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TITLE Minoans overseas: The Peak Sanctuary at Ayios Yeoryios sto Vouno, Kythera
AUTHOR Banou Emilia
LANGUAGE Αγγλικά / English
PUBLISH DATE 25.10.2018
KEYWORDS Minoan peak sanctuary, bronze finds, metal trade, arsenical copper, tin, lead, silver, Kythera, Cyclades, Lavrion
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The Minoan peak sanctuary at Ayios Yeoryios sto Vouno, Kythera, the only Minoan peak sanctuary undoubtedly identified so far outside Crete, was unearthed by Yannis Sakellarakis in the early 90s. It was founded in the MMIB period and reached its acme in the Neopalatial period, especially in MMIIIB-LMIA.

Centered on the 356-m.-high western end of the Vigla ridge, about one hour’s walking distance from the Minoan colony at Kastri, it dominates the southeastern part of the island and offers an unhindered view towards the Southeastern Aegean, as far as Crete to the S, Melos to the E, and Laconia to the NE.

Among categories of votives well known from peak sanctuaries in Crete, the peak sanctuary of Kythera yielded an unexpectedly large number of bronze votives, mostly in the form of statuettes of Minoan adorants, but also of votive limbs, blades and daggers and sheet, and bronze finds not previously known from other peak sanctuaries, such as a human tooth, a bovine leg, and a scorpion figurine.

Resumed excavation of the site by the author in 2011-2015 confirmed the overseas character of the sanctuary, best exemplified in the aforementioned find categories, showing that the sanctuary was frequented not only by inhabitants of the island but mostly by visitors crossing the sea routes of the Aegean in search of raw materials, especially metals.

The paper discusses the Minoan presence overseas in the time of the widest expansion of Minoan power in the Aegean and beyond (MMMIII-LMI), on the basis of bronze finds from the peak sanctuary on Kythera. It addresses issues of religious and political influence of – or dependence on – Neopalatial Crete in the Aegean at that time, focusing on the cardinal role of the metal trade.