Nestled in the heart of Crete, not far from Rethymnon and surrounded by old olive trees, cypresses, carob trees, pomegranate trees, oaks, oleanders which dominate the landscape, the Museum of Ancient Eleutherna – Homer in Crete is definitely a jewel that needs to be discovered: being the first archaeological site museum in Crete (similar to those of Olympia, Delphi and Vergina), and created to host the important finds unveiled by thirty years of excavations held in the ancient city of Eleutherna, the museum invites you to a journey back to the dawn of Greek civilization and Homer, full of thrill and excitement.
The story begins in the 1980s, when a dig by the University of Crete’s History and Archaeology Department unearthed a cemetery dating to Homeric times in a location bearing Geometric, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, Early Christian and Byzantine traces. Henceforth, plenty unique finds have been brought to light, unfolding the story of Eleutherna*, one of Crete’s most influential cities, bearing traces from a significant past dating back as far as 3000 BC to the 14th century AD – revealing, at the same time, a wealth of information on daily life, architecture and burial customs.
So, time for the exploration to begin: before the entrance, one of the museum’s emblematic pieces will greet you: a bronze shield from the Tomb of the Warriors dating to 830/20-730/20 BC – one of the finest specimens of early Cretan art at the dawn of Greek civilization, related in one way or another to North Syria and Urartu; and then, at the next halls, plenty of surprises are waiting for you – such as the Kore (maiden) of Eleutherna (circa 650 BC), a female statuette that has drawn comparisons with the famous Lady of Auxerre kept at the Louvre in Paris; tools, weapons, vases, inscriptions, architectural members, and coins representing a small part of the excavated artefacts of all periods; gold jewellery (pendants, sewn ornaments, and more), illustrating this indestructible, magical, timeless precious material and its multiple uses primarily in the Homeric period, at the dawn of Greek civilization in Crete; and, of course, the finds from the Orthi Petra necropolis – illustrating the Homeric description of Patroclus’s funerary pyre, thus confirming its veracity, for which there was disagreement, even on the slaughter of the twelve Trojan prisoners, between Plato and Aristotle.
Modern, interactive and with bold aspirations – as it wishes to keep being updated periodically with new and older findings-, the museum of Ancient Eleftherna introduces you to a brand new world brimming with unique treasures that are to be discovered during your holidays in Greece. So, let the journey begin!