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Agia Triada

The Small Minoan Palace
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January 11, 2021

Just a few kilometers west of the palace of Phaistos you can visit the ruins of the royal villa, the small Minoan palace in Agia Triada. You will see the ruins of a Minoan city, the palace and the tombs.

The small Minoan archaeological site of Agia Trida is located near the Palace of Phaistos on the western slope of the hill, about 40 meters above sea level. The Christian name (Holy Trinity) of a Minoan excavation may seem strange to some, but it comes from the Italian archaeologists at the beginning of the 19th century who discovered this site and gave it the name of the abandoned village near the site. The unsubstantiated name is still unknown today.

 

 

The outdoor area is relatively small and only measures approx. 135 x 135 meters. The earliest traces of settlement date from the end of the Neolithic Age, until the beginning of the Bronze Age it grew into a larger village. Proof of this is the burial rooms from this period and two graves that were used for collective burials according to the customs of the time. The place only became better known around 1550 BC. When a so-called “royal villa” was built here.
At the same time, the second palace of Phaistos was rebuilt on the ruins of the first. The importance of the villa was far less than that of its monumental neighbor, and in addition to its function, many hypotheses arose. According to one of them, it was a summer residence for the Prince of Phaistos or other high-ranking officials. Another version suggests that the villa belonged to an independent landowner.

Excavations started in 1884 by Italian archaeologists and are still in progress. Along with the excavations restoration works, mainly of the ancient buildings, are being done throughout all this period of time. In what concerns the Gortyn Law Code it has been embodied in the Northern circular wall of the Odeon, which is now housed within a small recent structure for protection reasons.

Could it actually be the summer residence? The large number of storage rooms in relation to the total size of the facility, the many plaques with writing and seals that were found there, rather indicate that the building was mainly used for the storage and recording of agricultural products such as wheat, barley, figs, wine, and oil has been.
This doubt also occurs in other so-called palaces. The not very functional and not very ergonomic arrangement of the rooms rather precluded the use of some of these buildings as the seat of the ruler. Perhaps, therefore, the name “palaces” that Evans gave to such buildings is incorrect, something that historians and archaeologists have questioned from the start. What turned out to be surprising to Italian archaeologists working on Agia Triada are very rich finds (artifacts). A-letter plates, clay stamps for securing documents, wall paintings, vases carved from stone, a famous sarcophagus with burial rites, 29-kilo bronze pieces used for commercial transactions. In the town itself north of the villa, the remains of an old town canal, shops, and houses from different eras have been discovered. Agia Triada was not a building on the scale of Knossos or Fajstos, but it still had apartments, skylights, chapels, warehouses, stairs, porticos, and courtyards.

In the following years, Agia Triada is controlled by Venetians and Turks. The Turks contributed to the final destruction of the settlement in 1897 when they attacked the village and murdered all of its residents. Agia Triada is only 3 km from Phaistos. It is therefore worth visiting both excavations and there are also cheaper combination tickets available.

Also check out the Byzantine church of Agios Georgios, which is located on a nearby hill. It dates from the Venetian period and was built in 1302. The church has fairly well-preserved 14th-century frescoes.

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