Crete is the birthplace of the first European civilization, the Minoan, which flourished between 3000 BC and 1200 BC mainly in Central and Eastern Crete. Even today, the majestic palaces of Knossos, Phaestus, Malia, Zakros, Tylissos, Arhanes, Monastiraki, Galatas, Kydonia and the luxurious mansions at Agia Triada, Zominthos, Amnisos, Makrigialos, Vathipetro and Nerokouros reflect the splendor of the Minoan civilization through architectural, pottery, jewelry and painting masterpieces.
The Minoan fleet, the strongest of its era, as evidenced by several findings in the Mediterranean, brought wealth to Crete from the trade of the famous Cretan cypress and agricultural products. Built in large yards, such as the shipyard of Agii Theodori at Vathianos Kambos, ships were loaded with timber, honey, wine, pottery and olive oil from the ports of Dia, Katsambas, Komos, Zakros, Psira, Mochlos, Niros, Petras, sailing towards all directions of the Mediterranean as far as Scandinavia.
Women were equal to men and took part in all religious ceremonies, in sports, hunting, theater, dance, etc. Masterpieces of building architecture, painting, sculpture and goldsmithing continue to inspire even modern civilization. Linear A and Linear B Scripts remind of the Egyptian hieroglyphics, but they were original Greek scripts. Even today, the disc of Phaestus is one of the most famous mysteries of archeology and deciphering of its symbols remains a riddle.
The worship of deities such as the Mother Goddess of fertility, the Mistress of the Animals, protector of cities, the household, the harvest, and the underworld dominated the religious tradition of the Minoans, who used many caves and mountain peaks as places of worship. Pilgrims from all over the island ascended to the peak sanctuaries of Youchtas and the cave of Hosto Nero to offer their votives, such as Minoan inscriptions or clay idols. Peak sanctuaries were also hosted atop summits Kofinas, Vrysinas, Petsofas, Traostalos, Karfi, etc. The Diktaean, Idaean and Kamares Caves also played a prominent role in the worship of gods.
Chrysokamino is located near the Cave Theriospilios in the area of Kavousi, Ierapetra province. At the site that locals called Golden Oven (chrysokamino), because they frequently found copper pieces, in 1900 the archaeologist H. Boyd spotted a metallurgy workshop that operated from 4500-3500 BC to the Minoan Era. The most important study and excavations since then took place after 1995.
The Minoan Kydonia was built at the current location of the old town of Chania. Kydonia was the third largest town of Minoan Crete. Here developed a thriving craft industry and the town became rich through sea trade, which was favored by its position. Indeed, the ancient writers mention Kydonia as the mother of the Cretan towns.
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.
Northeast of the village Monastiraki, at position Kokkinos Harakas, the palatial Minoan buildings were brought to light from excavations that started in 1980. The palace covers an estimated area of about 300 acres and its core has been revealed up to now.
Remains of an extensive centre of the Old Palace period (1950-1700 B.C.) have been uncovered.at the site called Gournes, near the village of Apodoulou, at the west foot of Psiloritis. The site dominates the Amari valley and controls the main route to the Messara plain.
The archaeological site of Kommos is located 4km west of Phaestus, near Pitsidia and Matala. Kommos (or Komos) was a small Minoan town founded in 2000BC and served the port needs of Phaestus, with which it was linked by road. Kommos was probably destroyed by an earthquake in 1700BC, but survived up to the Hellenistic period.
The Minoan mansion of Sklavokambos was discovered in 1930, while constructing the main road to Anogia and part of it was destroyed by the works. It is a multiple-story building with a main room where a clay ox head was found, along with a Late Minoan IB period style jug and a stone rhyton. The building had at least 17 rooms.
The Minoan settlement located near the village of Nerokouros, by Chania, was excavated in 1977. At this point a Minoan mansion was built on palatial standards (tiled floors, polythyron, two floors). The villa was built in about 1600BC.