Minoan settlement at Karfi

Karfi is a particularly important Minoan settlement on the east side of the saddle of Ambelos (Seli). The settlement was built on the eastern side of the peak of Karfi and it covered the whole flat area between the peaks of Mikri Koprana and Megali Koprana. According to the archaeologists, it had a population of approximately 3.500.

The name Karfi is conventional and it was given to the settlement subsequently, since the ancient name of the site is not known. 

It is believed that the settlement was established by Minoan people who had to flee to mountainous areas, as they were persecuted by the Doric tribes that invaded the island. It was founded circa 1100 BC, though a peak sanctuary already existed at the same location.

The archaeological importance of the site was initially noted by Arthur Evans. However, the settlement was uncovered by the English archaeologist John Pendlebury. One of the most remarkable finds from the site is a goddess figurine; its arms are raised in a praying or a blessing position, it has a tubular torso, fixed legs and a bird on its head. No other important finds were found, probably due to the fact that the settlement was not suddenly destroyed, but gradually abandoned, and its residents most likely took their belongings away with them.

Τhe paved alleys of the settlement, which bring to mind the present-day architecture that can be seen in the villages of Eastern Crete, are quite interesting. The ancient settlement was supplied by the nearby Vitsilovrisi spring, also known as “the spring of the vultures”,which must have supplied a larger quantity of water back then than it does today. 

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Additional Info

  • location Plateau Nissim, Lasithi Plateau, Lasithi
  • type Minoan Settlement
  • time period Minoan Era
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