Hagia Triada

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Archaeological site of Agia Triada

Hagia Triada (also Ayia Triada, Agia Triada, Agia Trias, Greek: [ˈaʝa triˈaða]Holy Trinity) is the archaeological site of an ancient Minoan settlement.[1] Hagia Triada is situated on a prominent coastal ridge, with the Mesara Plain below.[2] Hagia triada sits at the western end of the ridge, while Phaistos is at the eastern end. Hagia Triada means holy trinity in Greek.

Hagia Triada has yielded many important finds, and more Linear A tablets than any other Minoan archaeological site. The famous finds include the Hagia Triada sarcophagus, the Chieftain's Cup, the Boxer Vase, and the Harvester Vase.


Linear A inscription on a clay tablet from Hagia Triada

Hagia Triada is in south central Crete, 30–40 meters above sea level. It lies four km west of Phaistos, situated at the western end of the Mesara Plain. The site was not one of the "palaces" of Minoan Crete, but an upscale town, and possibly a royal villa. After the catastrophe of 1450 BC, the town was rebuilt and remained inhabited until the 2nd century BC. Later, a Roman period villa was built at the site. Nearby are two chapels, Agia Triada and Agios Georgios, built during the Venetian period, as well as the deserted village of Agia Triada.


Hagia Triada, as was nearby Phaistos, was excavated from 1900 to 1908 by a group from Italian Scuola Archeologica Italiana di Atene, directed by Federico Halbherr and Luigi Pernier. The site includes a town and a miniature "palace", an ancient drainage system servicing both, and Early Minoan tholos tombs. The settlement was in use, in various forms, from Early Minoan I until the fires of Late Minoan IB.

They unearthed a sarcophagus painted with illuminating scenes from Cretan life,.[3] It is the only limestone sarcophagus of its era discovered to date and the only sarcophagus with a series of narrative scenes of Minoan funerary ritual. However it is possible that the Minoan religious beliefs were mixed with the beliefs of the Myceneans, who captured the island in the 1300s BC. It was originally used for the burial of a prince.

In the centre of one of the long sides of the sarcophagus is a scene with bull sacrifice. On the left of the second long side a woman wearing a crown is carrying two vessels. By her side a man dressed in a long robe is playing a seven string lyre. This is the earliest picture of the lyre known in classical Greece.

The "Harvesters vase" from Agia Triada ( 1500-1400 BC). Heraklion Archaeological Museum

In front of them another woman is emptying the contents of a vessel-perhaps the blood of the sacrificed bull-into a second vessel, possibly as an invocation to the soul of the deceased.[4] It seems that the blood of the bull was used for the regeneration of the reappearing dead. This scene reminds us of a description of Homer, where the dead needed blood.[5] On the left three men holding animals and a boat are approaching a male figure without arms and legs and presumably he represents the dead man receiving gifts. The boat is offered for his journey to the next world .[6] According to a Minoan belief, beyond the sea, there was the island of the happy dead Elysion, where the departured could have a different but happier existence. Rhadamanthys was the judge of the Elysion, and this idea probably predates some later Orphic beliefs.[5]

It seems that in Crete there were festivals designated in a way corresponding to the later Greek types of festival names.[7] An agrarian procession is depicted on the "Harvesters Vase" or "Vase of the Winnowers" from the last phase of the New-palace period, (LM II), which was found in Hagia Triada. Men are walking by two with their tools-rods on their shoulders. The leader is probably a priest with long hair carrying a stick, and dressed in a priestly robe with a fringe. A group of musicians accompany with song, and one of them holds the Egyptian instrument sistrum. .[8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ian Swindale, Ayia Triada, retrieved 12 May 2013
  2. ^ C.Michael Hogan, Phaistos Fieldnotes, The Modern Antiquarian (2007)
  3. ^ Crete: The Archaeological Site of Agia Triada
  4. ^ J.A.Sakellarakis, "Herakleion Museum. Illustrated guide to the Museum" pp. 113,114. Ekdotike Athinon. Athens 1987
  5. ^ a b F.Schachermeyer (1972), Die Minoische Kultur des alten Kreta. Kohlhammer Verlag Stuttgart, p. 172, 185
  6. ^ J.A.Sakellarakis, "Herakleion Museum. Illustrated guide to the Museum" p. 114. Ekdotike Athinon. Athens 1987
  7. ^ Walter Burkert (1985), Greek religion, p. 42
  8. ^ J.A.Sakellarakis, "Herakleion Museum. Illustrated guide to the Museum" p. 64. Ekdotike Athinon. Athens 1987
  9. ^ F.Schachermeyer (1967) p. 144

Coordinates: 35°03′32″N 24°47′33″E / 35.05889°N 24.79250°E / 35.05889; 24.79250