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Two Middle Minoan grave sites discovered in Petras, Crete


Two burials with rich grave goods were found in a pit from the Middle Minoan IA era (2100-2000 BC) in Siteia, NE Crete, during excavations of a palace-related cemetery.

Two Middle Minoan grave sites discovered in Petras, Crete
Middle Minoan IA primary pit burial of a man, with a bronze dagger (under Funerary Building 2)
[Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
The excavations have been ongoing place for 14 years under Director Emerita of the Ministry of Culture Metaxia Tsipopoulou, at the cemetery of Petras in the area of Siteia, dated to 2800-1700 BC (Pre- and Proto-Palatial periods).

In the first pit, a primary or original burial of a man included the first weapon found in Petras, a bronze short sword, Tsipopoulou said in a statement. The first burial also included a “secondary burial of a woman with a large number of gold beads of very fine workmanship” as well as beads of silver, crystal, carnelian, and jasper.

Two Middle Minoan grave sites discovered in Petras, Crete
Funerary Building 27 (ΜΜ ΙΑ) under Funerary Building 11 (ΜΜ ΙΙ)
[Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
The second burial, also a primary one, was dated to the Proto-Minoan II period (2600-2300 BC) and included “dozens of gold beads with exquisite pressed decoration of spirals, as well as hundreds of other beads of gold or silver, with a diameter of 1mm, which appear to have been sewn onto a garment.”


A third burial was unique to Petras and consisted of a tomb made of perpendicular schist slabs, forming a box-like structure. This contained two secondary burials of children under 10 years old and two gold bracelets from thin sheets of gold.

Two Middle Minoan grave sites discovered in Petras, Crete
Secondary burials in Funerary Building 27. The bones have been neatly transferred from the primary burial place
(obviously in baskets) [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
For its era, the Petras cemetery has proven to be by far the largest on Crete. It belonged to elite family members related to the palace in the area. So far, 26 funerary buildings of 45 to 150 sq.m. have been excavated, along with five burial pits that include irregular stones or low walls.

According to Tsipopoulou, the cemetery contains at least four or five funerary buildings that were noted in 2018 but have not been fully excavated yet. It also includes two extensive areas for rituals, dating to between 1900 and 1700 BC (Middle Minoan IB-IIB) and two periboloi, or low built enclosures, orientated east and west.

Two Middle Minoan grave sites discovered in Petras, Crete
Small cist grave of the Protocycladic type [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
In antiquity, Petras had a large port and served as the entry gate to eastern Crete during the Pre- and the Proto-Palatial period for the incoming trade of raw materials, objects and ideas from Syria and Egypt.


Its palace, according to the official excavation site (https://www.petras-excavations.gr/el) was built in the Middle Minoan IIA era (19001800 BC), slightly after the large palatial complexes of central Crete. The preserved section of it covers 2,500 sq.m., but it’s impossible to calculate its original extent because the whole southern section has been destroyed.

Two Middle Minoan grave sites discovered in Petras, Crete
Middle Minoan IA beads of various types: ivory, carnelian and rock crystal
[Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
Two Middle Minoan grave sites discovered in Petras, Crete
Early Minoan II and Middle Minoan IA beads and bands of gold
[Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
Two Middle Minoan grave sites discovered in Petras, Crete
Early Minoan III ivory seals [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
Two Middle Minoan grave sites discovered in Petras, Crete
Early Minoan II gold bracelets [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
In the 14th century BC (during Late Minoan IIIA), following the destruction of its palace, there was some building activity in the cemetery that appears to be related to honouring ancestors. This activity lasted until the 12th century BC.


During this year’s season, the excavation staff included 19 graduate and doctoral students from the Universities of Athens, Crete, Thessaloniki, Kalamata, Madrid, Harvard, Rhodes and Toronto. Senior excavators included professors David Rupp, Miriam Clinton and Sevi Triantafyllou, Dr. Maria Relaki, and nine workmen from Siteia.

Two Middle Minoan grave sites discovered in Petras, Crete
Aerial photograph of the Petras cemetery. The excavated area is about 0.74 acres
[Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]
The study group includes 26 archaeologists from Europe, the United States, and Canada. The excavation, the stabilization of architectural features, the conservation of findings and their study are funded exclusively by INSTAP, the Institute for Aegean Prehistory which was established as a nonprofit in the United States in 1982.

Source: ANA-MPA via Greek Reporter [September 02, 2018]

TANN

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