McCord Centre for Landscape


Apalirou Environs Project, Naxos

The island of Naxos in the Cyclades has for long been renowned for its rich Byzantine heritage, and in particular the numerous decorated churches.

The settlement pattern of Byzantine Naxos has been far less studied: this survey project builds on research undertaken since 2006 by the partners to explore the early medieval landscape.

Naxos as a whole has a unique corpus of around 150 Byzantine churches many of which had their origins between the 6th/7th and 10th centuries.

The early date of many of the churches, coupled with the results of recent ceramic surveys, has the potential to provide clear archaeologically derived evidence of the landscapes and settlements of Naxos before the middle Byzantine period.

Such evidence is found nowhere else in the Byzantine world.

Among the documented settlements of the Byzantine period, Kastro Apalirou in the southern part of the island stands apart.

Survey of the site by the Oslo team has documented more than 75 houses, two church complexes, a monastery, between 40 and 50 cisterns, city wall and fortifications, internal road grid, water supply and drainage system.

It is now evident that this was a town of a considerable size and very likely the main administrative centre of the island in the Byzantine period.