The excavations of the Cambridge Keros Project at early bronze age Dhaskalio and Dhaskalio Kavos on the Cycladic Island of Keros during the 2006 and 2007 seasons are described. They were directed by Colin Renfrew with Olga Philaniotou as Associate Director and Neil Brodie and Giorgos Gavalas as Assistant Directors. The site of Dhaskalio Kavos is well-known for the extensive looting which took place there during the 1950's. Rescue excavations by Christos Doumas in 1963 and by Photeini Zapheiropoulou in 1967, and a project in 1987, directed by Renfrew, Doumas and Lila Marangou, defined the extent of the looted ‘special deposit’, assigned to the early bronze age Keros-Syros culture (Early Bronze II). At the beginning of the 2006 field season a separate and unlooted special deposit was located at the southern end of the Kavos site (the ‘Special Deposit South’). Its excavation yielded thousands of fragments of marble vessels and potsherds, and hundreds of broken marble figurines. These had been deliberately broken elsewhere, brought to the site and deposited there in what appears to be a ritual context. Work on the Special Deposit South continued in 2007, and excavations on the extensive Early Cycladic settlement on the small (200 metre) but precipitous island of Dhaskalio were initiated. Well preserved building remains were uncovered with abundant Early Cycladic domestic materials.
Dhaskalio island may now be recognised as a major settlement of the Keros-Syros culture (c. 2800 to 2300 BC). Kavos, immediately opposite on Keros itself, is confirmed as the locus for two separate areas of structured deposition of high status materials, brought from a wide range of sources in the Cyclades and possibly beyond, apparently already in fragmentary condition, and placed there in a series of prestations for which a ritual context may safely be inferred. Dhaskalio Kavos may now be claimed as the first major symbolic centre of the early Aegean.