Institute for Mediterranean Studies

Defining The Minoan Cultural Landscape by the Use of GIS

Minoan peak sanctuaries are located on or close to specific mountain peaks dispersed over the Cretan mountains. Their use as Bronze Age sanctuaries covers a period from ± 2300 B.C. to 1500 B.C., which corresponds more or less to the two main building phases of the ‘palaces’ (proto- and neopalatial periods). Previous research has interpreted these sites as sanctuaries, based mainly on its finds. Further spatial characteristics, such as distance to the settlements, intervisibility with other sanctuaries and settlements have been explained mostly in terms of this sanctity. A suggestion was made that the intervisible peak sanctuaries were reflection of “zones” [1], and “on a regional level the intervisibility of peak sanctuaries provides an opportunity for the expression of ritual unity may have transcended political boundaries” [2]. The purposes of this project are to investigate these observations systematically, to identify further functionalities of the peak sanctuaries, to better understand how the whole landscape was perceived by the Minoans and all of this by the creation of models capable of spatial, statistical analysis and prediction. GIS was used to organize, analyze and visualize the combined information layers of archaeological, topographical, environmental, and statistical data.

  • Apostolos Sarris