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Two Remarkable Donation in Knossos to Reveal New Archaeological Treasures

In an extraordinary gesture of cultural philanthropy, two private landowners in Knossos have bequeathed plots laden with archaeological treasures to the Municipality of Heraklion. This significant donation encompasses artifacts that redefine the historical narrative of the renowned Minoan Palace and illuminate the intricate tapestry of Cretan civilization.

Discovering the Religious Heart of Knossos

The lands, situated in the Bougada Metochi area within the 1st Archaeological Zone of Knossos, were the focus of excavations led by the esteemed former Director of the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, Ms. Athanasia Kanta. Ms. Kanta’s meticulous research unearthed a series of artifacts from what is identified as the religious center of Knossos, offering unprecedented insights into the spiritual life of ancient Cretans.

These plots, described by Ms. Kanta as harboring a wealth of antiquities, have yielded findings so significant that some have been displayed in prestigious institutions such as a museum in Athens and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, enhancing global understanding of the Evans period.

A Generous Contribution to Heritage Preservation

The acquisition of these valuable plots is being facilitated by the Institute of Aegean Prehistory, which has generously agreed to cover the full acquisition costs, amounting to 50,000 euros for the first plot (1,339 sqm) and 25,000 euros for the second plot (219 sqm). This initiative is in compliance with the requirements set forth by the Central Archaeological Council to continue the excavation and preservation efforts.

The Heraklion City Council has committed to covering additional expenses related to the notary, taxes, and Land Registry, although the tax has been waived and the notary fees have been forgone, leaving only the Land Registry fee to be paid by the municipality.

An audit by the Suitability and Valuation Committee has confirmed the value and suitability of the plots, paving the way for the formal acquisition process. Preparations for the contract signing are underway, involving key stakeholders including the notary Mr. Aristofanis Bountourakis, the Legal Service, the Department of Municipal Property, and former Deputy Mayor Mr. Manolis Vassilakis. The contract will officially transfer the ownership to the municipality with Mr. Thomas Brogan, Director of the Institute of Aegean Studies, acting as the third-party contractor to facilitate the payment to the landowners.

A Glimpse into Ancient Worship and Culture

Ms. Athanasia Kanda’s extensive excavations from 2011 to 2017 have brought to light the religious center of Knossos, revealing a continuous tradition of worship spanning from 1,800 BC to at least the 3rd century AD. Among the astonishing discoveries are items of profound ritual significance, such as an ivory scepter intricately inscribed with Linear Script A, marking the largest inscription of its kind found to date.

Other notable finds include a ceremonial room filled with precious materials, gold, silver, amethyst, lapis lazuli beads, and double axes crafted from gold, silver, and copper. A particularly striking discovery was an iron double axe, marking the earliest known ornamental object made from this metal, predating its widespread use and production.

Furthermore, a small stone record seal featuring Cretan Hieroglyphic script and a sword adorned with golden griffins dating back to 1,400-1,380 BC, discovered in a small Mycenaean sanctuary, highlight the rich ceremonial life of the ancient city. These findings, alongside a collection of Roman statues, provide a vivid portrait of the religious practices and artistic achievements of Knossos through the ages.

This generous donation not only enriches the cultural heritage of Heraklion but also opens new chapters in the understanding of Cretan civilization, offering scholars and the public alike a deeper appreciation of the ancient world’s complexity and splendor.