In the framework of interrelations between
the Levant and the Aegean world, Prof. Joachim Bretschneider and Greta Jans
from the KU Leuven conducted a research excursion on Crete from the 6th until
the 20th of July. They visited the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion and
several sites in northern and eastern Crete, like Knossos, Malia, Sissi,
Dreros, Ithanos, Palaikastro and Azoria.

Prof. Bretschneider and Greta Jans were
generously guided by Prof. Jan Driessen (UCLouvain) at the site of Malia and
Sissi, by Dr. Florence Gaignerot (Université de Picardie Jules Verne) at
Dreros, by Prof. Carl Knappett (University of
Toronto), Dr. Tim Cunningham (UCLouvain) and Dr. Nicoletta Momigliano (University of Bristol) at
Palaikstro, by Prof. Donald Haggis (University
of North Carolina) at Azoria and by Prof. Didier Viviers (rector ULB) and Prof. Athena Tsingarida (ULB) at Ithanos.

At the Archaeological
Museum of Heraklion Joachim Bretschneider rendered digital images of sphinxes
on mural painting and plaster reliefs for the research of his doctoral student
Nadine Nys.

A short introduction to the visited sites:

Knossos:

The famous Knossos,
near Heraklion, was excavated by the British School at Athens. It is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and was inhabited continuously from the Neolithic period until the 5th
century AD. The palace of Knossos was undoubtedly the ceremonial and political
centre of the Minoan civilization and culture. It appears as a maze of workrooms, living spaces, and
storerooms close to a central square. The palace was abandoned at the end of
the Late Bronze Age.

Malia:

The excavation of Malia is under the direction of the
French Archaeological School at Athens. It is situated by Hersonissos in
Northern Crete and is one of the largest Middle and Late Bronze Age urban
centres on Crete. It was first built around 1900 BC. It subsequently followed
the same cycle as the other palaces of the time, and it was destroyed around
1650 before it was immediately rebuilt. The ruins at the site today reflect
this second rebirth of the palace and the excavations reveal a place of
significant economic and political activity which lasted until its final
destruction by fire in 1450 BC. An extensive complex of settlements had
developed around the palace itself.

With Prof. Driessen at Malia

Sissi:

The Sissi
Archaeological Project
(S.Ar.P.edon)
is a collaboration of the French and Dutch speaking universities of
Louvain/Leuven directed by Prof. Jan Driessen (UCLouvain) and operates under
the auspices of the Belgian
School of Athens
. The archaeological site of Sissi lies just a
few kilometres from Malia, and was occupied in the Middle Bronze, Late Bronze
and Early Iron Age. Between 1450 and 1200 BC, Sissi was probably the most
important regional centre.

With
Prof. Driessen at Sissi

Dreros:

Dreros excavations are directed by the French
Archaeological School at Athens. Dreros, near Neapoli in the
regional unit of Lasithi, existed as an Iron Age settlement that later grew to
become a classical city-state.

With Dr. Gaignerot at Dreros

Ithanos:

Since 1996 the Université
Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) has been conducting fieldwork in the North Necropolis
under the direction of Prof. Didier Viviers. Ithanos is a city-harbour located
in Eastern Crete. The archaeological record shows that the site was occupied
from the 10th century BC to the 6th century AD. Earlier excavations focused on
the urban centre of the city. The recent campaigns in the North Necropolis
brought to light a densely occupied cemetery dated to the Late Classical and
Hellenistic periods (4th-1st c. BC), and early funerary activity dated
to the Geometric – Orientalizing periods (8th and 7th c. BC).

With
Prof. Viviers, Prof. Tsingarida,
Prof. Driessen and Dr. Gaignerot at Ithanos

Palaikastro:

The excavation of the site
is directed by Prof. Carl
Knappett, Prof. Alexander MacGillivray, and Prof. Hugh Sackett under the patronage of the British School of
Archaeology in Athens. The Bronze Age town is situated some kilometres north of
the Minoan town and palace of Zakros at the edge
of the eastern coast of Crete. The site was occupied from the Early Bronze Age until the end of the Late
Bronze Age. The site ceased to be inhabited at the same time
when Zakros was abandoned (1450 BC) but was reoccupied during the Late Minoan
III period (1300-1200 BC).

With Prof. Knappett, Prof.
Driessen and Dr. Cunningham at Palaikastro

Azoria:

Fieldwork
is conducted by permission of the Greek Ministry of Culture under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the Archaeological Service of Eastern
Crete. The Azoria Project is directed by Prof. Donald Haggis of the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The project is investigating an Early Iron
Age and Archaic site to the southeast of Agios Nikolaios.

With
Prof. Haggis, Prof. Driessen and Dr. Gaignerot at Azoria

The close
resemblance between some cultural phenomena of the Aegean and the Levant makes
a partnered research very beneficial. An attempt was made to synchronize
certain assemblages of archaeological material in the Northern Levant and the
Eastern Mediterranean, like the transitional Late Bronze – Early Iron Age
evidence, with the ‘Sea Peoples’ coming from the Aegean to the Near East. For example, large amounts
of hourglass-shaped loom weights – a type of weight generally interpreted as a cultural
marker of the ‘Sea Peoples’ – were excavated in Sissi as well as in Tell
Tweini.

A further challenging research topic focused on the Syro-Phoenician
influence on the architecture and architectural decoration of the oldest Greek
temple at Prinias (8th -7th c. BC) decorated with sculptures.
Most recent finds (from miniature house and temple models in Syria and
Palestine) allow new interpretations of the impact of Levantine cultures on the
Prinias religious architectural decoration of the Archaic Period.