What is the late Minoan cemetery of Armeni?
It is the largest known Minoan cemetery in Crete. It dates back to the so-called late Minoan period (14th to 12th century BC). The age of the graves is therefore incredible 3200 to 3400 years. The cemetery was planned already at that time exactly. For example, there are sections for rich people and graves for poor people. All tombs in Armeni were dug in the rock and consist of a corridor and the actual burial chamber.
The excavations in Armeni began in 1969. Extensive modern research, for example, made it possible to determine relatively precisely from the bones the composition of the diet of the Mimo people around Armeni at that time. Also the age of the dead can be determined quite exactly. Most died very young (under 35 years). The diet stock of plants and meat, less or not at all from fish.
What do you see?
One sees in Armeni several dozen burial chambers of very different size and depth. Some are over 10 metres long and a few metres deep.
Especially with children you should make sure that nobody falls into the deep burial chambers. All finds, such as the typical Minoan vessels made of clay and so on, were transported to museums.
Interesting is also the landscape and the plants in the cemetery in Armeni, especially when in spring the orchids and other flowers bloom (see below). More information about the cemetery can be found in the Archaeological Museum of Rethymno, only 10 km away.
Minoan cemetery of Armeni Entrance fee and opening hours
If the box office is occupied, you pay 2 Euro entrance fee (as of April 2017). You can stay as long as you like in the fenced cemetery. According to the information of a reader, the excavation is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in summer and winter, closed on Mondays.
Flowers at the cemetery
The late Minoan cemetery is popular among friends of wild flowers on Crete. Many visitors come not only because of the graves, but because of the orchids and other flowers.
The best month is April. An acquaintance of ours enthuses about the many different orchid species, including the bumble-bee ragweed. This flower attracts a certain type of bee with its appearance and attractant, which then pollinate this type of orchid. The bumble-bee ragweed also occurs in parts of Germany. On Crete, however, it is much more frequent.
The village Armeni
Armeni is a typical Cretan village situated on a through road. In the centre there is a nice tavern and a medium sized supermarket. The cemetery is one kilometre outside of Rethymnon. At the exit of the village in this direction there is a very good bakery on the left. For years we have been offering the best puff pastry cheese bags (Tiropita) in our opinion (currently April 2017 only 1,10 Euro).
By car: Take the road from Rethmymno to Spili, Agia Galini and Plakias. The cemetery is coming from Rethmyno before Armeni about 100 meters to the right of this main road. The junction is signposted with "Late Minoan Cemetry Armeni". There is a large parking lot, the entrance and the ticket office is a maximum of 50 meters from the parking lot.
Bus: Depending on the season and day of the week there are about 4 to 10 buses from Rethymno bus station to Armeni. It is best to tell the driver or conductor in the bus that you want to go to "Minoan Cemetry" in Armeni. The bus stops about 100 meters from the entrance. All buses from Rethymnon to Agia Galini, Plakias and Rodakino go through Armeni.
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