2004 Archaeological report
A survey and topographical mission was conducted on three fortified sites of the southern part of the Eretrian chora. It took place in June-July under the direction of S. Fachard with T. Theurillat as assistant and a small team. The goal of the project was to draw plans, collect pottery and survey the surroundings of each site (extensive method).
The fortified settlement of Tsakaioi is situated on a rocky promontory overlooking one of the very rare beaches of the Aegean coast of Euboia. The poorly-conserved E tower protects the summit (73 m asl) while the gate was defended by the N tower made of polygonal to trapezoidal masonry (L 5th -E 4th Ct). Access to the promontory is denied from the N by a rubble terrace-wall, while the cliffs to the S make the existence of a wall unecessary. Heavy vegetation impedes survey, but several terrace walls structured the internal space and building remains suggest that the area was densely occupied. A. Sampson, who discovered the site (see AAA 3 (1988-89) 172), found some LNeo II pottery. Surface finds include Cl and Hel pottery (5th -3rd Ct BC) as well as a bronze coin from Eretria.
The 5th Ct date suggests that the Tsakaioi acropolis was first related to Styra, only to be annexed by the Eretrian state around 400 when it became a deme-center (Histiaia?), important enough to be fortified. Its position controlled one of the rare anchorages of the coast and thus played a role in the territory's defense.
The large rubble enceinte at Myrtia enclosing an area of more than 6 hectares was discovered in 2002. Apart from the well-built rubble wall, the main feature of the site is the density of buildings found inside, concentrated in the center and to the N. Although the first occupation of the site is PH (obsidian blades), the pottery and black/red-glazed tiles tend to show that the site was mainly occupied during the Cl and Hel periods. The R quarries of the N-W and S-E slopes have destroyed part of the wall, thus establishing a taq for its construction. Based upon its strategic situation -- controlling the main N-S Euboian road-- and its panoramic view over both sides of the island, Myrtia was designed as an Eretrian military fort, eventually the phrourion mentioned by Plutarch (see AKunst 46 (2003) 96-7). The reality is more complex as the abundance of interior buildings might challenge the purely military hypothesis: it might be a fortified settlement as well. However, the absence of a nearby spring and the rocky surface tend to dismiss a civilian character.