bronze in the workshop built for this purpose.

Principal investigator

    • Jörg Rambach


    FWF Lise-Meitner-Programm [Project M 1468]