Agricultural Terraces in Classical and Hellenistic Greece

Stavros Dimakopoulos


Agricultural terraces have been a necessary element in the landscapes of Classical and Hellenistic periods in many areas of the Greek world. These terraces, formed by long terrace walls, shaped the slopes in the proximity of the farmhouses in order to facilitate exploitation of the land by the farmers, providing all the necessary conditions for efficient and effective cultivation of olive trees, grains, vines and almost any other crop. Various sites with agricultural terraces in the area of Attica, especially in the territory of the ancient deme of Atene (such as PH 2 in Aghia Photini and TH 18/42 in Thymari) as well as the Cycladic islands (Delos and Kea), dated to the Classical and Hellenistic period, are provided in this paper as some very characteristic examples of ancient terraced systems. Despite the thorough discussions about the dating of agricultural terraces in previous years, the issue of dating them back to ancient years remains an existent question for some scholars. Nevertheless, the sites mentioned here offer fairly good evidence for a dating in the fifth or fourth centuries BC. Furthermore, all these cases seem to share a common factor: their construction results from or is related to demographic criteria, such as the population growth of every area.


Terraces, Agriculture, Rural, Greece, Classical landscape

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Copyright (c) 2016 Stavros Dimakopoulos

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