Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Measurements: June 2002
Photos: June 7, 2002

*See "The Homeric Hyle" for new color diagrams and corrections.

The hill

The Gla hill is situated about 2.0 km SE of the modern village Kastro at the NE shore of the lake Kephisis (later Kopais) in Boeotia. The lake was drained around 1900, so the hill rises 25-40 m above the plain. Its shape is like a key or a pear and is about 850 m (West to East) amd 570 m (north to South).

The "Mycenaean" fortification around the hill is about 2650 m long. The polygonal walls are MC (5.70 m) thick and have been built with large stones (now broken). In some places there were towers so the thickness there is greater.

The name of this important prehistoric city is unknown. The archaeologist Noack thought that it was the Homeric Arne. However, according to Stephanos Byzantios, Arne was the prehistoric name of Chaeronia, a city on the west side of this lake, west of Orchomenos.

Homer (Iliad 2, 500) mentions the most important Boeotian cities but none of them -except Hyle (Ύλη) fits in the NE end of the lake Kephisis. In Iliad (5, 708) he informs us that the hero Oresbios was living in the city Hyle next to the lake Kephisis. Although there is no proof, I believe that this acropolis is Hyle.

The first excavations on the hill were made by de Ridder (1894) and later by Threpsiades (1955-60) and Iacobides (1980-86). The large "Mycenaean" palace is built on the highest point and has two L-shaped wings with many rooms, corridors and sewers. The northern side is built over a precipice about 35 m above the plain.

The southern Gate

The walls of the Gate (ΑΔ and ΒΓ) are not exactly parallel, so the angle ΑΘΒ is not a right angle. AB is equal to the width of the lintel of the Treasury of Atreus in Mycenae.

There are two rooms for the guards on each side of the Gate. Both of them have the same width but the length of the one on the south side is twice its width.

General plan of the palace

The first part on the eastern side

The second part on the eastern side

The third part on the northern side

The north wall of this wing is built over a precipice about 35 m above the plain. There is a narrow path 1.5 m in width between the wall and the precipice, so it is easy to cross this side from H to K and Λ. The height of the wall above this path is 5-6 m. The NE corner at H is broken and most of the blocks have fallen down.

Although most thresholds are rectangular and their width is equal to the width of the walls, some of them have one of their sides rounded after the lines. The rounded part that is protruding is about 1 d lower than the rectangular part.

The fourth part

There are three thresholds between prodomos and domos without walls.

The perimeter of domos is 25π.

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