Staircases, richly decorated walls and important artifacts are among the findings of this past season’s excavations at the extensive and complex Minoan palace of Zominthos, on the Psiloritis mountain in Rethymnon, Greece’s Ministry of Culture and Sports announced Monday.
The excavations on the palace were carried out by emerita director of antiquities Efi Sapouna-Sakellaraki from July to August. Excavations on a section of the palace began in the ’80s by archaeologist Yiannis Sakellarakis, and have been conducted annually since 2004.
The ministry announced that the new evidence revealed by this summer’s excavations includes data about “the complex’s internal layout and its architecture (staircases, rich wall decorations), with multiple findings from the excavation of the interior and its rooms, where a very rare coin was found from Marcus Aurelius’ reign (161-180 AD). All elements point to the significance of this huge, labyrinthine building at an altitude of 1,200 meters.”
Among the new data unearthed during this season, according to the Culture ministry, are two new entrances, one in the NE corner of the palace leading through a hallway to the eastern wing’s shrine, and the other – damaged by alterations in the Mycenaean and Roman years and by looters in the 60s – leading to the palace’s main court.
The palace appeared to have multiple levels, internal staircases, floors constructed of precious materials and walls lavishly decorated. Some of the walls have survived to a height of three meters.
Palace rooms have yielded stamps, vessels in different shapes, stone cases for valuables, a local reproduction of an Egyptian scarab made of copper, and seashells that were not meant for consumption, pointing to the worship of a sea goddess. Other findings feature bronze daggers, sections of large ceramic storage jars, and remains of beehives.
The date of the earliest settlement on Zominthos (around 1900 BC), almost coinciding with the first settlement in the Knossos area, and its proximity to the Idaean Cave, the most important and perhaps earliest shrine on Crete, point to the significance of the palace in the economic, political and religious network of the Greek island.