Mobile Workshop

VISITING THE ARCHAELOGICAL SITES

OF THE PREHISTORIC MINOAN CITIES OF KNOSSOS AND PHAISTOS.

On  Wednesday the 26th June, we will offer a day-excursion by chartered conference buses to the archaeological sites of the prehistoric Minoan cities Knossos and Phaistos.

1.KNOSSOS

The archaeological site of Knossos is 4km from the city of Heraklion. Knossos, settled as early as the Neolithic period. The name Knossos survives from ancient Greek references to the major city of Crete. The palace of Knossos eventually became the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture. The city was abandoned at the end of the Late Bronze Age, c. 1380–1100 BC following the natural disaster caused the big explosion of the volcano in Santorini Island, and the tsunami caused by the explosion.

In the first palace period around 2000 BC, the urban area reached a size of up to 18,000 people.[5] In its peak the palace and surrounding city boasted a population of 100,000 people shortly after 1700 BC

The great palace of Knossos was gradually built between 1700 and 1400 BC, with periodic rebuildings after destruction. Structures preceded it on Kephala hill. The features currently most visible nowadays, mainly date from the last period of habitation, which Evans termed Late Minoan.  

2. PHAISTOS

The city Phaistos lies on the East end of Kastri hill at the end of the Mesara plain in Central Southern Crete. To the north lies Psiloritis, the highest mountain in Crete.

The Palace was excavated by the Italian archaeologist Halbherr at the beginning of the 20th century. The earliest settlements on the site, which lies close to the Yeropotamos, one of the few rivers in Crete to flow all year round, date from the Neolothic Period (c.4000 BCE) . It is likely that in the Early Minoan period small settlements were scattered over the hill on which the Palace later stood. Dark on light pottery (Agios Onouphrios ware) has been found in the prepalatial levels on the hill, but no Vasiliki ware from the Early Minoan II period has been found on the site.

The Old Palace was built on the site at the beginning of the Second Millenium, known as the Protopalatial Period (c.1900-1700 BCE). It required an enormous amount of work to build the palace. First of all three huge terraces were levelled. The palace was then constructed on two of these terraces, the Theatral Terrace and the Lower Terrace.

Very thick ground floor walls were built running east-west along the contour of hill, while less important walls and the walls of the upper floor rooms were orientated north-south. The walls were plastered and painted and in some rooms gypsum dados lined the lower part of the walls. In many rooms benches were built along some of the walls and niches were included in the walls themselves for storing small objects.

Each of the three terraces would have had its own courtyard crossed by raised walkways to the west of the palace. The palace was built on two levels with the third floor of the wing on the lower terrace rising to the same height as the ground floor on the upper terrace.

The main entrance to the Palace, Room II, which to the modern eye looking at the remains of the neopalatial palace seems strangely located at the south end of the building, was in fact placed in a central position between the two wings of the Old Palace. Now blocked by structures from the New Palace, it would originally have led straight to the Central Court. Various other symmetrical architectural features were built into the West Facade, which would, to the Minoan visitor, have been one of the most impressive parts of the whole building.

There was a total of six entrances into the palace from the west court. Apart from the direct access through room II, the others would have gone through a maze of small rooms, some really very small, and made to seem smaller still by the benches lining some of the walls. The benches were covered with plaster similar to that used for buildings from the same period at Malia. The plaster covered the entire room.

Getting from room to room was not easy. Sharp turns would suddenly appear or one would be forced to change floor level. The orientation changed from east-west to north-south on the upper floor. Rooms in the West Wing were used among other things for storing pottery or agricultural produce, while others were used to prepare food and one group has been identified as a shrine, although the evidence cited may not be sufficient for a definite identification.

Twice it was severely damaged by earthquakes and rebuilt so three distinct phases are visible to archaeologists. Levi, who excavated here from 1950 to 1971 believed that the first two phases of the Old Palace of Phaistos constitute the oldest Palatial buildings in Crete. Finds at the site, apart from the Phaistos Disc, include thousands of seal impressions and some tablets containing the Linear A script from Middle Minoan II.

When the Old Palace was finally destroyed, almost certainly by an earthquake, a new palace was built on the site. Fortunately for us, the builders of the new palace did not destroy almost all traces of the old as they did at other sites. In fact much of the old palace was covered over at the time of the building of the new palace in order to level the ground. Some of the old palace can still be seen by visitors, especially the original West Facade and in the north-east corner, where the Phaistos disc was discovered. However, the remains of the West Wing of the Old Palace on the lower terrace are closed to the public. In recent years Italian archaeologists have been taking a closer look at the Old Palace which should provide us with more information about this period of Minoan Crete at Phaistos.

 

3. WINE TASTING AT THE WINERY

Wine Tasting Premises at the Winery Miliaraki, Peza Pediadas, Heraklion, Crete

Wine is an experience, a sensory feast.

This is why Miliarakis’ Winery has created wine tasting and wine presentation premises at their facilities in Peza.  At the entrance to the winery you are welcomed by a pre-war bicycle which was used to deliver the wine to the city of Heraklion and a historic Blackstone generator, the first to arrive at the village of Peza; it used to produce power for the winery and also supplied half the village with electricity.

The restoration of the old winery created four visitable levels, deployed over an area of 900 m2, bearing the name “Sifis Miliarakis”, in honour of the son of Nikos Miliarakis, a dynamic representative of the family’s 3rd generation.

Visitable premises include:

A museum, with old wine making machinery: wine presses, pumps, manually operated bottling machinery and a traditional stone wine press. In the same area historic photographs of the winery are on display, among which you will see the Apollo spacecraft astronauts with MINOS wines!

A projection room, seating 200 people, with red seats from the old Astoria cinema in Heraklion, where visitors can watch a 20 minute film on the history of wine, olive oil and tsikoudia in Crete, and the long history of MINOS Company.

A wine tasting room with furniture from a traditional cafe, seating 145 people. Visitors can taste three labels (and finger foods) and become acquainted with the rich and interesting range of company wines, learn about their characteristics and answer any questions they may have concerning wine.

(Find more here http://www.minoswines.gr/portal/?page_id=2665&lang=en)


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