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Oval House of Hamezi

Archaeological Sites


The building complex that was discovered on a hill (altitude about 500 from the surface of the sea) known as “Souvloto Mouri”, opposite Hamezi of Siteua, dates back to the Middle Minoan IA period (2160 / 1979 – 20th century B.C.) and has particulary impressive architectural style.

It is a house with oval shape, which was built on the buildings of the Early Minoan period (3650/3500 – 2160/2025 B.C.), while later small additions and changes were made. In the past, it was thought that the building was a temple because of its oval shape, but more recent studies have proved that it was a house, the only one in the minoan times with this shape. The position of the monument on the top of a hill and the wonderful view to the gulf of Siteia provided the residents of the building the opportunity to supervise and control the surrounding area.

It is an intermediate architectural type between the circula and the rectangular building. Twp building stages are preserved. The older buildings, that belong to the Early Minoan period, also extend outside the eastern side of the early building and they are the homes of Minoan farmers. The walls of those buildings have strong curvature. The discovery of statuettes created the suspicion that it was a summit sanctuary, but it seems that in reality it was a domestic sanctuary that had been incorporated to the house. The main entrance of the oval house of the middle minoan period was on the southeastern side and was stone-paved, while there was also a second entrance on the northeastern side.

Its external walls are preserved at a height between one meter and fifty centimeters and are 1 m. in width. The core of the building was a stone-paved enclosure, with which the surrounding rooms communicated with openings (doors). In the centre of the enclosure there was a reservoir in which the rain water from the roof was concentrated, while a pipe, covered by plates, was used for the outflow of water in case of overflow. The internal walls are constructed with small stones and clay and have no traces of mortar, while the floors are made of pressed soil and only the entrance of one room is stone-paved. In the northern room there was a small domestic sanctuary, where that was a hearth, a clay altar and statuettes. The staircase that led to the upper floor of the house is also preserved. The movable finds include many sherds, pieces of pots, weaving weights and stone vessels.

The house of Hamezi was excavated in 1903 by St. Xanthoudides, while D. Mackenzie formulated his excavation report correct remarks in (1907) regarding the architectural plan of the building. In 1971, during cleaning and consolidation works made by the Ephorate of Antiquities of East Crete, under the direction of K. Davaras, evidence came to light that changed or strengthened some of the previous conclusions. Remarks on the use of the building were also made by St. Alexiou and N. Platon.
(Author: Chr. Sofianou, archeologist)


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