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Anemospilia sanctuary

Place description

At the location known as Anemospilia, situated on the northern slopes of Mount Jiouchtas, archaeologists Giannis and Efi Sakellarakis discovered a small Minoan-era sanctuary in 1979 that took the global archaeological community by surprise. This modest sanctuary provided the first evidence of human sacrifices in Minoan Crete.

The two-story structure was constructed in the 17th century BC and was later destroyed by an earthquake a few decades afterward. To date, four sites have been uncovered, but there could potentially be more.

In the temple’s first room, numerous utensils were discovered, including around 150 pots of various shapes. The main room was filled with the largest temple utensils, pots, and jars. The east room, where bloodless rituals occurred, contained many objects and a stepped altar on which all worship utensils were placed. The bloody sacrifices took place in the temple’s west room, which had fewer findings.

The most significant discovery of the excavation was the presence of four human skeletons. Scientific investigations revealed that three of them (including one woman) were killed by the collapsing roof and a simultaneous fire. They were likely two priests and a priestess. The fourth deceased individual was the most intriguing discovery, as he was found lying on a trapezoidal table with a short sword or spear in his body. According to anthropologists and forensic experts, this man was a victim of human sacrifice, and the scene was preserved for posterity due to the earthquake.

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