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Chania  

J. Lesley Fitton

[Ta Chania; formerly Canea; anc. Kydonia]

Town on the northern coast of west Crete. Its small sheltered harbour attracted a Minoan settlement (Kydonia), which flourished throughout the Bronze Age (c. 3500–c. 1050 bc). As La Canea it prospered during the Venetian occupation (1252–1645), gaining a cathedral, a rector’s palace and fortification around the Kastelli Hill in the 14th century. The Venetian church of S Francesco now houses the Archaeological Museum. Despite 16th-century fortification of the town, in 1645 La Canea fell to the Turks, who ruled Crete from Kastelli Hill. Buildings from the Turkish period include several mosques, a bathhouse and a lighthouse. After the end of the Turkish occupation (1898) Chania remained capital of Crete until 1971. This article describes the Minoan settlement of Kydonia.

Minoan remains lie underneath the modern town, and excavation has therefore been possible only in restricted areas. Nonetheless, Chania has yielded finds of sufficient quantity and importance for it to seem likely that a Minoan palace was situated there, and that it was the ...

Article

Crete  

Patricia Cameron

Largest island in the Greek archipelago and home of the Minoan civilization (see fig.) and subsequently associated with an important school of Byzantine iconographers (see §4). The island, which is the fourth largest in the Mediterranean, owes its historical importance primarily to its focal position between Europe, Asia and Africa. Lying at 35° latitude, some 100 km south-east of the Peloponnesian mainland of Greece, Crete forms the southern boundary of the Aegean Sea and links the Peloponnese to the mainland of Asia Minor through a chain of smaller islands; the Libyan coast is c. 300 km to the south over open sea.

Crete extends c. 250 km east–west and a maximum of 57 km north–south, with sheltered anchorages chiefly along the north coast. Four mountain ranges constitute the island’s spine: westernmost are the White Mountains, with ten peaks above 2000 m; then Mt Ida (2456 m); the Lasithi Range, with Mt Dikte (2148 m); and finally, east of the narrow (12 km) isthmus of Ierapetra, Mt Ornon (1476 m). Isolated upland plains drained by swallow-holes include the Omalos in the White Mountains, 1100 m high and snowbound in winter, and the Lasithi Plateau (...

Article

D. Evely

revised by Gordon Campbell

(John)

(b Hemel Hempstead, Herts, July 8, 1851; d Oxford, July 11, 1941).

English archaeologist and historian. He is best known as the discoverer of the Palace of Minos at Knossos and the inventor of the term Minoan to designate the Bronze Age civilization of Crete. His father ran a paper-milling business and was also a prominent antiquary. Evans studied modern history at Brasenose College, Oxford (1870–74), during which time he also travelled widely, from war-torn France to the Turkish-occupied Balkans (1871) and Romania (1872). His sympathies for the Slavs and his interest in the ancient remains of the region led him to settle at Ragusa (now Dubrovnik) in 1875. There he divided his time between investigating the political turmoil of the area, assisting refugees, visiting numerous historical sites, producing a series of books and scholarly articles and working as a reporter for the Manchester Guardian (from 1877); but as Austrian involvement in the Balkans increased, he was accused of mixing with nationalistic elements, arrested, imprisoned and expelled (...

Article

J. Lesley Fitton

(b Rovereto, nr Verona, Feb 15, 1875; d Rome, July 17, 1930).

Italian epigrapher and archaeologist. An important figure in the history of archaeological exploration in Crete, he first visited the island in 1884. His interests at that time were mainly epigraphical, and within four months of his arrival he made the remarkable discovery of the Law Code of Gortyn, one of the most important inscriptions ever found in the Greek world. Halbherr became thoroughly committed to the recovery of Crete’s past, broadening his interests from the purely epigraphical to the archaeological; the long list of sites that he explored, excavated or encouraged others to excavate includes Gortyn, Axos, the Idaian Cave, Lebena, Prinias and perhaps the two most important sites dug by Italian archaeologists, the Minoan palace of Phaistos and the neighbouring Minoan villa of Ayia Triadha. From 1889 Halbherr was Professor of Greek Epigraphy and Antiquity in the University of Rome. In 1899 he founded the Italian Archaeological Mission in Crete, and in ...

Article

J. Lesley Fitton

(b Melos; d Feb 16, 1936).

Greek archaeologist. Hazzidakis was a doctor by training, but his enthusiasm for the archaeological heritage of Crete led to his foundation in 1878 of the Herakleion Society for the Promotion of Learning. He became President of the Society (or ‘Syllogos’) in 1883 and thereafter devoted his time to one of its particular aims, the preservation and study of the ancient monuments of Crete. Under the aegis of the Syllogos, Hazzidakis began a small museum in Herakleion where chance finds and gifts from private collectors were housed. This formed the basis for the now world-famous Archaeological Museum of Herakleion. After the liberation of Crete from Turkish rule in 1900, Hazzidakis and his colleague Stephanos Xanthoudides were recognized as the two first Ephors of Cretan Antiquities. Hazzidakis collaborated with foreign scholars (especially the Italian Frederico Halbherr) who excavated for the Syllogos and negotiated on Arthur Evans’s behalf for the purchase of the site of Knossos. In ...

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J. Lesley Fitton, Keith Branigan, C. D. Fortenberry, Philip Betancourt, Lyvia Morgan, D. Evely, Margaret A. V. Gill, Reynold Higgins, P. M. Warren and Susan Sherratt

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C. D. Fortenberry

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Philip Betancourt

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J. Lesley Fitton, Keith Branigan, C. D. Fortenberry, Philip Betancourt, Lyvia Morgan, D. Evely, Margaret A. V. Gill, Reynold Higgins, P. M. Warren and Susan Sherratt

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Kythera  

Nicolas Coldstream and Ioanna Bitha

[Cythera; Kithira; Ven. Cerigo; anc. Porphyrousa]

Greek island, 32×19 km, immediately south of the Peloponnese. It was credited by Herodotus (Histories, I.cv.3) with the oldest cult of Aphrodite, and its more romantic associations are recalled by Antoine Watteau’s Pilgrimage to the Isle of Cythera (Paris, Louvre). The landscape is rocky, with some fertile valleys. One such valley fed the eastern promontory site of Kastri (i), near the modern village of Avlemon, settled by Minoan Cretans from c. 2500 until c. 1425 bc. The historical Greek (c. 480–323 bc) city state of Kythera moved inland to the Palaiokastro hill and became a Spartan dependency, though with brief interludes of Athenian occupation. Kastri was fortified from c. ad 550 until c. 650 as a refuge against Slav and Avar invasions of Greece. After desertion in the 9th and 10th centuries the island’s mid-Byzantine recovery is attested by the building of numerous frescoed churches, continuing after annexation by Venice (...

Article

D. Evely

(Nikolaos)

(b Kephallenia, 1901; d Thera, Oct 1, 1974).

Greek archaeologist and historian. After graduating at Athens in Classical Philology and Archaeology (1919), Marinatos began his career with the Archaeological Service in Crete. Rapid promotion (Ephor, 1921) culminated in the Directorship of Herakleion Archaeological Museum (1929), after two years of study in Germany. For the next decade he excavated many Minoan sites, including Nirou Chani, Amnisos, Tylissos and Arkalochori. His energy and elegant, often bold, interpretations brought him the rewards first of the Directorship of the Service (1937) and then of a chair at Athens (1939). The last he held until 1968, though being twice recalled to the Service (1955–8; 1967–74). On the mainland he concentrated on Mycenaean matters, conducting excavations at Mycenae, around Pylos (1952 onwards) and at Marathon (1969–71), and producing many articles on aspects of Mycenaean culture, often set within a wider Aegean and Mediterranean perspective. Yet he also found time to work on Crete (Vathypetro, ...

Article

Minoan  

J. Lesley Fitton, Keith Branigan, C. D. Fortenberry, Philip Betancourt, Lyvia Morgan, D. Evely, Margaret A. V. Gill, Reynold Higgins, P. M. Warren and Susan Sherratt

Civilization that flourished during the Greek Bronze Age (c. 3500/3000–c. 1050 bc) on the Aegean island of Crete. The term was coined by Arthur Evans and derived from Minos, legendary king of Knossos. The rediscovery of the Cretan Bronze Age civilization was pioneered by Evans’s excavations of the great Minoan palace at Knossos beginning in the year 1900 (see fig.). Although chance finds had been made before, these excavations were the first that systematically recovered remains from the Minoan past. Others soon followed, revealing three further palaces at Phaistos, Mallia and Kato Zakros, as well as towns, country houses and sanctuaries throughout the island (see fig.). The chronological system devised by Evans remains in use, with modifications (see §I, 4 below). There was much cross-fertilization between the Minoan civilization and the Bronze Age cultures of mainland Greece (see Helladic) and the ...

Article

Pseira  

Philip Betancourt

Minoan town on an island of the same name off the north-east coast of Crete, in the Gulf of Mirabello; it was first excavated by Richard Seager in 1906–7. A Minoan settlement was already established there by the Early Minoan (em) period; it expanded during the Middle Minoan (mm) period, reaching its largest size in Late Minoan (lm) i, at the end of which period it was destroyed by fire. (For discussion of the absolute dates associated with Minoan chronological periods see Minoan §I 4.) A small Byzantine monastery occupied the island from the 6th to the 9th centuries ad.

The buildings on Pseira were of local stone. Paved lanes and tall staircases divided the town into blocks of houses that followed the topography. Some houses were large and massively built, occupying several terraces on the slope of the hill, while others were more compact; most were two storeys high. One of the finest, the Building of the Pillar Partitions, had an inner court and an L-shaped wall of alternating pillars and doorways, so that the entire wall could be closed off or opened to admit a maximum of light and air to an area with a sunken bathtub. In Pseira’s shrine was a fine relief fresco (...

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J. Lesley Fitton

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D. Evely

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D. Evely

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Margaret A. V. Gill

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P. M. Warren

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D. Evely

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