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New evidence for the Minoan palace at Zominthos

The Greek Ministry of Culture announced the conclusion of the 2016 excavation season at the Minoan palatial complex at Zominthos by the Greek Archaeological Society under the direction of Mrs. Efi Sapouna-Sakellarakis.

New evidence for the Minoan palace at Zominthos
 Aerial view of the Minoan complex at Zominthos [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
The latest excavations at Zominthos showed that the Neopalatial complex, whose main building phase dates to c.1750 BC, extended over an even larger area during the earlier Old Palace period (c.1900 BC) when the Minoan palaces were first constructed. It is thought that the earlier structure comprised some 150 rooms and was two (and in some place three) storeys tall.

Corridors, stairways, new pillared halls, polythyra (a system of doors set next to each) and skylights have been added to the majestic complex during the course of this year's excavations. The walls, which in places are preserved to a height of 2.5-3 metres, were covered with frescoes portraying plant, animal and architectural themes painted on thin plaster and reveal a particular sophistication.

New evidence for the Minoan palace at Zominthos
Wall fresco from Zominthos [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
The public halls have stone benches running along their perimeters, which in turn suggests that the complex was not only the luxury residence of the Knossian dynasty, but also served for religious gatherings during the winter months when the nearby sacred Idaion Cave was inaccessible.

Artefacts discovered at the site, such as inscribed altars, double-axes, bronze and clay incense burners, intricate lamps, rhyta, bronze figurines of worshippers and numerous other items, clearly attest to the religious character of the site.

New evidence for the Minoan palace at Zominthos
Hoard of bronze weapons discovered at Zominthos [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
Apart from the areas of habitation and the public spaces, several workshops were also identified, including a pottery workshop with a huge kiln, a rock crystal processing facility, and a metal-working furnace.

With its typically religious character, the Zominthos complex enabled the descendants of the Knossian Dynasty not only to control the Idaion Andron, but to also mobilize the products of the mountain (wool and medicinal herbs) and export them to the markets of Egypt and the Near East.

New evidence for the Minoan palace at Zominthos
The new digital museum at Anogia [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
After the destruction of the Minoan complex, sometime after 1450 BC, the same place was settled by the Mycenaeans 100 metres to the northeast. The Romans later built a military barracks on the site.

The Ministry of Culture also announced the opening of an innovative digital museum, erected by Efi Sapouna-Sakellaraki with the assistance of the Municipality Anogia, showcasing the history of the excavations and findings from Zominthos and the Idaion Cave.

Source: Greek Ministry of Antiquities [August 18, 2016]

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