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CSA Newsletter, May '95 - Continuing Work on Pseira Model

Richard B Seager excavated the Minoan cemetery on Pseira, a small island off the northeast coast of Crete, in This work, however, was never published. More recently, the Temple University excavations under the direction of Philip P Betancourt and Costis Davaras conducted an intensive surface survey of the cemetery area, cleaned and drew plans of all the visible tombs, and excavated tombs that had not been previously excavated.

The results of these new excavations are published in two volumes. They deeply tilled and terraced agricultural sites where they manured the thin limy soil with human waste from the settlement. Dams collected seasonal run-off , for water was scarce on the island, though the Aegean region was less dry in the second millennium BC than now.

Consistent with the long period of occupation, burials in the necropolis west of the town are of five kinds: Neolithic rock shelter burials; cist graves built of vertical slabs with Cycladic parallels; small rock-built tombs; jar burials; and tombs imitating houses.

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Pseira VI The Pseira Cemetery I. The Surface Survey 5

Artifacts from the necropolis included clay vases, stone vessels, obsidian , bronze tools and jewelry. Burials broke off in Middle Minoan , before the town underwent its Late Minoan expansion. The Late Minoan I building that occupies the northern side of the plateia , cautiously identified as a "civic shrine", featured painted stucco bas-reliefs in its upper floor and retains a fresco fragment of two women in Minoan dress of complicated woven design who face one another.

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Excavations at Pseira have been clouded by successive development in prehistoric stages obfuscating respective earlier stages, in contrast with more clearly defined strata in Knossos , for example. Excavation at the House of the Rhyta disclosed evidence for some Minoan cult practice that add to our understanding of some Minoan rites, though the core meaning they evoked escapes us.

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Chemical traces in a rhyton suggest barley , beer , and wine. All of these ritual vessels were stored in between their periodic seasonal use, when large groups would gather in upper-floor rooms that had lime-washed and painted stucco reliefs on the walls and a floor that was ritually whitewashed in the building fronting the plateia or paved with stone slabs House of the Rhyta.

In the House of the Rhyta, there was a kitchen space below, too substantial for the occupants of the building alone; it had a corner hearth, a mortar built into bedrock in the opposite corner, and grinding rocks. The drinking rites that were observed in the upper room were apparently accompanied by feasting.

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A hoard found by Seager near the lower harbor included a rhyton in the shape of a basket decorated with double axes , pear-shaped rhyta decorated with dolphins, a bull-shaped vessel, and a jar decorated with ivy —which in a Greek context would indicate the presence of Dionysus — among other goods. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Bull, Philip P.

Betancourt and Richard P. Michael Hogan, Knossos fieldnotes , Modern Antiquarian