The mysterious town of

Kastro

Kastro settlement
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The Late Minoan settlement of Kastro is located on a steep hill, 3km south of Kavoussi, which is accessed via an ancient trail. The view of the bay of Mirabello, the wild gorge of Mesonas, Malavra mounts and the island of Psira are unique.

The first excavations on the peak of Kastro were conducted by Harriet Boyd in 1900, uncovering thirteen rooms. The excavations in 1901 revealed a cemetery to the southwest in position Skala or Aloni. Excavations were resumed between 1987 and 1992 by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

The craggy peak of Kastro, some 710m above sea level, overlooks the isthmus of Ierapetra and is surrounded by terraces for farming. Excavations were conducted in three main areas: the east and north slopes, the west slope and in the saddle between the Kastro hilltop and the false peak (northwest building). The results of this work provide a rare illustration of the foundation growth and development of early Iron Age community to the early Orientalizing period (1200-600BC).

Stratified flooring and deposits of pottery provide a much needed ceramic sequence for Eastern Crete from the late Bronze to early Iron Ages. After a lengthy period of occupation in Late Minoan (1200-1025Bc) the community enlarged in the Protogeometric Period (1025-850BC). The settlement was partially remodeled in the 8th century BC, when the surrounding slopes were covered by terraces supporting large houses. By the early 7th century many rooms were no longer in use. Rooms had features such as benches, bins, small niches or cupboards in the walls. How people moved around is a puzzle, since few streets have been found; possibly they used the roofs.

The pottery, tools, and well-preserved animal bones provide much information about domestic life and the way in which the inhabitants exploited their natural resources. For example, the quantities cattle bones, along with the usual sheep-goat and pig bones, suggest diverse herding strategies, and fish bones show exploitation of marine resources, despite the distance from the sea. The settlement diminished in size during the 7th century BC and was finally abandoned around the end of the century.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Lassithi Prefecture
  • Type: Ancient Settlement
  • Peak Period: Dark Age (1200 BC - 800 BC)
  • Accessibility: Walking

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