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Located on the Greek Island of Euboea lies a true archaeological mystery: 25 massive structures called Drakóspita or Dragon houses. Erected using supermassive limestone blocks forming a pyramid-shaped roof, the mysterious dragon houses are a true ancient enigma. Experts are unsure who built them, how they were built, but most importantly, experts have no idea when they were built.
The dragon houses (in Greek Drakospita) are 20 large buildings spread across the south of the island of Euboea, the sixth largest in the Mediterranean, located off the eastern coast of mainland Greece.
The so-called Dragon houses are rectangular constructions composed of huge stones, built in a cyclopean style, placed one above the other without any type of mortar.
The spaces between them are filled with other smaller stones, and the roof is covered with equally large stone plates leaving a gap for the entrance of light.
The best preserved Dragon houses are those located on Mount Ochi , in the southeast of the island. Three other Cyclopean Dragon Houses can be found at Palli-Lakka and in Kapsala.
Despite the fact that they are called Dragon houses, the massive structures don’t really have anything to do with these mythological creatures.
They are dubbed Dragon houses because the local tradition attributed to their creators unknown superhuman powers, given the size of the stone blocks used in the building process. Ordinary people could not have built these massive structures, right?
Their true age remains a mystery, just as their unknown builders.
Although ‘Dragon Houses’ were first described at the end of the 18th century, there is still no exact dating of the buildings.
Some scholars believe that they can be traced back to the seventh century BC, being the precursors of the later Greek temples.
Others consider them defensive constructions of the Hellenistic period, of the III-IV century BC.
However, experts are still unable to agree on their date, and the lack of materials surrounding the massive structures has made the job more difficult.
The Dragon houses were ‘found’ by British geologist John Hawkins, who ascended Mount Ochi (1,398 meters of altitude) on October 21, 1797.
There, he found a construction that he inspected and from which he drew sketches, concluding, based on their design that the massive structures should be older than classic Greek temples.
After word got out of the existence of massive structures in the Mediterranean, many others ventured out to Greece to see the ‘Dragon houses’ for themselves.
In the following years after Hawkins discovered them, numerous archaeologists visited the site, such as Heinrich Ulrichs, who published a monograph about the structures in 1842.
In more recent times the main researchers are those of the Americans Jean Carpenter and Dan Boyd.
The enigmatic Dragon Houses of Mount Ochi are located at an altitude of 1386 meters of and have an average dimension of 12.7 by 7.7 meters, with a door in the center of the south wall, 2 meters high by one wide and crowned by a huge 10-tonne lintel protruding above it, as well as small windows on the sides.
The walls have an average thickness of 1.4 meters, suitable to support the heavy stone roof, and the interior rises to an average height of around 2.4 meters.
The surface of the construction is 48 square meters and the entire floor is covered with stone panels.
As noted by experts, the three Dragon Houses of Palli-Lakka are very similar in dimensions to that of Mount Ochi, but the walls are less thick, only 1.1 meters on average.
The stone blocks used are smaller and, in general, the style is more rustic, less elaborate and possibly even older.
The strange things is that, despite their supermassive size and intricate design elements, there is absolutely no reference to these buildings in the ancient sources, so all the available information comes from the legends and folklore of the area where they were built, as well as details of explorers who have visited the structures in more recent times.
In 1959, excavations were carried out on the structures of Mount Ochi which brought to light ceramic fragments which have been dated to the Hellenistic period.
Archaeologists also found various reinforcements, on one of which they fund a small text written in an unknown script, which is now kept at the archaeological museum of Karystos.
An Otherworldly Connection?
Interesting details were discovered in 2002 and 2004 when researchers from the Department of Astrophysics at the University of Athens studied the orientation of the Dragon Houses on Mount Ochi. Experts came to the conclusion that the Dragon Houses were oriented to the Sirius star system around 1100 BC., suggesting that the mysterious Cyclopean structures may have been used as some sort of astronomical observatories.
However, due to the lack of more exhaustive data, the Greek Dragon houses continue to be an enigma for archaeologists.
As noted by some authors, the mysterious structures could well be the key to understanding the evolution of later Greek architecture.
Whatever their purpose was, it remains a mystery as to how the massive structures were built, how they have remained standing, and most importantly their exact age.
Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.