Above Leptokarya, on the banks of the Ziliana, is the ancient Leivithra. The name means channels in the old greek language. It is located in an old plane tree forest at the foot of Mount Olympos. In Greek mythology, Leivithra is the birthplace of the poet and musician Orpheus, son of Muse Kalliope. For this reason the paths of the park were designed in the form of his musical instrument, a lyre.
The park was released to the public after three years of construction and aims to contact the visitor with the ancient Leivithra and the everyday life in antiquty.
It consists of three areas:
After I joined the park administration, Vasso Kypriano was so nice and led me through the park. Before we start the tour, we better look at the terrain from the air:
As the first stop, we reach the ground plan of a house dating from the Mycenian period. It was discovered during road construction near Platamonas. The walls were made of clay, the roof was made of reeds. The discovery of graves near the house suggests that the area was used as a cemetery.
Only a short distance away you can admire a small oval house. The dimensions of the ground plan were modeled on a house, built in the 8th century B.C, excavated near Krania in the lower Olympus. The oval foundations consist of stone, the basic framework is made of wood. The walls were made of clay and straw in which hair of goats was worked in. The roof is covered with reeds. A fire place is in the middle of the room. The construction of the house took place as a workshop in which interested helpers were familiarized with the ancient building method. Helpers came under the expert guidance of archaeologists, plastered the clay, set up the wooden framework and laid the roof. Due to its construction, it has good thermal insulation.
We continue to the main building of the park. It was modeled as a hellenistic winery excavated in the plain of Leivithra. Around the courtyard are the residential house and the wine cellar. Across the street is a cellar where the wine was stored.
In order to get an idea of the size of the wine storage container, Mrs. Kypriano tells of a container that was used to store wine. The height is 2.15 m, the diameter is 1.60 m. The capacity was 2000 liters. It stands today in front of the archaeological museum in Thessaloniki, it was put together here, by the archaeologists of Leivithra.
On the north and east side of the complex are stone foundations for a workshop with mud bricks. A smaller pavillion in the north-west is proposed for agricultural courses, mostly wine production. An adjacent small "vineyard" provides the grapes for wine production. A little further north are some fields on which farming is practiced according to traditional methods. All the plants planted on the site come from the region and have a meaning in the Greek mythology.
Within the main building, objects from different eras are exhibited. All of them are replicas, the originals are located in the museum of Dion or other museums. In Greek and English, large-format panels inform the visitor about the artefacts and the knowledge of the respective epoch or a particular subject. Tablets show topic-related videos in each room.
The depiction begins with the Neolithic revolution, the people become sedentary and operate arable farming and animal breeding, until the Iron Age. An information panel shows that the places mentioned by Homer really exist at Olympus. The area of Mount Olympus has been inhabited by people since prehistoric times. It was probably the wealth of water, fertile soil, building materials and hunting animals that made the area attractive. The development of the region is exactly the same as in the rest of Greece.
The next theme is the historical sites of Leivithra, Dion and Heraklion (today the castle hill of Platamonas). The Mount Olympus describing Homer and Hesiod is found mainly on the Macedonian side of the mountains. Leivithra was inhabited from the eighth to the first century BC. It was possibly destroyed by an earthquake and then left by its inhabitants. Perhaps, however, Pausanius is right by adressing the destruction to the streams of Sus. How far the place has once expanded is so far unknown.
Oikos (family), Oikonomia (household), Polis (city) and Politiki (politics) - civilisation, are treated in the next room. Aristotle described the coexistence of people in numerous of his books (polis, politics). He saw the basis in the family of a house, the Oikos. In this house was run business, the Oikonomia. Many households came together to form a village or a city, the Polis. Important and great cities were a state. In this, politics was conducted to organize life in the structure.
The next room is devoted to the farmhouses of the region. In the Hellenistic period it was a defensive, towered building, which often used wine growing and wine production. In the villages of Rapsani and Ambelakia wine is cultivated today.
This leads us to the last stage of the exhibition, the wine culture. All tools and equipment connected with it are displayed.
At the north end is a small projector room.
We leave the farmhouse and go west to a small theater. There are dancing and music performances, but not necessarily according to the classical arrangement, as Mrs Kyprianou says. So the audience is sometimes in the middle, while the actors are in the ranks. The theater is flanked by four covered seating areas where panels inform about the live of Orpeus and the Muses.
As we return we pass a lookout platform. From there, the visitor can enjoy the views of Mount Olympus and the Aegean Sea.
As we reach two earth filled "sandboxes" I ask about their meaning. Here, children digging behind hidden antiquities I learn and must smile. In the earth are hidden clay pots which are "excavated" by the little ones. You can see, whoever wants to become an archaeologist has to practice early.