2016 excavations at the ancient city of Gortyna in Crete completed
The University of Padova has just completed this year’s excavation season in the ancient city of Gortys (Gortyna) in Crete, reporting outstanding results. Directed by Professor Jacopo Bonetto of the University of Padova, research has focused on the interior of the Temple of Pythian Apollo in the city of Gortys, a huge urban settlement sprawled over some 400 hectares.
|Coin depicting a running Minotaur found in Gortys [Credit: University of Padova]|
“The investigations were focused on this sanctuary because on the one hand it is one of the two main spots around which the city was born in the 7th century BC and, secondly, it was the most important sanctuary of the entire island, becoming the headquarters of the confederation of all the Cretan city-states, the Koinon ton Kreton (or City Cretensium)," clarifies Jacopo Bonetto.
|Topographical map of ancient Gortyna [Credit: University of Padova]|
“A systematic excavation conducted between the slabs of the Roman pavement of the Temple of Apollo revealed a limestone floor which points to the 5th century – of which no historical record has survived,” says Bonetto. “This date was arrived at thanks to the discovery of a rare silver coin (stater) issued by Knossos and bearing on the one side the famous Minotaur and on the other side the Knossos Labyrinth, which evoked the Athenian myth of Ariadne and the Cretan monster defeated by Theseus."
|General view of Gortyna [Credit: WikiCommons]|
“The importance of this finding is remarkable,” says Bonetto. "Gortyna has yielded only modest traces from the Minoan-Mycenaean periods and from the time of the sanctuary's foundation. Why the sanctuary was built in the fields away from the agora and the acropolis had remained a mystery. These findings suggest the presence of a settlement before the Greek cities, and in particular may indicate the existence of a cult centre located in the same area where the Temple of Apollo was erected. This suggests that the birth of the Greek sanctuary represents a recovery or continuation of the ancient Minoan-Mycenaean settlement.”
Source: Il Mattino di Padova [October 20, 2016]