Dry stones of Sifnos

In Greece and mainly in the Cycladic islands, the practice of dry stone was widely used in bridges, galleries, buildings and works of art, as well as in the support of terraces, as fences, which were intended to make the land arable and fertile. One of the islands where we meet the art of dry stone is . Sifnos. Without dry stones of Sifnos, the image of the island would certainly not be what it is today!

Dry stone wall in excellent condition, for demarcating properties in the countryside of Sifnos

Dry stone is a type of wall building with irregularly shaped stones without any other binding material to hold them. As a technique it is found all over the world, from the Cyclopean walls of Mycenae to the Machu Picchu of the Incas in Peru. The fact that it has been used since antiquity, confirms that the art of dry stone walling is a symbol of the formation of the relationship between human and the environment. The role of their existence has always been practical. It contributed significantly to agricultural work. It significantly facilitated the daily life of human, contributing to the management of available water and in general, to maintaining the ecological balance. For these reasons, the art of dry stone walling (“xerolithia”) was inscribed in 2015 in the "National Index of Intangible Cultural Heritage" and in 2018 in the "Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity" of UNESCO. art of dry stone walling it was registered in 2015 on the "National Index of Intangible Cultural Heritage" and in 2018 on the "Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity" of UNESCO.


Dry stones of Sifnos


The dry stones of Sifnos have been supporting the terraces for centuries now. They turn sloping soils into levels to create arable land. The locals cultivated wheat, legumes, olives, vines and many other vegetables in these areas. Without them it would be impossible for the islanders to support their own production and of course their own feeding!

In addition, this practice helps to retain rainwater in the areas where it is used, while providing two benefits. On the one hand, it makes the barren and arid soil of the island fertile while retaining moisture. On the other hand, it protects it from corrosion, as well as from subsidence and retreat.

Αν και τόσο χρήσιμη, η πρακτική αυτή έχει αρχίσει δυστυχώς να φθίνει όχι μόνο στην Σίφνο αλλά και στα υπόλοιπα νησιά. Αυτό συμβαίνει εξαιτίας της οικοδόμησης, της ανεξέλεγκτης βόσκησης, αλλά και τη εγκατάλειψης της παράδοσης από τους νεότερους. Φωτεινή ελπίδα βέβαια αποτελεί το γεγονός πως προστατεύεται από την UNESCO ως Άυλη Πολιτιστική Κληρονομιά. Αυτό βέβαια δεν αρκεί. Αυτό που έχει πραγματική σημασία είναι να μην εγκαταλειφθεί παντελώς ως τέχνη από τους ντόπιους, γεωργούς, κτηνοτρόφους και τεχνίτες. Δεν αποτελεί απλά κατάλοιπο, αλλά μια τεχνική με βαρύνουσα και πολυδιάστατη σημασία για το νησί.

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