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Archaeological Museum of Agios Nikolaos

The Archaeological Museum of Aghios Nicolaos was established in 1970, initially on purpose to house the numerous finds of the archaeological excavations and surveys in Eastern Crete, as up to then these finds were displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Herakleion.

The exhibits of the Museum cover a period of time of more than 3.000 years of civilization in the broader area and are displayed following a chronological order and according to the place they were found.

From the Early Minoan cemetery of Aghia Fotia in Sitia, dated in the 3 rd millennium b.C., you will see several finds, found in more than 300 tombs of the Early Minoan I and II periods (approximately 2800-2300 b.C.). Several vessels, as pyxis, chalices, kernoi, jugs and incense boats, along with obsidian tools, knives and bronze daggers are some of the gifts which accompanied the deceased and now are brought to light again.
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The Early Minoan II period (2600-2300 b.C.) is also represented by the finds of the settlement on the hill of Fournou Koryfi at Myrtos, close to the borders with Herakleion Prefecture. The most interesting exhibit is the “Goddess of Myrtos”, a libation vase in the form of a female figure, with a bell-shaped body, hollow inside, without legs and with a long and thin neck supporting a small head with the facial details only loosely designed. The woman holds a beak-mouthed jug with the right arm, touching it with the left hand. The cloths of the figure, as well as the pubic triangle are painted.

Finds of another Early Minoan II and III (2600-2200 b.C.) site, at the islet of Mochlos are also housed in the Museum. The most important piece of this set is a golden diadem, with a relief decoration in dotted technique, presenting three Cretan wild goats, schematically designed. Three double V-shaped antennae are attached on the upper part of the diadem, whereas at the lower part the diadem is irregularly cut.

The Middle Minoan period (2000-1550 B.C.) is represented with finds from the peak sanctuaries of Petsophas, Modi, Traostalos, Kalamaki, Prinias, Etiani, Kephala. Here we have to do with votive offerings in the shape of human and animal figurines, or clay representations of parts of the human body. Most of them are of oversimplified design, but they are valuable, as they allow us to draw information about the dressing and hairstyling both of women and of men, along with hints about ritual and the gestures of worship of the people who lived in these areas during that period of time.

The Museum also houses finds from the Late Minoan (1400-1200 b.C.) tombs, excavated at Milatos and Kritsa.
You will also see finds from the Geometric deposit at Anavlochos Vrachasiou.

The finds from the Daidalic deposit at Sitia are dated in the beginning of 7th century B.C. The most interesting among them is a clay head, hollow inside, in size smaller than natural. The eyes are large and the pupils have been designed with a compass. The slight “Archaic” smile, quite characteristic of the period, is present and the eyebrows seem to have been painted in blue, but only few traces of their color, as well as of the rest painted decoration is preserved today.

There are also displayed finds from the Archaic deposit at the site of Olous, which are dated at the end of 7th-6th centuries B.C.

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Among the finds from Lato pros Kamara (modern Aghios Nicolaos), dated to Greco-Roman times, you will see an impressive skull of a young athlete, dated in the 1 st century A.D. and coming from the Roman cemetery of the city. A golden wreath of olive-tree leaves is fastened on the skull, whereas in his mouth we can see the “danake”, the coin that ancient Greeks used to put in the mouth of the deceased to pay the fare to Charon for transporting them to Hades. In this case, the coin is a tetradrachm of the city of Polyrrhenia, from the period of the reign of the emperor Tiberius.

A number of sporadic finds coming from various sites from Eastern Crete are worth your attention.
One of them is a rhyton, a ritual vessel, representing a triton-shell, found in the palace of Malia and dated in the Late Minoan IA period (1550-1500 b.C.). Made of green stone, the rhyton is decorated with the depiction of a libation: two lion-headed daemons, standing on a stepped structure, possibly an altar, offer their libation. One of the daemons holds a jug.

A golden pin, found during an illegal excavation, exported and sold in Brussels, had been bought by the archaeologist J.P. Olivier, who donated it to the Museum in 1981. At the back of the pin there is a long inscription comprised of 18 tiny signs of the Linear A script, whereas the front presents a bramble motif.

The clay figurine of a priestess or a worshiper has been found in the cemetery of Myrsini at Sitia is dated to the Postpalatial period of the Minoan civilization, possibly after 1500 b.C. The lower part of the body is a small cylinder, with a cross depicted under the base. On the upper part, the hands, schematically designed, are brought before the breasts, a typical worshipping gesture. An interesting feature is that the hair on the back is presented in the form of a horizontal cylinder. Most of the details of the face and the clothes are painted.

Finally, it is worth seeing the small stone pyxis, found in the northern cemetery of the site of Gournia. An interesting feature of the vessel is that the use of groves as decorative motif is restricted to minimum. It seems that the artist had chosen that way, on purpose to let the wonderful natural patterning of the stone itself to be shown off, which indicates high aesthetics and skill. The lid of the vessel has a small handle at the center. As it always happens with the vessels of this type, this pyxis had possibly been used to store cosmetics, jewels or other kinds of valuable material.
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