Brauron and the Deluge of 1380
Skia’s declared her intentions at age twelve years old. They all related to major civil works upon the agronomy (farm and livestock management) of Sanctuary plantations upon and closest surrounding Brauron Basin, Her programming of them, however, had nothing whatsoever to do with drought or efficacious means of mitigation. Quite the opposite, in fact, once her further declarations, at age fourteen attained. What the civil works manifest instead was the intense corvée labor needs and many strongmen tasks of earthen movements. They must take advantage of the extreme dryland layouts as soon as any moisture must soften their diversity of terrains. The depiction means to articulate first efforts such as to render to the plantations their fundamental elevations. Her two years of meticulous instructions vividly impressed the working populace for systematic schemes of reticulated conduit irrigation and segmentation of land layouts by elevations in common to each other.
Wholly without any predictive knowledge, or so seeming, her first summer at Brauron was land clearance at set-up of all hard-panned lowest elevations. She compelled their delineation by building berms and fending former meres, ponds and wetlands. She effectively was mitigating flooding; that, of course, mystified all her labor and supervisory support. Clearest about everything she instructed, everyone took her on faith as impressed by the High Sisters and Sister Elders. They didn’t ry to fathom her reasons, only her best means to ends. What mostly impressed all was the great challenges in every doing, but also her cleverness at orchestrating minute tasks everytime that built to a whole accomplishment.
Over her two years under probation and assessment she bedazzled followings of all ranks and statures. There was every reason to believe her under divine tutelage and tenderness. Most of all that commended her was her utter selflessness and good sense of human limits as tasked day by day. Over the idling months of wintertime, her followings discovered, they readily accomplished readiness for the fair seasons of tilth and husbandry. The summers of barely mitigated drought proved her a hardest task master under withering heat awhilke incomprehensible endeavor.
Until, that is, her first autumn after taking her postulant vows to the Sanctuary and its holy orders. Then the heavens unloaded continuous deluges, the successive downpours requiring days upon days of maintaining metes and bounds for her systematic light motifs at plotting and planning and tracing out the reticulation of the oldest steady water conduits. To the astonishment of all, Brauron Basin held together just barely all layouts despite rains. By proof that their conduit inflow and drainage away was interdependent upon each other, for the preservation of their intended elevations of layout, a brief rleif cause Skia to rearticulate all anew. Good that she did. All held intact over the first year summer season for Skia, but autumn rains were early, then heavy, then downpours barely abated before the next year’s solstice. Erosion of whole mountainsides and expensive rural plantation at landslides are suggested by our depiction. By that solstice, however, Skia was securing past gains of firm containment as earliest proven and sustained. Despite all terrain remained soggy, impermanent and imminent, Skia made a vast industry by labor turnouts at molding mud bricks and sun hardening them. That material prevented total collapses by spates of deluge, landslides and earthen slippages the next spring, such as to render Brauron Basin almost wholly submerged.
What was almost imperceptible was another outcome that could only be appreciated in hindsight of fully thirty-two months of inundated terrains. All the flooding after initial landslides and slumps having retreated, the last twenty months brought no more of either, To the extent that newly established terrain could ne inspected, it was found that watwer flows between containments and as between elevations of different terrains held stable. In fact, they were so stable by careful design and securing labors as to be ponds and meres of no particular shapes; but all of them were varyingly shallow, such that the water they contained lay still and clear!
Please discern of the left side and middle of the depiction what appears there, an early partial levy, a thickly dammed earthwork underway. A project thereby in barest emergence, Skia was inspired to create a broad, maqssive and continuous berm at greatly expended labors to shape its semi-circular bight. Its left side anchored to high terrain formed from higher and narrower dammed catchments alike raised ponds, which ravines and gorges buttressed by their hillside containment. Unable to stabilize that dam from the last spates of watershed off Mount Hymettos, even the extensive terracing of Olive orchards had to be rendered forfeit after complete washouts – as soon as any downpours breached their retaining walls. Their heritage growth provided limbs for crosshatching and integrated piling. These became fending constructs against floods, because their layering held erosive soil by gradual accumulations. Such crosshatching appearing in green hues, they denote layers upon layers of foundational sieves, all designed to crude weaves that trapped soils, By planting them over with willows, their wet hardy root matter lofted tufta grasses, marsh reeds and dense shrubbery of shallow and yet broad rooting habits. Thereby the perimeter of the damming project was secured as a bend, beginning from its crude anchors embedded Mount Hymettos. Its once contoured terracing became firm slopes instead, preliminary to regrowth of extensive Olive and Fig cultivation.
Further artful developments eastward proceeded as the basal levy settled firmly. Its topping first composed of three broad lines of continuous berms. They formed from mud dredged from the liquefied silt bottom of the Basin. It had once been the former drought exposed hard-panned sections which barely grew summertime tilth within their interstices. The hard labor extended, given the underpopulated Late Helladic Period of early Greece, exceeds most readers imagtinations.
The parallel berms carried their lengthening across a broad verge of the Basin’s southeastern slope, a perimeter that contained Sandy Strand, the yellow area of depicted erosive washout. The strand was a “race” of high water floodtides, pouringover dammed step levies into Brauron Inlet all the way from northwest across to Sandy Strand, whence controlled outpourings into Brauron Inlet and Cove. By-passing just barely the indicated hamlets of community tenancies, they clung to a broad sloped terrain which we’ve colored in bright blue-green. That higher ground of hamlet tenancies was wiped out by deluge, and had to be terraced anew after the duration of strongest downpours ended.
Skia compelled extensive clear cutting of old growth woodlands and meadows until only their largest trees were allowed to stand high and shady over newly grassy pasturage. Mature tall pines were drawn by oxen to become affixed between the continuous berms of the levy, a later stage of its finishing. Other pines were used to lay down flat, for further overtopping by crosshatched limbs of willows, reeds and select cut saplings. That just barely accomplished the levy to sustainable edifice. A durable structure, nonetheless, it became ever more so over subsequent years. Because all such tree harvesting and shaping of berms affected graduations of ever higher containment, howsoever broad based, they had to be reinforced by cut timber extractions off southern coastal hillsides. So for the winter corvée labor expended until the two broad green areas of infill terrain, as depicted between the Basin and the coastal Myrtoan Sea. The vast area of woodland exploitation became later entirely new cattle lands for ranching largest beasts of burden.
The second whole year of inundation, and almost a full third year too, brought all denizens of Brauron to exhaustion, even to baffling their hopes of reliable harvests off their restored plot containments. Alike vegetable gardens, the tenants and sisters of the colleges grew multiplicities of diverse edibles edged by fruiting trees. These “gatherings” numberd to the tens of thousands by their small acreage allotments. Meanwhile, the constant aggravations of livestock overexposure and wet rot of hooves became another kind of debilitating contagion.
But then full relief! The heaviest rains abated and were replaced by drizzly wet humid air over winter. Over the third summer of Skia’s novitiate, the wets proved torpid and most enervating, but cultivation of plants renewed their seed stocks to eventuate a great success best perceived in hindsight. Brauron was finally brought to a whole ecological readiness for bounty and burgeon by 1378 BC.
To describe further eventualities requires another depiction of Skia’s well-maintained accommodations of formerly oversaturated terrains.