On a low hill
(h. 40 m.) by the sea lies an important Minoan settlement. It had a large harbour and was the centre of an area bordered by Chamaizi
on the west,
Praisos on the south, and Analoukas on the east. Despite the evidence for habitation in the last phase of the Neolithic period (3500 BC), the first settlement is dated to the Early Minoan II period (2600-2300 BC). It continued to be inhabited until 1450 BC, when it was destroyed, along with the other Minoan centres. A short reoccupation occurred during the Late Minoan III period (1400-1300 BC). The settlement flourished in the Old Palace period (2000-1700 BC), when the central building of palatial character was built on the top of the hill; it reached
a peak, however, in the New Palace period (1700-1450 BC) when many alterations
of the buildings took place. In the 12th-13th centuries AD the top of the hill
was occupied by a cemetery, of which 32 graves have been excavated.
In 1900, R.C. Bosanquet conducted a short-lasting excavation in the
area where ruins of ancient walls were visible. Systematic excavations have been
conducted by M. Tsipopoluou since 1985.
The most important monuments of the site are: The town. It occupied the whole of the hill and extended
around a central building. A "cyclopean" wall with three towers (5 x 5 m.) was
uncovered at the foot of the hill. The houses were free-standing, built on terraces,
and access to them was gained through stone paved streets, one of which led straight
to the central building. The houses contained storerooms and workshops on the
ground floor, while the upper floor consisted of the actual living quarters. Two houses completely uncovered date to the New Palace
period (1700-1450 BC). One was abandoned during the Late Minoan Ia period (1500
BC) and the other was destroyed by fire a little later (1450 BC).
•House 1. The rooms of the ground floor extend on two terraces
which are connected by means of a stone-built staircase. On the lower terrace
are preserved two storerooms and two kitchens, where vases had fallen down from
shelves on the walls, and a room with a "lenos" (wine-press) and pithoi for the
storing of wine. On the upper terrace is a workshop with stone basins and stone
querns, while under the floor was a pithos containing the burial of an infant.
•House 2. Two building phases are distinguished: during the
first, one of the rooms of the ground floor was used as a reception hall, with
a central column, floor covered with plaster, a hearth, and doorways to the rest
of the rooms; later, this was converted into a workshop area, for working and
dying wool. To this conclusion point also the stone basins, the channels and the
loom-weights found. A lump of clay with signs of the Linear A script which stand
for "perfume oil" was found in one of the storerooms. The central palatial building covers an area of 0.3 hectares. It is constructed on two terraces, on an artificial plateau on the hilltop and is surrounded by a retaining wall with a tower-like bastion. A corridor oriented
E-W leads through a pier-and-door partition to the central court, which had a
floor covered with plaster, and measured 9 x 13 in the first New Palace period.
During the last phase it was enlarged (5.50 x 11 m.) and was flanked by rooms
on the west, which probably served as cult places, as indicated by a libation
table and tablets of Linear A script found there. The most remarkable of the rooms
to the south of the corridor is the one with the gypsum slabs and a bench covered
with plaster and orthostats. On the north side of the corridor lie twelve oblong
rooms, while at a lower level are the magazines, connected to the central court
by means of a monumental staircase, covered with plaster; in the last phase of
the building this was also closed by a storeroom. To the west of the building
was a garden which separated the main part of the building from the workshop areas.