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Archaeological Museum of Heraklion

The Museum Of Minoan Civilisation

The Archaeological Museum situated in the heart of Heraklion city invites you to take a trip back into history. It is considered as one of the most important Museums in Greece and Europe as it houses most of the finds on Minoan Civilisation and also showcases other Cretan archaeological treasures.

Among the Museum’s exhibits you can see items dating to Cretan prehistory and history, spanning 5500 years from the Neolithic Age to the Roman Period. Most of them date back to the Minoan Period’s ceramic art, stone carving, seal engraving, microsculptures, metal crafting and painting found in palaces, mansions, settlements, tombs, temples and caves.

Touring the Museum

Let history unfold before your eyes as you walk in the museum halls! Go past the finds from Minoan necropolises and see unique pieces of art as well as objects of everyday use such as tweezers for eyebrows and ivory combs.
Navigate through the pottery evolution from the Neolithic Age (5000-2500 BC) up to the Postpalatial Period (until 1170 BC).

Admire the distinctive types of ceramic called kamares wares (2000-1700 BC), their lovely colours and themes, plant and animal motifs as well as two honoured symbols of the Minoan Times: the bull’s head and the sacred double axe.

Take a picture of the Museum’s most prominent exhibit: The Phaistos Disc. It is made of clay, with hieroglyphic carvings and ideograms on it and holds a place among archaeological mysteries since the purpose of its creation and the meaning of its inscriptions have so far been unknown.

Get to know the famous Minoan Snake Goddess, a Minoan lady holding snakes in both hands and wearing the traditional Minoan costume.

Learn about everyday life of the Minoans and their favourite sport, bull-leaping as depicted on the wonderful murals on display and the ivory bull-leaper figurine.

Compare the similarities between Minoan Man and contemporary Man through objects of daily use such as Zatrikio, a type of chess played by Minoans, made of ivory, azure glass and a type of rock crystal parts with gold and silver coatings.

Observe the remarkable beauty of La Parisienne and The Prince of the Lillies, two amazing murals displayed on the Museum’s second floor and the commanding simplicity of the clay sarcophagi.

Read the Kourites Hymn at the sanctuary of Zeus Diktaios, which was sung by young men in the nude while they danced during secret rites. They clashed their copper shields in an attempt to imitate legendary Kourites who guarded the divine infant [Zeus] and danced noisily while banging their shields in order to cover up the baby’s crying and so protect him from his father Cronus, who was known for eating his children.

Notice the details on the signet of King Minos ring and a lovely piece of jewellery known as the Bees, unearthed in the Malia area, which depicts two bees carrying a drop of honey into their honeycomb.

Other Collections

The next rooms to be visited on the 1st floor display exhibits from the Subminoan, the Early Geometric and the Geometric Periods as well as other less known finds of great interest. The Classical and Hellenistic Periods are next. The majestic and carefully considered sculpture hall is the last room of your tour. It includes items from the Archaic up to the Roman Periods, unpublished material, oversized statues, a sarcophagus, portraits and statues of gods and mortals.

Extra tip: Make a point of visiting Knossos, the most important centre of the Minoan Civilisation. It is found on an idyllic area on Kefala hill, 5km SE of Heraklion amidst olive trees, vineyards and cypress trees. Knossos is known to have been the capital of the Minoans and the seat of their king Minos. Two renowned myths are connected to the Palace of Knossos: that of Daedalus and his son Icarus as well as that of the Minotaur who dwelt in the Labyrinth.


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