Agia Triada

Agia Triada is close to Phaistos and the sea, with a view towards Mt Ida. It was the summer residence of the king of Phaistos. Excavation were carried out from 1902 to 1944 by the Italian Archaeological School and resumed in 1976. Agia Triada was first inhabited in the Neolithic period. There also two tholos tombs and the remains of houses belonging to the following periods, the Early and Middle Minoan. Agia Triada was built in around 1600 BC and destroyed by fire in 1450 BC. In the Mycenaean period a settlement grew up northeast of it and a megaron of Mycenaean type was built on the Minoan ruins.

The Minoan villa of 1600 BC was impressive. It was built with three wings in the form an L, which the archaeologists have divided in the middle, calling the west half villa A and the east Villa B.

Starting the visit at Villa A, which is close to the little church of Agios Georgios, we come first to a row of small apartments known as the servant’s Rooms. One of them was thought to have been a kitchen, and another, a magazine. In the last one the Chieftain’s Cup was found, a masterpiece of Minoan art. West of these rooms is a Light well, and north of it a polythyron and rooms that may have been residential quarters, one of which perhaps served as a banquet hall. A room to the east of these with a bench and marble paneling on the walls was used as a reception room for distinguished visitors. It has been suggested that a room north of this with a raised rectangular gypsum block was a bedroom, but it more likely had a cultic function.

Further north again 19 bronze ingots were found in the treasury and west of them a collection of clay sealing’s from the room next to it came the famous fresco of a wildcat hunting a pheasant. In the same area, pithoi were found with corn, oil and animal horns, evidently sacrificial remains, because rhytons for libations were found among them.

North of the whole group of buildings are the remains of a stepped road leading to the north court and from there to sea. It may have been the commercial road. The east wing (villa B) is less luxurious, without frescoes, although here too there were polythyra and large rooms. There was a shrine in the south court, which was rebuilt in the Mycenaean period. The south court was used for ceremonies and would have been the more official court. On its east side is the Square of shrines, where a large number of bronze figurines were found. After the destruction of 1450 BC the area was rein habited in the 14th c. during the Mycenaean period.

The Mycenaean Megaron was built in the middle of the L. At that time the town extended northeast of the Villa. It is reached by steps after passing the Portico with five columns. Among the more important structures of this period in the town was the Agora, with a row of shops in front of it. The cemetery lies to the northeast. This is where the Prepalatial and Protopalatial tholos tombs already mentioned were found, and there are others belonging to the Mycenaean period. The famous Agia Triada Sarcophagus exhibited in the Herakleion Museum.