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Minoan archaeology: It's still a thing

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

When I talk with people about the ancient Minoans, I find they often believe that everything we know about ancient Crete was dug up by Sir Arthur Evans a century ago, and that's it. But that's not the case.

Evans is famous, sure, but did you know that the Minoan site at Gournia was originally excavated by the American archaeologist Harriet Boyd-Hawes? Work at the site was still ongoing this summer (2019). In fact, work at a lot of Minoan sites is still in progress, and we're learning and discovering more all the time. Here's a sampling of what's happening these days in the world of Minoan archaeology:

Archaeologists working at the mountainous site of Zominthos have found new artifacts and learned more about the architecture there. [Let me point out that these buildings are more properly called temple complexes, not palaces, though many journalists don't seem to have gotten that memo.]

The Phaistos Project, run by the University of Salerno, Italy is in full swing, with a full team working on excavations there every summer. They even have a Facebook page where they post photos of the team working, cleaning artifacts, and generally having a good time.

The Palace and Landscape at Palaikastro project is also ongoing, run by the good folks at the University of Toronto.

The Sissi Archaeological Project continues work at this lesser-known, recently-identified site near Malia on the north coast of Crete.

And archaeologists are still working on the Minoan cemetery at Petras, still finding new tombs and artifacts.

In addition to these ongoing archaeological projects, random finds occur, like this Minoan tomb that was discovered last year when a farmer parked his truck on top of it and it caved in.

So Minoan archaeology didn't end when Sir Arthur Evans hung up his hat. It's still going on today, and archaeologists are still finding more Minoan cities and towns, more temples, more tombs. The current estimate is that Crete was probably as heavily populated in Minoan times as it is now.

So keep scanning those headlines and following the excavation teams online. Minoan stuff is still happening!

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

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I'm an artist, writer, and lover of all things ancient and mysterious. The Minoans of Bronze Age Crete have been a passion of mine since a fateful art history class introduced me to the frescoes of Knossos back in high school. My first book was published in 2001; one of my most recent works is Labrys and Horns: An Introduction to Modern Minoan Paganism. I've also created a Minoan Tarot deck and a Minoan coloring book. When I'm not busy drawing and writing, you can find me in the garden or giving living history demonstrations at local historic sites.

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