Mysterious and Ancient Monument Unearthed in Crete Amid Airport Construction

Written by Kathrine Frich

Jun.16 - 2024 7:08 PM CET

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock
The monument is potentially over 4,000 years old

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A new archaeological discovery has emerged on the island of Crete, found serendipitously during excavation work for a new airport in the southern Aegean region.

Serendipitous Discovery on the Island of Crete

A circular monument, potentially over 4,000 years old and dating back to the Minoan civilization of the Bronze Age, has been unearthed.

The Greek Ministry of Culture described it as "unique for its time and in need of further examination to uncover its exact significance."

The monument, with a diameter of about 48 meters and a surface area of 1,800 square meters, was found atop Papoura Hill, at an altitude of 494 meters, where a radar system for the new airport was to be installed.

This discovery has astonished archaeologists and may delay the airport project intended to serve the region of Chania.

Impact on Airport Construction

The Minoan civilization of Crete is renowned for its palaces, extravagant art, and enigmatic writing system. Following the confirmation of this discovery, the government convened a meeting to plan how the airport construction could continue without hindering the ongoing archaeological studies.

Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, an archaeologist, assured that the monument would be preserved while an alternative location for the radar station is sought.

The structure, resembling a car wheel from above, may have served a ritual or religious function. It is surrounded by eight stepped stone walls up to a meter high, with the interior divided into smaller interconnected spaces.

According to the ministry's statement, the structure does not appear to have been a dwelling, as a large number of animal bones were found inside.

Architectural Significance and Historical Context

The monument's size, architectural design, and careful construction indicate significant labor, specialized knowledge, and a strong central administration.

It was primarily used between 2000 and 1700 BC, a period when the first palaces of Crete, including Knossos and Phaistos, were built. Some features of the structure are comparable to early Minoan beehive-shaped tombs with stepped conical roofs and other funerary mounds across Greece.

This discovery follows the unfortunate destruction of a fortified hilltop settlement from the third millennium BC during the construction of Athens International Airport in the late 20th century.

So far, at least 35 other archaeological sites have been discovered during the new airport and road construction in Kastelli, as reported by the ministry.