Investigations in the vicinity of the palace of nestor

Much is known about prehistoric settlements and cemeteries in the area that surrounds the Palace of Nestor. Kourouniotis and Christophilopoulos began an inventory of archaeological sites. Blegen and Dionysios Androutsakis, his excavation foreman, located others. In the 1950s and 1960s, their colleague William McDonald expanded investigations to Messenia as a whole by organizing a systematic program of reconnaissance, the University of Minnesota Messenia Expedition. In 1992-1995, parts ofwestern Messenia were reexamined still more intensively by the Pylos Regional Archaeological Project. All these endeavors now allow the Palace of Nestor to be viewed in its regional context.

The Palace of Nestor is today approached from the parking lot to its southeast, but in ancient times the main route from the west coast may have followed the valley bottom to the north, not the course of the asphalt road to Chora. A chainlink fence encloses the principal palatial buildings but excludes less monumental remnants of the surrounding settlement. Relationships between this "Lower Town' and the cemeteries associated with the Palace of Nestor are clear. The chamber tombs mentioned by Blegen and Rawson were dug near the edge of the settlement; the remains of other tombs have been located in the intervening years. In contrast, Tholos IV lay well within the limits of the later Mycenaean town. All three tholos tombs were built at a time when the settlement was smaller and less compact, several centuries before the Palace of Nestor.
Several other Mycenaean sites are located only short ' distances from the Palace of Nestor and are worth a brief visit. We provide directions to those that are officially open to the public and are marked by signs. Several other contemporary sites are mentioned in passing.

Figure 32. Tholos tomb at Charatsari

Koryphasion The low ridge called Beylerbey rises to the south of the village of Koryphasion (Fig. 31). Christo-philopoulos brought this important Mycenaean site to the attention of Blegen, who visited it before beginning excava¬tions at the Palace of Nestor. Many years later Marinatos found that the ridge is badly eroded and that soft marl bedrock lies almost immediately beneath the plowzone. But members of the Pylos Regional Archaeological Project have been able to estimate that settlement once covered five hectares (12 acres), an area a quarter as great as that associated with the Palace of Nestor.

North of Beylerbey on the outskirts of Koryphasion, one can locate with some difficulty the tholos at Charatsari, excavated in 1926 by Kourouniotis (Fig. 32).19 The latest pottery dates to the 15th century B.C.