History of Previous
Excavation in the Area
Mochlos and its adjacent coastal plain, have been explored by several archaeologists,
beginning with Richard Seager whose work
on the island is well-known, largely because of the important Prepalatial
cemetery that he exposed on the western side of the island with its
treasure hoards of gold jewelry, seals and stone vases. He also found contemporary
settlement remains along the south coast of the island and excavated parts
of an extensive Neopalatial settlement along with settlement remains of
the Mycenaean and later historical periods.
No further work was done in the area until the 1950s when Nicholas Platon,
then Director of Antiquities in Crete and Director of the Heraklion Museum,
carried out rescue operations and small trial excavations along the coastal
plain opposite Mochlos. In 1955 he excavated a round tholos tomb, of a type
normally found in the Mesara in southern Crete, at Galana Charakia a short
distance below Myrsini. It held pottery of the EM III, MM IA and MM IB phases.
He also reported Minoan buildings of uncertain character at Chalinomouri
at the eastern end of the plain and at Palia Vardia, also below Myrsini.
He excavated an important cemetery of Mycenaean chamber tombs at Aspropilia
and reported still other chamber tombs at Plakalona and Keratidi. Athanasia
Kanta studied the finds from Aspropilia in 1980 and dated the pottery to
the LM IIIA, IIIB and IIIC phases. In 1955, J. Leatham and Sinclair Hood
carried out underwater exploration along the coast between Mochlos and Crete.
They discovered a fish tank along the Cretan coast, which they believed
to be Roman, which provided evidence for a rise in sea level of 1 - 2 m.
since the Roman period, good support for Seager's suggestion that the island
and plain were connected by a low isthmus of land during the Bronze Age.
In 1971, 1972 and 1976, Davaras, then Director of Antiquities in eastern
Crete and Director of the Agios Nikolaos Museum, and Soles, working under
the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies, returned to the
island to clean and better document the Prepalatial
cemetery that Seager had excavated. Tombs that Seager had excavated
were identified, and a few additional tombs were uncovered. A map of the
island was drawn up with the aid of a team of architects from Cornell University,
led by Frederick Hemans, and state plans for all the tombs were also completed.
Work on the island and plain continued in later years. In 1978 Davaras investigated
a LM III tomb at Koukoutsia where Platon had earlier reported Mycenaean
pottery; in 1979 and the early 1980s, Soles undertook a study of the
settlement remains on the island and the sandstone quarry on the coast opposite
the island, reexamined the sites that Platon had reported on the plain in
the 1950s and located several new sites. In 1986 N. Papadakis, then acting
Ephor of Antiquities in eastern Crete, excavated a series of seven Mycenaean
chamber tombs exposed by bulldozer directly behind the modern village of
The current project grew out of all this earlier work in the area.
History of the Site
The area which the Project is investigating was extensively occupied during
the Bronze Age (ca. 3100-1200 B.C.) and much later during the Late Hellenistic
(1st century B.C.) and Byzantine periods, and the 1989-1994 excavations
have succeeded in isolating well-stratified remains for each of these periods.
These include parts of the Prepalatial settlement, dating to the 3rd millennium
B.C., extensive remains of the Late Minoan IB settlement, dating to the
16th or 15th century B.C., remains of the LM III reoccupation in the Mycenaean
era, dating from 1370 to 1190 B.C., remains of a Late Hellenistic fort and
an Early Byzantine settlement. Each of these settlements played a different
role in its contemporary society and was important for a different reason.
The Prepalatial settlement flourished during the formative years of Minoan
civilization and played a large part in the development of that civilization.
The Late Minoan IB settlement, the largest part of the excavation, served
as a second-order administrative center during the floruit and final period
of Minoan civilization. The Mycenaean and Early Byzantine settlements in
contrast were quiet agricultural settlements remote from the centers of
Mycenaean and Byzantine power.
. N. Platon, " Chronika," Kretika Chronika, 1959, (pp.
359-393), pp. 373-374; for the date, see P. Warren, Minoan Stone Vases,
Cambridge 1969, p. 195 note 2.
. N. Platon, , 1959, p. 388.
. N. Platon, , 1959, pp. 372-373, pp. 388-389; A. Kanta, The Late Minoan
III Period in Creete, A Survey of Sites, Pottery and their Distribution
(SIMA 58), Göteborg 1980, pp. 163-173.
. J. Leatham and S. Hood, "Sub-marine Exploration in Crete, 1955,"
BSA 53-54, 1958-1959, (pp. 263-280), pp. 273-275.
. C. Davaras, "Archaiotetos Kai Mnemeia Anatolikes Kaetes,"
Deltion 33, 1978, B'2 (1986), p. 393.
. J. Soles, "A Bronze Age Quarry in Eastern Crete," JFA 10,
1983, pp. 33-46.
. N. Papadakis, "Anaskaphes Ergasies," Deltion 41, 1986, B'
Return to Mochlos Home Page
Return to Classical
Studies Home Page
Last Modified: 24-Jan-1997
Mail to: Dr. Jeffrey Soles