The Geraki Project, Laconia

Years of Operation:

(1995 – present)


Prof. Joost H. Crouwel & Dr. Mieke Prent from 1995, University of Amsterdam

Dr. Mieke Prent from 2017, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


Objectives of the Project:

The Geraki Project was designed to reconstruct in detail the history of occupation on the fortified acropolis above the modern village and to establish its changing place in the evolving settlement hierarchies and sociopolitical configurations of Laconia. The project began with an intensive (urban) survey (1995-1996), followed by excavation (until 2009). In addition, an architectural study of the fortification wall and of the spolia preserved in the many Byzantine churches of the village was undertaken. In recent years, our research expanded to include Geraki’s natural environment and available resources, leading to an anthracological analysis and a detailed geological and geomorphological study of the immediate surroundings.

Our research has contributed significantly to the understanding of both the prehistoric and historical periods in Laconia. Prehistoric occupation on the summit of the akropolis, including multiple episodes of fortification, began in the Final Neolithic and continued into the Early Mycenaean period. The site’s Final Neolithic fortification wall, while paralleled in Attica and on the island of Andros, remains unique in the Peloponnese and confirms the presence of complex, nucleated occupation in the region at that time. While new topographical research suggests the existence of six to nine other Early Helladic defensive walls in south-eastern Laconia, Geraki thus far remains the first and only Early Helladic fortification in the area that has been systematically excavated. The secure dating of the first phase of this construction to Early Helladic II Early places it among the earliest fortifications of the period. A fierce fire towards the end of the Early Helladic II period, helped to preserve two storerooms of that period, which contained storage vessels, table ware and large numbers of stamped sealing fragments. After a period of abandonment in Early Helladic III, the Middle Helladic witnessed re-occupation and provides us with the only known circuit wall in Laconia dating to this or Early Mycenaean period. Subsequently, the acropolis lay deserted for several centuries.

For the historical era, when the site bore the name Geronthrai,  signs of human activity on the akropolis range from Protogeometric into Hellenistic times. Until the Archaic period finds seem restricted to miniature vases, some bronze and silver pins,  fragments of terracotta and lead figurines and of bronze vessels. These suggest cult activities, making it likely that the summit already served as the site of the sanctuary of Apollo  mentioned by the 2nd-century CE travel writer Pausanias (3.22.6-8). The late Classical and Hellenistic periods mark increasingly dense occupation and refortification of the acropolis. Geronthrai was then one of the perioikic towns subject to Sparta. Our excavations have therefore adds a much needed topographical and archaeological component to the study of perioikic towns – a long neglected topic, as written sources for these towns are generally scarce.  In the course of the 2nd or possibly 1st century BCE the summit was again abandoned, only to be reused sporadically as a fortification during Late Roman or Early Byzantine times and the Greek Civil War (1946-49).


The Geraki Project has received funding from the Institure for Aegean Prehistory (INSTAP), the UTOPA Foundation, the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Amsterdam, the Faculty of Humanities of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Allard Pierson Foundation, the Amsterdam University Society (AUV), the Dutch Organization for the Advance of Pure Research (NWO), the Loeb Classical Foundation, the Mediterranean Archaeological Trust, the Leventis Foundation and the Council (Symvoulion) of the municipality of Geronthrai .


Major Publications:

Prent, M., Langridge-Noti, E, Hom, E., forthcoming, “Digging Deeper: Exploring the nuances of traditionalism at perioikic Geronthrai  ” , in Proceedinsgs of the Celtic Conference in Classics, Panel Archaeology and Sparta, Lyon, 18-21 July 2022,  S. Hodkinson & A. Delahaye (eds), Classical Pres of Wales.

Krijnen, A.L., 2023, A Ceramic Compositional and Socio-Technological Perspective on FN Late to EH II Late Geraki. PhD. Thesis Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

MacVeagh Thorne, S. & Prent, M., 2022, “Geraki in the Middle Helladic and Shaft Grave periods”, in Middle and Late Helladic Laconia. Competing principalities? Proceedings of the conference 12-14 April 2019, at the Netherlands Institute at Athens, Pharos. The Journal of the Netherlands Institute at Athens, C. Wiersma & M. Tsouli (eds), p. 105-120.

Crouwel, J., 2022, “Geraki – from Middle to Late Helladic: ceramic evidence”, in Middle and Late Helladic Laconia. Competing principalities? Proceedings of the conference 12-14 April 2019, at the Netherlands Institute at Athens, Pharos. The Journal of the Netherlands Institute at Athens, C. Wiersma & M. Tsouli (eds), p. 121-136.

Langridge-Noti, E., 2015, “Unhanging tastes: first steps towards the correlation of the evidence for food preparation and consumption in Laconia”, in Ceramics, Cuisine and Culture,  M. Spataro & A. Villing (eds), Oxford, p. 148-156.

Lentjes, D., 2015, “A walk in the woods. Charcoal analysis from three Greek archaeological sites: Geraki, Plakari and Titane”. Pharos. Journal of the Netherlands Institute at Athens 21-2, p. 135-173.

Mee, C. & Prent, M. (eds), 2011-12, Early Helladic Laconia. Proceedings of the Table Ronde Held in the Netherlands Institute at Athens, 11 January 2010, Pharos. Journal of the Netherlands Institute at Athens 18.2.

Langridge-Noti, E. & Prent, M., 2011, “Deposition and chronology in Hellenistic deposits at Geraki, Laconia”, Z’ Epistimoniki Synantisi yia tin Ellinistiki Keramiki, (Proceedings of the Ninth Hellenistic Pottery Conference at Aigeion 4-9 April 2005), Athina, p. 135-146.

Weingarten, J., MacVeagh Thorne, S., Prent, M. & Crouwel, J.H., 2011, “More Early Helladic sealings from Geraki in Laconia, Greece”, Oxford Journal of Archaeology 30, 131-163.

MacVeagh Thorne, S.E. & Prent, M., 2009, “The wall(s) of Geraki”, in Sparta and Laconia from Prehistory to Premodern. Proceedings of the International Conference in Sparta, 17-20 March 2005, W.G. Cavanagh, C. Gallou and M. Georgiadis (eds), British School at Athens Studies 16, p. 235-242.


Contact Information

Mieke Prent



“1000m2 OF TIME” is the title of the documentary film dedicated to the excavations conducted at Geraki and the relationship built between the archaeologists and local people in the area forging a new layer of time to the eternal quest for understanding the past. The film is a collaboration between the team of M. Prent with Maro Anastopoulou from Pangaia Pictures and funded by the Greek National Television and NIA.

Year: 2019

Genre: Documentary

Director: Maro Anastopoulou

Producer: Lilette Botassi

Production: Inkas Film Productions/Pangaia Pictures

1000m² of Time / Maro Anastopoulou, 2019 – YouTube (