Pre- and Proto-Palatial Cemetery

Excavation at the Pre- and Proto-Palatial cemetery at Petras was conducted June 17 through July 12, under the direction of Dr Metaxia Tsipopoulou. The following archaeologists participated: Dr Maria Relaki, Dr Anna Simantiraki-Grimshaw, Dr Costas Chalikias, Dr Sevi Triantafyllou, Prof. David Rupp, Garifalia Kostopoulou, Eleni Kalliga, Despoina Zafeiri, Ariel Pierce-Chalikias, Maggie Beeler, Eleanor Larsson, Frank Lynam and Karina Santiago. There were also seven workers. On-site conservator was Theocharis Katrakazis. Dr Miriam Clinton was responsible for the topographical maps and the final drawings of the architecture. Aerial photos were taken by Chronis Papanicolopoulos, of the Instap Study Center for Eastern Crete, and excavation photos were taken by the director.

The excavation was followed by a 13 day consolidation work with three workers.

House Tomb 3

The excavation of Room 1 was completed. It was established that it constitutes a later addition to HT3. During cleaning of the bedrock some EM I pottery came to light, probably connected to the settlement of this period excavated on a higher plateau of the hill.

Room 4 was also excavated with very interesting finds in three distinct layers, the uppermost dated to the ΜΜ ΙΑ, the middle dated to EM III, and the lowest dated to the EM II. The last one contained an important group of vases probably imported from the Cyclades. This deposit was not fully excavated and consequently it cannot be ascertained whether it was of burial or of domestic character.

House Τomb 4

The excavation of Room 1 was completed, producing very few finds compared to the finds in the same area from previous years (2004-2006). Also the excavation of the so called Room 4 continued. It was found that this area was a platform filled with stones by the entrance of the tomb. Room 5 was excavated in order to define whether there it contained an internal wall or even a door, as its shape (almost Π), is very unusual for the burial architectural of the period, and unique at Petras. The S part contained a series of fragmentary food and drink consumption vases, near the walls. The W part of the room was investigated at a lower level, and its excavation was not completed. The N part produced few non diagnostic sherds and two concentrations of bones. The excavation was not completed.

House Τomb 5

The excavation of Room 12 was completed.

House Τomb 9

The excavation focused on the N part, aiming at uncovering the N and the E walls of Room 2, as well as the N limit of the house tomb. It was found that the building continues to the W. The new walls, oriented N-S, define Rooms 2 and 7. Room 2 was not fully excavated. There were few MM sherds. Room 7 was also not fully excavated and contained little EM III-MM I pottery.

House Τomb 10

The investigation of this important ΜΜ Ι-ΙΙ building was completed. The presence of mudbrick fragments suggests the existence of a superstructure made of this material. In Room 1 the N and E walls were uncovered, the latter poorly preserved. Little pottery, the most important vase being a MM IB cup. There were also many sea-pebbles, but very few bones. A door to Room 2 was also cleaned. The W parts of both Rooms 1 and 2 were at a lower level than their eastern parts, following the inclination of the bedrock. Bones were found in the S and the central part of Room 2, especially at the SW corner, where also most of the finds were lying.

The 30-50 cm wide zone that was left unexcavated last year, in front of the of the north façade of the tomb, because of the presence of numerous well preserved plaster fragments in situ, as well as in Votive Deposit 2, was cleaned this year. After the removal of the soil the plaster was consolidated.

Τrench Γ2

Two parallel walls came to light at the W part of the trench, as well as skeletal remains, some of them articulated, in the N and the central parts, where the excavation was completed. Our aim was to define whether the rooms in this trench belonged to HT9, situated to the S, or to a new house tomb. The excavation in this trench has partially revealed three rooms, at the N half as well as the corner of a further room at the NE corner. The progress of the excavation showed that these rooms belong to a new house tomb, which remains for the moment unnumbered. The most important find in the area was a cluster of 11 identical male figurines with suspension holes at the neck, probably initially suspended from a clay disc, found together, and also equipped with holes.

Τrench Δ1-S half

It is situated at the W end of the cemetery. Our aim was to define the W end of HT9. The excavation was not completed.

Τrench Η5. W half

It is situated to the E of Room 1 of HT3. The excavation aimed at examining the possibility of the existence of further walls or rooms belonging to this house tomb. Only the W half of the trench was excavated, producing EM III pottery. The excavation was completed and the bedrock was uncovered in the middle of the trench.

Τrench Γ1

It is situated at the W end of the excavated area of the cemetery. Only the N half was excavated to a depth of 50cm. from the surface, without any significant finds.

Baulk Δ3/Δ4

It is situated between the LM III “platform” and HT10. It contained few fallen stones as well as plaster fragments. In the N part a cluster of at least two LM IIIC cooking amphorae of Mycenaean type were found on a hearth.

Baulk Δ3/Δ4/Ε3/Ε4+Δ3/Ε3

Our aim was to investigate the E wall of the LM IIIC “platform”. No continuation of this wall was preserved.

Report on the skeletal material

  • The human bones belonged exclusively to secondary burials.
  • In the house tombs were buried adults as well as children of various ages.
  • As some articulated bones suggest, some secondary burials were de- posited before the complete defleshion of the skeletons.
  • The larger number of the long bones compared to that of the short and wide bones is not to be necessarily attributed to a selection during the secondary depositions, but, most probably to taphonomic factors. This view is further supported by the presence of fragments of vertebrae, ribs, pelvis and small bones.

Area to the S of Votive Deposit 1. Trenches Κ6+Λ6, Baulks K6/Λ6+ K6/K7/Λ6/Λ7

Our aim was to clarify the dating of the architecture that came to light in 2012. Initially it was thought that Room 1 to the SE of HT2 belong to a LM IIIC construction, founded on earlier layers, but soon it became clear that the S half of the excavated area was earlier, dated to the EM I period, and also of domestic and not burial character, as suggested by the pottery and the rest of the movable finds. Consequently, it was connected with the settlement of this early date, excavated immediately to the S, on a slightly higher plateau. Furthermore, the walls belonging to this early building were founded on a lower level than the walls of the LM IIIC room, and the walls of the latter were founded on the earlier remains.

In the N part of the trench and in the Baulk K6/Λ6 a very interesting architectural feature was excavated: a new wall, oriented E-W, and a roughly rectangular construction at the SW corner of it, and to the N of the wall a series of low constructions, including a rectangular platform, immediately to the SE of Room 8 of HT2. The N façade of this construction includes a series of shallow niches, formed by three flat stones inserted vertically, while the upper part is also formed by flat horizontal medium sized slabs. The small walls with the indentations and the niches are dated to the Protopalatial period, define the S end of the Votive Deposit, and were probably used to support a wooden construction made of vertical beams. This construction would have served as a façade at the entrance of the extensive ceremonial area. The excavation of this area was completed.

Votive Deposit 2

The Baulk Β3/Β4 + Γ3/Γ4 – Β3/Γ4, measuring 5 x 1m., is included in the votive deposit excavated to the N-NW of HT10. An impressive amount of pottery was collected. At the S-SE part of the baulk a series of medium sized fallen stones was discovered, probably initially part of a low wall. The finds were similar to those uncovered in previous years in Trenches B4, Γ4 and Γ3. The quantity of the pottery was incredibly large, including mostly MM I-II drinking and serving vases, as well as bronze and stone finds, along with many sea-pebbles and shells, mudbrick fragments, plaster, stones and yellow ocher. Important finds came to light to the north, in Baulks B3/B4+Γ3/Γ4- B3/Γ4. It is certain that the deposit continues to the W, in Trench B3.

Baulk Γ4/Δ4 is situated to the N of HT10. From this area came the largest concentration of votive material, and the most important finds in general. In particular: two pairs of stone horns of consecration, one larger and one smaller, fragments of a larnax, a bronze balance pan, and various fragments of clay drains. The presence of architectural fragments suggests that the votive deposit was mixed with material fallen from the N façade of HT10. The horns of consecration probably were decorating the roof of the burial structure. The pottery included a great variety of unusual types, apparently made for a special, ritual, function.

In previous years we thought that Trench Γ3 constituted the W end of Votive Deposit 2. The excavation of Baulk Γ3/Γ4 offered more material belonging to the W end of the deposit. From the upper layers in 2012 came many LM IIIC sherds. Starting in layer 3, excavated this year, the pottery was mixed LM III and MM. It included five inverted cups ad well as a large quantity of sherds, one of them with plastic decoration and a several spouts in the shape of a bull’s head. There were also various fragments of stone vases.

The excavation of Baulk Β4/Γ4 started in 2012. The area to the S of the peribolos wall which cuts obliquely the baulk and the neighboring trenches was excavated. It contained many plaster fragments, mudbricks and yellow ocher to the E of the peribolos wall. There was also a pile of small stones. The ceramic finds were concentrated in the S part, close to Trench Γ4.

In Baulk Β3/Β4+Γ3/Γ4-Β3/Β4 notable finds were a bronze bangle, a loomweight, and a fragmentary bee-hive, as well as a fragmentary architectural fragment with kamares decoration, a carinated cup with a female figurine attached to its wall internally, and a Chamaizi pot. It was established that Votive Deposit 2 continues into the neighboring Trench Β3.

Area to the N of the LM III megaron and HT1. Τrench Ε1

This trench is situated at the NW end of the area excavated to date. Our aim was the understanding of the relationship of the N wall of the megaron with HT1, and in particular with the neighboring Room 6, as well as the continuation of Room 4 of HT9. In the S half of the trench was cleaned a large concentration of stones, some of them of substantial size, coming from the superstructure of the megaron, and probably also from the superstructure of HT1. Under the stones there was a layer of clean soil and below it more large fallen stones, including a large ashlar block. In the middle of the trench the continuation of the S wall of Room 4 of HT 9 was uncovered. This was also the external wall of the house tomb. The pottery in the area was mixed LM IIIC and MM IB.

From the part of Room 4 of HT9 came a substantial quantity of MM IB pottery, including some complete vases and a few bones. The most important find in the area was a pair of large horns of concentration identical to those found in Votive Deposit 2 (see above). The continuation of the excavation will define the architecture in the trench and also whether the excavated areas were roofed or open-air.

Baulk E1/E2. S half

The continuation of the S wall of Room 4 of HT9 came to light. It was well preserved. Very little pottery associated with it.

Consolidation of the architectural remains

The consolidation of the walls of HT2 was completed. This work lasted for 13 days with the participation of three workers.


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