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The Palace of Knossos The Minoan palace is the main site of interest at Knossos, an important city in antiquity, which was inhabited continuously from the Neolithic period until the 5th c. AD. The palace was built on the Kephala hill and had easy access to the sea and the Cretan interior. According to tradition, it was the seat of the wise king Minos. The Palace of Knossos is connected with thrilling legends, such as the Mythology of Crete of the Labyrinth with the Minotaur, and the story of Daidalos and Ikaros. The first excavation of the site was conducted in 1878 by Minos Kalokerinos of Herakleion. This was followed by the long-term excavations (1900-1913 and 1922-1930) of the Englishman Sir Arthur Evans, who uncovered virtually the entire palace. The earliest traces of inhabitation in the area of the palace go back to the Neolithic period (7000-3000 BC). The site…
The Palace of Malia The excavation of the Palace of Malia and its surrounding neighborhoods that begun in 1915 by Iosif Chatzidakis, brought to light a part of its west wing and tombs along the coast and was continued since 1921 by the French Archaeological School at Athens. The Palace The palace complex was initially built in 1900 BC at a site where earlier habitation had been ascertained; it was destroyed in 1700 BC along with the other palace centers of the time. It was rebuilt around 1650 BC at the same site, with the same dimensions and following the same general plan, only to be destroyed once and for all in 1450 BC. Limited occupation has been detected during the Post-Palace period. The Palace of Malia had a very well thought-out spatial organization. Built around a Central courtyard, it has in each wing specific sectors and spaces with special…
The Archaeological Site of Lato The urban center of the city-state of the Latians is built in a naturally-fortified location controlling the passage from central to eastern Crete. The city’s visible building remains, which are in such a good state that Lato is considered one of the best-preserved Classical-Hellenistic cities in Crete, belong to the 4th and 3rd c. BC; however, excavation brought to light terracotta figurines and plaques of the 7th and 6th c. BC, and pottery kilns for vases and figurines of the same period. In addition, Late Minoan IIIC pottery found in the area of the ancient city shows that habitation here goes back at least as far as the 12th c. BC. The city was surrounded by a strong wall with gates opened around it. The main and most impressive of these is the one in which a path leading from the entrance of the archaeological…
Aptera Ancient City Aptera was one of the most important city-states of Crete. It was already mentioned in Linear B inscriptions (13th – 14th century B.C.) and continued to exist until the 7th century A.D., when it was destroyed by a strong earthquake in combination with the attacks of the Saracens. Its excellent position on an extensive flat area of the hill, dominating the southeastern side of Souda Bay and controlling at the same time the greater area around it, proved to be ideal for the development of the city into a strong commercial and cultural centre. With its two harbours, Minoa (modern Marathi) and Kissamos, at the entrance of Souda Bay, it ensured control of every activity at sea. The written sources and the results of the excavation research until now have shown that the period of the city’s greatest prosperity were the early Hellenistic times (end of 4th…
Minoan villa at Vathypetro The Minoan villa at Vathypetro was most likely the residence of a local ruler. Its architecture is comparable to that of a "Little Palace": it has a central and west court, a small tripartite shrine, a three-columned portico, storerooms and workshops. It seems that the construction of the building was never completed. Interesting elements of its architecture are the installations of a wine-press in the south wing and an oil-press in the courtyard. The construction of the villa started in ca. 1580 B.C. and lasted for thirty years but only the west wing was completed. The interior wall of the east wing had just started to be built when the whole structure was destroyed, possibly by an earthquake, and abandoned in 1550 B.C. The site was excavated in the summer of 1979 by John Sakellarakis. The walls of the building have been consolidated. Consolidation and restoration…
Gortyn Gortyn, in the plain of Messara, was a major Cretan city, and one of the most powerful in historical times. Its architectural remains date mainly from the Roman and Byzantine periods and cover an area of about 2,000 square meters. The excavations in the area were begun in 1884 by the archaeologist F. Halbherr and continue up to the present day. The habitation in the area of Gortyn from as early as the Neolithic period is attested by vases and stone tools found on the hills, to the north, and in the plain. The Minoan period is represented by the rich finds from the Neopalatial villa at Kannia. In the Geometric period (11th-8th c. BC), a settlement evolved on the acropolis on the hill of Ai-Yannis, extending in the Archaic period (7th-6th c. BC) to the hill that was the site of the later Odeon, on which the earliest…
Ayia Triada The Minoan royal villa at Ayia Triada, 3 km to the west of the palace of Phaistos, takes its name from the small medieval village in this area. It is a superbly well-constructed building of considerable importance, and has yielded a wealth of outstanding finds. The history of Ayia Triada closely follows that of Phaistos, with which it was directly connected. The earliest traces of occupation in the surrounding area go back to the Neolithic period. The archaeological evidence indicates that the site of Ayia Triada was continuously inhabited from the Pre-Palace period down to the 13th c. BC. Later, sanctuaries were built here in Protogeometric and Geometric periods, and the sanctuary of Zeus Velchanos functioned in the Hellenistic period; there are also sporadic finds from Roman and Venetian-Turkish times. The archaeological site has three main centres: 1) the Minoan royal villa, dating from the New Palace period,…
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