Prinias, Heraklion

Agia Varvara Satellite image

Prinias is a mountain village (alt.. 610 m) 25 km SW of Heraklion. There are documnets about the village from the Venetian period and from a 1617 document of the Osmanic Empire

Prinias was 1881 part of the province Maleviziou and the municipality Krousonas with a population 225. In the year 1900 the population was 348. In 1920 Prinias was an independent community.

Prinias (ancient Rizinia), Crete, about halfway between Gortyn and Knossos, is an archaeological site that has revealed a seventh-century BC temple with striking similarities to Egyptian architecture, and an Egyptianizing seated goddess. Above the site is a peak sanctuary, a sub-Minoan survival.

The site contains vestiges of "the first stone buildings since the fall of the Mycenaean kingdoms".[1] Temple A, dated to around 625 BC, is the earliest known Greek temple decorated with sculpture. Although its plan follows the Mycenaean model, the building had a flat roof and three massive piers on the façade. The most remarkable surviving detail is a limestone lintel bearing two monumental statues of goddesses, seated facing each other. The figures, whose identification is disputed, each wear a long skirt and a cape, reminiscent of the so-called "Lady of Auxerre".[2] Below the figures is an orientalizing frieze representing three panthers on each side; the motif is typical for North Syria.

Temple B is known for its Daedalic sculpture, which "consists of a statue of a goddess seated on a throne and wearing a polos and a stiff garment decorated with animals, a horse, a lion, and a sphinx".[3] The goddess could have represented either Rhea or Artemis as "the mistress of animals". Most of the finds from Prinias (including a singular frieze of horsemen) are conserved at the Archaeological Museum at Heraklion.

Further evidence of Orientalizing culture was extracted from the necropolis which spreads to the west from the ancient town. Some 680 burials (including ritual burials of dogs and horses) were made in the area between the 13th century and 600 BCE. The ritual has Oriental features, with bodies cremated, and heads buried separately.[4]


  1. ^ Helen Gardner, Fred S. Kleiner, Christin J. Mamiya, Gardner's Art Through the Ages. ISBN 0-15-505090-7, page 111.
  2. ^ Kenneth D. S. Lapatin compares them to the Halos deposit at Delphi. See Kenneth D. S. Lapatin. Chryselephantine Statuary in the Ancient Mediterranean World. Oxford University Press, 2002, pages 157–160.
  3. ^ Bernard C. Dietrich. The Origins of Greek Religion. ISBN 3-11-003982-6. Page 145.
  4. ^ Sarah P. Morris. Daidalos and the Origins of Greek Art. Princeton University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-691-00160-X, pages 156–157.
  5. Watrous, L.V. (1998). "Crete and Egypt in the Seventh Century B.C.: Temple A at Prinias"., Cavanagh, W.G.; Curtis, M.; Coldstream, J.N.; Johnston, A.W. Post-Minoan Crete. Proceedings of the First Colloquium on Post-Minoan Crete held by the British School at Athens and the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 10-11 November 1995: 75-79, London: The British School at Athens.

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