(ANSAmed) - ATHENS, OCTOBER 4 - An accidental meeting in 1982 between a well-known Greek archaeologist, Yannis Sakellarakis, and a shepherd from Crete has led to an archaeological discovery of great importance – Zominthos, a settlement from the Minoan era on the plain by the same name, 1.187 metres above the sea. The settlement is at the feet of the highest mountain in Crete, Mount Psiloritis, eight kilometres from the village of Anogia along the road which led from Knossos to Ideon Andron, the cave where Zeus was born according to Greek mythology.
The shepherd, who lived in Anogia, invited the archaeologist who was working at an excavation site nearby to visit the area of Zominthos. The name was enough for an expert like Sakellarakis to suspect that something could be found in that area. Once he travelled to Zominthos the following day, he realized he was standing in front of a settlement from the Minoan era hiding behind the thick vegetation. A year later, in the summer of 1983, Sakellaris with colleague and partner Efi Sapouna Sakellaraki started excavations until 1990. They resumed them in 2004 and they are ongoing.
In the past few years, the remains of an impressive and luxurious building from 3,500 years ago has seen the light. The building has two or three floors and some 80 rooms including workshops and storage rooms over a surface of 1,360 square metres and it is in excellent state. Sapouna-Sakellaraki told To Vima weekly that it is the first Minoan mountain settlement built in the same period as the Palace of Knossos. The archaeologist also said this is the largest summer residence found so far from the Minoan era.
The structure of the building shows that it was not a seasonal house for shepherds but a luxury residence for local leaders. The building was a great administrative centre and was built with large, elongated stones while walls had been painted in different colours as shown by the building's remains. Experts believe the palace was destroyed by a violent earthquake.
Research so far has shown that three time periods emerge from the remains of the Palace of Zominthos – its first construction in 1900 BC, the second around 1600 BC at the height of its prosperity, when it was presumably destroyed by an earthquake and around 1400 BC when another building was built nearby.
Archaeological findings in Zominthos are several including signets with scorpions or birds and ornamental objects in copper and ivory. Two copper statues were also found, "among the most beautiful from the most prosperous Minoan period", said the archaeologist, who believes these prove the area was also a place of worship. Excavations have in fact unearthed among other things a metallic cylinder with snakes which could have been the sceptre of a priest and a copper cup. (ANSAmed)
Originally posted by thePharaoh
thanx for posting...its a breath of fresh air.....
what i mean is that i like the date - 3,500 yrs ago
watch out,,the gnostics will be here shortly to claim its 35,000 yrs old lol
The Minoan Palaces are oriented north to south and are unfortified. This means that they are not surrounded by high walls, although small fortifications have now been discovered in many parts of Crete.
They are building complexes, meaning that they are comprised of many wings of small rooms. The wings extended in the four cardinal directions (north, south, east and west) around a rectangular central court, which functioned as a lung providing the surrounding rooms with air and light.
Apart from the central court there were other paved courts, large enough to accommodate various events. Some even contained a theatral area - tiers of steps used as theatre seats.
The west wing of the palaces was usually considered a sacred space. It is no coincidence that this is where the magazines or storerooms were located, demonstrating the importance of trade to the Minoan economy.
The east wing generally contained the various workshops.
The palaces are multi-storeyed with large staircases, lightwells and water and drainage systems.
Several rooms contain frescoes providing us with information on Minoan life.
The palace entrances were particularly elaborate. They often used polythyra, a system of doors set next to each other, with a lovely aesthetic result. These, combined with the many columns and imposing staircases, formed imposing propylaea leading into the palaces.
Stone was widely used in the construction of the palaces. The stone walls were plastered and decorated with frescoes (wall paintings where the painting is painted directly onto the damp plaster, so that the colour sinks into it indelibly). Other materials used in the construction of the palaces included alabaster and wood.
The rooms of the palace were heated on cold winter days by open wood-burning hearths on the floor. Only one closed fireplace has been found to date, in the throne room at Knossos.
The palace windows were unglazed, as the Minoans lacked the necessary technology to make panes of glass. However, some windows of thin sheets of alabaster have been found. They are so fine as to be semi-transparent, allowing light in but preventing anyone from seeing clearly either in or out.
Finally, it is worth mentioning an impressive feature of the Minoan palaces: their famous, four-thousand-year-old drainage systems. These are stone structures with running water used to flush the lavatories in various rooms. Stone ducts also formed drains which led rainwater from the courts outside the palaces, to eliminate the risk of flooding. Finally, clay ducts which fitted into each other distributed clean drinking water throughout the palace. The water was piped down from often remote springs, along extensive stone aqueducts.
Finds from the Zominthos excavation
Zominthos is the site of a Neopalatial (c. 1600 BC) building complex with obvious palatial features, of a huge size for its time. This is obviously the administrative centre of the wider area, which was destroyed by a major earthquake along with the surrounding settlement around 1400 BC and never reinhabited.
The central building, with a North-South orientation like that of the palaces, covers an area of approximately 1600 sq. m. and dominated the west hillside, controlling the whole plateau. It has imposing indented façades built of large, dressed blocks of local stone. Its walls, preserved to a height of up to 3m, were faced with clay for insulation and decorated with wall paintings.
This building with many rooms had at least two to three floors, which were destroyed by earthquake (c. 1400 BC), so only the ground floor is visible today.
In the northwest part of the central building was found a workshop with a kiln and more than 150 clay artefacts for everyday use. Many important objects for use and ritual artefacts were also found, made of rare and valuable materials such as rock crystal, which the Minoans believed to have magical properties.
The careful and solid construction of the Zominthos buildings, together with the important excavation finds (traces of wall paintings, delicate painted vessels of precious materials, jewellery and a plethora of other finds), indicate a Minoan polity, i.e. a handicraft, religious and administrative centre of high aesthetic standards, built on a strategic spot for the control of the area, well-organised and fully adapted to the harsh conditions of the Cretan mountains.