Along the mountain slopes west of Agios Nikolaos (between 600 and 1400 m), over 330 farms of the Minoan Old Palace period1 and their relationship to the surrounding landscape were studied by the author for her PhD thesis (Beckmann 2012). These Bronze Age instalations also had – apart from house ruins – well discernible wall-enclosed courtyards and animal folds, in many ways characteristic of mixed agricultural mountain farms until recently. Most of them also had very long (often over 1 km) boundary walls (“perivoloi”). Usually the houses and walls were built using massive stones (“oncolithic masonry”2) and are thus often well recognizable until today.
One of the remarkable features of the landscape surrounding these farms, datable (by surface pottery) to have been built between ca. 2000 and 1650 B.C., is a great number of roads and paths (over 140 km in total), bordered and thus identifiable by these ancient walls on one or two sides, sometimes also furnished with a cobblestone surface and even steps. When drawn on a map these “roads” constitute an intricate network of connections between sites and towards the regions beyond the settled slopes.
In this paper examples of the Minoan roads/paths and their typical landscape features and construction details are discussed, as well as the question what information can be gained by their study, on connectivity in Minoan Protopalatial north-eastern Crete.