Late-Minoan Necropolis of Armeni

The Late-Minoan Necropolis of Armeni in Rethymno prefecture is an archaeological site located 9 kilometers to the south of the city of Rethymno, at Prinokefalo and close to Armeni, on a road connecting the northern to the southern coast of Crete.

The discovery of two jars by students in 1969 and their delivery to the Archaeological Museum of Rethymno, have led to an extensive research in the area and discovering after all the Late-Minoan Necropolis of Armeni, which is the largest excavated cemetery of this period (1400-1200 BC).

According to the excavations, it seems that there was a choice of this particular location, while cobbled paths have been built and burial clusters have been created to separate the rich from the poor. Gradually, this pattern was abandoned. It must have been some kind of fencing and a formal entrance to the cemetery, whose positions have not yet been discovered.

Apart from the Late-Minoan Necropolis of Armeni, the settlement of Armeni itself could probably be characterized as a craft industrial settlement and it was founded at the time when the copper trade with Cyprus became troublesome. This fact can be confirmed by the discovered copper mine located approximately 4 km south of the cemetery.

The tombs found in Late-Minoan Necropolis of Armeni were family tombs and had many dead inside laid down on the floor or in sarcophagi. All graves are tombs with carved chamber, except the grave №200, which is vaulted. The grave goods that were inside the tombs, such as pottery, weapons, tools and jewelry can provide important information about art, religion and social organization of that time. The osteological studies on the bones have shown us that the average adult, male and female, age at death was about 31 and 28 years, respectively, while half of all children died before reaching the age of five.

The most important monument in the Late-Minoan Necropolis of Armeni is the Grave №200, the only vaulted tomb in the cemetery. The tomb is 4.55 meters in length and 1.32 meters in width. A niche has been carved in the sidewall, while the entrance has been closed by capping plate. The insides of the tomb’s chamber revealed bronze weapons, pottery, beads and a pendant with an inscription in Linear A of the 14th century BC.

The tomb №159 is the most impressive tomb with carved chamber. Its road is 15,50 meters in length and there are some stairs at the top of it. Remains of a wooden stretcher were found in this tomb.

In the Late-Minoan Necropolis of Armeni more than 300 tombs have been excavated so far.