Threshing circles in Crete

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The vanishing threshing circles in Crete

threshing circle aloni in creteThe stone threshing circles must surely be among the best loved features of the Cretan agricultural landscape.

Each with its own character, they charm visitors and often feel quite magical. Visitors may often feel their resemblance to the prehistoric stone circles of Europe, and perhaps they are not so far out. They have been used for probably thousands of years until at least the 1960s. But their origins are linked to culture and even spirituality as well as agriculture. They are said to be the origin of the circle dances and even Greek theatre, since in ancient times, working the land, dancing and religion all marked the same cycles of life.

I am intent on learning more about the history, both ancient and recent, of these beautiful and evocative circles. But what has propelled me to write this is that I have suddenly become aware of how vulnerable they are in this era of rapid development, and how fast they are disappearing.

I have been told that four have been lost in the region of my tiny village in the past decade. I have also been told that there is no legal protection for threshing circles. Some might say this is understandable. In a small country that has 5000 years of archaeological history to protect, should anyone worry about simple stone circles? But I find it quite shocking to think anyone can erase and destroy the circles.

For the next edition, I should like to write more on this subject, and would welcome contributions from other readers who may have stories of circles lost and found, protected or destroyed, photographs, thoughts and feelings or information about them. Perhaps we can together raise the profile of the humble circles and even help save some for posterity!

I look forward to hearing from you!

Cora Greenhill

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