A map of Agia Triada. The town is located on the lower plateau in the north. On the higher plateau, on the southern side of the hill, is a large L-shaped palace-like structure, referred to as a villa. After the destruction of the site around 1450 BC, a Mycenaean-style megaron was built directly on top of the Minoan villa. The “shops” (at no. 10), which line the “agora”, date from the “Mycenaean” period, too; these structures were built directly on top of the Minoan dwellings. The free-standing structure in the south is the church of St George Galatian. A Venetian cemetery associated with this small church destroyed much of the immediately surrounding area, which was occupied by a court.
During the Neopalatial period, ca. 1750/1700 to 1470/1460 BC, Agia Traida reached its zenith with the construction of a Minoan “villa”, a roughly L-shaped palace-like structure. The villa was located on a higher plateau of the hill and separated from the slightly lower town area by a monumental structure. La Rosa suggests that the founding of the villa “was a political action favored by the Knossian elite at a time in which the Phaistian palace was not in use (between MM IIIB and LM IA).”ShowLa Rosa 2010, p. 499 Knossos may have tried to exert its influence over the Messara Plain by constructing a satellite here in a period when Phaistos had been (temporarily) abandoned after an earthquake, leaving a power vacuum.ShowSee also Younger and Rehak 2008, p. 150; McEnroe 2010, p. 100.
Nearly 150 Linear A tablets, lots of sealings, and objects with inscriptions were recovered from the villa, suggesting that it indeed became an administrative centre during this period, replacing Phaistos. The texts, which are only partially understood, include references to workers, including what appear to be bronze workers, who seem to have worked in exchange for food as they are apparently given rations of wheat, figs, and wine.ShowLa Rose 2010, p. 500, with references. Goods were stored at the site and finds of daggers, spearheads, and javelin points suggest that they were well protected. We know that, among other things, almonds and pistachios were kept at Agia Triada.ShowDickinson 1994, p. 47.
Destruction and change
Toward the end of Late Minoan IB, the very end of the Neopalatial period, Agia Triada was hit by disaster and destroyed by fire, probably after an earthquake. Many sites throughout Crete – including all the palaces – were destroyed around the same time. There is then clear evidence of Mycenaean influence at the site, after the Mycenaean occupation of Knossos in Late Minoan II to Late Minoan IIIA1. Tellingly, a Mycenaean-style megaron (a more or less square room with hearth and fronted by a portico) was constructed directly on top of the Minoan villa.ShowSee also McEnroe 2010, pp. 128-132.
On the lower plateau of the hill, in the area of the Minoan town, a Mycenaean town emerged with a square that’s generally referred to as an agora. Small rooms are built along the eastern edge of the agora, in front of which is a line of alternating square pillars and round columns, an architectural feature that is familiar from Neopalatial structures, including the Central Court at Phaistos. In Late Minoan IIIA2, the site underwent changes that suggest an increase in its regional importance and can perhaps be used as an argument for the date of the destruction of Knossos during this period (the so-called “high” chronology).ShowLa Rosa 2010, pp. 504-505.
The settlement of Agia Triada, as well as associated tombs, have yielded a rich assortment of important artefacts that shed light on the lives of the people who lived here. Three of these objects will be discussed in articles to be published in the course of the next few weeks: the painted Agia Triada sarcophagus, the Harvester Vase, and the Chieftain’s Cup. So yes, there’s plenty more to come with regards to Minoan Crete!