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Minoan palace Petras
Archaeological Sites . Museums . Cultural MonumentsLassithi area

Ancient Minoan palace Petras in Sitia – Hieroglyphic Archive

About 2 km south east of the town Sitia (take the road to Palaikastro) on a low hill overlooking the sea are the remains of the Minoan palace Petras.

Τhe Minoan palace Petras

was built in Middle Minoan (1900-1800 BC), slightly later than the other similar buildings of Central Crete.

Its preserved extent measures 2,500 m2; the original size is not easy to calculate, as its south wing is completely destroyed. It had at least two storeys, and is equipped with all the features of the larger palaces, albeit on a smaller scale. A monumental staircase, 4.20 m. in width, connected the lower terrace and the large magazines to the central court. The latter had a plaster floor of excellent preservation and a system of carved drains.
The palace had a long period of use during three major architectural phases.

Minoan palace Petras
Entrance to the Minoan site. The tower belonged to the Cretan poet Vitsentzos Kornaros.

The Minoan palace Petras constituted the administrative, commercial and religious center of an extensive area, around the gulf of Sitia.

A large group of artisans was also connected to the palace, producing pottery, stone vases and textiles. The industrial areas of the palace were situated on a higher small plateau, and were probably separated from the main building by a garden.
A serious crisis followed the destruction of the palace and the collapse of the palatial system. There is evidence for small scale reoccupation of the palace area, as well as on the sides of the hill, in Late Minoan (1400-1300 BC). In the Byzantine times (12th cent. AD), a cemetery was established among the Minoan remains.

The archaeological site Petras consists of the following areas:

• Retaining wall of the palace
• Non palatial remains in the area of the palace
• North magazines
• Τhe Hieroglyphic Archive
• The cult area of the palace

Minoan palace Petras
At the west part of the palace, and fallen from the upper floor, the best preserved to date hieroglyphic archive of Minoan Crete was excavated.

Τhe Hieroglyphic Archive of the Minoan palace Petras

At the west part of the palace, and fallen from the upper floor, the best preserved to date hieroglyphic archive of Minoan Crete was excavated. The room which contained the archive was situated above the gate, at the end of a staircase. During the Middle Minoan II B destruction of the palace, probably caused by an earthquake, there was an intense fire, and the whole room with its contents fell into the area of the gate. During the Neopalatial reconstruction of the palace, the gate was not cleared from the earlier remains, but was blocked instead, and went out of use. As a result, the archive was sealed and it was preserved virtually intact.

The finds were clay tablets of various types, used by the scribes to take notes of the contents of the storerooms, and also sealings, i.e. seal impressions from the seals of the palace officials on soft clay, used to seal either the rolls made of perishable material (parchment or papyrus), which constituted the permanent archive, or the small wooden boxes. There are also interesting marks of rope on the back side of the seals.

  • The seal impressions belong to more than 40 different seals, offering evidence for the complex bureaucratic system of the palace.
  • A unique find was a bronze stylus, which possibly had a wooden handle.
  • The study of the material of the archive showed that there were two scribes at work at the time of the catastrophe, since several tablets were incomplete.
  • The pottery found in the archive deposit consisted of bowls and cups of various types, used by the personnel to take snacks during their working hours, as well as by visitors.


My recommendation: combine the visit to the archaeological site of Petras with our road trip proposal Road Trip Lassithi from north to south – from Sitia to the monastery Kapsa

Minoan palace Petras – Useful information  (last updated: April 2016)

Opening hours: still unknown by April ’16, could be 1.July until 15.October, from Tuesday to Saturday 08.00-15.00hrs. You can call the Arch. Museum Sitia for more information Tel: +30 28430 23917.
Entrance fee: 2€, reduced 1€. Or: buy 1 ticket (6 in 1), valid for the following 6 arch. museums & sites and for 5 days, at the price of 7€, reduced 4€:  Archaeological museum Sitia, Kazarma Fortress Sitia, Archaeological site Petras, Archaeological site Itanos, Archaeological site Palaikastro, Archaeological Collection Ierapetra.

Getting there, after leaving the main road, is a little adventurous, there is no parking space at the site, while the road is too narrow for 2 cars. I think I found the only space in front of the site to park my car (June 2014)!
Walking distance from the main road: ca. 400-500m.

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