Study Area

Kythera is a medium-sized island, lying off the southern coast of the Peloponnesos, north of the large island of Crete.  It is located on all the major sea-lanes, especially those that run between the Near East and Italy.

Satalite view of the Greek Islands
Satalite view of the Greek Islands

The region chosen for examination can be defined as the hinterland of the medieval fortress-capital of Kythera, Ayios Demetrios (or Paliochora), a town that was destroyed in 1537 in a raid by the Ottoman admiral Hayer ad-din Barbarossa, and which subsequently remained abandoned. Written testimony of the destruction of the town, and the central role which the sack plays in the still vital oral traditions of the island highlight both the important role the town played in the mediaeval period, as well as testifying to the impact that its fate had on the imagination of the island’s later inhabitants.

map of Kythera
The APKAS Study Area is indicated by the bright white.

The study area is dominated by a high central ridge, running north-south, from Ayia Anastasia to Aroniadika.  This is the route followed by the modern main road through the island.  The ridge is visible in the satellite image below in the northern part of the island.

Landsat image, courtesy NASA
Landsat image, courtesy NASA

A large number of other ridges run off the central "spine" of the island, sloping down gradually to the sea on the east and the west.

One of the westward-running ridges, from near Potamos to the sea on the western side of the island.
One of the westward-running ridges, from near Potamos to the sea on the western side of the island. 

Between the ridges are deep ravines orlangadia that break the countryside up, making it almost uninhabible toward the coast and forcing most intensive land use toward the center of the island.

Langadi running toward the sea, with ridges on either side
Langadi running toward the sea, with ridges on either side

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