Agia Fotia Minoan Tombs

Minoan Tombs at Agia Fotia, Crete

Historical Significance

Near the modern village of Agia Fotia, on the northeastern coast of Crete, lies an extensive Minoan cemetery dating to the Early Bronze Age (EBA). This cemetery, known as Vlychada, is the largest of its kind discovered in Greece, containing over 300 tombs. The tombs themselves are primarily simple pit graves and chamber tombs carved into the soft rock, a typical burial practice in Minoan Crete.

The significance of the Agia Fotia cemetery lies not only in its size but also in the wealth of artifacts it has yielded. Excavations have unearthed over 1800 pottery vessels of various types, along with stone and bronze objects such as axes, hand mills, hooks, and spearheads. These artifacts offer valuable insights into the material culture and burial customs of the Minoans during the EBA.

Connection to Minoan Settlement

A short distance west of the cemetery, on the Kefala hill, remnants of a Minoan settlement have been discovered. This settlement is believed to have been connected to the Vlychada cemetery, serving as the dwelling place for the people buried there. Excavations at the settlement have revealed a rectangular building from the Middle Minoan period, which shows evidence of being a metalworking installation, as molds for creating bronze axes were found.

Interestingly, the remains of two large, round structures, possibly tholos tombs, were built on top of the ruins of this building. Tholos tombs are rare in eastern Minoan Crete, making this discovery particularly noteworthy.

Archaeological Site: Key Points

  • Construction Period: Early Bronze Age (EBA)
  • Location: Agia Fotia, Siteia, Crete
  • Dimensions: Over 300 tombs in the cemetery
  • Historical Significance: One of the largest EBA cemeteries in Greece, provides insights into Minoan burial customs and material culture.
  • Current Status: Archaeological site with ongoing research and potential for further discoveries.
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