The Minoan mansion of

Zominthos

Ancient Zominthos
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Ancient Zominthos is located 7km west of Anogia, on the road heading to the plateau of Nida. Discovered in 1982, Zominthos is one of the most important archaeological discoveries in Crete, compared my many to that of Knossos.

During archaeological works in the cave of Ideon Andron (1982), the archaeologist Yiannis Sakellarakis had a conversation with a shepherd coming from the region, who mentioned the name Zominthos. Sakellarakis immediately understood that this name refers to an ancient toponym and the next day he visited the place, where he almost immediately identified some traces of a Minoan mansion.

The excavations are still under process by the Greek Archaeological Service and the University of Heidelberg. Up to now, the archaeologists have found a huge and luxurious building covering an area of 1360 square meters, built of local stone and consisting of around 80 rooms. The walls of the two- or three-storey building were plastered with clay for insulation and were decorated with murals. Nearby, another smaller Mycenaean building has been detected. It is striking that such a large complex operated at an altitude of 1200m, although it is believed that, due to the snow, it was closed in winter.

The building was built approximately in 1900BC, reached its peak in 1600BC and was destroyed in 1400BC, probably by an earthquake. Zominthos was surely one of the most prominent Minoan settlements. It is considered as a station for the Minoans who visited the sacred cave of Ideon Andron. Indeed Zominthos is situated on the ancient trail that started from Knossos, passed through the gorge of Gaidourorrachi, Livadi Plateau and then through Zominthos, where there was a sacred spring. In fact, Homer states that king Minos visited Ideon Andron every 9 years so as to receive the laws for his people. Thus, Zominthos may was also built for hosting Minos during paying his visit to the cave.

However, Zominthos seems to have also been the financial and organizational center for trading the famous Cretan cypress, the popular agricultural products and livestock products of Ida Range (in scripts of Knossos there are references to thousands of sheep).

The Archaeologists try to reconstruct the physical environment in which Zominthos was located. It is quite easy as there was no human presence for centuries and the natural environment has remained intact. Moreover, inside the archaeological site there is a large hawthorn tree that has been officially declared as a monument of nature.

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Additional Info

  • Prefecture: Heraklion
  • Type: Ancient mansion
  • Peak Period: Minoan Era (3000 BC-1200 BC)
  • Accessibility: Paved road

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