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Central Courtyard, Phaistos, Crete

Central Courtyard, Phaistos, Crete

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Malia, Crete

Malia or Mallia (Greek: Μάλια ) is a coastal town and a former municipality in the northeast corner of the Heraklion regional unit in Crete, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Hersonissos, of which it is a municipal unit. [2] It lies 34 kilometres (21 miles) east of Heraklion, the Cretan capital city. The town (pop. 3,224 in 2011) was the seat of the municipality of Mália (pop. 5,433). The municipal unit also includes the villages of Mochos (Greek: Μοχός) (825), Krasi (Greek: Κράσι) (147), and Stalida (Greek: Σταλίδα) (1,237), and has a total land area of 60.720 square kilometres (23.444 sq mi). [3] The town is a tourist attraction, primarily for its significant archaeological site and nightlife. The Minoan town ruins lie three km east of the site and cover an area of approximately 1 square kilometre (0.4 sq mi). The original name for the town is not known.


Malia has a factory … and a town

Malia: view through the southern approach to the courtyard with the factory on the right and the ritual buildings and magazines to the left. The excavated parts of the town are off to the top left

Plan of the Palace at Malia. Notice the eight circular granaries bottom left, and the mysterious ‘factory’ to the right.

Malia lies like Knossos along the north coast, thirty miles east of Knossos. The modern town of Malia is today one of the most fun loving and garish seaside resorts in Crete, but the palace lies a couple of miles beyond.

The display area in the Malia Palace with the magazines beyond

As at Phaistos, there is a fine ‘display area’ on the western side of the courtyard with rows of magazines beyond. To the south is a ritual complex with a pillared hall and symbols of the double axes carved on some of the walls. Just near the entrance in the south western corner there are eight circular bins in which grain had been stored.

The workshops on the eastern side of the courtyard under a modern cover building. The walls and floor are plastered, but note the channels cut in the plaster floor

However the most interesting feature is on the eastern side of the courtyard where there is a large room with channels cut in the floors which appears to have been a ‘factory’ where olive oil was processed. We tend to think of olive oil in an essentially practical way, used for cooking and lighting, but it can also be processed into cosmetics and aromatics, which made particularly valuable gifts for the ladies. Whether this was the function of this room on the eastern side of the courtyard is uncertain and controversial, but it is preserved under a cover building, and surely had something to do with the processing of olive oil.

Malia: the rather splendid modern cover building over the extensive town houses uncovered in Quartier Mu

At Malia, the palace was surrounded by a very extensive town, and a large area of this has been excavated and preserved under a cover building a hundred yards or more away from the palace. The buildings belong to several different periods and are not always easy to interpret, but they give a vivid picture of what life must have been like in the busy towns that surrounded these palaces.

Central Courtyard, Phaistos, Crete - History

Almost the whole south part of the West Wing was dedicated to the shrines of the New Palace. The main architectural types of shrine are the "Bench Shrine" and the "Lustral Basin".
The first type consists of small, rectangular rooms with low benches running round the walls, perhaps to support cult objects and figurines of the deity. On some of them were found female figurines, ritual vessels and "Offering Tables" (small altars). On the walls of some rooms are incised sacred symbols, such as the double Axe and the star.
The "lustral Basin" type consists of rooms which are set somewhat lower than the surrounding structures, with a few steps leading down into them.
The were usually lined with slabs of gypsum, giving them a highly - finished appearance. Although it is doubtful that these structures contained water, it is thought that they were used for purification rituals.
There is a third type of Minoan shrine in the S-E part of the shrine wing. Its is a room with central pillars (Square, stone - built columns) thought to be a cult area, similar to the "Pillar Crypts" of the Palace of Knossos, where the sacred pillar was worshiped by pouring libations.

The great Central Court is a basic architectural element of Minoan palaces and the core around which the different wings are set. It was the focus of the economic, social and religious activity of the palace, the setting for events which could be watched from the windows and balconies.
The Central Court of the Palace of Phaistos was built in the time of the Old Palace (1900-1700 BC). It was also used in the New Palace with minor alterations to its orientation and dimensions. It is a rectangular paved, open area with colonnades running along both its long sides, with alternating pillars and columns which supported open colonnades.On the west side of the court, two adjoining rectangular rooms with benches, open on to the Central Court, may have been "sitting rooms" for the spectators watching the events taking place in the Central Court. In the east colonnade of the court, some stone-built benches next to a water cistern may have formed islands of rest and recreation.
The stepped structure in the NW corner of the court may have been an altar for the ceremonies which were held here.
The pithoi (large storage jars) in front of it were found in buildings founded in the site of the Great Court after the destruction of the Palace.

The North Wing is one of the most important wings of the Palace, as it is believed to have housed the "Royal Apartments". lt also contained sets of rooms, inner courtyards, corridors and staircases leading to the upper floor. The splendid gateway on the north side of the Central Court led to the complex of the "Royal Apartments". It is framed by two magnificent wooden half-columns, now reconstructed.
On either side of the gateway are two niches decorated with wall paintings, in which the gate guards may have stood. Behind the gateway is a wide corridor with a drainage duct, which led to an inner courtyard, which in turn led to the "Royal Apartments" complex.
The term "Royal Apartments" was established by the excavators, who followed the terminology applied by Evans to similar areas at Knossos. They are undoubtedly official apartments with particular architectural features, such as open balconies and colonnades, polythyra (pier-and-door partitions), lightwells and "Lustral Basins". The gypsum slab flooring and colourful wall paintings gave these apartments a particularly luxurious appearance.

The open peristyle court was one of the most elegant inner courtyards of the New Palace. It consisted of an impressive peristyle with four columns on each side supporting the corresponding colonnades, while the central area remained open. The same construction appears to have continued on the upper floor, with a second row of columns.
The peristyle court was a focal point of the Palace with access routes leading from here to the "Royal Apartments", the Propylaea and the Central Court.
The ruins visible on a lower level in the centre of the peristyle belong to a house of the Prepalatial settlement (3200-1900 BC).

The northernmost of the "Royal Apartments" has been identified as the King's Megaron and bears a striking resemblance to the corresponding "King's Megaron" at the Palace of Knossos. It consists of a spacious central hall with impressive polythyra (pier - and - door partitions) on the north and east sides. The east polythyron communicates with a second room with two columns, which opens onto a large light-well to the east. The gypsum slab flooring with red plaster filling, the interstices, gave the whole complex a particularly sumptuous air.
The north side of both rooms opens onto a spacious colonnade with columns set far apart, offering a magnificent view of Mount Psiloritis and the sacred Kamares Cave. A long corridor at the back of the polythyron room leads to the impressive "Lustra1 Basin" of the Megaron. The whole apartment was decorated with colourful wall paintings depicting linear and plant motifs.

The southernmost of the "Royal Apartments" ofPhaistos has been identified as the Queen'sMegaron. It consists of a beautiful, spacioushall with a double colonnade opening ontoa light-well. The floors are paved with gypsum slabswith red plaster filling the interstices. Gypsumwas also widely used for the benches runningaround the walls of the Megaron and the facingof the lower part of the walls. The upper walls aredecorated with frescoes depicting plant motifs. Twobeautiful rhyta (libation vessels) were found here: one is decorated with the cult symbols of thedouble axe and sacral knot, while the other bears areed pattern.
The two staircases to west and north led to the upper floorof the Megaron and the peristyle, where one of the mainentrances to the "Royal Apartments" was located.

The complex of four rooms on the northeast edge of the Palace does not belong to the Old Palace, although it directly adjoins it. In the westernmost building is an elongated rectangular room with partitions of vertical clay slabs. Similar "cists" in the Palaces of Knossos and Zakros were used to store valuable ritual vessels. Here they were found empty. Next door, in the narrow rectangular room to the southeast, was found a clay tablet inscribed in Linear A and the famous "Phaistos Disc" bearing hieroglyphic writing. The building was therefore named the Palace "Archive"
The building east of the Archive is thought to be a shrine or the archivist's residence, while the easternmost building is known as the "Potter's Workshop" because a large number of unfinished pots were found there. The intermediate building has an impressive peristyle of alternating pillars and columns. A staircase on the south side of the peristyle building connects the whole complex to the NE entrance to the Palace, which stood in this spot.

The east part of the North Wing forms the workshop area of the Palace. It consists of the East Court and a complex of small rooms which are believed to be the workshops of the New Palace (1700-1450 BC). Approximately in the centre of the court are the ruins of a horseshoe-shaped kiln. The elongated rectangular building with 6 rooms on the west side of the court appears to have been used for the workshops of the kiln craftsmen.
The square room on the north side of the court was the gatehouse of the northeast entrance to the Palace. It has gypsum slab flooring and benches around the walls. Behind it is a long corridor leading to the inner courtyard of the North Wing and thence to the "Royal Apartments"

Phaistos Tour

The Central Court is the lungs of every Minoan palace. It is set in the centre of the palace, open to the air, and provides the rooms of the surrounding buildings with light and air.

The Central Court of Phaistos, oriented north to east and with its paving still preserved, dates from the first palace of circa 2000 BC. It looks imposing because to east and west it is bordered by stoai, narrow covered passageways supported by alternating pillars and columns.

In the northwest corner of the Central Court there was an altar on which the worshippers placed their offerings.

On the north side of the Central Court, next to the altar, there is a wide entrance providing access to the North Wing.

The façade facing onto the Central Court is elaborately decorated and impressive, as the North Wing contained the apartments of the royal family.

Imagine a large, double-leaved wooden door framed by small pillars, with niches containing beautiful frescoes immediately inside it.

This is where the guards who controlled the access to the royal apartments stood.

Another guard was placed just inside the entrance, on the left of the corridor, to control the stairs and the northwest side of the area.


Phaistos, the second biggest Palace, is very similar in plan to Knossos – indeed all four palaces are very similar in plan, being a large central courtyard oriented north-south, with an entrance to the south and a more elaborate assembly point to the North West.

The Phaistos courtyard from the south - click to enlarge. The display area is in the far corner

Along the west side there are ritual rooms and staircases leading up to upper stories. However the pithoi – the huge olive oil containers, are even more prominent than at Knossos, for the main magazines for the olive oil pithoi were placed in the north west corner.

The display area in the north west corner of the courtyard. Note the corridor leading off with store rooms on either side.

Here there was a large room opening onto the court – the excavators called it a ‘vestibule’, and this led into a corridor with rooms on either side lined with olive oil pithoi. This was one of the most prominent positions in the courtyard with a special stairway leading down from the royal apartments to the north: was this ‘vestibule’ a display area, where visitors could be taken to see the pithoi, and perhaps some of the other lavish possessions of the court, some of the textiles perhaps which the linear B tablets talk about.

Inside one of the storerooms that line the central corridor. These large jars would have contained oil.

Here the visitor could not help but admire the wealth of olive oil that had been taken in as a tribute, and was now ready to be given out again as ‘gifts’ to show the ruler’s munificence. Whereas today we might put gold and silver on display to show our wealth, in Minoan Crete, olive oil was the wealth to be put on display. Similarly there are two pithoi clearly displayed against the wall at the north side of the court, clearly visible to anyone entering the courtyard from the South. Just see how wealthy we are!

This courtyard in the north east corner of the palace at Phaistos has an oven or kiln at its centre. Were the small rooms round the outside workshops?

The other major perhaps surprising aspect of Phaistos is the presence of workshops in the heart of the Palace where the ruler could have close supervision of the jewellery and weapons that would be lavished as gifts on the deserving nobility. In the north-east corner there is an outer courtyard which has at its centre an oven or furnace, while around the sides of the courtyard are a number of small rooms which could have been workrooms.

It would seem that the north-east corner of the palaces may have been the place for workshops. At Knossos, there is evidence of a workshop in the north-east corner where blocks of work or semi-worked imported stone which Evans called ‘Spartan basalt’ and stone tools were brought to light. According to Evans, the main workshop lay on the upper floor from which vases and a large stone amphora had fallen to the ground floor. Nearby is an area that Evans called the Schoolroom where he envisaged that scribes were taught to write on clay tablets. The more modern interpretation however is that it was a workshop for ceramics or wall painting. The best examples of such workshops are at Mycenae, though admittedly they are outside the palace in the town below. However it would appear that at Phaistos there was the Royal accommodation in the North Block behind the service block and the royal rulers would have been right next door to the metal working area so the king could keep a close watch on the metal work that were being prepare as the highlights of his gift exchange.

Malia: the courtyard seen through the broad southern entrance. The display area is in the far left corner, but note the cover building over the factory area to the right.

The other two palaces are less well-known. Malia lies on the coast, 20 miles to the east of Knossos. Today Malia is the site of one of the biggest and most raucous seaside resorts in Crete, but the Palace lies outside the town, some 2 miles to the east. In many ways it is the best preserved of the palaces, as it is on flat ground and therefore it does not have the falling off and erosion to the east that is seen both at Knossos and more extensively at Phaistos.

In size, Malia is almost identical to Phaistos, with the courtyard similarly oriented north-south. However though it is better preserved, being on flat ground and never having been built on, it is apparent that it was the poorer relative with no signs of any wall painting, though a number of rich objects have been found there. However nearly a third of the build space was devoted to storage.

Malia: the display area in the north west corner of the courtyard, set up a short flight of steps. Note on the extreme left the grand staircase leading originally to the upper storey

The main range of magazines was set lining the rear corridor behind the West Wing, but interestingly there was also what I believe to be a display area in the north-west corner of the courtyard. Here there is a large room adjacent to the ceremonial stairway leading to the Banqueting Hall on the upper floor. This is up a couple of steps and is thus in the most prominent position in the courtyard. This surely is rather more than a ‘lobby’ or ’vestibule’.

The workshops on the eastern side of the courtyard under a modern cover building. The walls and floor are plastered, but note the channels cut in the plaster floor

Even more interesting however is what was happening on the opposite eastern side of the courtyard. Here there is a large mysterious building today protected by a large cover building. At first sight this appears to be another set of magazines, long narrow rooms opening off a corridor at the back. However both floors and walls were plastered — which is why it is protected by the cover building. There are runnels or furrows in the floor where any spillage from the storage jars could be collected. Was this perhaps a factory, where the olive oil was mixed with herbs and spices to form the valuable fragrances, cosmetics, medicines, soaps and ointments for which the Minoans were famous? In the corner there appears to have been a large trough where processing was presumably carried out. There is also a similar room with plastered floors in the adjacent outside building known as the agora.

Malia: the rather splendid modern cover building over the extensive town houses uncovered in Cartier mu

However the most remarkable aspect for the visitor at Malia is the extensive area of the town that has been excavated by the French excavators. This is several hundred yards away from the Palace and is called Quartier Mu, mu being the Greek letter M. There is a chaotic jumble of town buildings all covered by a large modernistic concrete cover building. But what is of particular interest is that most of them date to the period of the old palaces, that is MMII.

Zakro: the courtyard of the palace with the town houses rising up behind it on terraces

The fourth and smallest Palace is at Zakro on the eastern coast of Crete, removed from most modern facilities on the island. This was long known as being the site of a settlement but no Palace was known until one was discovered and excavated by the Greek archaeologist Nicholas Platon from 1961 onwards. This has an extensive excavated settlement rising in the hill behind the Palace, but the site as a whole is difficult to access from the land side. Yoday it lies at the end of a long and winding road, and field survey has failed to find the farms in the hinterland that surround the other three palaces. It must therefore originally have been dominated by the sea: it was the site that faced eastward to the rich lands of the East Mediterranean, and to copper-rich Cyprus.

Zakro: the palace as seen from the town. The domestic quarters are to the left mostly destroyed by modern agriculture.To the right, the ceremonial buildings. This is somewhat wider than in the other palaces as many of the ceremonial halls appear to be set on the ground floor as seen here

On the western side it would appear that the banqueting hall instead of being on the upper storey, was on the ground floor. There was a large kitchen to the north. On the eastern side were two large rooms which the excavator interpreted as being the Kings and Queen’s quarters: behind them a large circular cistern that may have been a larger variant of the usual lustral basin.

Zakro: the main road leading from the palace through the town to the harbour

In the town, a prominent road led towards the sea shore and must have been the main entrance route to the Palace.

Crete > History of Crete

Crete has a very interesting history, full of battles for freedom (against all its conquerors, from Venetians to Turks and Germans) and creation (the Minoan civilization flourished here, whereas many famous scientists and artists were born here). The Minoan civilization is believed to be the first European civilization and to have helped the creation of Classical Greece, which makes the history of Crete unique.

Minoan Period:The Minoan period exceeds from 2600 BC to 1100 BC and it can be divided into three periods: the early Minoan period from 2600 BC to 2000 BC, the middle Minoan period from 2000 BC to 1580 BC and the late Minoan period from 1580 BC to 1100 BC. The name of the first European civilization comes from Minos, the mythical king of Crete.

The first palaces were built in Crete around the start of the Middle Minoan period (2000 BC). The most important ones were built at Knossos (near the present town Heraklion), Phaistos (in the south near the sea, on the plain of Messara), Malia (on the north coast), Archanes, Zakros (on the eastern most end of the island) and Kydonia. These first palaces were destroyed by an earthquake at 1700 BC. Immediately after their destruction the palaces were rebuilt. The most famous were the palaces of Knossos, Phaistos, Malia and Zakros. They were impressive buildings characterized by a massive central courtyard surrounded by colonnades, rooms, stairs and workshops. Frescoes decorated the walls, showing images of their life (fishing, harvesting, dancing).

Knossos, due to its geographical position in the middle of the island, controlled the economic and political life. Farming, stock-breeding and the exports of goods that were produced in the workshops and the villages created a flourishing economy. The works of art were transferred to Egypt, Phoenicia and Syria, and the Minoan pottery has been discovered throughout the eastern Mediterranean.

All the palaces were destroyed by the terrible volcanic eruption of Santorini, about 1450. Life was resumed only in the palace at Knossos, which was reconstructed and served as the residence of a new Achaean dynasty.

The Minoan palaces did not have fortifications or walls, which shows that the Minoans had the Aegean under their control and were not afraid of their enemies. The main feature in the architecture of the palaces is the courtyard around which there were the special rooms for official ceremonies and rituals. The walls of the palaces are decorated with the famous Minoan frescoes, which represent, sometimes in life-size, scenes from everyday life or subjects from the plant, animal and sea kingdom.

The Sub-Minoan, Geometric and Archaic Periods (1100-900 BC):The Dorians, who came from mainland Greece, conquered Crete after the collapse of the Minoan civilisation. All the cities were united under the leadership of Knossos. There are traces of some Dorian cities such as Prinia, some 40 km from Herakleion, Lato, 15 km form Agios Nikolaos, and Gortun, 45 km from Herakleion and 17 to the east of Phaistos.

The Classical, Hellenistic and Roman Periods(900-330 AD):Crete did not play any important role during the Classical Ages. It became gradually nest of pirates, until the Romans fought the corsairs and conquered the island.

Byzantium (330-1204/10 AD):Crete was an autonomous province in the Byzantine Empire and Gortyna was its administrative and religious centre. During this period the piracy decreased and the trade flourished, making it possible many churches to be built.

Christianity arrived early with St Paul's visit in 63 AD. His disciple, Titus, managed to spread it to the whole island.

This period is interrupted by a small occupation of the island by Arabs (826-960 AD). The Byzantine general Nikiphoros Phokas managed to capture the island again in 960. Herakleion became the new capital of the island and the seat of the Archbishop.

Venetian Rule (1204-1669 AD):When the Crusaders took Constantinople in 1204, Crete was sold to the Venetians. The Genoese tried to keep Crete under their surveillance but in the end Venice won. Many new buildings were built in Heraklion this period: the Doge's palace, the basilica of St Marc and the Loggia. When Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453, many Greek nobles came in Crete. The Monastery of St Catherine became a centre of culture, theology, philosophy, music and literature.

The 'Cretan School' of Art which was born in this period, with examples on Mt Athos, in the Meteora and in many museums, combined the traditional Byzantine style with the Italian Renaissance. Michail Damaskinos, Klontzas, Ioannis Kornaros and Domenico Theotokopoulos, well known as El Greco, belonged to the Cretan school.

The epic of Vincenzo Cornaro Erotocritos, dating in the 17th century, is the most famous example of the flowering Cretan literature of this period.

Turkish Rule (1669-1898):The Turkish domination of the island was possibly the worst period of its existence. 60,000 men conquered Chania in1645, Rethymnon in1646 and the Whole Island but Candia (Heraklion) by the end of 1648. On 27 September 1669 the city finally fell into the hands of Turks after the siege had cost 117,000 Turkish lives and 30,000 Cretans and Venetians.

By the Turkish possession most of the churches were converted into mosques. Many Cretans left the island because they couldn't stand the barbarity of the new masters. The 'great Cretan rebellion' which burst out in 1866 until 1868 led to the destruction of the Arkadi Monastery and the loss of many lives. However the Cretan problem was taken up by the Great Powers which compelled Turkey to make certain concessions.

New battles broke out in 1895-1896. In 1897, Greek forces and volunteers reached Crete and started to liberate the island with the intention to unify it with the rest of Greece.

Autonomous Crete - the Modern Period:The fighting stopped in 1898, when Turkish massacre happened in Heraklion. The Great Powers - Britain, France and Russia - recognized the autonomous 'Cretan State' under the commissioning of Prince George of Greece. The Cretan rebellion in Therisos in 1913 led to the union of Crete with Greece and to the appearance of Eleftherios Venizelos, who would play a very important role in the history of Greece during the following decades.

In 1923 the 'Great Catastrophe' in Minor Asia resulted in the remaining Muslims of Crete to be expelled and many expelled Christians from Turkey to immigrate in the island.

1941-1945 AC:Cretan are famous for their resistance against the Germans during the Second World War, too. In May 1941 thousands of German paratroopers were dropped in the island and put up fierce resistance by Greek, British, Australian and New Zealand troops as well as thousands of locals. When the airfield of Maleme, in Chania, was captured the Germans managed to take gradual control of the island. The resistance continued after the possession of the island by the Germans with many severe reprisals.

1945 to the present:After the Second World War a severe civil war broke out in Greece which lasted until 1949. The national elections which followed resulted in excluding the communists from future governments. Greece joined NATO in 1951 and in 1953 US was give the right to operate sovereign bases (like the Souda base). From 1967 to 1974 army colonels stage a coup and impose martial law across Greece. After the return of Democracy in 1974 and the abolishment of Monarchy, Karamanlis with the right-wing New Democracy (ND) won the national elections. On 1 January 1981 Greece becomes the tenth member of the EEC.

Andreas Papandreou with left-wing Panhellenic Socialist Union (PASOK) won the elections of 1981 and remained Prime Minister until 1990. Konstantinos Mitsotakis, coming from Chania, with ND wins the elections in 1990 for only two seats and governs until the mid-1993. PASOK won the elections of 1993 and remained in the authority until 2004. Kostas Simitis was the following Prime Minister after the death of Andreas Papandreou in 1996. ND, with Konstantinos Karamanlis (the younger) returned in the authority in 2004, the year which was dominated by the staging of the very much successful Olympiads in Athens.

Greece joined the European Monetary Union on January 2002 and euro became the national currency.


The site first attracted the attention of archaeologists in 1924, when Arthur Evans heard about large storage vessels found there and speculated about the existence of a Bronze Age "customs house" excavations have been carried on by J.W. and Maria Shaw since 1976. [5]

The site does not conform to the traditional "Palatial" style of the Minoans. Built atop the ruins of a smaller stone age settlement, the structure the site contains a single upscale (though far from royal) dwelling attached to the site, six respectably sized dwellings on the hillside to the North and a warren of stone rooms atop the hill of a community of farmers/fishermen.

Though its original use is debated, the site was abandoned several times over its lifetime. During such periods, parts of the site were used as a pottery studio with a large kiln still in evidence. [6] This is a (so far) unique survival of an abandoned Minoan kiln complete with its "wasters" (malformed pots), and is developing understanding of the details of production of Minoan pottery. [7]

The "Palace's" final incarnation saw the main courtyard converted into "ship sheds" by knocking down the seaside wall and building long narrow rooms open on one end. [8] A paved section of road passing through the site, roads being difficult and expensive propositions at the time, along with the conversion to ship sheds suggests the use of the site as a harbour and customs house by a larger settlement. This is further supported by the relatively large scale of the project when compared to the supply of labour from the small village adjacent. The Bronze Age use of the site corresponds roughly with the power fluctuations of the important nearby Palace of Phaistos, though it may merely represent the fluctuations in the population of the Mesara Plain as a whole.

The function of most of the buildings in Kommos is not clear. However, archaeologists have found out that some of the foundations belonged to a sanctuary, that was used intermittently by the Minoans and later taken over by the Greeks. It was definitively abandoned at the end of the Hellenistic age. It is worth mentioning that the most ancient evidence of a place of cult in Kommos is regarded to be the so-called Temple A, a small rural shrine, founded in the end of XI century B.C.. It was then replaced by a building, Temple B, characterized by the presence of an outdoor altar, constructed on the same site. The latest Minoan temple was Temple C, a more ambitious construction, started around 750 B.C.

In the whole sanctuary area was found a thick layer of burned strata, with many offerings, especially aryballoi and cups, suggesting rituals and ritual meals being held there frequently.

Kommos' flora remains consistent with the flora of Crete. Yet the site has yielded many animal remains, a majority of which were excavated from archaic vessels and pottery. [9]

Excavations carried out between 1976-1985 yielded 9,400 large mammal bones, 150 Rodentia bones, 1,150 fish bones, and around 36,000 marine invertebrate. Of these samples a large number were attributed to pigs. Remains found revealed a variety of butchery methods performed, including partial opening of the skull assumedly for consumption of the brain. Further animal remains, such as cows and deer were also found around the site. Very few human remains have been uncovered from the site, with the only human remain being an adult mandible. [9]

Bird remains have also been found. Eggshells and avian bones from the site were identified by Dr. George E. Watson, Curator of Birds at the Smithsonian Institution. The usage for birds varied from domestication to consumption. Avian bones found at the site include Woodpigeon, Rock Dove, Turtle Dove, Scopoli's Shearwater, and Chukar Partridge. [9]

Kommos has yielded more evidence for intercultural trade in the form of imported ceramics than any other Bronze Age site in the Aegean. [10] Archaeologists have found Egyptian figurines and transport jars, Canaanite jars, and jars that originated from the Nile Delta. The typical transport vessel found in the Late Bronze Age Southern Aegean is the transport stirrup-jar, which looks like a larger false-necked amphora. It has a wide-mouth rim with two vertical handles on the shoulders that connect to the neck of the vessel. At the beginning of the 14th century BC, a variation of the Minoan oval-mouthed amphora started making an appearance in Kommos. Dubbed the short-neck amphora, this vessel had two cylindrical handles attached at the shoulder, a stunted neck, and a round mouth. On the Syro-Palestinian coast, the Canaanite jar was the preferred transport jar it was widely exported to Cyprus and Lower Egypt, where they eventually adopted and imitated the shoulder-handled vessel. The variations of the Canaanite jar created in Egypt can easily be identified by the diversities in material and surface treatment.

Thousands of ceramic sherds have been recovered from the Late Minoan city of Kommos. Transport stirrup jars have not only been found on Crete but also in vast quantities on the Greek mainland, throughout the Aegean Islands, and along the western Anatolian coast. The Cretan vessels have been found in the Egyptian city of Tell el-Amarna, Cyprus, and the Levant, and the results of petrographic and trace element analysis determine that the majority of these transport stirrup jars originated in the northern part of Central Crete. While the transport stirrup jar was frequently used in Crete to ferry their goods, the Canaanite jar was the preferred container throughout the Levant. Evidence of the Canaanite jar has been found at Kommos in the form of 60 fragmentary to fully restorable containers. The final type of vessel identified is the Egyptian jar. Kommos has been the only Aegean site where this Late Bronze Age undecorated pottery has been recovered. The styles of pottery range from closed shapes to amphoras, flasks, and necked jars, and most likely transported wine. The presence of Canaanite jars and Egyptian jars at Kommos and Cretan transport stirrup jars found throughout the Aegean islands, Egypt, and the Anatolian coast confirms the importance of international trade to the Late Minoan coastal city of Kommos.

Today the Kommos archaeological site is not open to the public. It is only possible to see part of the excavation while walking to the nearby beach.

Central Courtyard, Phaistos, Crete - History

Gallia is one of the oldest villages of the area. It is mentioned as a location in the Venetian records as early as 1577, and as a village with 120 residents since 1583. The renaissance tower in the village (still imposing although rundown) and the water fountains in the Kapeloniana area are proof of the passing of the Venetians. Part of the village, called Monohoro, is mentioned as early as 800 A.D.

It is located north of Mires close to a small gorge, with springs and covered with trees. There are many churches in the village the most important one being the church of Agios Nikolaos, a domed church dated to the 13th century. The walls of the temple are hand painted with biblical scenes and pictures of saints

The administrative center of the Messara Valley. Moires (GR: Μοίρες) is the biggest town in the Messara Valley with a population of approximately 5000 people. It has a police station, magistrate's court,post office, public PTT office, health center, and offices of most Greek major banks.

The monastery of Panagia Kaliviani is located at the 59th km on the road Iraklion-Phaistos. The monastery was built during the second Byzantine period. The small Byzantine chapel was painted with frescoes but most of them are today destroyed. The chapel was deserted until, during the Turkish occupation in 1873, an old small icon of the Annunciation of the Holy Mother was miraculously found there.and the monastery became a place of worship.

The exhibited objects in the Museum come from all over Crete. These objects show that the folk culture of Crete is characterized by an amalgam of influences in which Minoan (2000-1000 BC), Archaic (1000-500 BC) and Byzantine models prevail, especially in agriculture, stock breeding, pottery and basketry.

Vori is a beautiful, traditional village of the county of Pirgiotissas in the Messara Valley. It is located 60 km south of Iraklion and in the western part of the Messara Valley. The village stretches in a slope, by the side of a small river. The archaeological site of Phaistos is 2 km to the south and the coast of Messara 4 km to the west.

The Upper Court is the first of the three courts in the West Wing of the Palace. Its south side is supported by a strong retaining wall separating it from the West Court. On the west side, the 17 circular recesses in the ground indicate the presence of an equal number of wooden columns which probably supported a covered colonnade. The court is crossed from north to south by a raised "Processional Causeway", which, like those of the other palaces, would have been used for sacred processions and other rituals. The Upper Court also functioned as a kind of balcony from which one could watch the events taking place in the West Court, which is just to the south and on a lower level. The two courts are linked by a majestic staircase starting in the southeast part of the Court.
The buildings on the south side of the court were built much later, in Hellenistic times (323-67 BC), when the palaces had already beendestroyed. The most important of these contains a room with two columns, a central hearth and stone benches around the walls. It isbelieved to be a public building, probably a Prytaneion or Andreion.Early Christian tombs (330-600 AD) can be seen east of the "Processional Causeway"

The impressive staircase starting in the west Court led to the monumental Propylaea, the principal and most impressive entrance to the New Palace (1700-M50 BC). The portico consists of a central column - only the base is preserved today - flanked by pilasters. There followed a solid wall with a double opening and a colonnade of three columns. The floors of the Propylaea complex were paved with gypsum slabs which gave it a sumptuous appearance. The colonnade opens onto a large open-air light-well through which rainwater drained away.
There are two accesses from the Propylaea to different parts of the Palace. The first access, in the hall with the colonnade, led via a staircase and corridors to the Peristyle and thence to the "Royal Apartments".
The second, in the SE corner of the light-well, led to an inner staircase which ended in the Antechamber of the Magazines and the Central Court of the Palace.

The magazines of the Old Palace(1900-1700 BC) occupied a large part of the West Wing immediately to the east of the West Court and extended to the lower terrace. Apart from their use as storage areas, they also appear to have housed some of the workshop activities of the Old Palace. Today most of the magazines have been filled in.
One of these is the magazine with the giant pithoi (storage jars) decorated with discs and rope patterns in relief. Just east of this is a well-preserved quern installation for grinding grain. There is another well-preserved Old Palace magazine under the floor of the light-well in the Propylaea.

Iron Age

The reference of Phaistos to the ancient Greek literature is quite frequent. Phaistos is first referenced by Homer as "well populated", [ 10 ] and the Homeric epics indicate its participation in the Trojan war. [ 11 ] The historian Diodorus Siculus indicates [ 12 ] that Phaistos, together with Knossos and Kydonia, are the three towns that were founded by the king Minos on Crete. Instead, Pausanias and Stephanus of Byzantium supported in their texts that the founder of the city was Phaestos, son of Hercules or Ropalus. [ 13 ] Especially the city of Phaistos is associated with the mythical king of Crete Rhadamanthys.

The new inhabitance began during the Geometric Age and continued to historical times (8th century BC onwards), up to the 3rd century, when the city was finally destroyed by neighboring Gortyn.

Phaistos had its own currency and had created an alliance with other autonomous Cretan cities, and with the king of Pergamon Eumenes II. Around the end of the 3rd century BC, Phaestos was destroyed by the Gortynians and since then ceased to exist in the history of Crete. Scotia Aphrodite and goddess Leto (was called and Phytia also) worshiped there. People of Phaistos were distinguished for their funny adages. Phaistian in his descent was Epimenides who was the wise man who had been invited by the Athenians to clean the city from the Cylonian affair (Cyloneio agos) at the 6th cent. BC.

Watch the video: Archaeological site of Faistos 2018 Αρχαιολογικός χώρος Φαιστού. (May 2022).