LOCATION OF THE QUARRIES
There are four or five main areas of ancient Roman quarrying, depending on how you categorise them, extending in a 60 km arc along the coast of Euboea, between Karystos and Styra; and each area contains several different quarries. Papageorgakis lists three separate quarries in the area of Karystos, at Myloi (Kylindri), Ano Aetos and Bourros; in Marmari at Vatision and Kalogeri; in Styra at Kapsala, Agios Nikolaos, Krio Nero and Kliosi; the fourth, in the Styra area is at Animborio. (Fig. 2) Anna Lambraki lists five areas of quarrying, in Styra, Animborio, Karatza, Marmari and Karystos. She identifies four groups of quarries in Styra, three in Animborio. North of the present town of Marmari there are three large groups of scattered quarries, at Karatza, Kionia and Vatisi-Alexi. In Karatza there are an impressive number of quarries on the western slope of Mount Vrethela but 20th century excavations have destroyed the remains so that there is nothing left but traces of an ancient road and a possible embarkation point. In the fifth, the Karystos area, she refers to the quarries of Myloi and Kylindri but regrets that she has not been able to visit those of Aetos and Bourros.17
Quarries in the Styra Area
The four excavation zones of the Styra area are situated to the north east of the modern town and stretch as far as the village of Kapsala. All four lie above the Styra-Karystos road. Two of them lie on the western slope of Mt Kliosi. Lambraki divides them into the Krio Nero and the Aghios Nikolaos group. Papageorgakis refers to them as the largest and most important group of the Karystian marble quarries. ‘At the highest point of the western slope north of Aghios Nikolaos, there is a domelike elevation at which lies the biggest group of ancient quarries in southern Euboea. There are around 25 huge quarries and many smaller ones. On the steep slope which is covered with rectangular blocks of stone and columns, one can see an ancient cobbled road which gradually descends to an area above Kapsala’.18
The Styra quarries have been very fully described in the book by Doris Vanhove published in 1996. Two very large areas of extraction are to be found, on the slopes of Aghios Nikolaos and the Krio Nero, situated above the 400 m level. ‘There is a whole cluster of small and large quarries on the eastern flank (as distinct from a series of quarries on the western side of the same mountain ridge overlooking Kapsala) of the Krio Nero (height ca. 467 m) which we can divide into the Krio Nero Lower Eastern Group (quarries no. 2 – no. 6) height ca. 440/450 m, and the Krio Nero Upper Eastern Group (quarry no.7- and others) height ca. 465/450 m.
These quarry sites are laid out roughly stepwise on the slope of the mountain, and the spoil was disposed of downhill of each site. As mentioned earlier, both the Upper and Lower Group include large and small extraction zones: the rock faces of quarry no.6 are ca.4.80 m, in quarry no.7 6.80-8 m, and in the Krio Nero quarry 10.5 m. Quarried blocks and monoliths were found lying in all the pits.19
A rough track suitable for sturdier motor vehicles has now been excavated from the main Styra-Aliveri road, leading part of the way to the Dragon Houses and to the Acropolis. Both this and a subsequent mountain footpath leading to the Acropolis are marked and signed now for those tourists who are interested in visiting these ancient remains, and from this path the groups of quarries are clearly visible, with their vast extent of debris lying on the mountain side (Plates 1.2A, & 1.2B). On the Kapsala side of the path (leading to the Acropolis), there are quarries lying close to the path, and also remnants of blocks and a column (Plate 1.3A, 1.3B, & 1.3C). The column lying at circa 450 m. up the mountainside, measures 3.05 m. /10.3 Rf long and .38/1.28 Rf in diameter. One block, a few metres further up measures 1.57 m. /5.30 Rf long, .45 m. /1.52 Rf wide and .75 m. /2.53 Rf deep. Another block, 50-100 m. further up, measures 1.83 m. /6.18 Rf long, (including the small protrusion), .92 m. /3.10 Rf wide and .77 m. /2.6 Rf deep. It is also possible to see the marks of picks on the rock faces which Vanhove describes in her book (Plate 1.4A). There are ruts in the stone path at this stage where it is possible that the sledges containing the marble were dragged down the mountain (Plate 1.4B).
There is no conclusive evidence of this, but from photographs taken of the Acropolis of Styra it would appear that parts of the construction are of cipollino marble. The original Acropolis is said to have been the work of the ancient Styrians, who were known as Dryopes.20 It was rebuilt by the Franks.
The quarry region of Mount Pyrgari lies at a lower level. ‘The extraction zone has a roughly north south orientation and lies at an altitude varying between 314 and 394 m, rising steeply to the north of the small sheltered bay of Animborio. It looks out over a sweeping panorama stretching far into the distance, across the Kolpos Petalion to Attica, from the Pentelikon and its snow-white marble quarries to the mountains of Laurion in the south’. Vanhove says that there are many important similarities between the quarries in Styra and Pyrgari and that they are all of the horseshoe type. In both regions there are remains of marble blocks and monoliths left in the debris. The dimensions of the abandoned columns are not particularly great, the largest being 7.8 m. /26 Rf long and the largest diameter 2.15 m. /7 Rf (‘The largest block on the Pyrgari weighs over 6 tons, which is not very much in comparison with other marble blocks in the Hellenistic and Roman period (Didima, 70 tons and Mons Claudianus, columns of granite over 200 tons.’) Nor, presumably with the Aetos columns which must also weigh in the region of 200 tons. ‘Many monoliths have a wide protective terminal collar or torus, which was used for fastening ropes around the columns for hoisting, and for tieing the shafts on to the sledge for transport.’
Vanhove also describes the roads used for the removal of the marble. ‘Both in Styra and on the Pyrgari, a complete road network had been built, in which all the secondary roads come together and lead to the point where the real descent to the sea begins. What we found was sometimes no more than simple cart or sledge tracks, and sometimes the remains of real roads which had been carefully constructed to make it easier to lower or roll blocks of marble down the mountain side. A common characteristic of all these roads is that they meticulously followed the most favourable configuration of the terrain, searching out a route along the mountain side with the right gradient; enough to keep things moving, but not too steep.’21
Quarries in the Marmari Area
The quarries in the Marmari area have not to my knowledge been documented separately but both Papageorgakis and Lambrakis give considerable details. The quarries are scattered over a large area around Marmari. At Karatza an impressive number of quarries are to be found on the western slope of Mount Vrethela but the excavations made at the beginning of the century have destroyed all trace of ancient extraction and nothing remains except remnants of an ancient road leading from the quarries to a small bay where evidence of an embarkation point can be found. On the eastern slope of Mount Vrethela, at a place known as Kionia, there can be found four large excavations as well as eleven isolated quarries but there remain only a few unimportant pieces of column as well as some remnants of the road which led from Kionia to Cape Kamari. Near Vatision/Alexi, at an altitude of 300 m., near the summit of Mt Ombores, there are several isolated quarries as well as an area of excavation extending about 100 m. On the south side of the mountain this group comprises a quarry, the last in the series, shaped in the form of a room, 5 m. x 6m., and 7.60 m. high.22 The quarries of Mount Ombores are not so easily seen from below, even with binoculars, but in the village of Vatision there are remains of quarries and remnants of cipollino lying in amongst the houses (Plates 1.5, 1.6A & 1.6B). The excavated marble from these quarries was taken down as far as the Vatision valley and transported by wagons towards the east. Signs of this survive in the narrowest part of the valley. The road then continues towards Chania, near where the road to Marmari passes today and continues towards the shore, where presumably the loading platform existed, close to an abandoned column.
Quarries in the Karystos Area – Myloi
The quarries in the Karystos area begin north of the village of Myloi at an altitude of approximately 300 m., extending to an altitude of 540 m. or 600 m. above sea level as far as Kylindri. They lie near the path leading to the summit of Mt Ochi (1398 m.) and the workings are visible from Karystos, ‘five columns appear as matchsticks on the steep slopes of the mountain’. The path begins at Myloi and it takes about one hour’s stiff walking to get to the quarry. The five visible columns are on the cliff edge and had been presumably moved from the quarry before they were abandoned. In her article published in the Bulletin du Musée de Beyrouth in 1965 Vronwy Hankey describes them in detail. ‘Four are 11.84 m. (about 40 Roman feet) long, 1.27 m. /4.3 Rf in diameter, with collars at either end. The upper collar is 0.35m. high, the lower one 0.48 m. high, and both are 0.10 m. deep. Each of these columns, like the cipollino columns at Tyre, has a central drill hole at either end. The fifth column is 11.90 m. /40 Rf long, 1.30 m. /4.4 Rf in diameter, with a collar at either end sloping from 0.60 m. /2 Rf to 0.70 m. /2.3 Rf in height (Plate 1.7).
‘There did not appear to be any mason’s marks on the rock or the columns, and I could find no trace of a slide or track for hauling the columns down to sea level 650m. below. It is hard to see how the columns could have been brought down the steep winding path.’ 23
Hankey’s description of the other group of columns did not coincide with the one given by the Schneiders in December 2012. This up to date description which follows would seem to be more accurate. The Schneiders also found a few square holes cut into the rock below the 5 columns described by Hankey. These columns appeared to be perched at the top of a slide.
Higher up the slope there are more columns or parts of columns. The northernmost column measures 5.4 m. /18.24 Rf from collar to break and .75 m. /2.53 Rf diameter at the collar; just south of this is a small stump with collar, which may or not be from the columns above; one column attached on 2 sides is the furthest east of the group and measures 11.7 m. /39.5 Rf long and roughly .90 m. /3.04 Rf in diameter. The fourth is a big column, ll.85 m ./40 Rf long, 1.20 m. /4.05 Rf (lower end) and 1.40 m. /4.72 Rf (upper end) in diameter, (collar .05 m. /0.16 Rf x .58 m. /1.95 Rf at the lower end). It is on the Myloi side of a group of 3 close together at 11.85 m. /40 Rf long and 1.20 m. /4.05 Rf (lower end) and 1.40m. 4.72 Rf (upper end) in diameter (the collars at each end are a little over .05 m. /0.16 Rf long and about .005 m. /.016 Rf deep. The fifth, a small middle one measures 7.15 m. /24 Rf x .70 m. /2.36 Rf; collar .20 x .03 m., and the sixth, a partially buried eastern one measures 8.10 m. /27.36 Rf visible x 1.25 m. /4.22 Rf diameter, collar .55 m. / 1.85 Rf x .05 m. /0.16 Rf. Skitch 1 & Skitch 2 show the relative positions of the columns above Myloi (Plates 1.8 & 1.9).
On the ridge opposite where the large columns and the quarry are located is a basin whose rim measures .45 to .46 m. /1.5 Rf and inner diameter 1.8 m. / 6 Rf, depth .40 m. /1.35 Rf (Plate 1.10).
The Aetos Quarries
Hankey did not know of the quarries above the village of Aetos and at Bourros which is described in detail in the article published in the Journal of Cultural Heritage in 2002, and where there are also complete or partly extracted columns. The main area of marble quarrying ‘is situated above the village of Ano Aetos, about 2 km from the town of Karystos. In the main part there is evidence of five columns, some completed, some unfinished and some buried or partly destroyed. Similar to the quarries above Myloi, the ones above Aetos lie on the lower slopes of Mt. Ochi. Access is by taking the upper Karystos road to Ano Aetos out of the town, continuing past the turning to the main church and village centre, taking the first road on the left to the small church of St. Constantine and St. Helen, then up the hill as far as the goat pen, across the valley and some 50 m. up the other side. The site is easy to miss as it is not visible from above or below and access has become difficult due to fencing of the hillside. The easiest route at present is through the smallholding just below the quarry, although guard dogs are rather intimidating’ (if their owners are not there to call them off). 24
In spite of the considerable development on the hillside the quarries have so far been left untouched. The columns are weathered and broken in some places but the distinctive cipollino markings are still visible. The quarry is small and compact considering the very large columns which were being extracted. It lies at an altitude of 175 m. and the columns lie in a NE orientation (Plate 1.11). There are five columns of which the largest and most complete (it has one large split) is the only one which can be measured at all accurately. It is 13.15 m. long (about 44 Roman feet) and 1.74 m. /5.8 Rf) in diameter, (Plates 1.12, 1.13 &1.14), considerably bigger than the Myloi columns and it has five recesses which vary in depth from 0.23 to 0.27 m. (Fig 3) The second column, which is fully excavated and partially exposed, is difficult to measure as it is badly split. It is approximately 12.15 m. /41 Rf long and 1.8 m. /6 Rf in diameter. The third and fourth columns are partially buried and there are two other pieces of marble which appear to have been cut out of the quarry and which might have been intended as blocks. The columns appear to have been cut out and shaped in the quarry.
Lower down the hillside there is another column partly hewn out of a seam of cipollino. It still has its horseshoe shape and measures 8.95 m. /30 Rf in length and an estimated 1.2 m. /4 Rf in diameter (Plate 1.15). This presumably indicates that the main quarry was not the only place where cipollino was being excavated in this area.
There is another single column lying near the coast, beyond Bourros, to the SE of Aetos, which can be seen easily from the sea, though not from the road, and there are two more columns lying at right angles below the road.
16 Lazzarini, L., p.193, TAB. 1.
17 Lambraki, A., p. 40.
18 Papageorgakis, p. 269.
19 Vanhove D., Roman Marble Quarries in Southern Euboea and the associated road networks, Leiden Bull, 1996, pp. 33-4.
20 Pausanius, Guide to Greece, Volume 2: Southern Greece, Penguin Classics, Penguin Books Ltd., England, 1971, p. 186.
21 Vanhove, D., pp.34-5.
22 Lambraki, A., p.49.
23 Hankey, V. A., A Marble Quarry at Karystos, Bulletin du Musée de Beyrouth XVIII, 1965, pp 53-59.
24 Sutherland, p.254.1.14),
Maps and Plates
Fig 2 Map of main quarries
Plate 1.2A Remains of cipollino quarries on the side of Krio Nero, Styra, Euboea
Plate 1.2B Remains of cipollino quarries on the side of Krio Nero, Styra, Euboea
Plate 1.3A Side of quarry off the path to the Acropolis on the Kapsala side of Krio Nero
1.3B Cipollino columns and blocks lying in the quarry on the Kapsala side of the Krio Nero, Styra, Euboea.
1.3C Cipollino columns and blocks lying in the quarry on the Kapsala side of the Krio Nero, Styra, Euboea.
Plate 1.4A A cipollino column on the side of the quarry just off the path to the Acropolis, Krio Nero, Styra, Euboea.
Plate 1.4B Ruts in the path to the Acropolis, possibly where dragging and removal of columns took place, Styra, Euboea.
Plate 1.5 Outcrops of cipollino lying among houses in Vatision, Euboea.
Plate 1.6 Outcrops of cipollino lying among houses in Vatision, Euboea.
Plate 1.7 Cipollino columns lying outside the quarry, Myloi, Euboea
Plate 1.8 Other columns and partial cipollino columns lying nearby, Myloi, Euboea (Skitch 1).
Plate 1.9 Skitch 2 showing the relative position of the columns above Myloi
Plate 1.10 The cipollino basin near the Myloi columns, Euboea
Plate 1.11 View of Roman cipollino quarry at Ano Aetos, Euboea.
Plate 1.12 Largest cipollino column at Ano Aetos quarry, Euboea
Plate 1.13 Close up of the largest cipollino column at Aetos quarry, Euboea, showing recesses
Plate 1.14 Eastern end of largest cipollino column at the Ano Aetos quarry, Euboea.
Plate 1.15 Single cipollino column on western side of the valley, Ano Aetos, Euboea.