YPPO: A unique find for Minoan archeology at Kastelli

Excavation studies are ongoing at the top of Papura Hill, at an altitude of 494 m. A monumental architectural complex unique to Minoan archeology emerged in a circular shape, approximately 48 m in diameter, northwest of Kastelli in Heraklion, Crete, and on an airstrip under construction. covers an area of ​​approximately 1800 sq.m. It is located at the highest point of the hill, on a part of the peak that was expropriated for the installation of the new airport’s Surveillance Systems (radar).

This monumental structure consists of 8 superimposed stone rings worked at different heights – the average thickness is 1.40 m, the maximum surviving height is 1.7 m. The rings form a circular building (zone A) with a diameter of 15 m in the center. interior (diameter 9m.) with an expository construction divided into 4 quadrants. Zone A is surrounded by a second main zone (zone B, maximum width 6.9), where radial walls intersect vertically with rings of lower levels to form smaller cavities. As the excavations continue, an almost labyrinthine structure is revealed, as the spaces are connected to each other through narrow openings. Two possible main entrances to the central zones were discovered from the south and east sides.

The main period of use appears to be between (2000-1700 BC), i.e. it was probably built shortly before or at the beginning of the Palaeopalatial period (MMI – II), and the presence of Neopalatial vessels in the debris layer indicates that the use of the monument continued and the era of new palaces.

In order to evaluate the find and plan the continuation of the airport construction project, a wide consultation was held in the presence of the Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni in the construction of the airport under construction and the excavation on the hill with the participation of all parties. and Nikos Tahiao, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Transport. During the meeting, Mrs. Mendoni made it absolutely clear that the excavation of the find must continue so that the excavators can interpret it and, of course, save it given its uniqueness. As the Minister of Culture noted, of course, the construction of the airport should be continued without interruption, and the find should be protected. This results in the search for another suitable location to deploy the radar. The two ministers agreed that in the near future the Civil Aviation Service will prepare a new study on the location of the radar and submit it to the Ministry of Defense.

After the autopsy, the Minister of Culture said: “This is a unique find of great interest. There are solutions for the completion of archaeological research and full protection of the monument. We have a very good cooperation with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport and the responsible Deputy Minister Nikos Tahiao. We concluded the extensive meeting with all the participants – the relevant Ephorate of Antiquities of Heraklion and the relevant Departments of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and Restoration of Ancient Monuments of the Ministry of Interior, the relevant services of the Ministry of Infrastructure, Civil Aviation. and contractor – and conducted a joint autopsy at the archaeological site. Preservation of the monument, this rare find, is the priority of all of us. We all understand the importance and value of cultural heritage. We all understand the scale of development of the special project in Castelli. The new airport project can be continued and the antiques can be preserved as they should be.”

At this stage, it is not yet possible to determine the original shape or overall height of the structure, as excavation studies are ongoing. The apartment of the central zone was probably either truncated cone-shaped or arched, as can be seen from the exhortation building system. The two zones A and B formed by the upper rings appear to be the main centers of activity. The quantity and type of finds, as well as the presence of large quantities of animal bones, do not – to date – indicate permanent residential use, but probably periodic use in the form of rituals involving food consumption. , wine and maybe offers. This is the first monument of its kind discovered and excavated in Crete. Its size, architectural structure, and meticulous construction required considerable work, specialized expertise, and a strong central administration that organized its construction. What is certain is that it is a kind of community building – a landmark for the wider area of ​​the plain. The fact that the structure is monumental and prominent probably indicates the importance of its location, as well as the scope of the population it will serve.

The structure of the floor plan, zones and spaces of the monument, as revealed so far, and the whole construction does not show exact parallels with other buildings of the same period in Crete, but in terms of form, it is not known to us from the architectural ensembles of the Early Bronze Age in the Middle East. It may be parallel to the elliptical MM building of Hamaizius, as well as the circular proto-Greek cyclopean building of Tiryns. Structural similarities can also be found with the vaulted tombs of the pre-palatial and paleo-palatial period of southern Crete, where the central space is built with an exposition structure, while the whole construction refers to the proto. -Greece, but also to later mounds or later circular sanctuaries of main Greece, e.g. institutional.

It is considered necessary to complete excavation studies to clarify the nature of the monument and its relationship with residential and religious centers of the same period in the plain area. The monumentality of the structure, as well as the fact that nothing like it has been excavated so far, makes it a landmark of the new Heraklion airport.

Excavations are being carried out by the Ephorate of Heraklion Antiquities for the construction of the New International Airport of Crete Heraklion, as well as connecting roads with the main roads of the Heraklion Region, in Kastelli, Minoa Pedias Municipality. It is within the framework of the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure and is of a life-saving nature. Within the framework of these works, excavations have already been investigated and more than 35 archaeological sites have been handed over for the continuation of the project in accordance with the existing institutional framework.

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