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by Archaeology Newsroom

Kaiadas

We still lack concrete evidence for the identification of the abysmal cave of Kaiadas known through literary sources (cf. Pausanias IV 18. 4-7) and vaguely situated in the area around Sparta. Local tradition locates it either among the ravines in the area of Mystras close to the village of Parori or on the gorges of Mt. Taygetos at the village of Trypi. In the latter place, the existing pit goes by the name of Kaiadas even today, after which a modern hotel was named, built close to the cave by the south side of the main road Sparta-Kalamata.

Α journalist who happened to pass by was informed by the owner of the hotel about the presence of the pit hole and the existence of great masses of bones in it. The journalist managed to climb down into the hole with the help of local authorities and to take some excellent colour pictures of the interior, which were shown to me after her return to Athens. Impressed by the quantity of the bones, which seemed to be exclusively human and by the fact that they were arranged in successive, almost stratified layers, we decided to organize an exploration team with the participation of Ε. Kampouroglou, geologist, Th. Pitsios, anthropologist and J. Ioannou, speleologist, all of them possessing adequate experience in cave research. Their aim was to carry out a preliminary investigation of the pit hole known as Kaiadas and thus to help us to decide upon the value of the first information brought forward by the journalist.

The geological as well as the anthropolological reports of the aforementioned specialists, in relation to the historical and the literary evidence lead us to the tentative conclusion that the pit hole of Trypi is actually the Kaiadas of antiquity, used by the Spartans mainly during the period of the Messenian wars (8th-5th centuries BC) to hurl down into it the Messenian captives as weII as criminals sentenced to death , the sacrilegious and traitors to the country.

Excavation is of course urgently needed to support ουr tentatively proposed identification and to offer us a relative date for the layers of the skeletal material. We have reason to believe that excavation will bring to light archaeological material as well, since it is already reported that pottery fragments (mostly lamps) and iron chain rings have been found by locals among the bones.

Α recent accidental find from the pit hole of Kaiadas, the fragment of a human (?) skull with a bronze arrow-head thrust into it makes further investigation and systematic excavational research, despite the difficulties, a very promising enterprise and worth undertaking.