Anavlochos is a 5km-long mountainous ridge overlooking the village of Vrachasi in Eastern Crete. The place was first investigated by French archaeologist Pierre Demargne in 1929 and more recently, rescue excavations were carried out by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Lasithi. In 2015-2016, a survey was conducted by a team of the French School at Athens (EFA) that allowed us to clarify the extent, nature and chronology of occupation of the ridge.
View of Anavlochos from the South-East © Anavlochos Project
Anavlochos was mostly settled from Late Minoan IIIC period (ca 1200 BC) through the 7th c. and offers the remains of a 10 ha settlement, a 12 ha necropolis and three cultic places. In addition, the massif is located mid-way between the Minoan settlement of Sissi, which was abandoned ca 1200 BC, and the urban center of the Archaic cities of Milatos and Dreros that developed in the 7th c. BC, precisely when the settlement and necropolis at Anavlochos were deserted. Thus, given the chronology, nature and scale of its remains, as well as its micro-regional settings, Anavlochos represents an exceptional case of study for the period of transition leading from the Mycenaean palaces to the Greek poleis (city-states).
Aerial photograph of Anavlochos © Anavlochos Project
A systematic program of excavations was started in 2017 under the auspices of the EFA. The aim of the Anavlochos Project is to reconstruct the economic, social, and political organization of an Early Iron Age community established on a Cretan mountain, at the dawn of the poleis, by exploring the remains of its residential, funerary and religious activities. More specifically, the project seeks to examine the formation and transformation of the social groups established at Anavlochos and to explore the potential existence of a central authority that could have been ruling these social groups.
The excavations conducted at Anavlochos in 2017-2022 notably revealed a complete and separate district including a metallurgical workshop (Quartier de la Forge) in the Early Iron Age settlement that occupies the highest part of the central valley; unseen series of stone tumuli in the contemporary necropolis extending at its foot; a bench sanctuary that remained visited during the Classical period mid-way between the settlement and the necropolis; and on the summit of the massif, two votive deposits that yielded hundreds of terracotta plaques and figurines ranging from Late Minoan IIIC through the Classical period.
Animated 3D model of the Quartier de la forge© Anavlochos Project
Orthophoto of a tumulus during excavations © Anavlochos Project
7th c. votive terracottas from Deposit 1 © Anavlochos Project
From the summer of 2023, study seasons will allow the team to prepare the final publication of the results.
The Anavlochos Project is funded by the Louise Taft Semple Fund through the Department of Classics at the University of Cincinnati. It also received the support of the EFA, the Loeb Classical Library Foundation, Archéologie et Patrimoine en Méditerranée, the Institute for Aegean Prehistory (INSTAP), the INSTAP-Study Center for East Crete, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (UMR 8164 HALMA; UMR 5133 Archéorient), the Mediterranean Archaeological Trust, many European and American universities and research centers, as well as private donors. The project was awarded the first prize ex aequo of the Prix Clio pour la recherche archéologique in 2020 and the Richard C. MacDonald Iliad Endowment for Archaeological Research from the American Institute of America in 2019.
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The 2022 team © Anavlochos Project