Phaestos

Phaestos, Crete, Greece, 15 October 2018.

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This was our route of travel for the day.  From Matala we drove to the Acropolis of Gortyn and Gortyn (previous post), then to Phaestos and briefly to Kaloi Limenes and back to Matala (this post).

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Just before Phaestos, we encountered the Church of Agios Georgios Phalandras.   It looks like two buildings combined but the left half is just an empty facade.  What you can see through that doorway is just the ground beyond.

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You can see this from the rear.  It was built in the 16th century, in the Venetian period.  The intended second aisle was never completed so two arches intended to connect the two were quickly walled up.

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Tombs of eminent persons from the Venetian period were found both inside and around it.  It was originally connected to a monastery founded in the 10th century and fell into disuse after 1821.

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The curiously asymmetrical window at the rear of the church.

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We are now in the Northwest Court in the ancient Minoan “Palace” of Phaestos.

Bull-leaping is believed to have occurred here, though I didn’t notice any happening when we were there.

Phaestos is on top of a hill with commanding views.  Its construction involved the enormous effort of levelling three large terraces.  Its prime importance is as one of the main Minoan “palaces” and it has been suggested that the Old Palace at Phaestos was the oldest “palace” in Minoan Crete.  Settlement goes back even further, to neolithic times six thousand years ago and there is a neolithic kiln on the site.

According to legend, it was founded by Minos himself and the first ruler was his brother Radamanthys.  It appears to have been mainly a religious, political and ceremonial centre and the nearby city of Agia Triadha, down on the plain below, was more of a commercial centre and became much larger.

The Old Palace was built in the Protopalatial Period (1900-1700BC) and twice destroyed by earthquake.  Attempts to rebuild as the New Palace started 1750-1700BC but the “palace” was effectively abandoned 1650-1500BC and only completed 1500-1450BC, shortly before the Mycenaean invasion.

As we saw in the previous post for Gortyn, that city was founded from Phaestos in the Minoan Period, became more important during the Greek period and became the capital of Crete, Libya and Egypt during the Roman period. It eclipsed Phaestos by about 700BC and defeated and sacked it.  Some settlement continued in Phaestos in the Roman era but it never regained its influence.

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The Upper Court.

The upper court functioned as a kind of balcony to view proceedings in the Northwest Courtyard.  Though most of the “palace” is Minoan, some of the remains of walls here date from the Greek period.

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The Grand Staircase (leading to the Propylaea).

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The Propylaea.

This was the central and most impressive entrance to the New Palace.  The circular stub in front was the basis of a column at the start of a large two-storey building and entrance.

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The Theatral Area.

The Theatral Area and the West Court it forms part of date from the Old Palace era 1900-1700BC.  it was an important processional and ceremonial area.

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West Magazines.

These are store rooms for goods, primarily goods for export.

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One of the Giant Pithoi.

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Ancient road and remains of adjacent buildings.

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One of the four Kouloures.

At the south end of the West Court there are four large round structures known as kouloures (rings) that date to the Old Palace period.  Thye are thought to be for storing offerings from the Palace Shrines, or granaries.

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A different one beside a road.

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More pithoi.

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Part of the East Wing Complex.

This is a miniature version of the “Royal Apartments” and has been interpreted as the residence of a young prince.

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The Central Court.

This dates to the old Palace period.  It is a feature of every Minoan Palace, surrounded by buildings for which it provides light and air.

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View of the plain below.

We can see something of the spectacular view from Phaestos.  Somewhere in the distance to the left was the city of Agia Triadha, which became the local administrative centre after the earthquake around 1700BC.

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Part of the East Court.

Around the East Court was a complex of small rooms which provided the workshops for the New Palace.  This included a kiln.

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The Northeast Complex.

This is a complex of four rooms on the north-eastern side of the Palace.  Although it does not belong to the Old Palace, it was here that the Phaistos disk was found.  This is a round clay tablet with spirals of hieroglyphic script on each side.  The hieroglyphs were individually pressed in so it is the first known example of printing.  While the script has not been deciphered, a partial interpretation is possible due to similarities with characters used in linear A and linear B.  It appears to be a religious text, perhaps a chant, concerning the Mother Goddess..

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King’s Megaron.

This is known as the King’s Megaron or King’s Bedroom, although of course the nature of any Minoan political or religious hierarchy is unknown.

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Queen’s Megaron.

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We’re almost full circle now.  We are at the edge of the Northwest Court, the foreground structures are likely part of the Propylon, and the East Court is in the distance.

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From nearby, looking in a different direction, but I’m not sure at what.

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Back full circle now, looking over the Northwest Courtyard.

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Near Phaestos, I presume this is a ruined farmhouse from relatively modern times.

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From Phaestos, we headed south for a brief visit at the port of Kaloi Limenes.

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The village on the beach is quite small.

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The rocks are glowing in the late afternoon light.

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Heading back towards Matala now.   This appears to be an old church not far from the road.

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A village on the other side of the valley in the late afternoon light.

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Another small roadside shrine.  There appears to be a bench or a bed inside on the right.

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From a different angle, we can see some bells inside.

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Not far from Matala now, in the late afternoon light.  You may need to click on this image to see it larger.

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Gortyn

Gortyn, Crete, Greece, 15 October 2018.

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Section of Citadel wall, looking a bit sphinx-like.

From Matala, we headed for the ancient Minoan, Greek and Roman City of Gortyn, or so we thought.  What I had specified on my car GPS was actually the Acropolis of Gortyn.  The Acropolis is up on top of a hill whereas the city is down below on the plain.  We got to the city later but this proved to be a most fortuitous mistake.

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Getting closer to the remaining walls.

The Acropolis is open to view but there are no noticeboards relating the significance of what you are seeing.

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Holes knocked through three walls.

Perhaps these holes were made when the Moslems took the Citadel in 828AD, but my guess is it was done later to remove large heavy objects from inside.  After all, this is before the time of cannons.

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Largest remaining citadel wall.

Fortifications were initially erected during the Dorian or Geometric Period 1100 to 700BC.  The walls we see are from the 7th century AD, erected during the reign on the emperor Heraclius.  I recall reading that they are six metres high, which seems about right.

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Looking down from the top of the cliff behind the citadel, we see the city that was our intended destination.  This is the Church of St Titus.

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… And this is the Odeon and the building housing the Law Codes, obscured by trees.

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In the middle distance, behind the Citadel and near the cliff, is the Temple of Athena Pollouchos, from the 7th century BC.  Significant sculptures were unearthed here.  In the foreground may be either part of the temple or part of the basilica erected in the 6th to 7th century AD, using materials from the temple.

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There was a settlement here during Neolithic (6000 to 3000 BC), Minoan (3000-1200BC), Greek and Roman, and Byzantine (6th to 10th century AD) periods.

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Clearly Roman building style.

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Lichen on some of the walls produces an almost abstract effect.

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The site is all the more impressive for being largely unremarked and unexplained.

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One last look back as we walk out….

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And here, looking down from the edge of the Acropolis, you see the obscure country road in and the huge crowds in the car park.  Well, actually it’s just  our rental car on the edge of the road.

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Now, we have driven round and are now in the ancient city and the Church of St Titus.

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It was built in the 6th to 7th centuries to replace the larger Basilica of St Titus that was destroyed by an earthquake in 670AD.

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The city is more recent that the Acropolis up on the hill.  It was founded as an offshoot of nearby Phaestos during the Minoan period.  During the Greek period, Gortyn grew in status and surpassed Phaestos.  It survived a war at various time against or allied to Phaestos, Knossos and Lyttos.

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Ancient olive tree besides the Church.

It gave refuge to  Hannibal in 189BC, thus incurring the displeasure of Rome.  It must have decided that was a bad idea so shortly after it allied with Rome.

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Consequently, as a Roman ally, it wasn’t sacked when the Romans took over Crete and subsequently became the capital of the Roman Province of Crete and Cyrene (including, in modern terms, Crete, Libya and Egypt).  This was the period of its greatest power and influence.

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Remains of the Odeon, a small theatre for music.

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The building that houses the Law Code.

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Not much remains of Greek Gortyn (it’s mainly the Roman structures that survive) but one thing that does is the Law Code of Gortyn.

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Dating to 450BC, it was inscribed on marble blocks spanning eight metres wide.  It was originally on the walls of the Agora, an open meeting place for all citizens.  After the supporting wall was destroyed in the 1st century BC, the Romans re-erected the Law Code in the same place but in the walls of their council chambers.

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It covers rules for inheritance, debts, adoption, marriage, divorce, slavery and sexual violence.   There are distinctions between legal classes of free, serf, slave and foreigner.  It is 600 lines long in the Dorian text and is in boustrophedon, or “as the ox ploughs”, so the lines are read in altnerating direction from either left or right.  It is the oldest and most complete European Law Code and was in many ways quite liberal for its time.  For more information on it, see here.

(Click image to read the text on the tablets).

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An ancient bridge.

Only a small part of the ancient city of Gortyn is open to the public.  We did not realise at the time that over the road with few indications, there are other sites that you can view at a distance through wire fences.

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An olive tree, 2,000 years old.

There is also a tree on the site, a plane tree, that is said to be the tree where Zeus disguised himself as a bull and seduced Europa, a Phoenician Princess.  Their children came to rule major Minoan cities including Minos in Knossos.  Assuming this legend is completely historically accurate, as Schliemann assumed Homer to be for Troy, then that tree must be more than 4,000 years old.  Modern science does not explain how this is possible but then it also doesn’t explain how it may be possible for a God to turn himself into a bull and mate with a woman.

The Mycenaeans arrived in Greece more than halfway through the Minoan civilisation and the Dorians even later.  There are many sites in Crete that claim to be the birthplace of Zeus and many other places in Crete with specific associations to Greek Gods.  We know little in detail of Minoan society.  Linear A has not been deciphered, we don’t even know what language they used and even if we did, the tablets may merely contain accounting records.  I speculate though that Minoan religion may have been the basis for Greek religion and Athenian democracy might even have its basis in Minoan political practices.

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This statue is usually assumed to be of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, but is more likely to be a copy of a Greek statue from 2nd or 3rd century BC of an unknown person.  The original head is in the museum at Heraklion.

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Zakros

Zakros, Crete, Greece, 14 October 2018.

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This post is about the ancient Minoan city of Zakros, which was one of the four main Minoan “Palaces”.  There is Knossos from three posts ago, Malia that we drove past without visiting, Zakros (where we are) and Phaistos in probably three posts.

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Here we are looking at the remains of the Palace of Zakros and the town behind it.  Perhaps you might like to click on the image to see it in more detail.  The large open area on the left is the Central Court of the “Palace”.  At the front with a small wall around it and also a small modern fence is the circular well.  The area fenced off to the right must be under excavation and includes the “Well of the Fountain” and the “Cistern Hall” though I don’t seem to have photographed it.

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From a noticeboard at the site, this is what the Palace may have looked like in its time, with at least two stories and occupying a large area.  In the previous panorama, our viewpoint is at the right edge of the frame here, about a third of the way up.

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At the far end of the Central Court, this is the base of a shrine in the foreground and note the fine stonework behind it.

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This looks like a chair but it may not be so.  I think this is the room where pottery vessels were stored.  It is also near the room where bronze ingots and elephant tusks were found.

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Just to the right of the previous image, this is the Archives Room, where Linear A tablets were discovered.

Less agricultural produce seems to have been stored in the “palace” than other “palaces”.   This implies the town was less focussed on agriculture and more on trade.  Main items stored were pottery, metal goods and textiles, and there is even evidence of perfume production.  There were also both olive presses and wine presses found in the town and a bronze kiln.

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We are still inside the West Wing of the “Palace” and looking beyond to part of the town on the hill.

The town developed in the Protopalatial Period 1900-175BC, was destroyed by an earthquake around 1650BC (as for the other “palaces”), rebuilt by around 1600BC and finally destroyed in 1450BC when the Mycanaeans arrived.

The “palace” was unusual in that after the final destruction it was not looted so many artefacts have been found.

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This is a “Lustral Basin”.  Between the front stones and the pink stone just behind which may seem part of it is a small stone stairway that goes down to a recessed area about three or four feet deep.  Based on nearby murals, it appears to have been used for “purification rituals”.

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This is at the rear of the Lustral Basin from the previous image.  The circular recess is actually where a column sat.  There is the remains of a mural behind it.

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We are now out of the “palace” and in the town.  This is the “Port Road”  though we are looking away from the sea and towards the town.  Trade was a major function of the town.  Its position sheltered it from dangerously strong north winds encountered further north on the coast and it was the nearest Minoan port to Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean.  Various exotic Canaanite and Egyptian items were discovered here.

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Stairs and walls.

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Paving.

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Bench.

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Stairs to a residence.

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The town was very densely settled with narrow walkways between the walls of the houses.

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You can see the Central Court down there in the distance.  This gives you a good idea of the size of the site though not all is excavated.  This is probably House H in the foreground.  You may have guessed that.

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The sea is not far away.

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Looking down on the remains of the “palace”.  There is not much visible to the left of the Central Court because much of that was destroyed by agriculture prior to excavation.

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Views of a part of the town.

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Back now not far from where we started with a large succulent in the foreground.

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A closer look at some of the buds.  This involved an exercise in focus stacking (in this case, combining twelve images at different points of focus).

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Time for a leisurely lunch at a beachside restaurant.

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There would have been a harbour here in Minoan times though the shoreline may have been different.

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Heraklion to Zakros

Heraklion to Zakros, Crete, Greece, 13 October 2018.

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We headed from Heraklion to the far east of Crete.

The map as shown above is the actual route, which differs from the planned route as shown on an earlier map.

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A small village from the road.  I think this is from the main road, before we turned off for the windmills.  Much later I saw a spectacular small village on a ridge but it was a narrow winding road with nowhere to pull off for a photograph.

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These are windmills of the Lasithi Plateau.

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They first appeared in Byzantine times but were mainly established in the Venetian era.

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They are fixed windmills, oriented to the direction of the prevailing wind and used for grinding grain.  The door was on the leeward side.

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Somewhat later, this is Pacheia Amnos, where we stopped for a coffee..

I had been interested in visiting the small Island of Spinalonga a bit further north.  This was the last holdout of the Venetians, for forty-six years after the rest of the island fell to the Ottomans.  Much later it was a holdout for Ottomans after the 1878 Cretan Revolt.  In the early 20th century it was a leper colony.  However, it was going to take half a day which was more time than I had available.

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Nearby, this is the wonderful Orthodox Church of Agia Fotini.

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… And close by the church is a Minoan archaeological site.

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From a distance and far above, this is Paralia Tholos.  The next four images are taken from the same spot.

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Small fishing boat off the island of Pseira, not far offshore.

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Different boat, same island.

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A wider view, showing both the Paralia Tholos Bay and the island of Pseira.

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A bit further on, an eroded coastline.

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The little town is Mochios.

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At the roadside, agricultural buildings, probably with a story to tell.

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From the same spot, a wider view looking towards Mochios in the distance, with the island of Pseira in the far distance.

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This is the small town of Palaikastro on the far east end of the island.

I would also have liked to get to the north-east tip of Crete but there’s never enough time for everything when travelling.

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Only a kilometre or so from Palaikastro is the Minoan Town of Palaikastro at Rousolakkos.

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A recently excavated section is covered with a roof to protect it from the elements.

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Ancient paving.

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The main road.

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The site may have been occupied from as early as 3000BC.  The town itself developed in the period from 1900BC to 1750BC  An earthquake destroyed much of the town around 1650BC and it was rebuilt.  There was significant destruction by fire around 1450BC at the time of the Mycenaean takeover and not all the town was resettled afterwards.  Somewhere between 1350 and 1100BC, another earthquake caused much destruction.  The town was partially resettled for a while and then abandoned.

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Another section of the main road, which ran for 145 metres through the town.

The town grew to be the second largest in Minoan Crete after Knossos and its layout shows central planning.

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Impressively cut large stone blocks at the edge of a road.

Locals removed some of the well-cut stones for their own constructions, not necessarily in recent times.

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This is House B in Block Beta (archaeologists give such romantic and imaginative names!) which had 22 rooms and “megalithic” outer walls.

There are some steps from a stairway to an upper level partly obscured in this image but you might be able to make out two just past the square stone block in the middle of the image (Perhaps click on the image for a larger view).

Past the steps and through a doorway is the Hall, a characteristic architectural feature in Palaikastro Minoan Town.  Bases of columns were found in each corner and it would have been open to the sky, presumably to let in light and air.  Many large ceramic jars were found here.  In fact many objects were found in this house, including female clay figurines, the clay head of an ox., large numbers of vases and large jars, at least one elaborately decorated with an octopus.

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The town had a higher concentration than usual of religous object but no “palace” has so far been found.  The main activities of the town would have been agriculture and trade.  Loom weights indicate there was much weaving in the town.  There was also manufacture of elite items using imported materials and much pottery making.

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This must have been the harbour for the town though I don’t know how much the sea level would have changed and how different it would have looked.  For more detail on the Minoan town, see here.

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A view of the coast looking south.

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This is the Church of Saint John the Theologian (though there are many with that name), on the road between Palaikastro  and Zakros, and as the sign behind it indicates, at the turnoff to Theostalos Minoan Sanctuary Peak.

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The cemetery behind the church.

There is a kerosene lamp underneath one of those crosses with a lit flame (though you’d have to click on the image for a larger view to find it).

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It looks very different from the side.

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The belltower with the date 17 August 1951.

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Olive farming, it seems.

This image and the remaining ones are in or around the modern village of Zakros.

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A church with a view.

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Approaching the modern village of Zakros.

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This is one of the many tiny and wonderful roadside shrines that we saw during our travels in Crete, at the end of people’s driveways.

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Walking back to our car at the Village of Zakros after a coffee, this is a local garden including apple and persimmon trees.

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Heraklion Archaeological Museum

Heraklion, Crete, Greece, 12 October 2018.

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(Click on any image to see it in a larger size, if you are on a PC or tablet at least.)

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The previous post was of Knossos, the ancient capital of Minoan Crete. This one is on the Heraklion Archaeological Museum includes many of the original items discovered at Knossos, as well as others from other parts of Crete.

Neolithic settlements started at Knossos from 7000BC and the peak of Minoan civilisation, with large cities and “palaces” was from 2000BC to 1450BC. Art included large wall paintings, miniatures, seal-carving, jewellery making, goldsmithing, metalwork, stone carving and vase painting.  Minoan seafarers at this time dominated the Eastern Mediterranean. After 1450BC, Mycenaeans arrived from Greece and became the dominant culture.

Item descriptions taken from museum labels.

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Clay figurine of squatting woman.  5300-3000BC.

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“Teapot” with elongated spout used for “liquids”.  2300-1900BC.

(Note the small snake on top of the spout).

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Pithos, flask, fruit-stand, bird-shaped vessel and other elaborate Kamares Ware vessels from Knossos.  1800-1700BC.

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Fragment of libation vessel with representation of an octopus.  Knossos, 1600-1450BC.

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The “Draughtboard”.

A board game inlaid with ivory, blue glass paste and rock crystal, plated with gold and silver.  Knossos, 1700-1450BC.

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Large jars.

Elaborately decorated large jars from Minoan palaces, urban houses and peripheral centres, used to store liquids such as wine and olive oil.  Their decoration with religious symbols, such as double axes and bucrania, and other characteristic themes such as the octopus, inspired by the Marine Style, made these vessels valuable display objects.

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Archetypal depiction of an octopus on a vase.

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Linear A script, used c.19001450BC.  Undeciphered.  Used for keeping records of agricultural products (figs, wheat, olives, wine and olive oil), textiles and vessels, humans and animals (sheep, goats, oxen, pigs).

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The earlier hieroglyphic script use up to c. 1900BC.  Though undeciphered, ninety of its signs represented syllables and others represented objects, products or living creatures.

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Large jar with patterns that may represent the suckers of an octopus.

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The original of the famous bull-leaping fresco.

Trained athletes of both sexes took part, represented with dark skin for men and white for women.  Minoan games were a precursor of the later Greek Olympic Games.

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Votive double axe of gold, Arkalochori Cave, 1700-1450BC.

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The Harvester Vase.

Black steatite rhyton with relief depiction of twenty-seven men carrying harvesting and winnowing implements.  A group of men sings to the accompaniment of the sustrum, a musical instrument with rattles sounded by rhythmical hand movements.  The procession may form part of a religious festival for the new harvest.  Hagia Triada, 1450BC.

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The Harvester Vase (different view).

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Offering by worshipper at mountain shrine.

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The “Dancer” Fresco.

A goddess is descending from the heavens, as indicated by the locks of hair streaming in the wind, a familiar convention in Minoan inconography for the goddess hovering in mid-air.  Her right arm, extended in a gesture of authority and command, indicates she formed part of a larger epiphany scene.  Knossos, 1600-1450BC.

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The Ring of Minos.

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The impression the signet ring would make on a wax seal.

The so-called Ring of Minos is a masterpiece of Minoan jewellery-making and an artwork of paramount importance for understanding religious iconography.  The composite image on its bezel summarises the three levels of epiphany. (Epiphany?  Say, metaphysical realisation.)  The goddess is depicted hovering in the air in miniature form, seated on a stepped platform topped with horns of consecration, and rowing and steering a boat with a seahorse-head prow.  Two scenes of tree-cult by a male and a female enrich the composition.

The passage of the goddess through the three natural elements of air, land and sea serves as a symbolic unification of the mortal world and vividly imposes the message of Minoan power over land and sea. Knossos, 1450-1400BC.

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Surprisingly, it’s actually a great elaborate jug.

Stone bull’s-head rhyton, left side of head and horns restored.  It is a masterpiece of Minoan art, worked with great precision to render the natural features of the real animal.  The snout is outlined with an inlay of white seashell, while the preserved right eye is inlaid with rock crystal, with rim and iris of red jasper.

This vessel would have been used for libations, as indicated by the hole in the neck for filling and the corresponding hole for pouring out the liquid.  Knossos – Little Palace 1600-1450BC.

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Also a jug.

Lioness-head rhyton of translucent limestone with a hole in the muzzle for pouring out the liquid offering.  An exquisitely modelled work, a typical example of the specialised stone-carvers’ skill in faithfully rendering the original.  The nose and eyes were originally inlaid with materials that have not survived.  Knossos 1600-1500BC.

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The “Snake Goddess”.

The most important cult objects from the Knossos Temple repositories are the figurines of the “Snake Goddess” named after the two snakes in her upraised hands.

The snakes suggest the chthonic character of the cult of the goddess (ie relating to the underworld), while the feline creature on her head suggests her dominion over wildlife.  The goddess wears luxurious garments, consisting of a long flounced skirt, an embroidered apron and a close-fitting bodice that exposes the large breasts, symbolic of the fertility of women, the goddess and by implication, nature itself.  Knossos, 1650-1550BC.

. Archaeology, Art, Crete, Greece, Heraklion, Heraklion Archaeological Museum, History, Knossos, Photography, Street photography, Travel Large conical rhytons, some with elaborate relief surfaces, made of various types of stone such as veined marble, limestone and porphyry.  Zakros 1500-1450BC.

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Large jars with impressive decorations.

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This is one of the 3,400 Linear B tablets recovered from Knossos, accidentally preserved by the fire that destroyed the city.  c.1425-1300BC.  Written in Greek and able to be read, they are lists of accounts, goods, military equipment, palace officials and dependants, and ritual offerings. They also record the complex taxation system, the land register and the administration of labour.  The script includes 89 symbols corresponding to syllables, other symbols corresponding to words, and numbers in decimal format.  Names recorded of members of the Knossian hierarchy are usually Greek whereas names of shepherds and other professionals are Minoan.  Names for official positions are also Greek, indicating the form of political administration may have changed with the takeover of the Mycenaeans.

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Burial in a wide-mouthed Pithos.  Wooden coffins were also used.  Neopalatial period 1700-1450BC.

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Boar’s tusk helmet with cheek-guards, as described in Homer’s Iliad for the helmet of the Cretan hero Meriones.  Knossos 1450-1300BC.

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The “Poppy Goddess”.

She is crowned with opium poppies, indicating that the goddess relieves pain and heals her worshippers.  Gazi, 1300-1200BC.

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Chest larnax with gabled lid, decorated with a net pattern.  It contains a skeleton in foetal position, with legs bent, indicative of the way the dead were buried.  Tylissos-Panikklisia 1370-1300BC.

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Panel of the “lily Frescoes” from an upper story room of the “Villa of the Lilies” at Amnisos.  It is thought to depict a fenced garden, a place of leisure and pleasure as well as a marker of high social status.  Amnissos, Villa, 1600-1500BC.

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Archaeology, Art, Crete, Greece, Heraklion, Heraklion Archaeological Museum, History, Knossos, Photography, Street photography, Travel A female figure with Mediterranean features and vivid make-up, part of the “Camp-Stool Fresco”, which probably mirrored actual banquets held in the upper hall of the West Wing of Knossos.  Her size and the “sacral knot” bunched up behind indicate that she was probably a leading priestess.  Knossos, 1450-1300BC.

. Archaeology, Art, Crete, Greece, Heraklion, Heraklion Archaeological Museum, History, Knossos, Photography, Street photography, Travel The “Cup-Bearer”, a figure from the “Procession Fresco”, shows a youth with long black hair, naked torso and a richly decorated kilt carrying a large silver rhyton, a ceremonial vessel.  This is the only life-size figure in a Minoan fresco whose head and torso are preserved. 1600-1450BC.

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Lekythos (vessel for storing olive oil) depicting Theseus slaying the Minotaur.  5th century BC.

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Archaic pithoi from 7th and 6th centuries BC, mostly from central Crete, and with humans for size comparison.  Their relief decorations were made individually with a mould-stamp and include imaginary creatures, animals, geometric patterns and occasionally mythological and ritual scenes.

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Bronze “drum” from the Idaean Cave.

This is a votive offering that shows strong iconographic and stylistic influences from Assyrian art.  Its shape however, and the winged daemons flanking the central figure and beating drums are a direct allusion to the Kouretes, the daemons who beat drums to drown out the infant Zeus’ cries and prevent his father, the child-eating Kronos, from finding him. Similarly, the central figure, treading on a bull and taming a lion, is identified as the Cretan-born Zeus. Geometric period, late 8th century BC.

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Bronze shield of the Idaean Cave.

These shield served as lavish votive offerings.  Their ornamentation is mostly of Assyrian influence and includes frontal animal heads in high relief in the centre, animals and imaginary oriental creatures in concentric zones or in pairs, and human figures such as archers attacking animals and, kn one case, a female fugure flanked by lions and sphinxes.

They are thought to be the products of a local workshop or of foreign craftsmen versed in eastern iconography, itinerant in or established in Crete.  They date from the late 9th or early 9th to the mid 7th century BC.

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Bronze helmet of the “Corintian” type with hammered image of two winged horses.  Axos-Sanctuary, Archaic period, 7th century BC.

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Bronze belly-guards, pieces of armour with winged horses. Axos-Sanctuary, Archaic period, 6th century BC.

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Detail of a vase decoration showing a couple of conversing lovers.  Arkades-Afrati, Archaic period, 7th century BC.

Frieze made of poros stone from Temple A of Prinias.  It is a series of relief plaques depicting a procession of horsemen, shown parading with their shields and spears.  The rendering echoes the austere Doric spirit of the Cretan towns of the period.  Prinias (possibly ancient Rizenia), Archaic period, 7th century BC.

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Knossos

Heraklion, Crete, Greece, 12 October 2018.

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(Click on any image to see it in a larger size, if you are on a PC or tablet at least.)

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This is a koulouras, from the West Court of the First “Palace” of Knossos, 2000 to 1700BC.  It was used for storing grain and presumably had a cover, probably wooden, perhaps woven.

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West Court.

Knossos was first excavated by Sir Arthur Evans, in the first two decades of the twentieth century.  He named the Minoan civilisation after the legendary King Minos. If Minos actually existed, he was probably from an earlier period than the “Palace” of Knossos.

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West Porch, Corridor of the Procession.

The West Porch (foreground) had a double door and led to the long Corridor of the Procession.  That was named after a fresco on an adjoining wall showing a procession of people with gifts and also musicians.

There was a settlement at Knossos as early as 7,000BC.  The first “palace” though, dates from around 2000BC.  There were also other equivalent “palaces at various sites in Crete with the main other ones been at Phaestos, Malia and Khania.  In this period the “palaces” had different styles so they were probably independent.  Around 1700BC they were all destroyed by earthquakes and fire and the rebuilt.  Knossos was rebuilt to a higher standard and the others now followed the Knossos style, indicating Knossos had now become dominant.

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South House

This is from the New Palace Period of 1700 to 1450 BC, and reconstructed with three stories.  Evans reconstructions are controversial as they are often based as much on imagination as evidence.  A modern archaeologist would not duplicate his approach.

The Minoan civilisation survived tsunamis from the Thira eruption around 1550BC but that eruption and resulting climatic disturbance probably undermined it.  The Mycenaeans from the mainland took over in 1450BC.  There was widespread devastation at this time and subsequent rebuilding, though in a simpler style with less naturalistic art.  The “palace” and outlying buildings were then destroyed by fire around 1300BC.  There was little reconstruction after that and the site was abandoned by 1100BC, though it was later occupied by Greeks and Romans.  The Cretans were not wiped out by the Mycenaeans because the distinctive pottery pithoi persisted and it is now believed there was a joint culture after 1450BC.

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Same place, different viewpoint.  Some may wonder at the hyper-realistic sculpture in the open doorway  of a young woman in full colour and in modern dress with perhaps a brochure and wearing a wristwatch.  It may be difficult at this distance to establish definitively if this is a creation of Evans or an unrestored original work of Minoan art.

The Minoan civilisation had a maritime culture with extensive trade and also colonies or partner states in Rhodes, Thira and the Cyclades.  Knossos and the other “palaces” were not fortified, indicating a relatively peaceful society that was not threatened by external invasion.  There were weapons and armour though and there was no doubt conflict at times between regional centres.  There were also guard posts on main roads, indicating some existence of banditry.

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Evans called Knossos and other centres palaces but it is by no means clear exactly how they operated.  Functions may have included administration, trade, religion, politics and social activities.

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Cup-Bearer Fresco, South Propylæum.

The South Propylæum was originally part of the Corridor of the Procession as shown in this fresco, related to the fresco of the procession mentioned earlier.

There was hieroglyphic script in the First Palatial Period and this was replaced after 1700BC by Linear A script, mainly on clay tablets.  Neither of these have been deciphered and the language used is unknown.  After 1450BC, there was Linear B script and the language was Greek.

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Large pithoi (storage jars), South Propylæum, Postpalatial Period (1450-1100BC).

More is known of activities in Knossos after 1450BC due to writings in Linear B script which can be read.  The was a leader called the Wanax and the administration was concerned with land tenure, religion and textiles.  There were over 700 shepherds harvesting 50–75 tons of raw wool, woven by nearly 1,000 workers, and producing up to 20,000 textile items.  It is not known whether this may have differed before theMycenaeans took over in 1450BC.

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Piano Nobile.

The piano nobile is largely Evan’s creation.  He thought there would be first floor reception rooms like in a Italian Renaissance palazzo.  In the background it the Central Court, where bull-jumping and other activities would have occurred.  (I did not think to photograph this more directly).

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. Archaeology, Architecture, Art, Crete, Greece, Heraklion, History, Knossos, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Bases of columns near the West Magazines, long narrow spaces for storing pithoi.

Archaeology, Architecture, Art, Crete, Greece, Heraklion, History, Knossos, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Les Parisiennes.

When an early archaeologist saw this fresco, impressed by the sophistication of their attire, he exclaimes “But these are les Parisiennes!”.  (Sorry about the reflections).

We now see a succession of frescoes from the Hall of the Fresco Copies.  So these are not the originals,  held in controlled environments in museums.  I presume that the originals, usually fragmentary, would have been found in various locations in Knossos.

What is known of Minoan art and religion indicate it was a culture with a much more prominent role for women than later cultures.  It is not known whether it was a matriarchal culture but one aspect must have been men going off in ships to trade and leaving women with a large role in running the homeland.

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The Bull-Jumping Fresco.

A feature of Minoan culture was bull-jumping, an initiation ritual for young men. The bull would presumably be charging at them and their task was to grab the horns, somersault over the bull and be caught by attendants.

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The fresco represents an octopus, it’s recreated from fragments (as you can see if you click on it for a larger view and look carefully) and the original is 3,500 years old or more but it could almost be modern art.

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. Archaeology, Architecture, Art, Crete, Greece, Heraklion, History, Knossos, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

. Archaeology, Architecture, Art, Crete, Greece, Heraklion, History, Knossos, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

. Archaeology, Architecture, Art, Crete, Greece, Heraklion, History, Knossos, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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This is nearby the Hall of the Fresco Copies, but I’m not sure exactly where.

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This shows something of the context.

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Prince of the Lillies Fresco.

This is a very fragmentary reconstruction by Evans at the South Entrance.  There are various opinions as to how it should appear.

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A set of stairs, now seemingly into the void.

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This is the North Entrance, seen from the side.

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Moving around, the actual entrance was just to the right.

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… and here is a closer view of what remains of the fresco.

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This is The Throne Room.

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A slightly different viewpoint.

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And the “throne”.

This is a wooden copy of a stone “throne” from an adjoining room.  The purpose of the room is unknown.  It may have been used for religious ceremonies but was unlikely to have been a throne room in the modern sense.

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Shrine of the Double Axes.

A stone double axe and votive clay offerings were fond here.

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Outside The Hall of Double Axes.

This was named by Evans after double axe signs carved into the walls of the lightwell at the rear.  Evans thought it was the King’s residence.

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Inside The Queen’s Megaron.

A richly decorated room that Evans though must have belonged to the Queen.  A small side-room is named the Queen’s bathroom due to ceramic fragments that he thought were remains of a bath.

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Outside The Queen’s Megaron.

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Pithoi from The Magazines of the Giant Pithoi.

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Pithoi from the Corridor of the Bays.

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North Lustral Basin

This leads down to a room at a lower level than the rest of Knossos that Evans thought was something like a cistern, used for purification ceremonies.  However, it is unlikely that there was water here and its purpose is unknown.

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Theatral Area.

This reminded Evans of later Greek theatres and he thought this may have been used for performances viewed by a standing crowd.

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The Royal Road.

So-named by Evans with his usual royalist preoccupation.  It continues on (under the modern road) to the Minoan town that eventually became Heraklion.

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References:

Thira Monochromes – Akrotiri and Pyrgos

Thira (Santorini), Greece, 12 October 2018.

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Links go to colour posts (with information and historical context). If an image does not have a link, the preceding one applies.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size, if you are on a PC or tablet at least.)

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Akrotiri, Archaeology, Architecture, Belltowers, Black and White, Greece, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Pyrgos, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel

Akrotiri.

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In Megalochori, on the back-street route to Pyrgos.

Pyrgos – Bell towers and doors

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All remaining images from Pyrgos.

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. Akrotiri, Archaeology, Architecture, Belltowers, Black and White, Greece, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Pyrgos, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel .

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Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

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. Akrotiri, Archaeology, Architecture, Belltowers, Black and White, Greece, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Pyrgos, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel .

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View over centre of the island from Pyrgos.

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Akrotiri

Thira (Santorini), Greece, 12 October 2018.

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(Click on any image to see it in a larger size, if you are on a PC or tablet at least.)

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Akrotiri, Archaeology, Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel

Akrotiri is a town that was buried in ash and mud over 2.500 years ago.  It survived though buried because it is on the far south of the main island, on the opposite side to the caldera.  No bodies were found here, though there was the impressions of furniture in the volcanic ash, so the population was likely forewarned to evacuate.  (Some readers may remember my visit to Plymouth on Montserrat, a town that was buried in volcanic ash in 1997 and later inundated by a lahar.)

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Archaeological excavations are still ongoing.

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There is an extensive modern roof built to protect the ancient city.  It collapsed in 2005, just before completion, killing one visitor.  The site was closed and not reopened until 2012.

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There is a whole city here, with a central street, houses clustered around small squares and a sewage system.

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Some of the stonework is quite precise.

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In the fifth millennium BC, Akrotiti was a small fishing village and we visited the current equivalent of that port in the post Red Beach and Akrotiri Lighthouse, except that the modern shore line and water level may be quite different.

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In the third millennium BC, Akrotiri greatly expanded and frequent finds of foreign pottery speak of a thriving trade centre with links to Cyprus and Minoan Crete.

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This is the West House, adjoining triangle square.  It was a large well-constructed private residence with at least three stories.

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Hundreds of loom weights found in the ruins of this house, fallen from upper floors, attest to significant weaving activities there.

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The ground floor included store rooms, workshops, a kitchen and a mill with machinery for grinding grain into flour.  The first floor included a toilet and bathroom.  The house also included some remarkable frescos including the Flotilla Fresco, now housed in the Museum of Archaeology in Athens.  Unfortunately, when we were at that museum, we missed the mezzanine floor with relics from Minoan Crete and Thira.  However, I will have some frescos from Crete to show you in a later post.

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Triangle Square with the West House on the left.

Thira is prone to Plinian Eruptions (extremely explosive eruptions, producing ash columns that extend many tens of miles into the stratosphere and that spread out into an umbrella shape).  There have been at least twelve in the last 360,000 years.

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This is a representation of a view of pre-eruption Thira from the Flotilla Fresco, found in the West House.  It shows a maritime festival, with galleys rowing from a town on the left (on the current island of Thirasia) to a town on the right (in the current location of Oia).  There are many dolphins in the sea and the landscape on the right does not have the current high cliffs of Oia.

The much smaller inundated caldera of this time was left over from the Cape Riva eruption around 22,000 years ago.  the small central island slowly rose in the caldera from 20,000 years ago.  The view from the fresco is confirmed by stratographic archaeological evidence.

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The red outline shows the pre-eruption island.  According to Herodotus, at the time of the eruption, the island was named Strongyli (“the Round One” in ancient Greek).  Akrotiri is at bottom centre and Ancient Thera (previous post) at bottom right.  The two towns from the fresco are indicated with stars near the mouth of the small caldera.  There is no trace of them any more.

There were four phases to the historic eruption, within a fairly short time frame.  It was preceded by earthquakes and a light ash flow which may have allowed people to escape.  The first phase included deposits of pumice up to six metres thick.  In the second and third phases, the vent had migrated to underneath the old caldera so they were phreatomagmatic (ie underwater, like the recent Tongan eruptions; I bet you’ve never heard that word before).  The fourth phase included extremely hot pyroclastic flows.

Earlier eruptions built up a cone of tuff and the final eruption blew all that away and produced a huge tsumani that devastated the coast of Crete.  It was one of the largest eruptions of human history, four times larger than the Krakatoa eruption of 1883.  In 536AD a smaller eruption of unknown source (possibly Krakatoa) caused climate conditions that devastated Justinian’s Eastern Roman Empire for years afterwards.  So although the tsunami didn’t wipe out Minoan Crete, its climatic aftermath may have been a major cause of decline.

.Akrotiri, Archaeology, Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel

Akrotiri slowly rises from the ashes.

. Akrotiri, Archaeology, Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel .

. Akrotiri, Archaeology, Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel

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. Akrotiri, Archaeology, Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel

No cisterns have been found that collected drinking water from rain but the discovery of a different type of pipe to that used for sewage may indicate an aqueduct from Mount Prophitis Elias, near Ancient Thera.

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Perhaps this is a basin for washing grain, food or clothing.

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An ancient bucket, it would seem.

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Mortar and pestle.

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Excavations continue and some areas are roped off where archaeologists are working.  A house adjoining Triangle Square near West House is yet to be excavated for example.  Perhaps there are more frescos to uncover.

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Archaeologists at work.

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There are many pithoi, or large jars for storage.  they are generally in situ, though presumably they have been lifted out, cleaned or repaired, and replaced where they were.  The pithoi were used for storing water, wine, olive oil, grain or other vegetable products.

. Akrotiri, Archaeology, Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel . Akrotiri, Archaeology, Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel . Akrotiri, Archaeology, Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel . Akrotiri, Archaeology, Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel . Akrotiri, Archaeology, Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel . Akrotiri, Archaeology, Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel . Akrotiri, Archaeology, Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel . Akrotiri, Archaeology, Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel . Akrotiri, Archaeology, Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel . Akrotiri, Archaeology, Architecture, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Santorini, Street photography, Thira, Travel .

Reference:   Constraining the landscape of Late Bronze Age Santorini prior to the Minoan eruption: Insights from volcanological, geomorphological and archaeological findings; Karátson, Telbisz, Gertisser, Strasser, Nomikou, Druitte, Vereb, Quidelleur and Kósikg; Journal of Volcanology abd Geotyhermal Research, 1 September 2020.

Monochromes from Athens

9 to 10 October 2018, Athens, Greece.

Links go to colour posts (with more information and historical context). If an image does not have a link, the preceding one applies.

Click on any image to see it larger (if on a PC at least).

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Acropolis, Ancient Agora of Athens, Archaeology, Architecture, Athens, Black and White, Greece, History, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Roman Agora, Street photography, Travel

The Acropolis from the Temple of Hephaistos.

Ancient Agora in Athens

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Looking down on the Odeon of Herodes Atticus.

Acropolis Now.

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The Temple of Athena Nike, looking up from the path to the Acropolis.

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The steps of the Propylaea.

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Inside the Propylaea.

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Looking back at the Propylaea.

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Approaching the Parthenon.

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The Caryatids, the Erechtheion.

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The Erechtheion.

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Parthenon detail.

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Parthenon relief.

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Front steps of the Parthenon.

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Temple of Olympian Zeus.

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The top of Mount Lycabettus.

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Church of Saint Marina at Thiselo.

Roman Agora in Athens

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Church of the Holy Apostles.

Ancient Agora in Athens

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On the pathway down from the Acropolis.

Roman Agora in Athens

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Roman Agora.

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Relief on the Horologion.

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Roman Agora and the Horologion.

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Inside the Horologion.

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The streets of Athens.

Ancient Agora in Athens

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The Stoa of Attalo and the Ancient Agora.

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Portrait head of a man, 2nd century AD.

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Under the dome of the Church of the Holy Apostles.

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Relief, Church of the Holy Apostles.

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The Temple of Hephaistos.

. Acropolis, Ancient Agora of Athens, Archaeology, Architecture, Athens, Black and White, Greece, History, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Roman Agora, Street photography, Travel … closer view.

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The Propylaea in late afternoon light from the City of Athens.

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Part of a marble disk with female head in relief, perhaps Aphrodite. c. 460-450 BC.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens

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From Delos (“Palaestra of Granite”). Early 1st c. BC.

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Bronze helmet of illyrian type and gold funerary mask.  530-510 BC.

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Grave stele. End of the fifth century BC.

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National Archaeological Museum, Athens

Athens, 10 October 2018.

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(Click on any image to see it in a larger size, if you are on a PC or tablet at least.)

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On the morning before our flight out to Thira, we visited the Archaeological museum, near where we were staying.  Unfortunately, we missed the mezzanine floor with items from Crete, and by the time we realised this it was too late to turn back.  Still, there was a lot to see.  They are in the order we walked around the museum, which was roughly chronological for the exhibits.  Descriptions are from the labels with the items.

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Gold diadem with repoussé circles and rosettes, grave items, 17th to 16th centuries BC, Mycenae.

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Elephant or hippopotamus ivory warriors’ head wearing boar’s tusk helmet.  From a Mycenaean Chamber Tomb from the palace period of the 14th and 13th centuries BC.

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Necklaces made of carnelian beads, Mycenae Chamber tombs, 15th-12th centuries BC.

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Three-handled Palace Style amphora with three large octopuses within a marinescape of rocks and seaweed. A Mycenaean imitation of the Minoan Marine Style.  15th century BC.

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Gold signet ring, the largest extant Mycenaean ring.  It depicts a procession of lion-headed daemons holding libation jugs and moving towards an enthroned goddess.  The goddess wears a long chiton and raises a ritual vessel.  Behind the throne is an eagle-symbo! of dominion. The sun’s heel and crescent moon appear in the sky. 15th century BC.

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The ‘Mycenaean Lady’. The serious and pensive expression of the goddess reveals the solemnity of the moment, as she accepts, slightly smiling, the gift, a necklace, which she holds tightly in her right hand.  She wears a short-sleeved bodice over a sheer blouse, which delineates her ample bosom. Her intricate hairstyle and rich jewellery (necklaces and bracelets) are striking.  Wall-painting from the Acropolis of Mycenae, 13th century BC.

The art of wail-painting first appeared in the Aegean in Minoan Crete and was closely associated with palatial architecture. Indeed, monumental painting was an official art, undertaken by artists who worked for the king. The iconography is inspired from the natural world or exhibits religious ceremonies from the royal court. The art of wall-painting spread to mainland Greece with the construction of the palaces at Myconae, Tiryns, Thebes and Pylos, after the Mycenaeans established themselves at the palace of Knossos in Crete, at the end of the 15th century BC. The Mycenaean artist used natural earth colours, made mainly of metal oxides, which he applied onto a wet plaster surface.

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Fragment of a wall-painting depicting three women looking out of the windows of a festooned house. The scene’s festive character and women’s gestures of veneration and surprise indicate that they are watching a religious spectacle.  From the ‘Ramp House’, Mycenae acropolis. 14th century BC.

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Gold signet rings depicting religious scenes: ecstatic dances in open air sanctuaries, processions of women approaching sanctuaries, preparations for animal sacrifices and ‘sacred conversation’.  Mycenae Chamber tombs, 15th-14th centuries BC.  (Also next two images).

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In a landscape of olive trees, a bull is captured by peaceful means: a man ties a thick rope around the bull’s leg, while the beast flirts with a cow. (Though just the flirting shown in this image.)

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In a landscape of olive and palm trees, a raging bull attacks and repels two hunters (and on the other side of the object, another bull  is caught in a net).

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Bronze statue of a horse and young jockey.  Retrieved in pieces from the shipwreck off Cape Artemision in Euboea. The young jockey of the galloping horse will have held the reins in his left hand and a whip in his right. The contractions and furrows on his face, especially on the forehead, reveal agony and passion. The work is known as the “Artemision Jockey”. About 140 BC.

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Female funerary statue. Marble.  Found on Delos. The female figure is rendered in the type of the Small Herculaneum Woman. She wears a full-length chiton and a himation that covers her entire body and arms.  Copy made in the 2nd c. BC of a famous original dating from about 300 BC.

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Votive relief. Marble.  Found to the south of the river Ilissos, Athens.  The relief has the form of a naiskos with pilasters, an epistyle and a cornice. Herakles is depicted at the right holding the lion’s pelt and club.  In the centre of the scene, a bull is led to sacrifice by a servant. At the left is depicted a family of worshipers with their maidservant, who carries a basket covered with a cloth on her head. The votive inscription on the epistyle mentions: Panis Aigirios to Herakles. The relief probably comes from the sanctuary of Herakles at Kynosarges.  4th c. BC.

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Votive relief and base. Marble.  Found in the cave of the Nymphs on Mount Penteli, Attica. The relief, in the form of a cave, is set on a tall, rectangular base, on which is carved an inscription stating that the relief was dedicated to the Nymphs by Agathemeros. The dedicator is depicted at the right holding in his right hand a kantharos, which a nude wine-server is filling. In front of them, seated on a rock, the goat-footed god Pan holds the pan-pipe.  Next to him is Hermes, holding the caduceus and wearing a chlamys.
Three Nymphs are depicted behind him.  About 330 BC.

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Part of a marble disk with female head in relief.  The goddess of beauty, Aphrodite, is perhaps depicted. Her rich hair is gathered in a sakkos (snood), which curves over the nape of the lean neck. An additional curl would be attached to the temple. The face emits grace and balanced beauty.  From Melos. Around 460-450 BC.

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Golden bracelets.  Two realistically shown snakes, with red precious stones, were wrapped around the arms of a priestess, protecting her from all evil.  The bracelet in the form of a coiled snake was the paramount type than predominated in the Hellenistic period.  Unknown provenance (from the so-called Karpenissi Treasure). Late 3rd – early 2nd century BC.

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Gold chain-net head jewel.  A fine chain net, adorned with red gems and blue enamel.  The goddess Artemis, wearing her arrow case on her right shoulder, is shown on the medallion.  It was perhaps made to fasten the gathered up hair of a priestess.  Unknown provenance (from the so-called Karpenissi Treasure). 4th – early 3rd century BC.

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Hexagonal wooden pyxis.  Wooden box, decorated with rectangular gold plates, ornamented in the repousse technique.  Three decorative themes are repeated on the side panels of the pyxis:  a lion chase of a deer and a roe in a tropical landscape, and a running spiral pattern.  From Mycenaean Grave Circle A, Shaft Grave V.  Second half of 16th century BC.

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Grave stele of an athlete.  The athlete is depicted naked, holding a javelin in the left hand.  The treatment of the musculature in the torso and hands follows the archaic conventions but it is marked by plastic contours and soft transitions. The elaborate headdress is tied with a ribbon and combed in twisted braids and tresses with spiral and helicoid terminals.  Red paint is preserved in the background of the relief and on the hair.  From Athens. 550-540 BC.

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From Delos (“Palaestra of Granite”).  A distinctively realistic face of an anonymous figure carrying the burden of ephemeral thoughts and evryday concerns. Wrinkles on the forehead, at the edges of the eyes, melancholic expression of a wet look, made more lively by the colour variegation of the eyes, are characteristics that contrast the idealism of the classic rule.  Early 1st c. BC.

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Bronze helmet of illyrian type and gold funerary mask.  From Chalcidice. 530-510 B.C

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Goddess on a throne. Attic workshop. Terracotta.  End of 6th/beginning of 5th century BC.

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Statue of the princess-priestess Takushit.  Found on Kom Tourougka, near Lake Mareotis, south of Alexandria, in 1880. The woman’s name means ‘the Ethiopian’ and may refer to her relation or marriage to an Ethiopian. Her father was Akanosh Il, great chief of the Ma tribe from Libya.   The figure’s characteristic garment is executed with inlaid decoration, a technique in which the engraved design is inlaid with precious metal wire. The motifs are hieroglyphs and deities of the northeast region of the Nile Delta, Takushit’s homeland.  The statue had a ritual, votive, and funerary use.  Copper alloy with precious metal inlay.  End of 25th Dynasty, approximately 670 BC.

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Copper alloy statuette of the god Sarapis Amun Agathodaemon.  One of the rare preserved statues of this deity.

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Copper alloy statue of Isis with Horus the child.

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Copper alloy sarcophagus for a cat.

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Helmet of Corinthian type. A fragmentary inscription on the right cheekpiece indicates that it was dedicated by the Athenians. Late 6th-early 5th century BC.

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Grave stele. Thespian marble. Found in the outskirts of Thebes.  Two figures, a bearded man with a staff on the right and a spinning (?) woman on the left, sit facing each other. Three more figures, two men and a woman, stand in the background. A very small female attendant is represented at far left.  Characteristic attributes are the pomegranate and torch (?) held by the standing bearded man in his left hand, as well as the aryballos in the right hand of the beardless youth. The solemnity of the relief, which is emphasized by the rhythmic arrangement of the magnificent figures in two levels, points to the heroization of the dead —a fact that accords with the Boeotian origin of the stele.  End of the fifth century BC.

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Grave stele. Marble.  Found northeast of Athens, in Chalandri (ancient Phlya).  A bearded man supported on a staff offers a bird to a young boy standing before him. Both figures are draped. The inscription identifies them as Philokles and his son Dikaios, and also records their patronymics.  ca. 410 BC.

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Head of a bearded god. Pentelic marble.  Found in Piraeus, in a sanctuary of Eetioneia. It represents Zeus or Hermes.  This may be the head of the herm dedicated by Python from Abdera in Thrace, a work of the Parian sculptor Euphron.  450 – 440 BC.

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Votive relief. Pentelic marble. Found in Sounion, near the Temple of Athena. It represents a self-crowning athlete and was probably dedicated by a victor in local games.  His wreath was made of metal and fitted to the drilled holes that are visible around the head. ca. 460 BC.

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Statue of a Sphinx. Pentelic marble. Found in Spata, Attica.  One of the earliest known Archaic Sphinxes, it was once used as finial of a grave stele.  About 570 B.C.

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Statue of a kore. Parian marble.  Found in Merenda (ancient Myrrhinous), Attica. The fully
preserved statue stood atop the grave of Phrasikleia, as is indicated by the inscription on the pedestal. The expression of the face and the rendering of garment that follows the curves of the body underneath are remarkable.  The chiton retains in many places its painted decoration with rosettes, swastikas, stars and meanders. An extraordinary work, one of the most important of the ripe Archaic style. Made by the sculptor Aristion from Paros. 550-540 B.C.

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Monumental Attic grave-amphora.  From the Kerameikos cemetery. The main scene, shows the prothesis and mourning for the dead. Over the bier is the shroud.  Men, women and a child lament with the hands on their heads, in the usual mourning gesture.  Work by the «Dipylon Painter». Late Geometric Period. 760-750 BC.

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