Zakros Minoan Palace

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The Minoan Palace of Zakros: A Gateway to the East

The Palace of Zakros, located on the eastern coast of Crete, holds a unique position among the Minoan palaces. Its strategic location, sheltered from strong north winds, made it a vital commercial center for trade with the east. Smaller than the palaces at Knossos, Malia, and Phaistos, Zakros boasts a distinct character and significance.

A History of Discovery and Excavation

The excavation of Zakros began in the early 20th century, led by D.G. Howarth of the British School of Archaeology at Athens. Initial efforts focused on the town surrounding the palace, unearthing 12 houses before the excavation was temporarily halted. In 1961, Nikolaos Platon resumed the work, revealing a palace remarkably untouched by looters at the time of its destruction. This fortunate circumstance allowed for the application of modern, scientific archaeological methods, contributing significantly to our understanding of Minoan civilization.

The Palace Complex: Architecture and Function

The Palace of Zakros covers approximately 8,000 square meters and comprises 150 rooms arranged around a central court. Its main entrance, located in the northeast near the sea, suggests a strong emphasis on maritime trade. The palace’s storage areas contained pottery, metal goods, and textiles, further supporting its role as a trading hub.

The West Wing of the palace housed various functional areas, including workshops, storage magazines, and administrative rooms. Notably, it featured a large Minoan Hall, referred to as the “Hall of Ceremonies,” decorated with frescoes and containing cult objects. The East Wing, on the other hand, contained water features not found in other palaces, such as the “Well of the Fountain” and the “Cistern Room,” possibly linked to religious practices related to seafaring safety.

The South Wing contained another entrance to the palace, leading to workshops where evidence of faience production and other crafts has been found. The surrounding town, partially excavated, reveals well-organized houses and evidence of olive oil and wine production.

Zakros: A Thriving Minoan Center

The Palace of Zakros offers valuable insights into Minoan society and culture. Its unique architectural features, strategic location, and emphasis on trade distinguish it from other Minoan palaces. As ongoing excavations continue to uncover new findings, Zakros remains an important site for understanding the complexities of Minoan civilization.

Zakros Minoan Palace in Crete: Key Points

  • Construction Period: Old Palace (c. 1900 BC), New Palace (c. 1600 BC)
  • Location: Eastern coast of Crete, Greece
  • Dimensions: Approximately 8,000 square meters, 150 rooms
  • Historical Significance: Major Minoan palace and trading hub
  • Current Status: Archaeological site and popular tourist destination

References

Minoan period
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