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Dry Stone walls Andros Cyclades Greek Islands

Artwork in harmony with the environment. The “Kserolithies” literally meaning “dry stones” are an integral part of our cultural heritage.Perfectly connected to the Aegean landscape. Walls made with stones placed next to or on top of each other without connecting material, only with wedges. Their wild beauty creates admiration on how man managed to fight against the forces of nature and transform the barren slopes into arable land, through a rational use of the environment to his advantage.


Dry stone walling in Greece inscribed in UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Andros stone walls have a unique building style: the horizontal building line of stones is interrupted by large plates which are fully integrated into the wall and often protrude over it. This interesting feature of the stone walls of Andros is called “stimata “(plural). Large stone slabs placed vertically into the soil, supporting the wall like columns. Smaller stones where then placed around it “holding” the wall until the next “stima “(single). This is a highly durable way of construction. So in harmony with nature and stones as the main material, the “aimasies” or “pezoules” (terraces) where built, as well as the stone huts, shelters for people and animals, roads, walls, water mills, windmills, bridges, etc. … and as the color of the stone is matching the surrounding rocks, you cannot distinguish human construction to nature. Creations that impress for the incredible manual labor required for their completion. But in addition to their great cultural value, their role in the conservation of the unique biodiversity of Andros is equally important.

DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGY, SCHOOL OF SCIENCE, NATIONAL AND KAPODISTRIAN UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS

“Dry-stone walls constitute a critically important and omnipresent element of the Aegean island landscape. Whereas both the historic background and the architectonic value of these structures have been previously documented, we still lack a proper understanding of their ecological significance. The Aegean Sea region harbors the highest levels of endemic biological diversity in Europe and preliminary data suggest that dry-stone walls play a critical role in the survival of the animal and plant populations. The aim of this project is twofold: first, to compare levels of biodiversity across a range of organisms (birds, reptiles, mammals, invertebrates, plants) between areas with dry-stone walls and matched control sites without them and, second to determine the physical (e.g. temperature, soil moisture) and architectonic features associated with elevated biodiversity. The study will focus on Andros, Naxos and Milos, islands that differ in location, paleogeography and geological background but host extended networks of dry-stone walls.

Read the final report

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Andros, Architecture, Culture, Cyclades, Greek Islands, history

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