Lost ‘Atlantean Treasures’ Unearthed in Crete
Archaeologists have discovered large quantities of treasure, which may be called ‘Atlantean treasures,’ in ancient Minoan-era buildings in Crete. Excavations conducted this year by Lasithi Antiquities Ephorate on the western part of the islet Chryssi, a municipality of Ierapetra, eastern Crete, have unearthed an ancient Minoan settlement, which according to the Greek Ministry of Culture, supported a “flourishing economy” so advanced it had built stone tanks in which marine species were cultivated.
According to Greek City Times, archaeologists discovered “a big building” with many rooms dating to the Early Minoan to Late Minoan Era around 1800-1500 BC. Broken murex shells were discovered in the residences’ rooms. Ancient people used this for the industrial production of “purple paint” and this single discovery proved to the researchers that purple dye manufacture occurred much earlier than previously thought.
Beads found during excavations on the western part of the islet Chryssi. (Greek Ministry of Culture)
Minoan Treasure Hoard
The archaeologists reported that the first room they discovered back in 2018 was probably a warehouse. But this year, two further rooms were excavated in which a long inventory of “treasures” were found. The Greek Ministry report listed: a gold ring, 26 golden beads, and a gold bracelet. There were also five copper bracelets and a copper ring; and among the heaps of glass beads four were colored “Egyptian blue” and 10 were crafted from lapis lazuli. An agate seal was found displaying a ship with an animal’s head as a stern and a monkey was also found carved into a stone amulet.
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A collection of gold beads found at the site. (Greek Ministry of Culture)
The nature of these 3,500-year-old artifacts tells the archaeologists that they had once belonged to “aristocratic members of society.” And in another treasury they found a large saw and three cooper vases weighing a total of 68 kg (149.91 lbs.) including the largest example ever found in Crete. Inside one of the vases the rare discovery was made of a tin ‘talent’ (unit of weight) which is only the second one ever found in Crete.
A copper vase found at the site. (Greek Ministry of Culture)
By now many of you will be tapping your fingers briskly, thinking to yourselves “so where are the artifacts from the lost continent of Atlantis?” This ancient advanced island-dwelling civilization was first mentioned in 355 BC by the Greek philosopher Plato in his book ‘Timaeus,’ in which a character named Kritias gives an account of “Atlantis” existing more than “9,000 years before his time” and located beyond the Pillars of Hercules. This story, claimed Kritias, was told in his family for many generations since it was first received by his ancestor, Solon, from a priest during a visit to Egypt.
However, according to Atlantipedia, many archaeologists support The Minoan Hypothesis, including K.T. Frost, a professor of history at Queen's University in Belfast; archaeologist Spyridon Marinatos, and seismologist A.G. Galanopoulos. Essentially, this theory points towards the island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea as the inspiration for Atlantis, which around 1500 BC saw the collapse of the Minoan Empire, right at the same time this newly discovered settlement was fully functional.
Lost Nation, Misinterpretation?
The Minoan Hypothesis is not without its criticism, for example, how did Plato get the location and time so wrong - 10 times wrong? Scholar A.G. Galanopoulos suggested a translation mistake from Egyptian to Greek caused an extra zero to be added, meaning “900 years ago” became 9000 years ago. What’s more, the distance from Egypt to Atlantis became 250 miles (402.34 km) from Plato's 2,500 miles (4023.36 km). Therefore, if this theory stands up, the new discoveries made in Crete could be called “Atlantean.”
While not everyone accepts the Minoan Crete theory of the story of Atlantis, a convincing case is made by National Geographic in an article discussing the collapse of the Minoan civilization in the late 15th century BC. One popular theory is that the volcano on Thera (modern-day Santorini) exploded around the 16th century BC “killing thousands” and burying cities, leading to the collapse of Crete.
Stories of the Minoan decline are believed to have transformed into the legends of Atlantis as described by the Greek philosopher Plato, but many archaeologists argue that Crete’s cities were unaffected for several generations after the volcano.
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The Minoan culture flourished from 2700 BC until it began declining around 1450 BC and finally ending around 1100 BC, and it was what is called the first “advanced civilization” of Europe to develop massive building complexes, make wide ranges of tools, create stunning artwork and writing systems, and control a massive network of maritime trade.
Around the time this newly discovered settlement thrived, in the mid-15th century BC, archaeologists have found evidence of an invasion, including several burned palaces in central and southern Crete, and signs that many settlements were abandoned shortly thereafter. Despite its abrupt ending, the influence of Crete penetrated through time and heavily influenced the Mycenaean Greeks, who adopted the Cretan writing system, Linear B, which became the basis for the Greek language.
Mycenaean tablet (MY Oe 106) scripted in linear B coming from the House of the Oil Merchant. The tablet registers an amount of wool which is to be dyed. Male figure is portrayed on the reverse. National Archaeological Museum of Athens, n. 7671. (CC BY SA 3.0)
Thus, Greek culture. And therefore, every glass, gold, and silver bead discovered on the islet Chryssi are indeed “treasures.” Maybe even Atlantean treasures.
Top Image: A gold ring is one of the so-called ‘Atlantean treasures’ found at the excavation site. Source: Greek Ministry of Culture
By Ashley Cowie