By Phil Butler
An exhibition of the nautical culture of the Aegean in prehistoric times opened this week at Koules Fortress on the harbor of Heraklion, Crete.
“The islands of the winds. The nautical culture of the Prehistoric Aegean” exhibition is an expanded version of the temporary one at Gortys in the south of Crete. Organized by the Region of Crete, the Ephorate of Antiquities of Heraklio, and the Institute of Classical Archaeology Heidelberg University, the exhibition will run through December 31st.
The Venetian fortress museum halls are the perfect backdrop for a journey through what Bronze Age seafaring and trade must have been. The multimedia and models of Islands of the Winds are accentuated and magnified by the stunning artifacts and exhibits of Koules.
The visitor will have an engaging transportive experience seeing the region’s nautical history and culture plaid out from pre-history through the Venetian era because of the venue.
This exhibition uses advanced modeling, digital and design elements, and the presentation of artifacts to create a broad window into natural culture and tradition from a time before writing. Essential for the Minoan civilization’s emergence as the world’s first true Thalassocracy, shipbuilding and all the nautical arts and sciences played critical roles.
Dr. Diamantis Panagiotopoulos, Director of the Institute of Classical Archaeology at the University of Heidelberg, is the visionary standing behind this transportive learning experience. One of his most significant areas of focus with this exhibition is education. And the value for schools and students is doubled with Koules as the venue.
The hard work that went into the exhibit also pushed the envelope of theory about Bronze Age engineering and more. The last time we spoke with him in Gortys, he stressed the importance of the Minoan Civilization’s long-distance seafaring capabilities.
Nautical achievements in Prehistoric Aegean
“Our exhibition tells the story of the nautical achievements of the Aegean maritime societies of the Bronze Age. These societies flourished because they were based on principles of sustainability and a very thoughtful and effective management of natural resources. This ‘Minoan way’ of doing things, i.e. flourishing and expanding in perfect harmony with their natural environment can be a lesson for our modern society.”
Also present at the opening was Dr. Vasiliki Sythiakaki, Director of the Heraklio Ephorate of Antiquities, who has played a pivotal role in bringing this exhibition to the public, Kostas Phasoulakis from the Region of Crete, and Mrs. Stella Archontaki, Vice-Mayor of the Municipality of Heraklion for Education.
Visitors can expect to see 3D models of Minoan sailing vessels, the makeup of ancient ports in models and graphics, high-detail models of the shipbuilding facilities at the ancient ports of Kommos and Zakros, and beautiful artifacts from the time.
Readers learn more about the exhibition, the history and exhibits of the Venetian fortress, opening times, and admission via the website kοules.efah.gr.
Phil Butler is editor-in-chief of Argophilia Travel News and a contributor to Greek Reporter.