Mount Juktas and its sacred caves | Locations

Mount Juktas and its sacred caves

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Ancient authors believed the sacred, anthropomorphic Mount Juktas to be the tomb of Zeus. It has four sacred caves, one at each point of the horizon. In the Minoan period these were places of sacrifice, ceremonies and food storage.
Their common feature is that they are comprised of many interconnected chambers.

The cave chasm of the Juktas Sanctuary

This is a narrow fissure 12 metres deep which communicates with smaller cavities. It is located at “Tou Zia to Mnima” (“the Tomb of Zeus”) at the centre of the Minoan peak sanctuary, at an altitude of 720 m. Countless offerings of the Middle and Late Minoan periods were discovered here, together with dedicatory inscriptions in Linear A script.

Chosto Nero

This cave is also 720 m above sea level, on the southernmost peak of the sacred mountain. It consists of three chambers and corridors containing stalactites and stalagmites resembling human figures, causing the Minoans to use the cave as a place of worship. This is demonstrated by the many ancient potsherds and statuettes discovered here in recent years.

Stravomyti Cave

This is on the north side of Mount Juktas and is easily spotted due to its many cliffside openings. The rich finds from this cave justify the hypothesis that is was used in every historical period, even Neolithic times, as the skull of a small child was found in a Neolithic vessel discovered here. This is the most distinctive cave on the mountain, with many chambers and passages on at least two levels. Its passages are estimated to extend roughly 400 m in total, although it remains unexplored.

Anemospilia

These “Caves of the Wind” are cracks in the solid limestone rock, 440 m high on the NNW slope of Mount Juktas. Their name is due to their position: facing north, they are exposed to the strong north winds. The excavations by the Sakellarakis husband-and-wife team have brought to light fragments of libation vessels bearing dedicatory inscriptions in Linear A.