The Stone Structures of Styra

After our hike to explore the ancient buildings at the summit of Mt Ochi, the next day we had the opportunity to visit the more easily accessible Palli-Lakki building complex near Styra, where three structures are arranged symmetrically around a central walled-in courtyard.

The Karystos Archaeological Museum exhibit states that there are 23 such structures in the region, with this complex being among the best preserved. The roof design is also of the corbel type; overlapping stone slabs converging from opposite sides of the building to form a vault (not an arch). Originally they would have been fully covered over. At the center of this complex is an unusual round structure, also with a collapsed roof and a single entrance. A few meters higher up the slope is a smaller structure of a different design (not a corbelled roof, perhaps it was wood).

Almost all of the 23 stone structures on Evia found so far are situated on steep slopes or at the peaks of mountains such that they have an expansive view but are difficult to reach. We saw another one from the road, farther down the valley on an extremely steep hillside; our guide said he had no idea how to reach it. This leads me to believe they were not built as dwelling places but rather as some type of shrine to the gods.

Not everything needs to be the remains of an Ancient Greek civilization to be interesting. Walking along a dirt road fringed with tall thistle bushes we found the flowers were packed with pollinating insects, including the biggest wasp I had ever seen.

A web search revealed it was a Mammoth Wasp. Aptly named, as the females can reach 6cm/2.4in! The photo above does not do it justice.

I have also been interested to observe quite a few solar power farms, some of which are apparently privately owned and get paid to provide energy to the national grid. We walked by one at the end of this hike.

In the past, Greece has lagged Europe in its development of renewable energy sources, partly because its main power utility, the Public Power Corporation resisted moving away from coal-fired power plants and also because some costly hydropower projects were not completed. The government now has the ambitious target of powering over 60% of its grid with renewable energy by 2030. In the meantime, citizens and businesses have moved forward with solar-powered water heating and photovoltaic installations. Also, the number of wind turbines has increased dramatically, as we witnessed during our hikes on Evia where we saw dozens of turbines on mountain ridges, part of the 154MW facility that can generate up to 480GW annually.

Their construction was not without controversy, and our tour guide even expressed his displeasure saying that all the benefits went to mainland Greece and the locals got nothing. I can’t evaluate the accuracy of that claim, but there is no question in my mind that renewable power sources are essential for a healthy future for everyone. Sites like the one on Evia pictured below do not in my opinion damage the environment even though they certainly effect the views. But without them, Greece would continue burning dirty coal or using natural gas, which is not “clean” in any meaningful sense as burning it releases massive quantities of CO2. We know that lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions for natural gas power plants are 5 to 10 higher than solar and wind power (see Fig 2 in this NREL report) and coal fire plants are twice as polluting as natural gas. We have to stop burning stuff! Given the Greek climate, the country can be powered by the wind and the sun using existing technologies; no need to dam more rivers.

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