The necropolis of Armenoi
is situated 8 kilometers south of the town of
Rethymnon, on the main road which leads to Spili and to the south coast of Crete (Plakias, Agia Galini). The cemetery, which is the greatest Late Minoan Ill A-B (c. 1400-1200 B.C.) cemetery, was discovered on a low hill called Prinokephalo, which means "the hill of the wild oaks".
Systematic excavations started in 1969 and 231 tombs, including one tholos tomb (No. 200), have been
uncovered up to the present time. The main characteristic of the Armenoi
necropolis is that initially there was an overall plan for the cemetery which
included special areas designated for the wealthy tombs and the poor ones.
However this plan was abandoned during the Late Minoan III B period (c. 1300-
1200 BL) and resulted in a mixture of large and small tombs throughout the cemetery.
All the tombs, with the exception of the unique built tholos tomb no. 200, were dug into the rock, and each consists of a corridor and a
chamber (rock-cut chamber tomb with dromos). The corridor is composed either of a staircase or a ramp. The wealthier
tombs possessed tombstones of different sizes.
Each tomb would probably represent a family group, containing multiple burials, either placed directly on the floor or inside larnakes. The grave offerings - pottery, weapons, tools and jewellery - provide us with useful information on art, religion and social organization of the period.
According to the osteological analysis the average age at death for the adult males and females
was approximately 31 and 28 years, respectively Most of the female deaths
occurred between the ages of 20 and 25, probably a result of the dangers
associated with childbirth. The chemical analysis of bones showed that the
people buried at Armenoi had no marine food in their diets, but in general they
ate a fair amount of animal protein and plants. They suffered from a range of
infectious and nutritional/metabolic diseases, as well as from dental caries.
The main finds in the tombs were clay larnakes, fine decorated pottery bronze
arms, utensils and ornaments, as well as seal stones and necklaces from semi- precious stones. Among the most important finds are a boars' tusk helmet, a
basket made of reeds and decorated with small bronze pins, a steatite pendant with a Linear A and a stirrup jar with a Linear B inscription.
The most important of the tombs of the cemetery are the following:
It is the only tholos tomb at the cemetery of Armenoi. The dromos, stepped at the beginning, is 4.55 m. long and 1.32 m. wide and the entrance was blocked by a stone slab.
A niche has been carved in the side wall. Inside the circular burial chamber, bronze weapons, pottery, beads and an amulet with a Linear A inscription were found. The tomb is dated to the beginning of the 14th century B.C.
It is the most impressive chamber tomb of the cemetery. The dromos is 15.50 m. long and its outer section is occupied by 25 steps, starting at ground level. A stone bench runs along the four sides of the rectangular chamber and a pillar stands opposite the entrance. Inside the burial chamber an impressive find was uncovered, the remains of a wooden "coffin". The tomb is dated to 1420/1400-1200 B.C.
Armenoi Archaeological site
Summer from 8:30 to 18:00, winter (October - March) 18:30 - 15:00.
Facilities to visitors:N/A
At the entrance of the site there is a poster
with pictures, a site plan and information both in English and Greek.
25th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities
Τ.Κ. 74100, Armenoi (Prefecture of Rethimno)
Telephone: +30 28210 44418
Fax: +30 28210 94487