Coordinates: Karfi, Crete, (also Karphi, Greek: Καρφί) is a little-visited archaeological site high in the Dikti Mountains that is akin to Machu Picchu for the Minoan civilization. When the warlike mixed group conventionally referred to as Dorians arrived in Crete from the Peloponnese after ca 1100 BCE, archaeological reconstructions suggest that they would have found the Minoan people living along with the Mycenaeans, surviving as an underclass. No doubt the Minoan language continued to be spoken by the peasants, though inscriptions, now in Linear B, were all in a form of Greek associated with a Mycenaean upper class (BBC).
The Dorians seem to have driven the local people up into the hills; the latest towns with Minoan material culture are in more and more inaccessible places, the last one being at Karfi, high in the Dikti Mountains, though the date range for the site is broad. There are house complexes, a tripartite megaron-type building with hearth and a sanctuary, where votive figures were found.
At Karfi the last of the Eteocretan Minoan settlements retreated to the slopes of this barren mountain, from which they had a view of the Sea of Crete, the valley of Pediada, and the plateau of Lassithi with Iraklion, where the finds from Karfi are now displayed in the Archaeological Museum (Room 11). In the mountains of Eastern Crete a non-Greek language was still being spoken and sometimes inscribed into Classical times, and the people who spoke it were still identified as "Eteocretans"— "true Cretans".
The peak of Karfi was originally a peak sanctuary, occupying a typical site on a high shoulder (some 1.1 km above sea level) with a wide "viewshed" (Soetens, Driessen et al.) that connected it with sightlines to other sites, typical of the network developed in the "first Palace period" (Middle Minoan IB–II, 1900–1800 BCE) onwards, but probably abandoned, perhaps under increased religious centralization, in Middle Minoan IIIA (ca 1650 BCE) (Soetens, Driesen et al.). The rocky site that the last of the Minoans returned to is dominated by a bifurcated stone outcropping  that is unmistakably like the carved and shaped crescent horn stone altars known in Crete and Cyprus. At this high remote ancient sacred site a fragment of Minoan civilization survived intact for about 400 years after the occupation of Knossos. Several clay religious figurines have been found there including the cylindrical skirted goddesses in cylindrical skirts with their hands raised in the epiphany gesture.
J. D. S. Pendlebury and the British Archaeology School extensively excavated the ruins in 1937 and 1939. Some believe only one third of the site has been excavated (Swindale).
Jones declares Karphi a peak sanctuary, while other sources suggest doubt (see Swindale). Finds inventoried by Jones include ceramic loom weights, miniature vases, and the clay human and animal figurines that are ubiquitous among peak sanctuaries.
The Minoan town includes a shrine with an altar, single story houses and paved streets. Two Minoan cemeteries with tholos tombs are located near the village. The village dates from Late Minoan IIIc, and if the site does indeed include a peak sanctuary, it was of the Middle Minoan period.
- BBC: The Minoan Civilization: cultural overview to put Karfi in context
- Archaeological Atlas of the Aegean: 589. Karfi
- S. Soetens, J. Driessen, A. Sarris, S. Topouzi, "The Minoan peak sanctuary landscape through a GIS approach" at XIV Congrès de l'Union International des Sciences Perhistoriquews et Protohistorique, Liège 2001 (pdf file)
- Photos from a hiker's point of view, omitting the outcrops.
- Iraklion Archaeological Museum: Room 11, ceramics from Karfi
- Jones, Donald W. 1999 Peak Sanctuaries and Sacred Caves in Minoan Crete ISBN 91-7081-153-9
- Swindale, Ian http://www.minoancrete.com/karphi.htm Retrieved 13 Jan 2006