An intact skeleton of a woman lying next to a stunning necklace and other important artifacts from the Early Minoan era (circa 2,600 BC), were unearthed recently at the archaeological site of Sisi on Crete.
Sisi, located in the prefecture of Lasithi, represents one of the most important Bronze Age excavations on Crete in the past decade because of its extent, chronological range and the type of buildings discovered.
The site sits on the coastal hill of Kephali of Agios Antonios, locally known as Buffo. Its strategic position attracted the attention of early settlers and from its initial foundation around 2600 BC, it remained occupied until the end of the Bronze Age around 1200 BC.
A mirror and neckless found next to the skeleton on Crete
A box-shaped grave belonging to the post-Minoan era containing an almost intact skeleton of a woman was found.
A copper mirror with an ivory handle, dress pins made of copper, and a necklace with fifteen olive-shaped, golden beads and fifteen smaller golden beads were also found within the woman’s grave. These types of graves are rare on Crete and are usually only found in Knossos and Chania.
Further excavations have revealed a decorated floor, constructed with a high-quality mortar, and a well-made 33-meter (109-foot) long clay drainage pipe, the Ministry said.
Significant discoveries from less well-known eras have also been unearthed in other parts of the hill, among them a residence that was destroyed in the mid-Minoan era.
Sisi was destroyed by fire and abandoned
During its early history, Sisi was apparently only one out of a series of small hamlets, which dotted the coast of the larger Malia Bay, but, soon, it outgrew its neighbors and become the second largest settlement after Malia in the region.
“After the abandonment of the settlement by its people, who left almost the entirety of their material culture in loco, a monumental structure was constructed to the east of the village,” the Greek Ministry of Culture noted in its announcement.
“This building became the heart of the later west wing,” the statement noted, “even though it was destroyed by a fire in 2,500 BC. Its remains were almost fully incorporated into the construction of a complex of monumental buildings with a courtyard, which was constructed around 1,700 BC.”
Sissi, like so many other Minoan settlements and palace centers, was destroyed by fire and the nature of occupation drastically changed. The ruins of one or more Neopalatial houses were partly incorporated and built over by a new type of structure that betrays influences of the Mycenaean mainland.
Late in the 13th century BC, the site was suddenly abandoned. Fortunately, apart from metal, all other objects were left in place, allowing a proper reconstruction of its internal functioning.
The Kephali Hill at Sisi would, in the centuries to follow, become a place of memory and gradually disappear from history.
The Sisi Archaeological Project started excavating the site in 2007 by a team of the University of Louvain under the auspices of the Belgian School at Athens.