Near Kamares, 57 km from Heraklion.
At Kamares a trail starts which leads to the cave. The cave is high above the village and the ascend takes about 4hrs. Northeast of Kamares on the north slope of Mount Dikti.
|Dimension:||A=1,780 m asl.|
A. Taramelli (1901):
Cretan Expedition, XX. A Visit to the Grotto of Camares on Mount Ida,
American Journal of Archaeology 5 (1901): 443-444.
R.M. Dawkins, M.L.W. Laistner (1913): The Excavation of the Kamares Cave in Crete, Annual of the British School at Athens 19 (1912-1913): 1-34.
E. L. Tyree (2001): Diachronic Changes in Minoan Cave Cult, In R. Laffineur and R. Hagg (eds.). Potnia. Deities and Religion in the Aegean Bronze Age. Proceedings of the 8th International Aegean Conference, 12-15 April 2000. Aegaeum 22 (2001):39-50.
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|early 1890's||first high-quality pottery from the First Minoan Palace Period (1900-1700 B.C.) discovered.|
|JUN-1913||first systematic excavations.|
|2002||re-examination of the finds.|
Kamares is a village on the southern flank of Psiloritis Peak and is 57km from Heraklion. From the village a path leads to the north east to Kamares Cave. This is a very large cave located at 1,780 m, under the summit of Mavri (1,950m). It is reached after a steep and difficult ascent taking 4 hours on a path that is not well marked. A great part of the route is through a wooded area with three or four springs of water and rewarding views of the Messara plains and Libyan Sea. If the weather is good then you may see the island of Gavdos far out to sea.
The Kamares Cave contained a very distinct form of pottery, "Kamares", dating back to 2000 BC which was discovered during an archaeological excavation. This type of pottery is thin and delicate ("egg-shelled"), and decorated with bright colours on a black background and can be seen in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. This cave was used during the Minoan period as a devotional place, possibly dedicated to the worship of the goddess Eilethyia.
Text by Tony Oldham (2002). With kind permission.
The extraordinary pottery of Kamares Cave, which was named after the cave, was first discovered in the early 1890's by shepherds. The discoveries caused great excitement among archaeologists and some tried to reach the cave, but because of the remote locations no excavations took place. In June 1913 after an unusually mild winter the cave was snow-free and was excavated. The findings were examined with the knowledge of the time and then displayed at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. In 2002 cave researcher Loeta Tyree and pottery expert Aleydis Van de Moortel from the Canadian Institute in Greece (CIG) began a re-examination of the finds with modern techniques.
The cave was visited during all periods of the Bronze Age, from 3000 to 1100 BC. This resulted in a huge amount of pottery excavated in 1913, the fragments of more than 1,800 vases were collected. The rare pieces are fragments of terracotta animal figurines, stone and bone tools, animal bones and six iron spearheads. The enormous amount of vases is explained with a cave cult, controlled by the ruling elite resident at Phaistos. However, this is a theory and still disputed.
Kamares Cave has a huge portal facing south. The entrance chamber is 100 m long and descents some 40 m to the rear side, where a narrow passage leads to a second chamber. The cave has the remains of walls, probably of Minoan age, all along.