Rare artifacts and complex features in architecture found in Minoan palace on Cretan mountain

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Rare artifacts and complex features in architecture found in Minoan palace on Cretan mountainThe palace appeared to have multiple levels, internal staircases, floors constructed of precious materials and walls lavishly decorated

Staircases, richly decorated walls and important artifacts are among the findings of this past season's excavations at the extensive and complex Minoan palace of Zominthos, on the Psiloritis mountain in central Crete, Greece's Ministry of Culture and Sports announced Monday.

The excavations on the palace were carried out by emerita director of antiquities Efi Sapouna-Sakellaraki from July to August. Excavations on a section of the palace began in the '80s by archaeologist Yiannis Sakellarakis, and have been conducted annually since 2004.

The ministry announced that the new evidence revealed by this summer's excavations includes data about "the complex's internal layout and its architecture (staircases, rich wall decorations), with multiple findings from the excavation of the interior and its rooms, where a very rare coin was found from Marcus Aurelius' reign (161-180 AD). All elements point to the significance of this huge, labyrinthine building at an altitude of 1,200 meters."

Among the new data unearthed during this season, according to the Culture ministry, are two new entrances, one in the NE corner of the palace leading through a hallway to the eastern wing's shrine, and the other - damaged by alterations in the Mycenaean and Roman years and by looters in the 60s - leading to the palace's main court.

The palace appeared to have multiple levels, internal staircases, floors constructed of precious materials and walls lavishly decorated. Some of the walls have survived to a height of three meters. 

Palace rooms have yielded stamps, vessels in different shapes, stone cases for valuables, a local reproduction of an Egyptian scarab made of copper, and seashells that were not meant for consumption, pointing to the worship of a sea goddess. Other findings feature bronze daggers, sections of large ceramic storage jars, and remains of beehives.

The date of the earliest settlement on Zominthos (around 1900 BC), almost coinciding with the first settlement in the Knossos area, and its proximity to the Idaean Cave, the most important and perhaps earliest shrine on Crete, point to the significance of the palace in the economic, political and religious network of the Greek island.

About Minoan civilization

The Minoan civilization was an Aegean Bronze Age civilization on the island of Crete and other Aegean islands which flourished from about 2600 to 1100 BC. It preceded the Mycenaean civilization of Ancient Greece. The civilization was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of British archaeologist Arthur Evans. It has been described as the earliest of its kind in Europe, with historian Will Durant calling the Minoans "the first link in the European chain".

The term "Minoan", which refers to the mythical King Minos, originally described the pottery of the period. Minos was associated in Greek mythology with the labyrinth and the Minotaur, which Evans identified with the site at Knossos (the largest Minoan site). According to Homer, Crete once had 90 cities.

The Minoan period saw trade between Crete and Aegean and Mediterranean settlements, particularly the Near East. Through their traders and artists, the Minoan cultural influence reached beyond Crete to the Cyclades, Egypt's Old Kingdom, copper-bearing Cyprus, Canaan and the Levantine coast, and Anatolia. Some of its best art is preserved in the city of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini, which was destroyed by the Thera eruption.

Although the Minoan language and writing systems (Linear A) remain undecipherable and are subjects of academic dispute, they apparently conveyed a language entirely different from the later Greek. The reason for the end of the Minoan period (around 1400 BC) is unclear; theories include Mycenaean invasions from mainland Greece and a volcanic eruption of Thera.

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinations Greek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons Copyright: Lemur12 License: CC-BY-SA

 

 

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