Σπηλιά του Κύκλωπα

Cave of Cyclops - Cyclopes Cave - Cave of Gioura


Useful Information

Location: Island of Youra (Gioura), Northern Sporades.
(39.36876685422796, 24.145709794682325)
Open: no restrictions.
[2021]
Fee: free.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=60 m, W=50 m, H=15 m, A=150 m asl.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Α. Σάμψων (1995): Ημερολόγιο ανασκαφών σπηλαίου Κύκλωπα Γιούρων
Patrick Quinn, Peter Day, Vassilis Kilikoglou, Edward Faber, Stella Katsarou-Tzeveleki, Adamantios Sampson (2010): Keeping an eye on your pots: the provenance of Neolithic ceramics from the Cave of the Cyclops, Youra, Greece, Journal of Archaeological Science 37:5:1042-1052 (2010) doi:10.1016/j.jas.2009.12.005 Judith Powell (2003): Fishing in the Mesolithic and Neolithic—the Cave of Cyclops, Youra Zooarchaeology in Greece: Recent Advances (2003), British School at Athens Studies 9:75-84 JSTOR 40960334
Adamantios Sampson (2010): The Cave of the Cyclops: Mesolithic and Neolithic Networks in the Northern Aegean, Greece Vol. 1, Intra-Site Analysis, Local Industries, and Regional Site Distribution, ISBN 9781931534208 American Journal of Archaeology 114:1 (January 2010) doi:10.3764/ajaonline114.1.Efstratiou
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History

1992 excavations started by the Director of Antiquities Dr. A. Sampson.
1995 10-11.000 years old human cranial vault (calva) discovered.

Description

The Cave of Cyclops is located on the uninhabited island of Youra, northeast of Alonnessos in the Northern Sporades. It was used as a temporal fishing station during Mesolithic and Neolithic times. Excavated by the Director of Antiquities Dr. A. Sampson since 1992, one of the most important finds is a human cranial vault (calva) which is about 10-11.000 years old. It is the first human remain of such an age found in the Greek islands. It is thought that it belonged to a 65-70 years old female.

The cave was named Σπηλιά του Κύκλωπα (Cave of Cyclops) because it was reputedly the original dwelling of the Cyclops. Odysseus and his men sailed from Ikos home towards the Ionian Islands. On Gioura they encountered the mighty beast, the one-eyed Cyclops named Polyphemus. He is a known man eater and kills Odysseus' men. But Odysseus is able to bling the giant and flee. Unfortunately Cyclops goes to his dad Poseidon to complain, and that's why they needed a decade to find their way back. Its obviously a bad idea to annoy the God of the Sea if you travel by ship. However, while during excavations Bronze Age remains were found, there were no Cyclops bones found.

The island is uninhabited and under nature protection. It is possible to make day trips by boat to the island from the nearby island Alonnisos, its only 16 miles from Alonissos. There are coast guards on the island to protect the wildlife, for example the almost extinct kri kri goats, a wild brown goat with unique horns and stripes. If you are lucky (or probably pay a generous tip) the coast guards will probably take you to the Cyclops cave.