Archanes (also Arkhanes, Godart & Olivier abbreviaton: ARKH) is the archaeological site of an ancient Minoan settlement in central Crete. The discovery of ancient roads leading from Archanes to Juktas, Anemospilia, Xeri Kara and Vathypetro indicate that Archanes was an important hub in the region during Minoan times. Archaeological evidence indicates that ancient Archanes spread out over the same area as the modern town of Archanes.


In 1912, Xanthoudides noted the importance of Archanes, but Sir Arthur Evans was the first to characterize the site as palatial, declaring that Archanes was likely a Summer Palace for the Knossos kings. Spyridon Marinatos and N. Platon excavated minor areas in the region, but nothing supported Evans' theory. In 1964, J. Sakellarakis dug trial trenches at the Tourkoyeitonia site and uncovered the first evidence of a palace site. Since 1966, Archanes has been excavated by the Greek Archaeaological Society under the supervision of John Sakellarakis and Efi Sapouna-Sakellarakis.

Troullos, the easternmost site of the settlement, is covered in detail in a separate article.


Tourkoyeitonia, in central Archanes, is the site of its palace, likely built in the Middle Minoan period. Excavations began here in 1964 by J. Sakellarakis.


Architectural features at Tourkoyeitonia include:

  • Building Materials: ashlar blocks, poros-stone plaques and blocks, plaster, wood, stucco floor tiles, gypsum, kouskoura slabs, mud bricks, ironstone blocks, schist plaques, blue marble flooring
  • Incurved altars
  • Wooden columns and pillars
  • Wall-paintings
    A woman with long curly hair in a frilled-dress holding a branch in Antechamber 2
  • Polytheron - doorways with three openings
  • at least three storeys in some areas
  • Light-wells
  • Drain system


Movable artefacts found at Tourkoyeitonia include:

  • Porphyrite stone lamps
  • Vases, amphorae, cooking pots, cups
  • Clay loom weights
  • 30 plaster tripodal offering tables
  • Plaster horns "of consecration"
  • Black steatite lamp
  • Bronze chisel
  • Triton shell
  • Marble pestle
  • Terracotta figurines
  • Silver earring
  • Ivory pin
  • Bronze pins
  • Tweezers

The Archive

Southwest of Tourkoyeitonia, more of the palace is found. While little remains of the architecture, the walls that are preserved are Middle Minoan III-Late Minoan IA. Linear A tablets and the model of a house were excavated at The Archive along with MMIII-LMIA pottery and several unworked pieces of rock crystal, obsidian and steatite.

The Reservoir

This man-made enclosure of a spring, first partially excavated in 1921 by Sir Arthur Evans was later completed by J. Sakellarakis in 1964. The floor is laid with pebbles and the walls are poros-stone. Evidence indicates that it was built between Middle Minoan IB and Middle Minoan IIIA, destroyed during Late Minoan IA and then restored and in various use afterwards. The Reservoir is within the palace grounds.

The Theatre Area

A large paved area, dissected by walkways which in the center form a triangle, is found at the site called "The Theatre Area" or Aghios Nikolaos. Two stepped altars are found here, one on a walkway and one on the pavement. There is a painting of a reconstruction of this area in Sakellarakis' Crete Archanes guidebook on page 49 which does this area more justice than a description.


Municipality of Archanes, population

  • Archanes / Δ.δ. Αρχανών [ 3910 ]
    • Epano Archanes / οι Επάνω Αρχάνες [ 3860 ]
    • Vathypetro / το Βαθύπετρο [ 24 ]
    • Karnari / το Καρνάρι [ 26 ]
  • Kato Archanes / Δ.δ. Κάτω Αρχανών [ 638 ]
    • Kato Archanes / οι Κάτω Αρχάνες [ 398 ]
    • Ampela / τα Αμπελά [ 58 ]
    • Kera Elaiousa / η Κερά Ελαιούσα (τ. ο Αράπ-Αγάς) [ 22 ]
    • Patsides / οι Πατσίδες [ 160 ]

Ancient Archanes is at the modern village Epano Arhanes


Sakellarakis, J. and E. 1991 Crete Archanes ISBN 960-213-234-5 (guidebook)

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