On the hill Fourni, between Ano Archanes and Kato Archanes and near the Minoan settlement of Archanes, an opulent cemetery, which is one of the most important archaeological sites of Crete, was discovered in a forest of olive trees and vineyards.
The hill Fourni closes the small plain of Archanes in the north-west but is not a part of Yuhtas, as there is a deep ravine between them. The western part of the hill is steep and its top is not fertile. The long-term use of the graves (2400-1200 B.C.) and the large number of funeral gifts place Fourni among the most important cemeteries of the Aegean area. The oldest funerals date back in the 3rd millennium B.C., while some of the graves were used for a very long time (2000 B.C. - 1350 B.C.). Most of the buildings discovered until now are tombs, while some of them have worship and secular features.
The necropolis of Fourni has a large variety of funerary buildings of various architectural styles, which are in the same area. It has hundreds of burials, including some royal persons, and a large amount of funeral gifts. It also offers important information on the burial rituals of the Minoans and on the funerary worship. It is also an example of how a large cemetery in the Middle and Late Minoan periods is organized, with the construction of auxiliary buildings, stone-paved streets and systems for the drainage of rain water. Many of the gifts were imported from the Cyclades, Egypt and the Orient and provide information about the contacts of the people of Archanes with those places.
The necropolis was accessible from the south. A wide path, still paved at some points, leads from Kato Archanes to Fourni. There is a similar uphill path inside the cemetery. It is possible that the path was constructed in the Minoan times and was used by the inhabitants of Archanes to carry the dead, the coffins and various other objects.
Until 1964 the necropolis of Fourni was unknown. That year the first excavation research was conducted by G. Sakellarakis at the eastern foot of the hill and a chamber tomb was discovered. The following year some ”tholos” tombs were spotted and the excavation research has been continued without stop since then. Consolidation works have been done to all the tomb buildings during the excavations.
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