Karetsou, Alexandra

Ephorate of Antiquties

Research Topic: The Origin of the Minoan Peak Sanctuaries

Dr. Karetsou’s long-term research interest is Minoan peak sanctuaries in general and Mt Juktas in north-central Crete in particular. The systematic excavation of the Archaeological Society at Athens (1974-1992), under her direction, has proved that the peak sanctuary on Mt Juktas is unusual, primarily for its chronological range, its monumental structures and its wealth and variety of finds, all of which must arise from its special relationship with the palatial area controlled by Knossos and its environs. The cult on the peak sanctuary began in the Prepalatial period and continued up to the Late Geometric period. In other words, the sanctuary was in use for a millennium. In the deep fissures of the rocky surface on which the sanctuary was built, the oldest proof of human activity was found: good quality Early Minoan IIB pottery. By the Protopalatial period, Juktas was part of the Minoan network of peak sanctuaries, attracting a wide variety of offerings. Cult was concentrated on the north summit, focused on a built altar and a rock chasm adding drama to the already impressive location. She intends to study the Hittite temples and high places of Anatolia with reference to Aegean open-air sanctuaries, shrines with temenos wall, or altars on mountains (like the Anatolian Mt Olympus/Kassion). The Cretan peak sanctuaries are the result of true urbanisation. It would be extremely informative to compare them with Anatolia and the Near East.