Thursday 19 February 2009

Yannis Tzedakis
Ministry of Culture

Armenoi: cemetery, city, surrounding area
The excavation began in 1969 and continued, with some inevitable breaks, until 2004. 232 chamber tombs and a small tholos tomb were excavated, dating to LM IIIA1 to the end of the LM IIIB period. Preliminary results of the ongoing osteoarchaeological study indicate that at least 1000 people were buried in the cemetery. Systematic excavations in an extensive area around the site, and detailed study of the finds (funerary stelai, pottery, larnakes, bronze vases, weapons and jewellery, sealstones, necklaces, etc.) contribute to a better understanding of the reasons behind the foundation and floruit of the town to which the cemetery belonged. Test excavations in 2007 and 2008 in the small village of Kastellos, very close to the cemetery, revealed the location of the Minoan town, in both the heart of the Venetian settlement and outside it.
The town is at a strategic location on the north-south axis, thus ideally placed to control trading activities (in animals, wool, olive oil, wine, agricultural products) and important raw materials such as copper/bronze and semiprecious stones. Clay analyses of vases and larnakes, in relation to local clay beds, provide the first satisfactory evidence for the existence of a local workshop for the production of pottery, and another for the more than 32 larnakes. The founders of this Minoan town had exceptional technical knowledge, as is clear from the way in which they selected this site for the cemetery, because it was the only suitable one, geologically, for so many tombs on two levels. The organisation of the cemetery: a separation into large and small tombs (tomb architecture) is apparent, at least in the first phase. The smoothing of the bedrock, the system of dromoi inside the tombs, the ritual deposits indicate perfect understanding.
Continuing excavation and study will provide more information about the life and the interests of those talented Minoans.


Next Seminar

Friday 12 May 18.30

M. Marthari
Raos on Thera...