Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Sandy Pylos

#pylos #mycenaeangreece #polis #nestor

somewhere under those sandhills and silt lies a Mycenaean harbour or landing beach ...and maybe a summer house fit for a king

This first map shows what the the bay's shorelines probably were about the 5th BCE

Although the southern part of the bay has a deep channel and the modern settlement of navarino / pylos unmarked on this map is down the southern end the harbour during Nestor's time was probably that semi circular cove up north.

Possibly also inside the bay too since Mycenaean warships were much smaller and no one seems to be able to agree on just how deep the Northern Channel was in ancient times. People write about wading across it but I've seen sandy river entrances that you can wade or swim across at low tide if there is NO STRONG outflow current and yet those same entrances can be sailed through by yachts and other shipping at high tide through the deepest channel albeit with extreme caution.

A lot of Mycenaean shipping was small very small smaller than Classical era pentekonters.

Now go to Google Earth for a modern view ... lots of sandy lagoon with a sandy bottom north part of bay sandy bottom and shallow but also rivers and if those rivers have been continually shifting sand and silt ...

This map dated 1898 shows the rivers flowing into the bay and that Sandy Pylos is also rocky Pylos.

However there is no description that suggests an uphill ascent to Nestors Palace for this site or the palace found further inside and Homer calls it SANDY PYLOS. Okay so Homer was blind and may have never visited there but he was shaping an oral tradition which in other cases has proven accurate.

The Odyssey's description suggests a short chariot ride across level ground past where Telemachus' ship and crew were.

Did you look at Google Earth Earth?

I'm thinking Nestor could have had a summer house perhaps wood near the bay ?

Perhaps its foundations may yet be discovered?

Another map. You're probably wondering why the Mycenaean settlement wasn't further south. After all Nestor was said to have had a large fleet of ships.

Mycenaean era artifacts have turned up all around the bay. 

Frankly I suspect there was some kind of fishing port at least down south but any stone buildings probably got torn down and used for building the  Neocastro.

Another solution is that Methone was also used for his fleet under a different name ... the Iliad's catalogue of ships names several settlements.

Pylos should still be the major port in this area and to a certain extent is at least for fishing and yachting  but the vagaries of history and geography reduced to rubble and rock and sand and buried a string of settlements around the bay since Nestor's time. 

Given another 3000 years and maybe that northern channel will widen and it will be possible to have an anchorage for ships in the northern part of the bay again?