Located in a very central spot of Crete, in a region of extreme natural beauty with great view to the Aegean Sea, the Archaeological Museum of Eleftherna opens its doors this coming June, 2016. Ancient Eleftherna is one of the most important archaeological sites in Crete, about 30 km from Rethymno Town. Although time has continuously tried to wipe out the remains of this town, still archaeologists discovered there signs of human presence dating from 3,000 BC until the 3rd century AD.
Excavations in Ancient Eleftherna have started since 1985 by Mr Nikos Stambolides, Professor of the University of Crete and today director of the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens. The Museum of Eleftherna, that opens in few months right next to the archaeological site, is one more emblematic museum, just like the Museums of Vergina, Delphi and Olympia, also constructed next to the sites. Thousands of ancient pieces, excavated in Elefthena all these years and exhibited until today at the Museums of Rethymno and Heraklion, have now returned home and will be found at the showcases of the museum.
Pieces from the Geometrical, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, first-Christian and Byzantine years have been found in the excavations of Eleftherna, which have in fact brought light to the so-called dark centuries of Crete. These are actually historical periods of Crete (from the 11th until the 6th century BC) that historians had very few information about.
Mr Stambolides chose two symbols for this ancient site, one for Eleftherna and the other for the museum. The symbol of Eleftherna is a golden bee as this is the first location in the ancient world where we see the cult of bee. The symbol of the museum is a lion due to a shield with lion that was excavated there. This shield used to belong to the permanent collection of the Museum of Cycladic Art but is now returned to the island of Crete. The shield with the lion (along with an earthen copy of the shield especially made for people with vision problems) will be put at the entrance of the museum in order to welcome visitors to this amazing place.