Heraklion Kamilari Tholos Tomb

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Location: Kamilari

Situated in the midst of endless olive groves, the Tholos Tomb of Kamilari is an important piece of the puzzle of the Messara Plain. This area is known to have been of vital importance during the Minoan Period in Crete, with Hagia Triada and the mighty palace of Phaestos being second only to Knossos. In between these two locales, archaeologist Doro Levi discovered a complex of three tholos tombs in 1959.

This tomb represents a classic example of Minoan burial practices. A circular section was dug out of the ground, with stone and mud walls then built up and inward, creating a rounded structure.
The tomb reached a height of 2.15 meters and a perimeter of 33.8 meters, while its entrance was blocked by a stone slab with dimensions 1.15 meters high and 1.05 meters wide. Apart from the main chamber, it included an additional five rooms, as well as a courtyard. Most of Tholos Tomb’s floor plan remains intact, with the walls having maintained most of their structural integrity, although the wooden roof has not survived.
The Tomb has been dated to 2000 BCE, seeing further usage around 1800 BCE, 1700 BCE, and 1500 BCE, and as many as 400 people may have been buried here over the centuries.

A large number of grave goods were found in Kamilari, with about 2500 vases and many statuettes, which are now housed at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. Out of these, the most eye-catching are the “Kamilari Dancers”, a clay model of four men dancing in a circle, and a model of a religious ceremony, believed to represent a form of ancestor worship.



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