Ancient Eleftherna

Location: Eleftherna   

The archaeological site of Eleftherna in Rethymno Crete: The archaeological site of Eleftherna is placed at about 30 km to the south-east of Rethymno, on the northern foot of Psiloritis Mt, between the villages of ancient and modern Eleftherna. Eleftherna is one of the most important archaeological sites of Crete and provides important insight on the development of the settlement along the years. In fact, the inhabitation of the settlement apparently dates from the Prehistoric times and extends until the Early Christian era.

The first excavations were held by a British expedition in the late 1920s and the archaeologists were surprised by the vast findings that were uncovered. However, there were still much to be uncovered as well. Since 1985, the University of Crete features a new excavation work that extends till today.

Among the most important sites that were brought to light during these excavations, we can mention the ruins of Orthi Petra, Pyrgi and Katsivelos, which are placed on the slopes of Psiloritis Mt, between two torrents that flow around its foot. The available potable water coming from these springs developed a major role on the inhabitation of the place and their occupation with agriculture.

A necropolis dating from the Geometric Era and the Archaic Period was also brought to light as well as remains of some buildings and roads from the Hellenistic and Roman times. In addition, a three-aisled Basilica dating from the early Christian period, with a nice mosaic decoration, was found in Katsivelos. Pyrgi, on the highest point, was probably the urban centre of this ancient settlement. The ruins of three buildings belonging to the Roman and Christian periods and a remarkable Hellenistic bridge with a pointed arch were found close to this site.

In addition to all these, the archaeological site of Eleftherna also has some ruins of ancient walls as well as cemeteries, sanctuaries, an aqueduct, huge cisterns and paved Roman roads. The objects that resulted from the excavations on these sites are today organized in three main categories: Polis and Acropolis, which are related to the public and private everyday life activities, as well as the Necropolis, which exhibits the traditions of ancient populations concerning life after death.

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