Lake Dystos to Karystos, and around Mount Ochi

(Karystos = 0.0km for distances in this section)

Dystos and Agia Triada

Approached from any angle, the landscape of Lake Dystos (59km) is like a mirage: a strange cone of limestone rising from the middle of a sea of green, surrounded by bald hills. The alluvial lake itself, encircled by swallow holes, is filled with water in spring and early summer, and then recedes to a verdant reed-bed in late summer and autumn. It shares a number of aspects of behaviour and appearance with Lake Copais across the water in neighbouring Boeotia, which is similarly a limestone-bound basin fed by seasonal waters. Lake Copais was the object of a massive project to drain and control its waters in pre historic times which constitutes the earliest known, major hydraulic work of European history. It is interesting that a relief found on Euboea and now in the Museum of Epigraphy in Athens, bears a long 4th century bc inscription stipulating a contract between the people of Eretria (to which Dystos was subordinate) and an engineeer by the name of Chairephanis, to drain and control the water in Lake ‘Ptechon’ (namely, Dystos), using many of the means adopted centuries earlier at Copais. In recent years an attempt has been made to convert areas of the lake into arable land by filling.
   The isolated hill on the lake’s east side is the site of Ancient Dystos, inhabited since the Neolithic period, and settled in earliest Antiquity by Dryopians—a Pelasgian, pre-Hellenic people of obscure origin. (Access is by any of the tracks that lead west from the main road, south of the turn for Koskina (58.5km). Dense vegetation has engulfed many of the remains still on the surface and makes exploring the site arduous. The walls and terraces alone stand above the vegetation.) The site is highly panoramic with natural defences in the form of a steep drop to the lake on the western side. Describing a wide semicircle eastward from the west cliff, the line of the full enceinte of walls in polygonal construction, dating from the late 5th century, can be traced. The walls are 2m thick and in places still stand to 3m in height. There were in all eleven towers, and one gate with double bastions in the middle of the east side, which led north into the area of the agora. On the slopes of the hill—especially to the north where there are also protrusions of terraces in a later, isodomic construction method—are the remains of a number of houses built in ashlar masonry. They generally possessed an en trance passage, an inner court, a living room, bedrooms, and in some cases an upper storey. At the summit of the hill were the inner walls of the acropolis, the north part of which was converted into a Venetian fortress and tower.
   Some of the remains from Dystos made their way to the curious, ruined mediaeval church of Aghia Triada, just to the north. (To the left, 1.2km south of Krieza, about 200m before the descending road finally flattens out into the floor of the Dystos valley.) The lower areas of the apse and walls still stand. The altar is a fluted column stump: the central door of the templon-screen—an ancient sarcophagus, standing on end, the bottom of which has been cut out, creating a single, stone, rectangular entrance-way—is anenious example of recycling.

Euboea Island, Greece

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