Water Management in Prehistoric Crete:
The case of Choiromandres, Zakros
Situated at the easternmost part of Crete, the valley of Choiromandres forms the southeast end of the fertile depression of Zakros. A ravine with a steep gradient ends at the southeast part of this small valley. In winter, rainwater flows down the steep mountainous terrain, causing soil erosion.
In Minoan times, the locals attempted to regulate the flow of rainwater by means of a complex system of dams and barriers. This aimed at protecting arable land from erosion, while improving its productivity by using rainwater to moisten the soil.
Apart from the aforementioned dams and the related structures, excavation and surface survey conducted by the “Minoan Roads” Research Project have revealed the remains of five ancient buildings, as well as of quarries, enclosures and terrace walls. These date from the 2nd millennium BC, with the exception of one building, which was constructed during the 4th century BC.
The significance of the site lies in the fact that it offers a detailed picture of a Bronze Age landscape. As such, Choiromandres provides an interesting case study, which may contribute to a better understanding of the agricultural practices and the patterns of land use that were current in Crete more than 3500 years ago.