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Roman Villa of Makri Gialos

Archaeological Sites


Thirty (30)km east of Ierapetra and thirty three km (33) south of Siteia, on the souths road axis Siteia-Ierapetra, is located Makri Gialos and the Lybian Sea. It was named after the long sandy beach that exists there.

Already in Prehistoric Times the area was inhabited, leaving important relics of the past. One of them are the foundations of a Roman villa, which was discovered at the position Katovigli, next to the church of the Assumption of the Mother of God. Systematic excavations proved the existence of a large complex (mansion) which dates back from the 1st to the 3rd century B.C.

Apart from the rooms and the storerooms, the mansion had a bath complex with an outdoor cistern. The arrangement of the rooms is not simple and composes a set that currently occupies 1.500 sq.m., the study of which does not lead to safe conclusions. The rooms are around an outdoor yard, while the entrances have large doorsteps. Corridors and yards function as central axes, around which the rooms and the auxiliary rooms extend. A large room with a luxurious floor was used as a reception room. The entrance of the mansion had mosaic floor with geometric and plant decoration. The floors and the walls of the main rooms were covered with marble plates. A funerary room, where the main burial place is built, a furnace with an apse-shaped opening and characteristic existence of ashes, are outside the main rooms.

In the southeastern part of the mansion was the bath complex, known as Balineae, with the characteristic hypocaust and the swimming pool in the shape of a horse shoe, with dimensions 3,90 x 3,15 m., the floor and the steps of which were coated with marble. This was part of an impressive bath complex that covered a large part of the mansion. The water was carried from the reservoirs to the balineae through a system of built and cylindric pipes. A large mosaic with geometric representation was found in the outdoor area next to the swimming pool. Among the different rooms of the balineae was spotted a room with funery use and one burial.

Surprisingly, however, almost no movable finds or architectural parts existed in these impressive architectural ruins. A systematic looting of the area, maybe even by pirates of the byzantine times, along with recent looting, is a possible explanation.

The excavations in the area of the Roman villa began in 1977 under the direction of the archeologist N. Papadakis. In the place that surrounds the villa, which is located in a small peninsula, tombs of the Roman times have been excavated. Pendlebury (BSA χχχlll p. 100) had noted the existence of a Roman settlement. In 1937 a tomb inscription of the 4th century A.D. was collected from the same site.


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