New data for the study of the economy and maritime trade of Crete
before the Roman conquest.
The aim of this research is to analyse systematically the large quantity of amphora material of the Hellenistic period from excavations at the ancient harbour of Phalasarna (West Crete).
The economy of Crete during the Hellenistic period is difficult to understand since both archaeological material and the ancient literature are limited. The Cretan economy is the subject of an on-going debate between the scholars who argue that it was export-oriented and competitive and the scholars who insist that it was pastoral, striving only for subsistence
The excavation campaigns at Phalasarna provide us with one of the very few deposits of Hellenistic pottery of the island which, apart from dating the relative structures, can offer us insight into the commercial relations with other Mediterranean poleis and the cultural and artistic developments of the island in general. Indeed the most important element of the economic and social life of the town is an imposing harbour that is almost completely artificial and in large part preserved.
The two last excavation campaigns (2011-2012), which were focused on various areas both in and around the port, produced a large quantity of ceramic material that concerns the entire stratigraphic ‘palimpsest’, extending in time from the building of the main fortifications to their destruction by the Romans. Furthermore a wine production facility has been discovered near the port, indicating export. Thus with Phalasarna we deal with a peculiar archaeological context. It is additionally remarkable because the harbour is currently found 6.6 meters above sea level due to tectonic uplift.
Phalasarna is unique both archaeologically and geologically, and provides a privileged observatory for the study of the Hellenistic economy, its production, consumption, and trade.
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