Sites & cities that bear the name of Gournia


Today in : Greece
First trace of activity : ca. 22nd century B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 15th century B.C.E
Recorded names : Γουρνιά

Description : Gournia (Greek: Γουρνιά) is the site of a Minoan palace complex on the island of Crete, Greece, excavated in the early 20th century by the American archaeologist, Harriet Boyd-Hawes. The original name for the site is unknown. The modern name comes from the abundant hollow vessels found all over the site. Gournia lies in the municipality of Ierapetra in the prefecture of Lasithi. Harriet Boyd Hawes excavated the Minoan village for three field seasons in 1901, 1903 and 1904. Boyd and her team were able to expose almost the entire town, uncovering sixty houses, a central building which she called "palace", the cemetery and a road system connecting all these features. Gournia and other Minoan sites were settled along the north coast where seasonal storms, particularly in the winter, bring the salt inland making the land unsuitable for crops. Nonetheless, the location of the settlement is strategic due to being at the island’s narrowest point, connecting not only the east to the west but the north with the south. This makes Gournia the main trading center of the island in Minoan times. There is evidence that the Minoans traded with the Egyptians as evident by the Cretan artifacts found in Egyptian sites and the opposite is also true. Moreover, the influence of this relationship can be seen in art, where the Minoans borrowed techniques and imagery from Egyptian art. Cemetery at Sphoungaras and North Cemetery Sphoungaras is located 150 to 200 meters from the Gournia ridge, looking over the coast. Its natural rock shelters, openings in the rock, provided the Minoans for a suitable space to bury their dead without the need for physical labor to create or built tombs. The cemetery was in continuous used from EM II to the end of LM I. Inhumation was the preferred mode of body disposal from early Bronze Age until the pithos burial, where the bodies were placed inside a large storage container, was introduced and became the norm around 1900-1800 BC. These burials were first excavated by Harriet Boyd and later revisited by Richard Seager in 1910 and Soles and Davaras in 1970. Some of the artifacts found were various types of complete vases, jewelry, and seals made out of ivory. The North cemetery is located along a steep and rocky ridge about 80 meters from Gournia. First discovered by Boyd and her team in 1901, she discovered what she described as “intramural burials,” later coining the term “house tombs” to refer to them. Unlike the cemetery in Sphoungaras, people were buried in built structures here. The remains were deposited in no particular order on a charnel house manner.

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