Crete, an island located centrally in the eastern Mediterranean, was lost from the Byzantines to the Arabs in the 820s and remained under Arab control until 961. The traditional view is that, even before this period, namely in the later 7th and the 8th centuries, maritime trade had collapsed due to the Arab attacks.
Recent research at the site of Priniatikos Pyrgos, a harbour on the north coast of eastern Crete in the Gulf of Mirambello, revealed finds which strongly contradict this traditional view. Excavation by the Irish Institute of Hellenic Studies (2006-2010) unearthed architectural remains of rooms adjacent to each other, associated with very large quantities of amphorae which can be securely dated from the later 7th to the early 9th century based on typological parallels, a coin and a lead seal of the 8th century. The large quantity of amphorae appears to be associated with the specific role of the site, and especially with the excavated buildings. It is noteworthy that the amphorae are typologically coherent, but their fabrics show great variety. This suggests that the amphorae originate from various areas, which have to be sought both in and outside Crete.
Based on the above, the harbour at Priniatikos Pyrgos appears to have been involved in seaborne trade during the later 7th, the 8th and the early 9th century, the period traditionally believed to be characterized by cessation of maritime trade. Priniatikos Pyrgos, however, was not an exception: similar cases have been discussed recently based on finds from Naxos, Chios, islands of the Dodecanese such as Kos, and other sites of the Aegean. These finds set eastern Crete within the network of regions which remained economically active, and on which the Byzantine Empire relied economically for its own survival.