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The Project

The Palaeolithic Lesbos Project investigates the early settlement of the Aegean region. Since 2012 it has been conducted by the University of Crete in collaboration with other universities and research institutions in Greece and abroad. Research aims to explore the essentials of prehistoric activity of at least the past 500,000 years through systematic excavation conducted at Rodafnidia, an open-air site in the Kalloni Gulf, strategically located close to the Lisvori thermal springs. Archaeological excavation unveils a lithic industry having Acheulean affinities. Lower Palaeolithic cores, flakes and tools, among which a great number of Large Cutting Tools, have also been discovered […]


Rodafnidia is a low hill at the western foot of the Lisvori village, close to the hot springs of Ai-Giannis and only a kilometre from the southeastern shore of the Kalloni Gulf.  Palaeolithic finds are recovered from the sub-surface in old fluvial deposits and the surface due to uplift – resulting from tectonic activity – and erosion of the deposits. Ongoing excavation in different Lisvori localities and the study of the archaeological material reveal a complex depositional history. Distinctive events of deposition, transportation and redeposition of artefacts have been identified, starting at least half a million years ago.  In Rodafnidia, […]


The recent history of the archaeological site begins in 2000, when Haris Harisis and Makis Axiotis, two gifted medical doctors with a wider interest in natural and cultural history, visited Rodafnidia to produce a plan of the 19th-century watermill. The carefree mood of the Sunday field trip was accompanied by the observation that the recently ploughed olive grove to the south of the mill was dotted with knapped tools made on chert, volcanic glass, andesite, and basalt. That same year they published the study “Traits of Palaeolithic Settlement on Lesbos”, identifying four different cultural traditions in the stone tool assemblage […]

Archaeological Fieldwork

The activity in the field includes surface survey, excavation, geological mapping and geophysical prospection conducted at Rodafnidia and underwater in the Gulf of Kalloni and the sea south of Lesbos. The extensive scatter of Palaeolithic artefacts in Rodafnidia requires a field research strategy founded upon four pillars. The first is the systematic investigation of the surface around the Kalloni Gulf and along the river valleys connecting the gulf with southern Lesbos to map the distribution of archaeological remains. Emphasis is placed on the identification of outcropping layers with Palaeolithic artefacts or Pleistocene faunal remains. The appraisal of local distributions and […]

Geology – Stratigraphy – Palaeogeography

Geology The substrate of the Rodafnidia Quaternary deposits consists of ignimbrite, the product of pyroclastic pumice flow released during the volcanic activity of the Early Miocene (23-16 My). The hill is bordered to the north by a small stream and to the west by a larger stream, which is fed by the hot springs of Lisvori. The two streams meet northwest of the hill and flow into the Kalloni Gulf, east of the Polichnitos salt pans. In the southern and western sides of the hill, a small gorge has been shaped on the ignimbrite floor, due to tectonics and the […]


Relative (stratigraphy, technomorphological analysis of lithics, identification of micro-fossils, palynology) and absolute dating methods (pIRIR, palaeomagnetism) have been used in combination to establish the chronology of the Lower Palaeolithic settlement on Lesbos. Four samples from the Rodafnidia trenches have been analysed at the National Centre of Scientific Research DEMOKRITOS, Athens, using the post infrared stimulated luminescence pIRIR method, and the Thiel et al. (2011) protocol, and published in Galanidou et al., 2016. According to the resulting dates, the fluvio-lacustrine depositional units where the stone tools are excavated were last exposed to solar radiation between 476 and 164 thousand years ago, […]

The finds

The archaeological finds from Rodafnidia include stone tools, flakes, and cores from different variants of the Acheulean technological tradition. This industry includes a remarkable number of Large Cutting Tools, handaxes, trihedrals and cleavers. Beyond lithic finds only a few micro-fossil remains, visible under the microscope, have been identified through water-sieving and sediment flotation: the ostracods Candona neglecta και Iliocypris gibba, rodent tooth fragments (taxa Cricetidae, Arvicolidae), gastropod shell fragments and charophyte gyrogonites. The presence of ostracods and charophyte gyrogonites is indicative of freshwater environments in Rodafnidia. Organic remains are exceedingly rare; hence the chemical composition of the sediments and the […]

Conferences – Seminars

Knowledge diffusion (scientific audiences) 2022 The Aegean Palaeolithic research agenda, N. Galanidou, Aegean Acheulean at the Eurasian crossroads, Hominin settlement in Eurasia and Africa, University of Crete, The Museum of Industrial Olive-Oil Production, Lesbos, June 2022. Digging, mapping, profiling, trenching, and sampling: archaeological field strategies for investigating the Acheulean Rodafnidia, Lesbos,N. Galanidou, J. McNabb, P. Tsakanikou, E. Karkazi, N. Soulakelis, C. Vasilakos, E.E. Papadopoulou, G. Iliopoulos, Aegean Acheulean at the Eurasian crossroads. Hominin settlement in Eurasia and Africa, University of Crete, The Museum of Industrial Olive-Oil Production, Lesbos, June 2022. The Acheulean site of Rodafnidia: geology, stratigraphy and chronology, G. […]


Project’s publications Galanidou, N. 2020. Re-inventing public Archaeology in Greece. In: Christofilopoulou, A. (ed.), Material Cultures in Public Engagement: Re-inventing Public Archaeology within Museum collections. Oxbow Books, Oxford, 77-93. Tsakanikou, P., Galanidou, N., Sakellariou, D. 2020. Palaeolithic archaeology and submerged landscapes in Greece: The current state of the art. Quaternary International (published online 3 June 2020). Sakellariou, D. & Galanidou, Ν. 2017. Aegean Pleistocene Landscapes Above and Below Sea-Level: Palaeogeographic Reconstruction and Hominin Dispersals. In: Baily, G.N., Harff, J., Sakellariou, D. (eds.), Under the Sea: Archaeology and Palaeolandscapes of the Continental Shelf. Coastal Research Library, 20, Springer, Cham., 335-359. Galanidou, […]

The Team

Nena Galanidou Professor in Prehistoric Archaeology Univeristy of Crete,  Constantin Athanassas Assist. Professor in Geology, Geodynamics and Geochronology National Technical University of Athens, John Alexopoulos Associate Professor in Applied Geophysics-Engineering and Environmental Geophysics National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Lee Arnold Associate Professor in geochronology University of Adelaide, Ioanna Vallina Architect (NTUA), Nikolaos Voulgaris Professor in Seismology, Engineering Seismology and Applied Geophysics National and Kapodistrian University of Athens[…]

Field Training Opportunities

The Palaeolithic Lesbos Project provides a complete fieldwork training course for undergraduate and postgraduate students from the University of Crete and other research institutions in Greece and abroad. This is a volunteer-based collective project. During the excavation season, the Rodafnidia site is transformed into an outdoor school of Palaeolithic Archaeology and Tertiary Geology. Classes and practical exercises/seminars are delivered in the archaeology lab housed in Lisvori Elementary School. The minimum participation of trainees is three weeks. Application submissions are open every academic year from 15 March to 15 May. For more information, please contact us […]

Funding – Sponsors

The vision of the Palaeolithic Lesbos Project is embraced and supported by public-sector institutional and government funding bodies, as well as private and non-profit institution sponsorships. Research is funded by the University of Crete, the Secretariat General for the Aegean and Island Policy of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, the Municipality of Lesbos, the Municipality of West Lesbos, the Region of North Aegean, the J. F. Costopoulos Foundation (2016, 2017) and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. Travelling sponsorships have been granted by Aegean Airlines, Hellenic Seaways and ANEK Lines/Blue Star Ferries. Valuable scientific and logistical support throughout the project […]

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