The Pediada survey is an interdisciplinary project, based on fieldwork carried out between 1982 and 1989 by the archaeologist Nikos Panagiotakis, in the Pediada region in central Crete, , with permits by the Greek Ministry of Culture. Since 1999 the Project has been supported by a large team of experts in various fields.
The Pediada survey is an interdisciplinary project, based on fieldwork carried out between 1982 and 1989 by the archaeologist Nikos Panagiotakis, in the Pediada region in central Crete (Fig.1), with permits by the Greek Ministry of Culture. Since 1999 the Project has been supported by a large team of experts in various fields.
The aim is to understand and reconstruct all human activity in the Pediada from the Neolithic Period to the Present and to clarify the relationship between people and their environment. The Project combines thus an ethno-archaeological survey with the study of the environment.
The results are now being prepared for the final publication. The whole study has been directed since 1999 by Nikos and Marina Panagiotaki who are also responsible for the organization of the project and the general editing.
The Project has been financed by the Institute for Aegean Prehistory, the Institution Psycha, the Mediterranean Archaeological Trust and from 2005 the Shelby White - Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications.
The Pediada eparchy is situated between the Lassithi mountains and Juktas. It is an extension of the Lassithi mountains and thus a plateau raised (except a strip of lowland along the north coast) well above sea level. It consists of a plain, the Omphalion Pedion, undulating countryside, several stream valleys and the lowland along the north coast (Fig.2).
The project covered the Omphalion Pedion, the ridges that define its west boundary and the west side of the Lassithi mountains, 800 km.sq. altogether (Fig 3).
The Pediada is an important region because of its geographical position as well as the dynamics of its environment and ecosystem. It is not coincidental that two of the major Bronze Age palaces, Knossos and Malia lie at its north-west and north-east corners respectively.
More than one thousand new archaeological sites have come to light through the Project. The Pediada was settled from the Neolithic Period; the highest peaks of site density are during the Bronze Age (especially the Old and New Palace Periods), the Archaic, the Roman and the Venetian. These sites range from single buildings to large settlements, cultic and habitation caves, Minoan peak sanctuaries, cemeteries of all periods and the road networks connecting the Bronze Age sites among themselves as well as with the major Minoan palaces.
Most importantly a new Bronze Age palatial site was identified, that of Galatas - now under excavation by the archaeological service. The most important discovery, however, was that of the earliest communication system in the Aegean world, if not worldwide, functioning with fire signaling: a series of man made beacons in the shape of rounded pyramidal structures with a flat top. Although the system was known from written sources in the Near East (the Mari archives in Syria) as well as the Classical Greek writers, it had never to now been identified on the ground (Fig. 4,5,6).
The Pediada thus, rich in natural resources (fertile soils, a lot of water and a mild climate) was capable of sustaining palatial domains, besides large numbers of settlements, during the Bronze Age (Fig. 7,8,9).
During the Archaic (Fig. 10,11), Classical and Hellenistic periods it gave life to large city-states.
In the Roman period the Pediada was densely occupied and adorned with aqueducts and baths. The Venetians had reinforced its natural strength by a series of forts and towers and exploited its natural resources to the full, evident in the large number of wine pressing installations identified. In the Ottoman and modern times it has been one of the most densely populated regions in Crete.
The publication of the results of the Pediada (Omphalion Pedion) Project, now under way, prove the diachronic importance of the region, at the same time revealing the way people interacted with their environment in the various periods of the history of the region.
The results of the project will be published by the INSTAP ACADEMIC PRESS.