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The function of the Minoan oval house at Chamaizi
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Department of Astronomy and Space Physics.
Uppsala University.
2007 (English)In: British Archaeological Reports - International series, ISSN 0143-3067, Vol. 1647, 15-18 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We report the results of our archaeoastronomical investigation of the unique building at Chamaizi in eastern Crete. The structure has been an enigma to Aegean archaeologists because of its oval shape, which is unparalleled in Minoan architecture. Religion has figured prominently in the discussions of the house’s function, primarily due to the discovery of a well and some figurines. We had included it in our pilot study of Minoan astronomical interest since some scholars have categorized it as a peak sanctuary, and these sites are ideally located for astronomical observations. An axial symmetry for the building, however, was impossible to calculate, and this discouraged us to the extent that we left its evaluation to a late stage in our work. When we returned to our data, with the knowledge acquired from our study of a number of other Minoan buildings, we were in a better position to study the house and understand its function. The main entrance was orientated to sunrise on the morning of the winter solstice in the early Middle Minoan period (ca 2000 BCE) and the door on the northern side framed the heliacal setting of Arcturus in the same period.

The orientation to sunrise at the winter solstice occurs also at the important villa of Vathypetro, and the orientation to Arcturus is the fourth that we have found at Minoan sites. Thus our results from Chamaizi add to the accumulating data that the Minoans consistently oriented important monuments to major celestial events and precisely those events important for maintaining a calendar. A hypothesis that may be made from these results is that the contacts between Minoan sites known from trade can be understood to have included also the intellectual exchange of scientific information resulting in a common calendar and probably also common rituals in connection with it: celebrations of the new year, the beginning and end of the sailing season, and important events in the agricultural year such as ploughing, as we have tried to show in earlier studies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 1647, 15-18 p.
National Category
Physical Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-14540OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-14540DiVA: diva2:42311
Available from: 2008-01-30 Created: 2008-01-30Bibliographically approved

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