The prehistoirc Varkesa highplain

A prehistoric vine press in the mountians of Methana

The prehistoric vine press Varkesa (C) Tobias Schorr
The prehistoric vine press Varkesa (C) Tobias Schorr

The Varkesa Plateau is situated just above the Caldera Stavrolongos and it is quite easy to reach it via the green trail from Agios Panteleimonas or at the junction of the mountain road to Kameni Chora. This agricultural area was usded until 20 years ago.

It is worth visiting because of many interesting, ancient or prehistoric items. At the northern end of the plateau, there is a striking, high dry stone wall, which consists of numerous, ancient building remains.
At one point there is even a boulder with the remains of ancient characters .

Behind the wall there are two cisterns. One consists of ancient columns, the other only a stone with a hole. Even before you go to the cistern, you pass another, ancient column and another is located on a wall nearby.
It is not the stone wheels that have recently been used to re-roll clay roofs after rain, but are clearly parts of ancient or prehistoric structures. There is also a wine press at the back of another, ancient wall. The rest of a square block with two holes for a wine press is nearby.

Going south on the plateau, you come to a few pines. Among them are the ruins of buildings and in front of them two conspicuous rocks, one of which is shaped like a small boat. This stone gave the plateau its name "Varkesa" (= "boat").

Even the German archaeologist Michael DEFFNER reported in 1912 from this plateau:

"About 650m above sea level and 100m below the top of the Chelona top are several high plateaus that must have carried human dwellings since time immemorial, except for tools made of obsidian, which the peasants of the surrounding hamlets found there, and of the thousands small fragments of old vessels, with which the fields are sown today, I have found there also significant remnants of one of the oldest sanctuaries, of which later will be the speech. One of these plateaus is called "Varkesa", which in Albanian is a place that has a bark (boat).
But a bark 2000 feet above the sea is a curious thing, and especially if you say that this bark is of stone. I demanded to be led up to her and found a huge trachyte block, 2.17 meters long, 1.20 meters wide, at the maximum height of 1.22 meters. In this block with inadequate (?) Tools a gutter carved, which is 1.95m long and at the outflow below 0.20m, above 0.30m wide. On the other side, where it is bulged and closed, it has a width of 0.24m at the bottom and 0.36m at the top. The largest depth, 0.30, is at the widest point, i. at the beginning, in the middle, the gutter becomes shallower, 0,20m, and towards the outflow deeper, 0,26m. On the surface of the stone, a shallow depression is carved around the gutter, 0.66 m in diameter and about 0.22 m deep.
Towards the outflow, another shallow smoothing of the stone on one side is noticeable. It seems, therefore, that the ancient inhabitants of Methana laboriously cultivated this enormous block of trachyte, as it fell there in one of the great volcanic eruptions which had shaken the peninsula for millennia, and made an oil-press, which certainly served them as a wine-press. For, as is the case today, the olive tree seems to have thrived on methana in the most ancient of antiquities, its trachyte soil, as well as its almond tree, carob tree and wild pear tree.

The baskets, in which the olives or grapes were collected, were placed on the flattened part of the stone near the outflow, and then emptied into the deeper, wider part of the gutter. There they were kicked off. ΚΡΟΥΠΕΖΑΙ / KROUPESÄ they were called in ancient Greek times, the wooden shoes with which one olives emerged, as taught us POLLUX VII 87 (κρουπέζια to HESYCH). The kernels and the escaped meat originally remained in the deeper part of the gutter, and the oil, after having overcome the slope of the gutter in the middle, flowed into a jar. "