Crete Excavation Tour: The Origins of Crete

More about the tour

 Visit the excavation of a Minoan villa at Gaidourofas (Excavation season 11 July-19 August 2016), which is conducted by the University of Athens, Department of History and Archaeology, in the area of Anatoli, Ierapetra, East Crete.

Description of the site

Minoan villa at Gaidourofas (1650-1550 B.C.E.)

The site is located in a small mountain valley (900 m amsl), 2.2 km from the modern village of Anatoli. Since 2012, excavations have revealed the exceptionally well-preserved remains of a megalithic two-storey Neopalatial building complex. The lower floor consisted of large semi-basement rooms used for large-scale storing. Stone staircases led to the upper floor, which comprised rooms for accommodation, and various domestic and industrial activities. Finds such as bronze tools, stone vases and jewels made of rock crystal indicate the prosperity of the occupants, whose social status was higher than simple farmers or shepherds. The building, although similar to other Minoan rural villas, is unique because it is located in the uplands, clearly suggesting the great interest of the Minoan palatial centers in large-scale exploitation of the mountains natural resources in the heyday of the Minoan palatial system. The size, the megalithic masonry and the large-scale storage indicate that the building may have acted as the center of economic activity in the broader mountainous area, by controlling the exploitation of the local resources, organizing the production of related goods and supervising the transfer of these goods to the palatial centers in the lowlands. The continuity of the excavations will provide valuable information about the character of the stored products, and the relation of this mountain villa with other habitation centers in the lowlands.

The visitors in the tour may observe or take part in

  • Washing and classifying pottery. Ceramic vessels are often found either complete or broken in pieces which are called sherds. Sherds comprise a valuable tool for archaeologists as these are used for dating the archaeological remains. Participants can either actually wash or observe what archaeologists take into consideration in order to date the pottery
  • Dry and wet sieving. Sieving soil is the process which is used to isolate tiny items, otherwise missed such as seeds or extremely small metal objects. In case of seeds, archaeologists can identity eating habits in ancient times.
  • Keeping diary.
  • Taking archaeological photos
  • Drawing archaeological objects
  • Observing the process of digging



Starting point: Hotel *

09:00 – 10:15

Transfer to the Excavation site in Anatoli Village


Introduction to the history of the area and the basics of an archaeological excavation, from fieldwork and planning to photographing and dry-sieving.

11:15 – 11:45

Snacks and refreshments at the Excavation site.

11:45 – 13:15

Learn from the Pros: World-class archaeologists share their inspiration, insight and approach to their craft.

Basic types of artifacts with an emphasis on Minoan pottery, including identifying and dating specimens.
Basic principles of environmental archaeology plus different methods for retrieving environmental data from the sites, including soil sampling and flotation.

13:15 – 14:30

Transfer back to hotel


Ending point: Hotel

* Hotels in Elounda, Aghios Nikolaos or Ierapetra