History

Minoan Period Prepalatial Period Protopalatial Period Neopalatial Period Postpalatial Period
Years 3000-1900 BC 1900-1700 BC 1700-1450 BC 1400-1250 BC
Relative Chronology EM I to MM IA MM IB to MM IIB MM IIIA to LM IB LM IIIA to LM IIIB

 

 

The archaeological history of Mochlos dates from the Early Minoan I period (c. 3100 BC) to the Hellenistic Age (2nd and 1st centuries BC). This time span is divided into periods as discussed below.The area which the project is investigating was extensively occupied during the Bronze Age (c. 3100-1250 BC) and much later during the Late Hellenistic and Byzantine periods, and the 1989-2012 excavations succeeded in isolating well-stratified remains for each of these periods. These include parts of the Prepalatial settlement, dating to the 3rd millennium BC, extensive remains of the Late Minoan IB settlement, dating to the 16th and 15th centuries BC, remains of the LM III reoccupation in the Mycenaean era, dating from c. 1400 to 1250 BC, and remains of Late Hellenistic and Early Byzantine settlements. Each of these settlements played a different role in its contemporary society and was important for a different reason. The Prepalatial settlement flourished during the formative years of Minoan civilization and played a large part in the development of that civilization. The Late Minoan IB settlement, the largest part of the excavation, was a prosperous manufacturing, trading and religious center during the floruit and final century of Minoan civilization. The Mycenaean and Early Byzantine settlements in contrast were quiet agricultural settlements remote from the centers of Mycenaean and Byzantine power.

Prepalatial Period (3000-1900 BC)

The island of Mochlos was initially occupied around the year 3000 BCE by migrating settlers from either Central Crete or possibly by people from the Cycladic islands. Like most coastal settlements that appear on Crete during this period (known as the Prepalatial era), it is clear that a large portion of the population was quite familiar with seafaring, a fact that persists across all periods of Mochlos occupation. It is estimated that the settlement may have grown to 0.8 hectares, giving it a population of between 220 and 330 people and perhaps even 500 if the settlements on other side of the spit are included. Around 2500 BC, the first idea of social hierarchy appears in Mochlos which shows the first elements of a chiefdom society. These elite structures are primarily identified within the settlement and are depicted also in the cemetery. This implies that each of the family did in fact cooperate with each other while also maintaining independence between the houses. These heads of houses were buried on the island in house tombs that reflected their status and control within the settlement as well as their ability to acquire goods through trade and seafaring.

For more information about the Prepalatial Period, click here.

For a description of the Prepalatial Cemetery at Mochlos, please click here.


Protopalatial Period (1900-1700 BC)

At the emergence of the Protopalatial period, palatial structures appeared for the first time in Crete. These large complexes served as locations from which centralized elites were able to control different territories through homogeneity in the sharing of material culture and perhaps through control of the economy including the distribution or acquisition of surplus and prestige goods. Though no palace has been discovered at Mochlos, the emergence of these palatial centers, mainly that of Malia with which Mochlos displays strong relationships, affected the life of the settlement and the transformation of its material culture. Mochlos adopts new systems of production, homogenous with the center, as a result of the need of its elites to establish close relationships with stronger social structures located in Malia.

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Neopalatial Period (1700-1430 BC)

At the end of the Middle Minoan period, many of the palaces of Crete were destroyed either from a series of seismic events or potentially internal conflict, resulting in the need to rebuild. This era is known as the Neopalatial period. In some cases, centers declined after these destructions, but many of the sites became more elaborate and commanded a higher degree of cosmological significance than before. No palace elevated itself more than Knossos during this period. This meant that many of the sites, including Mochlos, began to copy Knossian expression of religion and material culture.

For more information on the Neopalatial Period, click here.


Postpalatial Period (1430-1250 BC)

After the Theran eruption, Minoan society bounced back remarkably well, but it was an ill-fated return to the decadent lifestyles before the ashfall and tidal wave. Minoan culture collapsed, like many Mediterranean societies at the end of the Bronze Age, from a combination of Mycenaean invasion and internal conflict. Mochlos was no exception. The population of Mochlos dwindled as the occupants were either slaughtered, fled to upland refuge sites, or even left Crete altogether. Minoan culture was then heavily influenced by their Mycenaean overlords who took over at Knossos and increased connections with Egypt emerged.

For more information about the Postpalatial Period, click here.


Archaic period and after

After the collapse of the Bronze Age , Mochlos remained unoccupied until the 7th century BC. The finds imply short-term occupation, not extended occupation. However, Mochlos again emerged as an important site during the Hellenistic period under the control of Hierapytna (modern Ierapetra). There was a fortification wall, a beam press, and a few hostels that catered to travelers during Roman period as well. Finally, in 365 CE, a storm of earthquakes struck Greece, resulting in the sinking of the land bridge that connected the settlement of Mochlos from the Cretan mainland. This effectively marked the end of occupation on the island, with only a small degree of occupation found during the Byzantine period which was mainly located along the coastline and not on the island itself. The main occupation of the Byzantine period appears to be a reoccupation of an earlier Hellenistic fort on the top of the island. The excavation has uncovered parts of a large house, however, located outside of this fort and to its south near the modern shore line.

For more information about the Hellenistic Period, click here.