THE TRAOSTALOS PEAK SANCTUARY: RITUAL PRACTICES AND PERIODS OF USE
The preliminary study of the finds from the 1995 excavation at Traostalos aimed at determining the chronology of the site, as well as at a better understanding of the ritual activities around the rock on the summit. Find distribution indicates a tripartite arrangement of the core of the sanctuary: pilgrims gathered on the level area to the east. The epiphany of the deity was apparently anticipated at the rock outcrop to the west. The niche formed at its foot was conceived as an intermediate zone, where the offerings were deposited. These were placed on stone discs. The overlying layer of ash may now be dated to the Venetian period, when the site was used as a beacon. There is some evidence of the use of fire in Minoan times, but it is doubtful if this indicates the lighting of bonfires. The first use of the site dates to the Final Neolithic. According to the available evidence the peak sanctuary was established in MM IB-IIA, yet it only came into prominence at the transition from the Old to the New Palace period, its floruit dating to MM III - LM IA. The site was in decline, if not largely abandoned, in LM IB ‒ the period of the construction and use of the neighbouring palace of Zakros. This is in contrast to the current views on a close relation between palaces and peak sanctuaries during the New Palace period. Thus, the evidence from Traostalos implies that the peak sanctuary phenomenon should rather be linked to the early stages of state formation in Crete.