More than a 100 archaeologists of various nationalities participated in the 10th excavation campaign of the Belgian School at Athens at Sissi (Dimos Agios Nikolaos, Crete), in close collaboration with the archaeological service of Lassithi, and under the direction of Prof. Jan Driessen (UCLouvain/EBSA). Work continued in several areas of the site and the team succeeded in revealing most of the monumental court-centred building (photo 1). Continued excavation near the west wing of this complex revealed substantial remains of an early village of Early Minoan IIA date (c. 2600 BCE). After its abandonment, leaving all its material in place, a monumental building was constructed just east of this village, forming the core of the west wing. This building was destroyed by fire in 2500 BCE. Its remains, however, were simply incorporated without much modification in the construction of the court-centred building around 1700 BCE. Further excavation of this complex revealed a finely plastered floor, decorated with splash pattern, and a finely built terracotta drain, originally evacuating the surface waters of the 33 m long central court down the east slope. Elsewhere on the site, extensive traces of hitherto little attested phases were uncovered, including remains of a house destroyed in Middle Minoan IIIA perhaps by earthquake and an extensive Late Minoan II-IIIA1 deposit, showing much Knossian influence. To this same phase dates a cist tomb, inserted within an earlier Neopalatial funerary building (photo 2). The finely built tomb contained a perfectly preserved skeleton of a woman, accompanied by a bronze mirror with ivory handle, bone and bronze cloth pins and a necklace made of 15 gold beads shaped like olive pips or seeds and 15 smaller gold beads (photo 3). Graves of this type are relatively rare on the island and only attested at Knossos, Archanes and Chania. The 10th campaign closes the second 5-year programme and attention will now go to site consolidation and publication, before returning for a final campaign of soundings.
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1. Aerial photo of the Court Centred Building of the Neopalatial period ; remains of Early Minoan IIA village to the north-west (©EBSA, N. Kress)
2. Cist tomb with skeleton of an adult woman, Late Minoan II-IIIA1 (©EBSA, J. Driessen)
3. Necklace of gold beads found around the neck of the woman in the cist tomb of Late Minoan II-IIIA1 (©EBSA, M. Anastasiadou)