Crete: Bronze Age water management

The Classical Archaeology Section at the Department of Archaeology and Museology, Masaryk University, is taking part in international research and scientific evaluation of two significant archaeological sites on Crete: Priniatikos Pyrgos and Oxa – Kalos Lakkos in the Mirabello region in the eastern part of the island. The complex research is mainly focused on not only archaeological monuments themselves, but also on study of the local specific landscape and its use in the past, with special emphasis on water management in settlements in this prevailingly anhydrous landscape.

The earliest settlement on Crete is evidenced from the Middle Palaeolithic over Mesolithic to the first Neolithic agriculturalists. In the Bronze Age, Crete saw the emergence of the first polities (so-called palace polities = Minoan palaces), which were able to defend themselves against the invasion of maritime nations, so that on the island gradually arose the institution of democratic polis. The Minoan language has survived until the turn of the eras, when Crete was conquered by the Romans. The Roman Crete flourished until the end of the 4th century, when the island was affected by a devastating earthquake. In the 7th century, Crete was again a prosperous territory. At the beginning of the 9th century it became part of the Arab Caliphate, and after a short Byzantine intermezzo in 961 – 1204 the island became property of the Republic of Venice. Crete was part of Renaissance Europe until 1669, when it fell after heavy fights into the hands of the Ottoman sultan. It was liberated at the end of the 19th century and in 1913 it was annexed to Greece. In the course of the long history of the island, local inhabitants developed their specific subsistence mechanisms and adaptations using the potential of the landscape. These phenomena currently are topics of interdisciplinary archaeological and environmental research.

Priniatikos Pyrgos (a view of the region from the top of Vrokastro hill).

Priniatikos Pyrgos is a coastal multicultural locality, which has been settled since the 4th millennium BC until today. The site has been occupied over the whole Minoan Bronze Age. The town of the so-called New Palace Period counted among the largest Minoan agglomerations on Crete. Also present are the sequence of layers of the Minoan Bronze Age including the evidence of eruption of Santorini volcano, ruins of a harbour from the Classical and Hellenistic periods, and Byzantine monumental architecture and cemeteries.

The Department of Archaeology and Museology participates in research conducted by the Irish Institute of Hellenic Studies in Athens since 2012. Classical archaeology students at DAM attend every year the so-called field school, participate in field research and study archaeological material. See more...

Field research at the Priniatikos Pyrgos site.

Oxa – Kalos Lakkos is a very specific mountain agglomeration with remnants of long-time settlement activity in a place which is, at the first glance, very unfavourable for settlement due to lack of water and due to being located aside the main land routes.

Prospecting at the Oxa site.

Excavations proved that there was a Minoan sanctuary in this elevated location. Later, at the end of the Bronze Age, Oxa offered refuge to Minoans who abandoned the coastal area. Much later it has served as a Hellenistic fortified site and subsequently a Byzantine castle was built here.

Archaeological research started here in 2013 and is carried out in cooperation between the Classical Archaeology Section and the Centre of Prehistoric Archaeology of the Near East (PANE) at the Department of Archaeology and Museology, and the Archaia company. See more...

Surveying and prospecting on the top of Mt. Oxa.

Mgr. Věra Klontza, Ph.D.

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