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Bredaki M., Longo F. (in stampa), ‘Phaistos Survey Project: abstract

Bredaki M., Longo F. (in stampa), ‘Phaistos Survey Project: from the Minoan Palace to the Classical and Hellenistic Town’, in 11th International Cretological Congress (Rethymno, 21-27 ottobre 2011)

The need to extend our knowledge of the settlement area of Phaistós, one of the most important centers of the island of Crete, through a diachronic investigation of settlement patterns and urban development, prompted the Italian Archaeological School in Athens to start an Italian-Greek collaboration in the summer of 2007, in the awareness that a systematic study of the ancient city and the surrounding area could only be achieved through an exchange of information and a close and effective scientific collaboration with the local ephoria. Hence the idea of drawing up a land exploration plan based on surface surveys, archive research, and analyses of materials, to be carried out by a team directed by the universities of Pisa (Prof. M. Benzi) and Salerno (Prof. F. Longo), and the Eforia of Iraklion (M. Bredaki).

The surface survey program embraces an overall area of ca 60 hectares around the hills of Kastrí, of the Median Acropolis, and of Christós Effendi. Along with the surface investigations, it includes measured surveys and georeferencing of structures, a study of satellite and aerial photographs, and non-destructive geophysical investigations.

After an essentially bibliographical study and a first systematic survey of a more extensive area than that of the city proper, in the 2008 campaign a topographic reference grid was created (Prof. V. Achilli) and a systematic intensive survey was begun of a 12.34 hectare area extending northwest of the village of Haghios Ioannis, immediately west of the road to Matala.

A preliminary study of the materials revealed the presence of significant evidence from the Minoan period, a testimony of the existence here of a settlement not too different from the one brought to light at Chalara. For the following period, notable finds include a Late Geometric Cretan aryballos – almost certainly from a burial pyre -, some architectural elements, a black-figure fragment – also Cretan -, and ceramic materials from the Hellenistic period. Among the structures recognized, an especially interesting one was a stretch of a wall found in the north part of the surveyed area. It is composed of two curtains of squared calcareous stones and an inner core of rubble. This masonry has a direct parallel in the remains of the fortification walls visible on the hill of Christós Effendi.

Also noteworthy, although it lies outside the area delimited by the Palace hills and the village of Haghios Ioannis, is a new site found in 2007 east of Petrokephali during a search for the geodetic point of Marathovígla. From the site, which lies at a height of 122 meters a.s.l., one could control the plain of Messará and the nearby hills. On the top are very scarce remains of structures. Many pottery fragments were found along the northern slope of the hill. They are datable to the Geometric period, and hence seem to indicate that here was a so far unrecognized settlement of the Messará, which, adding itself to the already known ones (Festós and Profitis Ilias at Gortina), could help to shed light on the settlement pattern of the Messará in this specific chronological phase.

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