A four-sided red jasper sealstone is among the finds unearthed during this season’s excavation of the Minoan peak sanctuary at Vrysinas, located south of the city of Rethymnon. The whole area was officially announced and included in the archaeological sites list by the Central Archaeological Council of Greece.
The sealstone, which is carved on all four surfaces with characters of the Minoan Hieroglyphic script, constitutes the sole evidence to date for the presence of this earliest Minoan style of writing in Western Crete.
The excavation, which began in 2004, is conducted by the Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities under the supervision of the archaeologist Helena Papadopoulou in collaboration with Prof. Iris Tzachili from the Department of History and Archaeology of the University of Crete.
A preliminary study of the artefacts recovered thus far – including some 800 clay votive statuettes and a significant number of ceramic vessels – indicates that the peak sanctuary was in use throughout the First Palace period (1900-1700 BC) and continued until at least the beginning of the New Palace phase, after which time it was relocated to a lower part of the plateau.
The Vrysinas sanctuary is believed to have been the most sacred peak in Western Crete. The site’s undeniable ritual context puts it on a par with other important Minoan peak sanctuaries like those at Iouktas, Petsofas and Traostalos Kofinas in central and eastern Crete.