The Venetian fortress of Rocca al Mare (1523–1540), Heraklion.
Our first stop was Heraklion, a rather ugly city at first glance. Centuries of earthquakes, and severe bomb damage in WWII, has resulted in concrete block houses sprawling around the historic harbour. During our trip, we learned to ignore the badly designed buildings, adorned with graffiti, and look back to Crete's ancient past.
Our guides, Joanna Kalypso Glyptis, and Dr Çiĝdem Maner, were both archaeologists with such enthusiasm for their subjects, that we were transported back in time, to earlier, powerful civilisations.
Joanna explaining the provenance of some of the artifacts
Kamares vases found in Phaistos and Knossos
Bull leaping is depicted in this well-known wall painting from Knossos
(Final Palatial period (1450-1400 BC)
This beautiful sarcophagus is dated 1300 BC, and shows offerings being made,
possibly to the dead man himself.
From the museum, we drove to Malia, the archeological site that is, not to be confused with Malia, the party town of Crete. The ruins at Malia, show the existence of an elite group, judging from the palatial size of the structures. Evidence has also been found of metalworking and a textile industry. Unlike Norman Evans, the discoverer of many sites in ancient Crete, today's archaeologists do not jump to conclusions about the purposes of buildings and artifacts. Evans was a man of his time, a Victorian gentleman, who tended to make suppositions based on his own experiences of life. Now, archeologists are more cautious and less speculative of what might or might not have been, relying primarily on actual evidence.
A pot found among the ruins in Protopalacial Malia (1900-1700 BC)
These enormous blocks in Malia are evidence of a huge structure
Joanna describes the lay-out of the site
Naturally, one of the dishes was Greek Salad!
The Church of Titus, the Apostle, in Heraklion
Fontana Morosini, the ornate Venetian fountain in Heraklion