Necropolis of Ancient Eleftherna

The necropolis of Ancient Eleftherna in prefecture of Rethymno is the most important part of the archaeological site of Ancient Eleftherna at Orthi Petra.

This is a necropolis of the Geometric and Archaic period, which excavations brought to light thousands of small and large discoveries about the burial customs, same as mentioned by Homer in the Iliad, describing the Fire of Patroclus. In 2010 archaeologists of the University of Crete found themselves in front of one of the major discoveries of ancient times. They found a huge lying jar, which was an unplundered hewn tomb built in 700 BC and its entrance was barred with an 800 kg boulder. Inside the jar bones of a young couple were found, covered with a golden coverlet, which was embroidered with 3000 gold leaves of different shapes. The gold inside the tomb is of Egyptian or Minor Asian origin and demonstrates the close relations of Eleftherna with countries of the East, such as Egypt, Syria and Cyprus.

Among others, the “the Warriors’ tomb” was found in the necropolis of Ancient Eleftherna, with 480 jars, weapons and a trench of warriors that were killed in battle. A golden jewelry depicting a bee, which was worn by a girl, is considered one of the most important findings. This jewel is the first representation of the bee as a goddess on Crete. According to archaeologists, the jewelry, if shot in reverse, shows us a lily instead of the bee. Despite its small size (the jewelry is 2-3 cm in height) you can easily see a woman with a wig, with her hands holding her breasts. The body of the bee and its wings are adorned with tiny flowers.

Another surprising archaeological finding of the necropolis of Ancient Eleftherna is the eye of Tutankhamun; a golden eye in physical size, similar to the one found on the funeral mask of King of Egypt was found in the tombs.

The height of a discovered building in the necropolis of Ancient Eleftherna is not common for other buildings in the Geometric period. The remnant walls are about two meters in height. Inside the building, stone benches were found, upon which there were kraters and goblets. The building was obviously meant to be a basement, since at least the 2/3ds of the walls’ height have been built into the ground. Archaeologists believe that according to the findings, this building was used as storage or as a ritual place, probably it was used during some kind of a funeral ceremony or memorial services.