Minoan Tholos Tomb at Porti

Early Minoan Tholos Tomb at Porti, betweeen Vagionia and Vassilika Anogia, in Asterousia Crete

The Minoan Tholos Tomb at Porti, also known as Mpairami Papouri, is a significant archaeological site located 2 km southeast of Vassilika Anogia village in the Heraklion region of Crete. It stands as a testament to the rich Minoan civilization that flourished in the region during the Bronze Age. Tholos tombs, with their distinctive beehive-shaped chambers, were prominent burial structures used by the Minoans, and the tomb at Porti offers valuable insights into their funerary practices and cultural traditions.

Excavation and Findings

The tomb was initially excavated in the early 20th century by Stephanos Xanthoudidis, a pioneering figure in Cretan archaeology. His investigations unearthed a wealth of artifacts, including pottery, figurines, and other burial offerings, shedding light on the material culture and artistic sensibilities of the Minoans.

In 2015, a new surface survey was conducted by the Heraklion Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities in collaboration with a Czech archaeological team. This survey aimed to reassess the tomb and its surroundings, utilizing modern technologies like digital mapping and orthophotography. The results provided a more comprehensive understanding of the tomb’s layout and its relationship to the surrounding Minoan settlement.

Significance in Minoan Culture

Tholos tombs held a special place in Minoan society, serving as more than just burial chambers. They were often associated with rituals and ceremonies, reflecting the Minoans’ beliefs about the afterlife and their reverence for ancestors. The tomb at Porti, with its long period of use (c. 2300-1800 BC), suggests it was an important site for the local community, possibly serving as a focal point for funerary and other rituals.

The artifacts discovered within the tomb provide clues about the social status and daily lives of the individuals buried there. The presence of pottery, figurines, and other objects suggests that these individuals held a certain level of importance in their community. The tomb’s location, overlooking the fertile plain and the Mesara bay, may also indicate a connection between the buried individuals and the agricultural and maritime activities that were vital to Minoan society.

Connection to Asterousia Mountains

The Minoan Tholos Tomb at Porti is situated in the Asterousia Mountains, a rugged and mountainous region in southern Crete. This region was home to numerous Minoan settlements during the Bronze Age, and the tomb at Porti is just one of many archaeological sites that dot the landscape. The Asterousia Mountains were rich in natural resources, including fertile land, timber, and mineral deposits, which supported the Minoan way of life.

The presence of the tholos tomb at Porti, along with other archaeological evidence, suggests that the Asterousia Mountains were not merely a marginal area but an integral part of the Minoan world. The tomb’s location, overlooking the plain and the sea, may have held symbolic significance, connecting the deceased with the land and the maritime routes that were essential for trade and cultural exchange.

Archaeological Site: Key Points

  • Construction Period: Early Minoan period (c. 2300-1800 BC)
  • Location: 2 km southeast of Vassilika Anogia village, Heraklion, Crete
  • Dimensions: Tholos tomb with a diameter of approximately 4.85 meters
  • Historical Significance: Important burial site for the local Minoan community, reflecting their funerary practices and cultural traditions
  • Current Status: Partially excavated and surveyed, with ongoing research to uncover more about its history and significance
Minoan period
Paved Road

A few meters away from the road, it is hard to spot since no signs are showing the position.


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