Minoan Peak Sanctuaries
The main goal of the project is to investigate the place, role and evolution of Minoan peak sanctuaries in their broader cultural and natural landscape.
The project, funded by Instap, is part of a larger research framework titled "A Topography of Power. Towns, Sanctuaries and Territories on Bronze Age Crete". The aim of the project is to identify a historical topography of power by assessing archaeological data that reflect hierarchical relationships on the island of Crete during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages (2000-1200 B.C.). The Minoan Peak sanctuaries project is based on a collaboration of the Institute of Mediterranean Studies-FORTH (Dr. A. Sarris) and the Universitι Catholique de Louvain (Prof. J. Driessen).
The main goal of the project is to investigate the place, role and evolution of Minoan peak sanctuaries in their broader cultural and natural landscape. The particular project employs a suite of advanced mapping techniques (sub-cm GPS), satellite remote sensing, statistical analysis and Geographical Information Systems for studying the spatial and temporal relations of the Minoan peak sanctuaries of Crete with respect to their environmental context, the landscape topography and the existing cultural domain. These techniques offer us a unique possibility to present concepts such as, space, time, people, and the cultural and natural variables, in an integrated unity. Among other techniques, viewshed analysis, statistical analysis of the topographic characteristics, image classification techniques, cost surface analysis, and locational modelling are employed to address questions related to the relation of the Minoan peak sanctuaries with respect to their environmental, social and economic settings.
Click on the black spots to enjoy the vitual tour of the peak sanctuaries
The project constitutes part of a larger research framework titled "A Topography of Power. Towns, Sanctuaries and Territories on Bronze Age Crete & Etruria".
The activities of the project included the mapping of known and possible Peak sanctuaries in the wider region of Crete, through the use of satellite imagery and high-accuracy DGPS. A number of background layers, including geological maps, landuse and land capability maps, DEM, a.o., were used in order to capture the environmental settings of the peak sanctuaries.
Viewshed analyses, site catchment studies, proximity statistics, topographical settings, a.o. were among the different techniques that were applied to test the role of the Peak Sanctuaries in the development of the cultural landscape of Minoan Crete. Intervisibility studies, supported by the hierarchy of the sanctuaries, suggest a religious unity (especially obvious in early Protopalatial period). Thiessen polygons, created around Minoan sites of high hierarchy (palaces and sites of known or expected court compounds), reflected a more or less even distribution of territories. Similar results were also produced in the cost surface analysis, although territories were modified appropriately, emphasizing the role of the slope and the corresponding effort needed to cross the landscape. Other mathematical models, such as the X-tend model, which is based on the consideration of the internal properties of the main settlements and the distance between them, were used to further test the definition of the territories of the large settlements in relation to the distribution of the peak sanctuaries. Finally, cost paths were estimated from all large sites to peak sanctuaries and significant settlements.
Dr. Jan Driessen
Department of History of Art and Archaeology, University Catholique de Louvain
Dr. Apostolos Sarris
Scientific Supervisor of the Laboratory of Geophysical-Satellite Remote Sensing & Archaeo-environment