AAIA Classical Archaeology Seminar
Dr Metaxia Tsipopoulou | National Archive of Monuments of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism
Innovative Burial Practices in a Persistent Memory Landscape: House Tomb 2 in the Pre- and Protopalatial Cemetery of Petras-Kephala, Siteia, Crete
Petras, located 2km to the east of the town of Siteia in NE Crete, is a unique monumental complex, which has been archaeologically investigated since 1985 under Dr Tsipopoulou’s direction. A Minoan palace, three settlements and two cemeteries have been excavated; revealing that human occupation in the area started in 3400 BC and continued uninterrupted until 1200 BC.
On Kephala hill an extensive, unplundered cemetery has been excavated since 2004. It is the largest Pre- and Protopalatial cemetery in Crete, covering more than 4000m2, used for 1000 years. It was used exclusively by elite families of the palatial settlement. To date 24 large house tombs with complex plans, nine burial structures and a burial rockshelter have been excavated. Precious grave goods, made mostly of imported materials (gold, silver, bronze, ivory and semi-precious stones) testify to an affluent society. Petras was a gateway for trade with the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean for almost two millennia to the end of the Protopalatial period, ca 1750 BC.
The Protopalatial House Tomb 2 (1850-1700 BC) is by far the most important in the whole cemetery for a variety of reasons, including its position, its architecture, the grave goods and the exclusive connection with a large ceremonial area. The history of the use of this area as an elite burial place is presented in this lecture. The first burials dated back to the third millennium BC. (Early Minoan II period) and included two primary female burials as well as secondary burials of children with a large amount of exotic grave goods made of imported materials. Above them, still before the construction of the large House Tomb 2, there were a series of primary and secondary burials, of men, women and children, also accompanied by a significant quantity of very rich grave goods. This unique chronological sequence is presented in the lecture and the reasons for the occupation of this area, measuring circa 110m2 are investigated.
Dr Metaxia Tsipopoulou (National Archive of Monuments of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism) is a specialist of the Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age in the Aegean and Crete in particular. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Athens. She conducted post-doctoral research at the University of Bristol, U.K. and was based at the State University of New York Buffalo as a Fulbright Scholar. She has had a long career in the Archaeological Service of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, most of it spent in Crete. Between 2007 and 2011 she was the director of the National Archive of Monuments of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism. She is Director of excavations at Petras.
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