Archaeology of the Minoan Cemetery at Pacheia Ammos Crete

18 Apr

The American archaeologist Richard Seager excavated the cemetery at Pacheia Ammos in East Crete over a total of seven weeks during 1914 and 1915.  The burials were concentrated some 20 meters from the present shoreline and 150 meters east-west along the beach. The burials were found at various depths from within 20 centimeters of the surface to 2.50 meters below.

During the excavation Seager found about half the burial jars sitting in the seawater, from which he concluded that the shoreline had subsided somewhat since Minoan times. Multiple burials, mostly three to five in number, were often found clustered in groups ( 14 in all ). Containers, mostly pithoi, were in many cases reused , probably from domestic contexts.

An example of a Minoan pot burial with skeleton.

Middle Minoan llA-B Conical cup


.Excavation produced fragments of skeletal material , 213 burial jars and 6 larnakes (burial coffins) as well as 20 cups and 3 bowls. Most jars and larnakes  only contained skeletal fragments. A few burials , about ten , included one to three cups. The dead were placed head downwards into the jars, their knees drawn up to the chin , arms against the sides. Seager thought that many of the jars were much too small for adult burials, or that the hip and collar bones of the deceased had been broken in order to fit them into the jar. Jars and larnakes were then placed bottom up; some larnakes were also upside down while others were right side up, No evidence was found of  grave markers.The digging of later graves often unintentionally broke up earlier burials.

A selection of larnakes and burial jars from Pachia Ammos cemetery.

Image of a decorated larnax.

The larnax was the standard burial place. The interred was contorted into the fetal position, placed inside, and then the larnax was lowered into the resting place.


Most of the 78 pithoi and pithoid jars from Pacheia Ammos were plain, or painted with a drip pattern. There were 62 vases from the cemetery, most of them were painted. These date from Middle Minoan 1A to Late Minoan 1A. The great majority of the vases date to the Middle Minoanll to Late Minoan lA periods. The fine jars some imported, were painted with spirals, brecchia patterns, dolphins, rosettes and lilies that imitate fresco work. The marine motifs on these burial jars may refer to the Minoans’ belief  of an afterworld.

Minoan Octopus vase.

Plain pithos

Minoan decorated jar.



Posted by on April 18, 2017 in Uncategorized


4 responses to “Archaeology of the Minoan Cemetery at Pacheia Ammos Crete

  1. squirrelbasket

    April 19, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Fascinating post – some of those pots look familiar to me as I visited Knossos, Phaestos and Akrotiri in the 1970s.
    Being buried in a jar sounds quite appealing, actually.
    All the best 🙂


  2. T.

    April 19, 2017 at 11:33 pm

    Hi Rita ,
    Enjoyed reading your post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ritaroberts

    April 20, 2017 at 7:28 am

    Glad you enjoyed the read Pat. Thanks for your nicer comment.


  4. vallance22

    April 27, 2017 at 2:27 am

    Reblogged this on Minoan Linear A, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae and commented:
    An absolute MUST read!

    Liked by 1 person


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