The secrets of Keros

Keros, a small uninhabited island of the southeastern Cyclades, attracted the archaeological attention for the first time at 1884 when a tomb containing marble figurines was found. Since then, the extended illegal excavations during the ‘50s and ‘60s on the western part of the island at Cavos site, had as result the illegal export of a large number of marble artifacts.

Some scholars thought that the Cavos site had religious character and C. Renfrew supposed that it must have been a great and open air pan-cycladic sanctuary of the Early Cycladic period (3rd millennium BC), where a ritual of destruction of objects  took place !

During the last years, a discussion on the so-called “treasure of Keros” began as the excavations restarted on the island conducted by a greek-british archaeological team under the supervision of Professor Colin Renfrew. Professor Lord Colin Renfrew is Senior Fellow of the MacDonald Institute for Archaeological Research of the University of Cambridge and excavator of Keros on behalf of the British Schooll at Athens.

The Museum of Cycladic Art Collection includes eighty one fragments of marble figurines, which come from the so-called “Treasure of Keros”. There are at least, three hundred fifty (350) artifacts that are thought to come from Keros. During the ‘50s, these objects were illegally exported abroad and found their way in the collections of various museums and private collectors around the world, as the well known Collection Μ.-L. Erlenmeyer.

In 2001 the N.P. Goulandris Foundation decided to fund the publication of “The Keros Treasure” based on the 81 artifacts of the Museum of Cycladic Art and other objects located elsewhere, aiming to fully represent the group and to help the understanding of the important function that the small island of Keros had during the 3rd millennium BC. The study and publication was conducted by the Museum curator, Dr Peggy Sotirakopoulou.

Lecture by: Professor Lord Colin Renfrew

Senior Fellow of the MacDonald Institute for Archaeological Research of the University of Cambridge