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Archaeological Museum of Heraklion

The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion was established in late 19th century and was initially housed in a building constructed in the period between 1904 and 1912. In 1937 moved to a modern antiseismic building at Xanthoudidou street; during the World War II the buildeing suffered damages, but fortunately nothing happened to the precious finds it housed, due to the precaution of professor N. Platon, then responsible for the Museum.  After the end of the war it underwent extended restorationand repairements and re-opened in 1952.

It is the second in soze and popularity archaeological museum in Greece, and it is  the most important museum of Minoan civilisation worldwide; it receives millions of visitors every year.

The exhibits come exclusively from Crete, from all the sites excavated up to now in the prefecture's territory, and cover all the periods of history of the island, from the Neolithic up to Graeco-roman times (circa 330 A.D.); the exhibition is organised in 20 halls.

Finds are displayed in chronological and geographical order, but there are several halls housing groups of finds of special interest of provenance, as it is the Archanes collection, the Giamallakis collection, the inscriptions, the sarcophagi and the statues from Gortyn(a).

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Late Neolithic (3500-2900 b.C.) and Early Minoan periods are represented with pottery, tools and sculptures; among the latter very interesting are the carved sealstones.

The finds of Middle Minoan period (2100-1600 b.C.) come from the important palaces; apart from the abundant high quality pottery, there are displayed wonderful jewels, items of every day life, tools, sculptures, seal stones etc.

The exhibits of the Late Minoan period (1600-1100 b.C.) come mainly from the excavations of the cemeteries of the palaces.

One of the most famous exhibits of the Museums is the well known "Phaistos Disc", a clay disc with pictograms in the Cretan hieroglyphic script, undeciphered up to now; what makes this  unique item more interesting is that the pictograms seem to have been imprinted on its surface on both sides.

You will see also the famous frescoes of "Bull -leaping", the celebrated "La Parisienne" and the rest of the fascinating frescoes, the golden "bee pendant", the famous Kamares pottery and the inscriptions.

Geometric (1000-700 b.C.), Archaic (700-500 b.C.) and Classical (500 - 300 b.C.) periods are represented with finds from several archaeological sites, but above all from Gortyn(a). The visitor will also find a good collection of every day life artefacts, sculptures and pottery from the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Finally, the Museum houses a very important collection of coins coming from almost every period of history of the area.
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