Crete : Minoan Crete
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Zakros Palace and Archaeological Site
Sitia, East Crete
at 1.4km (E)
Like the other Cretan palaces, the palace of Zakros, was first built in about 1900 B.C. The present ruins seen by the visitor belong to the second building phase, in about 1600 BC.
The total area of the palace, including ancillary buildings, is approximately 10,000 sq.m. It was not only the permanent residence of the royal family, but also the administrative, as well as commercial and religious centre of the surrounding area.
The long term excavations have yielded over 10,000 objects, many of them considered unique, which are now on display in the Iraklion and Sitia museums.
Palaikastro Archaeological site
Sitia, East Lassithi
at 10.9km (N)
At the northernmost edge of the eastern coast of Crete lie the ruins of a settlement which flourished during the Late Minoan period (1550-1220 B.C.). At the same site, however, are preserved remains of the Early and Middle Minoan periods (3000-1550 B.C.), mostly cemeteries with well-built ossuaries, and ruins of spacious houses. The site ceased to be inhabited at the same time when Zakros was abandoned (1450 B.C.) but was reoccupied during the Late Minoan III period (1300-1200 B.C.). The city covered a total area of more than 50,000 sq.m., was densely inhabited but not fortified.
To the NE of one of the city's sectors lies the sanctuary of Diktaian Zeus, which belonged administratively to the city of Itanos. Cult practice was continuous from the Geometric period (8th century B.C.) until the Roman conquest. It seems that the sanctuary was plundered and destroyed by fanatic Christians at the end of the 4th century A.D.
Sitia, East Lassithi
at 13.5km (W)
The village of Handras (or Chandras (GR: Χανδράς) is in the Municipality of Lefki at the Armeni-Handras plateau and 27 km from the town of Sitia.
First recorded in a venetian census in 1583 as Candra and Chandra with a population of 399 like today.
Ancient Minoan sites were found at the Plakalonia area as well as at the Gras and Katrani places.
There is a peak sanctuary at the hill of Xykefalo between Handras and Kasteliona at an altitude of 705 m. In spite of its looting a lot of ancient objects were found.
The cave of Panagia Gouda is at the Handra region.
This region includes the communities of Voila, Agios Panteleimonas and Pano Panteli. At Pano Panteli there is an old church the Metamorfosis in which there is an inscription that says: Petro Abramo was here in 1486.
Sitia Archaeological Museum
at 17.2km (NW)
Rich displays cover the periods 3500 B.C to 500 A.D. The oldest artifacts come from the wider region of Sitia. The museum is divided into five chronological parts and displays include a valuable collection of vases, clay tablets in Linear A script which were found in the archives at Zakros, figurines from peak sanctuaries, a wine press from the neo-palatial period and a Hellenistic wheat mill. Of special interest is the ivory and gold male figurine which was found in Roussolakkos near Palekastro.
Makry Gialos Minoan Villa
at 26.2km (W)
In 1971 systematic excavations were begun by the Ephor of Antiquities Kostis Davaras north-west of the village at Plakakia. Here he located an important villa of the lateminoan period. The dig was completed in 1977 having shown that the villa had been destroyed by fire.It had strong outer walls, inner courts, many rooms with thresholds, flagged floors and areas perhaps connected with the worship of the Sacred Tree. It must have been roofed with bamboo canes covered by a layer of clay (as a number of the older traditional village houses still are). Among the most important movable finds were vessels of pottery and stone, figurines and an amygdaloid seal-stone of steatite engraved with a representation of a Sacred Ship. On the ship a sacred precinct or altar is shown with a tall palm-like tree standing like a mast. On the prow of the ship a worshiper or a priestess stands facing the altar, clenched fist raised to the brow in the recognized Minoan attitude of worship. This is the first clear evidence of the existence of Sacred Ships or Boats connected with the Minoan religion; it has its parallels in the ancient religions of Egypt and Mesopotamia.
Source: "Sitia" by Nikos Papadakis - archaeologist
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