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Water Management in Prehistoric Crete:
The case of Choiromandres, Zakros

The valley of Choiromandres lies in east Crete (Lasithi Prefecture), in the environs of the Minoan palace of ZakrosThe relief of Greece. The relief of Crete. Map of Zakros area.  Being separated from the coast by a low mount, the valley forms the southeast end of the fertile depression of Zakros. The valley is cut through by streams of a seasonal or intermittent flow. These are flowing through ravines or gorges, which form natural passages leading towards the sea (to the southeast), the fertile inland areas (to the north) and the Minoan town and palace of Kato Zakros (to the northeast). Choiromandres. The north and west part of the valley (view from NW).  Choiromandres. The central and western part of the valley (view from the east).

Work carried out at Choiromandres by the Minoan Roads Research Project has brought to light ancient structures spreading over an area of about 75,200 m².Choiromandres. Plan of the site.These structures, the earliest of which date from the 18th century BC, include a guard house, built on a naturally fortified rock; other, smaller buildings; terraces, enclosures, and constructions related to the control and use of rainwater – amongst them, two dams. Sherd scatters and remains of ancient structures are found throughout the whole of the valley. Nevertheless, the distribution of the finds indicates that the use of its eastern half was more intensive.

The guard house was a rather small, albeit impressive structure, built in megalithic masonry. Choiromandres. Aerial view of the guard house.Choiromandres. Aerial view of the guard house and its surroundings. It was most likely constructed by the authority residing at the neighbouring palace of Zakros, and belonged to a defensive system serving the needs of the newly established palatial administration. The two dams and the associated structures aimed at the control, collection and use of rainwater. Due to these finds, the site of Choiromandres contributes to a better understanding of the land reclamation techniques and the agricultural practices in the prehistoric Aegean.