Today, our FSP had some ups and downs of its own. We began our morning at the Minoan palace of Knossos, the largest and most important Minoan site known to modern archaeologists. The palaces were large administrative, economic, and ritual complexes that were the center of the ancient civilization of Crete. Our tour of Knossos was an experience of history in living color. As we wound through the maze of fancifully titled rooms, including the Lobby of Wooden Posts, Shrine of the Double Axes, and Court of the Stone Spout, we were treated to vibrant reconstructions of the Minoan’s famous relief frescoes. Following Professor Faro’s lecture on the remains, we wrote short essays on the functions of various elements of palatial architecture and the influence of reconstruction on our understanding of the past.
After lunch, the real work of the day began with a steep climb to the Minoan peak sanctuary of Iuktas. At 800 meters, the Cretan landscape opened up into spectacular views, which we enjoyed during brief pauses along our ascent. At the summit, Professor Faro gave her second lecture of the day, this one about the role of peak sanctuaries in Minoan ritual. We spent some time hunting for pottery sherds at the site, which we were legally obligated to return to their find spots. Jason took the prize with a fragment of a painted cup interior.
Having finished at Iuktas, we blazed a trail up and over the next couple of peaks toward the site of Anemospilia, home of the only physical evidence in the ancient Greek world for human sacrifice. Rambling our way through the universally spiny Cretan brush with only goat paths to guide us, morale sank in some quarters. Other spirits soared, relishing the adventure of the wilderness passage. At Anemospilia, the prolific Professor Faro delivered yet another lecture, which included the grisly details of the site’s sacrificial fame. The shrine was destroyed by an earthquake, burying four Minoans. One of these unfortunate ancients had recently expired at the time of the collapse, his carotid artery severed by a knife found nearby. After participating in the traditional dramatic reconstruction of this ritual (sponsored by Mentos), we hiked back, running the last quarter mile to catch the 7:00 bus.
Back in Herakleion, we enjoyed a well earned Cretan meal at the Fish Tavern, which was punctuated by the immolation of the café across the street and the arrival of the fire engines. Later that night we attended the traditional waffles and ice cream feast with Professor Christesen in Herakleion’s Lion Square. Now, all we have to worry about is Sea People.
Arrival at Knossos:
Start of Iuktas hike:
Midway up Iuktas:
Terror on the mountainside!
Anemospilia Mentos reenactment:
Alex A. leaps the fence at Anemospilia.