Institute for Mediterranean Studies


Oros Oxa Archaeological Survey

The surface survey at Mount Oxa started in 2017 under the auspices of the Byzantine and post-Byzantine Department of the Ministry of Culture and Sport (protocol number: ΥΠΠΟΑ/ΓΔΑΠΚ/ΔΒΜΑ/ΤΕΕΑΕΙ/ 357358/233390/6024/541). This deliberation granted the permission to the Ephorate of Antiquities of Lassithi to begin a new surface survey on Mount Oxa in collaboration with the Laboratory of Geophysical Satellite Remote Sensing and ArchaeoEnvironment at the Institute for Mediterranean Studies (FORTH), in a program articulated in three years  (2017-2019).

Oxa is an archaeological site little known to the scientific community. Until now, due to the steepness of the landscape no archaeological research has been carried out at the site. There are only few bibliographical references about Oxa stressing the natural defensive character of the location and the possible existence of Classical or Hellenistic fortification. However, the extant archaeological remains on the summit of the mountain, which made up of a fragmentary preserved fortified circuit wall, water towers, cisterns and numerous buildings, are possibly dated to the Byzantine centuries and more specifically to the end of the Early Byzantine period.

Oros Oxa is the first archaeological surface survey project conducted at this site. It aims to understand the function, form and character of a fortified space in Crete, using a range of innovative interdisciplinary approaches. The objectives of the Oros Oxa project can be summarized as follows:  

  • The documentation, mapping and thorough study of all surface findings in order to better understand the different phases of the site’s occupation and, possibly, the various functions of the space in the long term (fortification, habitation, religious monuments, pastoralist, agricultural or artisanal activities).
  • The investigation of the connection between settlement patterns, political authority and economy.
  • A comparative study, using evidence derived from Oxa and data from other similar sites, in order to move from the local to the regional and, eventually, to the inter-regional context.
  • The preservation and protection of the archaeological site of Oxa from future interventions, which is a crucial element since the neighboring area of Elounda attracted the major wave of tourism development on eastern Crete.
  • The enrichment of the topographic and archaeological data of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Lassithi with new valuable evidence.
  • The establishment of a conceptual framework for the discussion and holistic examination of the fortified sites in Crete that can be applied to other contexts.

Project Team

Apostolos Sarris

Professor of Digital Humanities
Chair “Sylvia Ioannou” on Digital Humanities at the Archaeological Research Unit, Department of History and Archaeology, University of Cyprus
Curriculum vitae

Gianluca Cantoro

Postdoctoral researcher
Curriculum vitae

Konstantinos Roussos

Postdoctoral researcher
Curriculum vitae