Institute for Mediterranean Studies

Peak Sanctuaries in the Minoan Cultural Landscape

Peak sanctuaries are distributed unevenly over the island of Crete. They date from the end of the Early Minoan period to the beginning of the Second Palace Period, and can be found on or close to mountain peaks. They were identified as sanctuaries because of the cult related finds that were found or excavated at their location. “The sanctuary should be seen from the region it served” and “it should ‘see’ that region”. This is only one of the many topographical characteristics defined by Alan Peatfield in his 1983 study of Minoan peak sanctuaries1. Intervisibility in between the peak sanctuaries was understood as “the expression of ritual unity that may have transcended political boundaries2”. Nowicki grouped the intervisible peak sanctuaries in three zones, connected to the physical geography of the island3. GIS is a new tool that can anchor the peak sanctuaries and their geographical data on a map, and it can be used to create a model that is capable of analyzing the location of these mountain sites, based on both environmental and cultural variables. It is therefore possible to better understand the choice of location, the use and the meaning of the peak sanctuaries in the broader Minoan cultural landscape.

  • Apostolos Sarris