Crete. Excavations and research projects | February 3

“PETRAS, SITEIA: An unplundered elite cemetery of a palatial Minoan settlement. A diachronic memory landscape (2900 – 1750 BC)”

Dr. Metaxia Tsipopoulou
, Emerita Director, Ministry of Culture & Sports

Petras has been investigated by means of excavations and surface surveys under the direction of Metaxia Tsipopoulou since 1985. The residential occupation of the area lasted from ca. 3,400 BC uninterrupted until ca 1100 BC.

The two low hills of the monumental context were peninsular in antiquity, on either side of a narrow bay. On the western hill a Minoan palace and part of an extensive urban settlement were excavated, whereas two settlements were discovered on the eastern hill: a) ca 3,400 – 2,900 BC and b) 14th − 12th c. BC. On the same hill since 2004, an extensive unplundered cemetery, one of the most important in Crete and probably the largest of the Prepalatial and Protopalatial periods, has been excavated. It was founded around 2800 and used until ca 1750 BC. It was used only by prominent social groups of the palatial settlement. For almost two millennia Petras was a “gateway community” for raw materials and ideas from the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as from the Aegean, according to the evidence of the valuable grave offerings, but also from the evident social rivalries played out in the cemetery.

Watch the lecture here



    Dr. Metaxia Tsipopoulou was born in Athens. She received her BA and PhD degrees from the University of Athens; her dissertation was on the Early Iron Age pottery of Eastern Crete. She continued her postdoctoral research at the University of Bristol, in UK for two years, at the National Research Foundation of Italy as a European Union Fellow, and at the State University of New York at Buffalo as a Fulbright Fellow. In 2015 she was a Peter Warren Visiting Professor at the University of Bristol. She worked at the Archaeological Service of the Ministry of Culture from 1975 to 2011, mostly in Western and Eastern Crete. From 2007 to the end of 2011 she headed the Directorate of the National Archive of Monuments of the Central Service of the Ministry of Culture, in Athens, and she was responsible for the management of the digital heritage, as well as the Historical Archive of the Archaeological Service. In this context, she has coordinated many European Union programs aimed at promoting Greek culture through electronic applications, in particular the European Digital Library Europeana. Dr. Tsipopoulou specialises in the Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age of the Aegean, especially of Crete, and her scholarly interests focus on the study of settlement patterns and pottery. She has directed important systematic excavations in Crete, including the Minoan urban settlement, the palace and cemetery at Petras, Siteia as well as the Late Bronze Age settlement at Halasmenos, Ierapetra. She has directed the excavations of the Prepalatial fortified building at Agia Photia in Siteia, as well as that of the Late Minoan III cemeteries at Kritsa, Mirabello and Achladia, Siteia. She has also conducted surface surveys, organized museum exhibitions, as well as international conferences and has given many lectures and seminars in Greece, Europe, England, the United States and Canada. Additionally, she has edited websites on Greek and Minoan Archeology. Her research and fieldwork are systematic programs of the Ministry of Culture. They are interdisciplinary and international, involving archaeologists and scientists from various disciplines from Greece, Europe, England, the United States and Canada. Her publications include more than 110 articles and several monographs, as well as edited conference volumes. Her research and publications have been funded annually since 1987 by the Institute of Aegean History (USA). Metaxia Tsipopoulou is also an elected President of the Society of the Friends of the Historical Archive of the Archaeological Service and a Corresponding Member of the Archaeological Institute of America.

Background Image | Aerial photo of the cemetery at Petras, Siteia. © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports (detail)

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