Greece Began Excavations for a Major Airport. Then, It Discovered a Vast 4,000-Year-Old Structure

Constructing something new in Greece is like that. Sometimes, you finds monuments of Minoan culture.

Greek 4,000-year-old structure
No comments Twitter Flipboard E-mail

When it comes to modern mega-constructions, only some come close to the planning and permitting required to build an airport. This type of project brings together hundreds of variables and previous studies to define the perfect place to develop it. In Greece, authorities planned to open the country’s second-largest airport in Crete in 2027, but a massive 4,000-year-old structure could bring the project to a halt.

A 4,000-year-old “wheel.” The construction site was near the town of Kastelli, but early excavations uncovered something surprising: A 19,000-square-foot Bronze Age structure on Papoura Hill. It’s a circular, labyrinthine stone monument with eight concentric rings, averaging 4.6 feet in thickness, with some as thick as 5.6 feet.

A piece of Minoan culture. Initial research by archaeologists suggests that it may be a monument from the Minoan culture of Crete, known for its mountain and hilltop shrines, which experts believe Cretans used for ancient rituals. If so, it is likely to contain examples of Minoan art or even “votive limbs,” detached body parts offered in prayer or in thanksgiving for healing.

The Greek Ministry of Culture suggests that the structure “may have been used periodically for possible ritual ceremonies involving the consumption of food, wine, and perhaps offerings” due to the considerable number of animal bones archeologists found inside.

Greek 4,000-year-old structure

Cretan architecture. According to researchers, the main period of use of the structure, between 2000 and 1700 B.C., falls within the Middle Minoan period. At that time, the island’s population increased, especially in Knossos, Phaistos, and Malia. This boom marked the beginning of the construction of Crete’s iconic Minoan palaces that Cretans used to meet society’s growing needs.

Cretans built these palaces on sites they had used for communal ceremonies for thousands of years. Then, between 1750 and 1700 B.C., many of the structures were destroyed. Why did this happen? Experts believe it was due to earthquakes. Eventually, Mycenaeans from mainland Greece dominated the island, and many of the most important shrines common in Minoan culture fell into disuse. However, researchers suggest that the site may have continued to be popular well into the Middle Minoan period.

Building in Greece, a gamble. Besides the obvious historical reasons, building in Greece always has its pitfalls. Builders often find their plans thwarted when they stumble upon another ancient historical site. Moreover, the Greek Ministry of Culture has reported that the Kastelli airport project alone has already resulted in the discovery of at least 35 newly uncovered archaeological sites.

The airport is on standby. For all these reasons, the government has clarified that it'll protect the structure from modern construction, at least for now. According to Greek culture minister Lina Mendoni: “This is a unique find of great interest. There are solutions for the archaeological study of the monument, which must be fully protected. The priority for all of us is the protection of the monument... We all understand the importance and value of cultural heritage.”

Image | Greek Culture Ministry

Related | Persians Already Invented Air Conditioning Thousands of Years Ago: This Is How Their 'Wind Catchers' Worked

Home o Index