Zakros to Matala

Zakros, Crete, Greece, 14 October 2018.

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After visiting the ancient Minoan site at Zakros (previous post) we travelled along the south coast to Matala.

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Architecture, Crete, Greece, History, Landscape, Matala, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Zakros

Nisida Kafali and Nisida Kavallos.

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Paralia Mazida Amnos (the islands are offshore).

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Ierapetra.

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Somewhere between Ierapetra and Matala, but closer to Matala.

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Another of the wonderful little roadside shrines (iconostases or kandilakia).

They commemorate lives both lost and saved, usually road accidents.

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We have now reached Matala and it is very late in the afternoon.  This and the next images appears to be taken from out hotel room.

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Some of the famous caves of Matala.

They date back to neolithic times and one is reputed to have been the residence of Brutus for a time.  “Hippies” lived in them in the 70s, including Joni Mitchell, who sang about her time there in Carey and also in a verse in California, both from her 1971 album Blue.

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Matala at night.

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You can make out some of the caves at the bottom of the cliff on the left.

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Next morning, a couple exploring the historic caves (with a long lens from our hotel room).

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Zakros

Zakros, Crete, Greece, 14 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 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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Archaeology, Architecture, Crete, Greece, History, Landscape, Minoan Civilisation, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Zakros

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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Agia Fotini, Archaeology, Crete, Greece, History, Landscape, Lasithi Plateau, Palaikastro, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Zakros

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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Zakros and Eastern Crete.

Zakros and Eastern Crete, Greece, 14th to 16th October 2018.
Temporary Post. Brief image descriptions and no commentary.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Crete, Greece, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Zakros

 Windmills of Lasithi Plateau.

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Agias Foteinis, Pahia Ammos.

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Small launch near Psira.

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Rousolakos Minoan Site.

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Ancient Roussolakis road.

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Ancient house, Roussolakis.

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Small church between Palékastro and Zákros.

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Garden of a house in Zakros Village.

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Zakros Minoan Site.

Chair or throne?

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Ceremonial basin and remains of a mural.

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Road.

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Has to be a couch.

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Overview of Zakros Minoan Site.

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Zakros Minoan Site.

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Zakros Beach.

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Nisida Kefali and Nisida Kevallos, Kavalli Islands.

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Amátos.

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Ierápetra.

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Miniature roadside chapel.

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