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Excavations at Minoan palace of Zominthos yield complex architectural features, rare artefacts


Staircases, richly decorated walls and important artefacts are among the findings of this past season's excavations at the extensive and complex Minoan palace of Zominthos, on the Psiloritis (Ida) mountain in central Crete, the ministry of Culture and Sports announced Monday.

Excavations at Minoan palace of Zominthos yield complex architectural features, rare artefacts
Aerial view of entrance leading to the palace's main court [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
Excavations at Minoan palace of Zominthos yield complex architectural features, rare artefacts
Entrance leading to the palace's main court [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
The excavations on the palace were conducted by emerita director of antiquities Efi Sapouna-Sakellaraki from July to August. Excavations on a section of the palace began in the '80s by archaeologist Yiannis Sakellarakis, and have been conducted annually since 2004.

Excavations at Minoan palace of Zominthos yield complex architectural features, rare artefacts
NE entrance leading through a hallway to the eastern wing's shrine [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
Excavations at Minoan palace of Zominthos yield complex architectural features, rare artefacts
Interior staircase leading to upper floor [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
The ministry said that the new evidence revealed by this summer's excavations includes data about "the complex's internal layout and its architecture (staircases, rich wall decorations), with multiple findings from the excavation of the interior and its rooms, where a very rare coin was found from Marcus Aurelius' reign (161-180 AD). All elements point to the significance of this huge, labyrinthine building at an altitude of 1,200 meters."

Excavations at Minoan palace of Zominthos yield complex architectural features, rare artefacts
Pendant in shape of a sea shell [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
Excavations at Minoan palace of Zominthos yield complex architectural features, rare artefacts
Rock crystals, like the above, were found throughout the palace complex [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
Among the new data uncovered during this season, according to the Culture ministry, are two new entrances, one in the NE corner of the palace leading through a hallway to the eastern wing's shrine, and the other - damaged by alterations in the Mycenaean and Roman years and by looters in the 60s - leading to the palace's main court. The palace appeared to have multiple levels, internal staircases, floors constructed of expensive materials and walls lavishly decorated. Some of the walls have survived to a height of three meters.

Excavations at Minoan palace of Zominthos yield complex architectural features, rare artefacts
Large hall with central pillar [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
Excavations at Minoan palace of Zominthos yield complex architectural features, rare artefacts
Stone storage units for the safe-keeping of valuable items, as suggested by a locally produced Egyptian scarab, 
a sealstone and several conch shells that were found here [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
Palace rooms have yielded stamps, vessels in different shapes, stone cases for valuables, a local reproduction of an Egyptian scarab made of copper, and seashells that were not meant for consumption, pointing to the worship of a sea goddess. Other findings include bronze daggers, sections of large ceramic storage jars, and remains of beehives.

Excavations at Minoan palace of Zominthos yield complex architectural features, rare artefacts
Bonze coin of Marcus Aurelius (AD 161-180) [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
The date of the earliest settlement on Zominthos (around 1900 BC), almost coinciding with the first settlement in the Knossos area, and its proximity to the Idaean Cave, the most important and perhaps earliest shrine on Crete, point to the significance of the palace in the economic, political and religious network of the island of Crete.

Source: ANA-MPA [September 18, 2017]
TANN

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