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Drakospita of South Evia

Last Update: Apr 2011

Dragonhouses of Styra & Ochi

Archaeological site, Cultural heritage KARYSTIA , EVIA , GREECE
Tel.: +30 22210 25131
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Drakospita of South Evia - Overview

The notorious Drakospita (Dragonhouses) are the most known but enigmatic monuments of Evia. This is a total of 23 ancient megalithic structures, found in the mountainous areas around Styra, the best preserved example being the Dragonhouse on the peak of Mount Oche.
These buildings are always located in steep and surveillant positions, while they 're distinctive for their massive and stocky construction with huge slabs of gray limestone and shale, forming at the top a tiered pyramid-shaped roof.
With the exception of the Dragonhouse on the Mount Oche, that was excavated by Professor N. Moutsopoulos, the other sites have not been thoroughly explored, so the question of their date, origin and function remains open, despite the many theories that have been formulated as early as in the 19th century.
One interpretation sees them as defensive structures, like the ancient telecommunications towers (fryktories in Greek) or guard posts, associated with the fortification works of the Hellenistic period. According to others they were shelters for quarriers and it is noteworthy that the Dragonhouses are located in the area of Karystia, in close proximity and visual contact with the ancient quarries of the "karystios lithos", namely the famous green-gray marble of Karystos. Nevertheless, most Drakospita today are used by the locals as sheepfolds, while some researchers point to their resemblance with the Cretan "mitata", shepherds' establishments used mainly for cheese-making; it’s not unlikely therefore that this was also the case in antiquity.
An interesting theory, finally, derived from the research in the Dragonhouse of Oche, which was identified as sanctuary of Zeus and Hera. Perched at an altitude of 1.398 meters, just below the peak of the mountain, the monument of Oche is undoubtedly the most impressive of the Dragonhouses. The pottery found here dates from the Archaic to the Roman times, indicating a continuous and uninterrupted use of the site for centuries. Attested historically and archaeologically, the most primeval worship of Zeus in the Greek region took place on the tops of mountains, and it’s not without relevance that the seat of the Father of the Gods was Mount Olympus. The roots of this mode of worshipping are so old, that they lead us back to the Minoan peak sanctuaries and so wide, that they reach the prehistoric cults of Asia Minor.
In terms of construction, the Dragonhouses of Evia belong undoubtedly to the wide family of "megalithic architecture". From the Stonehenge in the UK to the Mediterranean, these first monumental works of the European culture always thrilled the popular imagination, which could not perceive them as human-made structures. Whatever the ancient Greeks attributed to the Cyclops, their descendants attributed to the Dragons, the giants with the supernatural powers of the Greek folk tales. The windswept Drakospita of Evia gave rise to a wealth of local legends, whose leading figure remained the Dragon that lived in the Dragonhouse of Oche, the almighty terror of the region.

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  • Archaeological service:, Tel.: 22210 25131, 22210 76131, Fax: 22210 25131, E-mail: iaepka@culture.gr
    11th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Chalkida

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