Archaeological museum of Ancient Eleftherna
The Museum of ancient Eleutherna – Homer in Crete, the first archaeological site museum in Crete, although smaller in size, is similar to those of Olympia, Delphi, and Vergina. The museum was created to house the results of the excavations carried out for thirty years in the ancient city of Eleutherna. The originality of this museum is that the objects of the permanent exhibition will be updated periodically with new and older finds, so that the public’s interest is continuous and relates to the discoveries and expansion of the excavation work on the site.
The exhibition will be accompanied by original and modern audiovisual exhibits.
The museum along with its surroundings occupies an area of 13 acres, while the museum itself will be housed in an area of 1,800 m2 and will include an exhibition area with patio, offices, maintenance areas and the restrooms.
The exhibition of the findings in the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Eleftherna will display approximately 15,000 items, unearthed by the archaeologists from the necropolis of Ancient Eleftherna and not only.
The big hall will host the findings relevant with the city of Eleftherna itself and its history, from 3.000 BC until the Byzantine period and will include the whole range of excavations. The second hall will display sacred and traditional, every-day items, while the third hall will be dedicated to the necropolis. The showcases will not only display the items, but also will explain the relations among Eleftherna and Crete and other cities. At the entrance there will be touchscreens placed to provide the information to the visitors.
Last but not least don’t forget that you can combine a great tour with our e-bikes in the mount Vrisinas which is located very close to the museum. Our north Crete kayak expedition will give you enough time to visit the museum.
Step into the history
So, time for the exploration to begin: before the entrance, one of the museum’s emblematic pieces will greet you: a bronze shield from the Tomb of the Warriors dating to 830/20-730/20 BC – one of the finest specimens of early Cretan art at the dawn of Greek civilization, related in one way or another to North Syria and Urartu and then, at the next halls, plenty of surprises are waiting for you – such as the Kore (maiden) of Eleutherna (circa 650 BC), a female statuette that has drawn comparisons with the famous Lady of Auxerre kept at the Louvre in Paris tools, weapons, vases, inscriptions, architectural members, and coins representing a small part of the excavated artefacts of all periods gold jewellery (pendants, sewn ornaments, and more), illustrating this indestructible, magical, timeless precious material and its multiple uses primarily in the Homeric period, at the dawn of Greek civilization in Crete and, of course, the finds from the Orthi Petra necropolis – illustrating the Homeric description of Patroclus’s funerary pyre, thus confirming its veracity, for which there was disagreement, even on the slaughter of the twelve Trojan prisoners, between Plato and Aristotle.
Modern, interactive and with bold aspirations – as it wishes to keep being updated periodically with new and older findings-, the museum of Ancient Eleftherna introduces you to a brand new world brimming with unique treasures that are to be discovered during your holidays in Greece. So, let the journey begin!
At Eleutherna, Greece is set to acquire another emblematic museum directly linked to an archaeological site.
Even when the weather is gloomy and the sun does not shine on the centuries-old olive trees planted during Venetian rule, Eleutherna’s landscape has a particular glow. Located in the heart of Crete, near the island’s geographical center, the archaeological site is nestled in a slope of Mount Ida overlooking the sea. While time has erased most traces of the ancient city-state – with a human presence dating back to 3000 BC – from the surface, the ground itself has yielded much of interest to archaeologists, while the new year brings some excellent news regarding the area.
Following Vergina, Delphi and Olympia, Greece is set to acquire another emblematic museum directly linked to an archaeological site. The Eleutherna museum is expected to open in June this year. Given that the area where excavations are conducted is enclosed within the Eleutherna archaeological park’s boundaries, one can imagine a holistic approach: history and protected natural beauty leading to the discovery of the past.
Kathimerini recently caught up with Eleutherna excavator and Cycladic Art Museum director Nicholas Stampolidis. In the new museum’s storage area, among thousands of neatly organized objects which have traveled from Rethymno and Iraklio, Stampolidis was putting the final touches to a story which began in 1985. That was when a dig by the University of Crete’s History and Archaeology Department uncovered a cemetery dating to Homeric days in a location bearing Geometric, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, Early Christian and Byzantine traces. The excavation threw plenty of light on a “dark” period of history covering the 11th to the 6th century BC through the discovery of landmark offerings. Stampolidis spent three decades digging here before carrying out his vision thanks to sheer dedication. The residents of two nearby villages have become greatly attached to the archaeological area and have undertaken its protection, hundreds of Greek and foreign students have conducted field work on Eleutherna soil, while European funding and private sponsorship have been put to very good use.
It is no coincidence that Stampolidis chose two symbols for Eleutherna and the new museum. The first is a golden bee, “because we all worked really hard for this dream to come true, but also because the worship of this particular insect was spotted here for the first time,” he noted. He also chose a “shield” with a lion’s head, “to protect the ideas and values of this effort,” he added.
The latter possibly dates to the 8th or 9th century BC and may have been used as a lid for a large cooking vessel. The artifact, which had been displayed at the Cycladic Art Museum for a long time as part of its permanent collection, is now heading home. It will welcome visitors to the new museum alongside a clay copy moulded by specialist Dimitris Alexandrou for the vision-impaired.
Among the most beautiful artifacts going on display at the new venue are important inscriptions dating to about 500 BC, which were discovered last summer. The exhibits reflect the different periods during which the ancient city flourished or was in decline, highlighting public and private life, religious practices as well as offerings to the dead. Among them are items imported from other Mediterranean areas, a testament to the important role of commerce in the ancient world.
Spread across 2,000 square meters, the museum’s space is divided into display, storage and laboratory areas.
Museum of Ancient Eleutherna
At approximately 380m above sea level, on the slopes of Mount Ida (Psiloritis), Eleutherna stands on a prominence that resembles a vast stone ship moored in ineffable green with its prow pointing northwest. Eleutherna’s location at the heart of Crete, approximately mid-way between ancient Kydonia (modern Chania) to the west, Knossos to the east, and Phaistos and Gortyn to the south favoured the city’s development. This and its ties to the sea were the basis for a society that was open to the world and subject to its periodic ups and downs, as the University of Crete’s excavations and investigations, undertaken systematically since 1985, have shown.
Ancient Eleutherna has been revealing its secrets, which date from approximately 3000 BC to the fourteenth century AD. Excavations at the Orthi Petra necropolis show that the Early Iron Age, particularly the period from 900 BC to the end of the 6th or beginning of the 5th century BC, was the city’s most important period, one directly associated with the dawn of Greek civilization and Homer (the Iliad and the Odyssey).
This is why we created the Eleuthernian Grove, an archaeological park that comprises the ancient city with footpaths, rest areas, and information panels. Visitors can enjoy, both nature –the fauna and flora– and antiquities in an enchanting landscape.
Eleutherna’s history is illustrated by the material remains of its culture presented in three consecutive rooms.
The objects displayed in Room A (vases, sculptures, weapons, tools, figurines from clay, stone, metal, faience, etc., inscriptions, etc.) provide an introduction to the public, political, religious, social, and private life of Eleutherna through the ages. The room is dominated by a large display case with artifacts imported from other Cretan cities and from further afield: Attica, the Peloponnese, the Cyclades, the Eastern Aegean islands, Asia Minor, Cyprus, Phoenicia and the Syro-Palestinian coast, and Egypt… These illustrate the “Odyssean” adventure and recall Homer, who told of Odysseus’s travels and of the “cities he saw and ideas he learned” (Odyssey, Book 1, 3).
Room B presents religious life and cults at Eleutherna from the Early Iron Age to the Byzantine era. It also houses Monument 4A, a heroon-sanctuary, which, if interpreted correctly as a cenotaph, is one of the earliest monuments to the unknown soldier in world history. It also houses one of the most important finds from the Orthi Petra necropolis, the Eleutherna Kore, which is closely associated with the famous Lady of Auxerre, the exquisite Daidalic sculpture now in the Louvre in Paris.
Room C is dedicated to Eleutherna’s cemeteries. The display focuses on finds from the Orthi Petra necropolis, since these illustrate the Homeric narrative, e.g. the ritual of funerary pyres, as described in the Iliad, particularly in the passage describing Patroclus’s pyre (Book XXIII), and aspects of the Homeric daita (diet). It also portrays a society of heroic warriors and imperious princesses, like those buried in Building M, which contained the remains of four women aged 13.5 to 72 years who held prominent positions in the Early Archaic society of Eleutherna. Another rock-cut tomb, the “Tomb of the Warriors”, housed the cremated remains of Eleutherna’s illustrious warriors with their opulent grave gifts of weapons, jewellery, and tools. This tomb contained the bronze shield now on display as an emblem in the museum’s entrance.
The display ends with a reconstruction of the well-preserved funerary pyre of a young male warrior, aged approximately 30 years, who was cremated together with his companion. This pyre, which dates to approximately 720-700 BC, also included a unique feature: the body of a stout man, aged 30-40 years, probably a prisoner-of-war executed in front of the warrior’s pyre. This unique discovery recalls Homer’s dramatic description of both the slaughter of Trojan prisoners-of-war by Achilles in front of the Patroclus’s pyre (Iliad, Book XXIII, 22-23, 175-176,180-183) and the pyre’s entire ritual (110-179 ff.).
For these reasons the current display focuses on Homer. This is the backbone, the thread that connects everything. Crete can now stand firmly on two feet: the Minoan civilization and Homer. These are its strong points in its ancient history.
In addition to the rich explanatory material and texts, special films and audiovisual presentations enhance the museum’s evocative exhibits.
Contacts and exchange between East and West in antiquity which are attested by imported objects from the Aegean and the Near East, demonstrates the city’s extroverted character. These journeys, provenances, and exchanges are illustrated on a huge projected map inside the large display case containing these objects. Another film explores the story of Phronime told by Herodotus (Histories, 4.154-161).
In Room B, a feature film presents the adventure of the famous statue known as the Lady of Auxerre from the time of its discovery, its journey to France and acquisition by the Louvre, to the identification of its origin by Professor Nikolaos Stampolidis and, finally, to its reunion with the Kore of Eleutherna, for the first time since it left Crete in the late 19th century, in the Museum of Cycladic Art in 2004/5. In the same room, an audiovisual presentation explains the monument to which the Kore belonged.
In Room C, a film completed in 1996 presents the funerary ritual illustrated by the finds of Funerary Pyre ΛΛ and the Homeric description (Iliad, Book XXIII). Finally, the film projected in the special area off Room A encapsulates the meaning of the museum’s sub-title Homer in Crete.
The new museum of Eleftherna in Crete
The Museum of ancient Eleutherna – Homer in Crete, the first archaeological site museum in Crete, although smaller in size, is similar to those of Olympia, Delphi, and Vergina. The museum was created to house the results of the excavations carried out for thirty years in the ancient city of Eleutherna.
The originality of this museum is that the objects of the permanent exhibition will be updated periodically with new and older finds, so that the public’s interest is continuous and relates to the discoveries and expansion of the excavation work on the site.
The exhibition will be accompanied by original and modern audiovisual exhibits.
The project entitled “Building Complex of Eleftherna archaeological site museum – Travelogue” was implemented under the Operational Programme “Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship 2007-2013” (NSRF) of the University of Crete and the Ministry of Culture and Sport, who are the actors operation. In the southern wing of the building housed the Study Centre with its offices.
The effort was supported by private initiatives (Aristindin members of the Mediterranean Archaeological Society/ MAE), Organizations, Institutions, and individuals).
Find out more information from the official website of the Eleftherna Archaeological Museum!
Phaistos is located in the south of Crete, 62km from Heraklion and close to Matala and it used to be not only one of the most important centers of Minoan Civilization but also the most wealthy and powerful city southern Crete during that period. The city was built on a hill with the Palace over-watching the plains of Messara. The Phaistos Palace was the second largest Minoan Palace after Knossos and it was the palace of Radamanthis, brother of King Minos. It was first built in 2000BC but was destroyed and rebuilt in 1700BC. The visitor of the site today can witness the high sophistication of the building techniques and architecture that aimed both to functionality and aesthetics.
The Minoan Palace of Knossos is located 5km southeast of Heraklion in an area inhabited continuously since the Neolithic Age, 9000 years ago. During the Bronze Age, Knossos became the capital of the Minoan Civilization and the base of King Minos himself. According to mythology, Minos kept the famous architect Dedalos prisoner until he would finish the highly elaborate and complex cluster of multi-storied buildings that compose the palace. Dedalos built a set of wings him and his son to escape but Ikarus flied too close to the sun and fell to his death. The mythical creature Minotaur was also supposed to live in Knossos, inside a complex maze designed by dedalos, the famous Labyrinth. Knossos Palace is the absolute symbol of the Minoans and a visit to the site will give you the chance to see a rich strata of ruins, wall paintings and frescos that offer a vivid image of the grandeur and cultural richness of the Minoan Civilization.
Late Minoan Cemetry in Armeni
The Armeni Late Minoan cemetery lay undisturbed for thousands of years before excavations started in 1969. Since then, archaeologist brought to light, human skeletons and burial artefacts like pottery, weapons and jewels, that give us extremely valuable in formation about this particular era and the people that lived in it. A great deal of the findings is exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Rethymno.
Spinalonga is a beautiful small island that you can visit by boat from Elounda, Plaka or Agios Nikolaos. The island is famous as the “Island of Lepers” and it is a place where many people have suffered and died. It was heavily fortified by the Venetians to protect the important port of Elounda and part of this fortifications still stands today. It was first used to host the lepers of Crete in 1905 but in 1913 it became a leper colony for patients from all over Greece. It remained a leper colony until 1957 when the last patients were treated with antibiotics. Today it is considered a place of martyrdom and historic memory. According to some it is the second most visited historical site in Crete after Knossos.
The Museum of ancient Eleutherna
The first archaeological site museum in Crete, although smaller in size, is similar to those of Olympia, Delphi, and Vergina. The museum was created to house the results of the excavations carried out for thirty years in the ancient city of Eleutherna. The originality of this museum is that the objects of the permanent exhibition will be updated periodically with new and older finds, so that the public’s interest is continuous and relates to the discoveries and expansion of the excavation work on the site. The exhibition will be accompanied by original and modern audiovisual exhibits.
Ancient Eleftherna is located 25km southeast of Rethymno, close to the Monastery of Arkadi.
According to tradition, the city was named after Eleutheras, one of the Kouretes, who protected the infant Zeus by beating upon their bronze shields thus preventing his father Cronus from hearing his cries and devouring him.
Current archaeological evidence shows that, Eleutherna was one of Crete’s most important ancient cities, a capital city of the Geometric and Archaic periods – that is, the periods when the Homeric poems were disseminated and recorded in writing. The city minted its own coins in the fourth century BC. In the third century BC, Eleutherna fought against Rhodes and its ally Knossos. In 220 BC, when the Cretan cities fought against each other, Eleutherna sided with Knossos, but a siege forced it to break the alliance. In 68 BC, when the Roman general Metellus attacked Eleutherna, the city managed to resist for some time because of its fortified location, but was finally conquered through treason.
ORTHI PETRA CEMETERY
At Orthi Petra (West side of the hill) archaeologists have uncovered a necropolis dating back to the Geometric Period, along with Roman buildings and streets built on top of earlier constructions.
Among the most important and impressive finds at Orthi Petra is the funerary pyre which dates to the late eighth century (730-710) BC. It belonged to a warrior, a prominent member of the local community, who was cremated at the age of approximately 30.Another important feature is the burial place of four women (aged 70-72, 28, 16, and 13) of a prominent Eleuthernian family, the oldest of which held an important place in local society, as suggested by grave gifts characteristic of her aristocratic lineage and priestly role.
Other rich burials of warriors and other Eleuthernians portray a society very close to that described by Homer: wealthy and extroverted, with frequent and close contacts with the outside world, as indicated by the many artefacts that reached Eleutherna from different places in the Aegean, Cyprus, Asia Minor, and, primarily, the Near East (Phoenicia, Syria) and Egypt.
New ancient Egypt exhibit to open at Natural History Museum of Utah
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Ancient Egypt is visiting Utah as the Natural History Museum is hosting this new exhibit. The exhibit will open to the general public this week on Thursday, May 20.
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The Egypt: The Time of The Pharaohs exhibit will take museum goers through early Egyptian times showing them artifacts, architecture, and even lifestyles.
“Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs is an amazing immersive exhibit talking about the time of Ancient Egypt from about 5,000 years ago up until about 3,000 years ago or so,” says Jason Cryan, executive director of the museum.
The exhibit spans the time of the early kingdoms, where the great pyramids were built, to the Ptolemaic era, where the famous Queen Cleopatra was the last ruler.
A fun fact about Queen Cleopatra is that she lived closer in time to when the first McDonald’s was established than to the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
There is no short supply of objects to view as Cryan tells us, “This exhibit has more than 300 authentic objects from the time period including three sarcophagi, a coffin and two sarcophagi, that indicate how much emphasis was placed on the afterlife”.
While many things may have changed over the last couple of thousand years, some everyday routines have not. Ancient Egyptians also stayed up to date in a similar fashion to what we call “the news” today.
“So, don’t forget that the Pharaohs were considered god-kings. So they were rulers of men, but they were also direct link to the afterworld and to the deities and so everything they said was absolutely true. And so they would pass down information about meteorological events, about culture, about the academic information, and their word was gold,” says Cryan.
If you would like to learn more about ancient Egypt or just look at the artifacts, you can purchase tickets here . Tickets for admission are only available online and must be purchased in advance.
You can also view their health and safety precautions here .
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Eleutherna, also called Apollonia, was an ancient city-state in Crete, Greece, situated 25 km southeast of Rethymno. Archaeologists excavated the site, located on a narrow northern spur of Mount Ida in the municipality of Prines, the highest mountain in Crete it flourished from the Dark Ages of Greece’s early history until Byzantine times.
The Hellenistic Eleutherna bridge close to the ancient city
During the ninth century BCE, in sub-Mycenaean times, in the Geometric Period of the later Greek Dark Ages, Dorians colonized the city on a steep, naturally fortified ridge. The city’s location made it a natural crossroads, as it lay between Cydonia on the northwest coast and Knossos, and between the shore, where it controlled its ports, Stavromenos and Panormos, and the great sanctuary cave near the peak of Ida, Idaion Andron. The Dorian city evolved in the Archaic Period in a similar vein as did Lato and Dreros, its contemporaneous Dorian counterparts.
The Lady of Auxerre from the area of ancient Eleutherna in Crete, Louvre, Paris
With the Roman conquest of Crete in 68/67 BCE, luxurious villas, baths, and other public buildings demonstrate that Eleutherna was a prosperous centre through the Imperial period, until the catastrophic earthquake of 365 CE. Eleutherna was the seat of a Christian bishop: bishop Euphratas constructed a large basilica in the mid-seventh century. The attacks of caliph Harun Al-Rashid in the later eighth century and Arab hegemony in Crete, together with another earthquake, in 796 led to the final abandonment of the site. A brief reoccupation under the Latin Empire grave rise to a Catholic diocese, still a Roman Catholic titular bishopric today.
Eleutherna was known in the Medieval period (15th – 16th centuries).
Public exhibitions in 1993 and 1994, and especially the comprehensive exhibition of 2004 at the Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, have introduced the archaeological site to the general public. On the last occasion the Louvre lent the seventh-century BCE “Lady of Auxerre”, now given a definitive Cretan context with comparable finds at Eleutherna.
There is no museum or official site with information at ancient Eleutherna, since the findings are still quite recent.