The Palace and Landscape at Palaikastro (PALAP) Project is an archaeological project which aims to place the ancient site of Palaikastro, the largest excavated Minoan town on Crete, in its wider context.

Animated Archaeology

With one year of survey, three years of excavation, and one study season completed in the past few years, this summer has seen the final year of study for the Palace and Landscape at Palaikastro (PALAP) team. From excavation to conservation, we have been hard at work reconstructing the history of our site here on the island of Crete.


Over three millennia ago, Palaikastro was a thriving Minoan settlement situated on the east coast of the island. The town was rediscovered by archaeologists more than a century ago, but new campaigns have continued to reveal more of this fascinating site, and the five year PALAP excavation project has uncovered several multi-occupation buildings.

For the past two seasons, our study has focused on reconstructing the history of the site through the excavated material.

Palaikastro 2017 Study Season

In the lab, this has included the careful washing and conserving of objects, the photographing and drawing of selected material, and the organization and cataloguing of all conserved artifacts.

Palaikastro 2017 Study Season Palaikastro 2017 Study Season Palaikastro 2017 Study Season

Digital tools such as GIS, combined with the study of conserved artifacts and notes from the field, enable us to better understand these objects and contextualize their histories within Minoan life.

Palaikastro 2017 Study Season  Palaikastro 2017 Study Season 

Combining artifact analysis with excavation records, digital data allows us to reconstruct a comprehensive picture of ancient life at Palaikastro.

Palaikastro 2017 Study Season  Palaikastro 2017 Study Season  Palaikastro 2017 Study Season

Whether we’re digging in the field, finding pottery joins in the lab, or writing final reports, archaeology is both challenging and immensely rewarding. But no matter what, we always find time for some fun!

Palaikastro 2017 Study Season

Palaikastro 2017 Study Season

“My prehistory looks like…”

After three years of excavation, the Palace and Landscape at Palaikastro (PALAP) Project on the Greek island of Crete is now in the middle of an important study season. So while the PALAP team wasn’t out in the trenches for this year’s Day of Archaeology, we were doing something just as important: analyzing, interpreting, and making sense of three years’ worth of archaeological material brought in from the field. From pottery analysis to bioarchaeological study, preserving finds with conservation to cataloguing objects, each and every step of the process is vital in gaining a full understanding of the four-thousand year old site of Palaikastro, and its Minoan inhabitants.

Last year, the Palaikastro team celebrated Day of Archaeology by sharing why we “archaeology.” This year we thought we would look a little more specifically at how some of us archaeology; we want to give a full picture of what a study season means for each of us and the many forms that the study of prehistory can take. There is so much that we can learn from a wide variety of sources. “My prehistory looks like…” is our way of showcasing these sources and sharing some of our study season experiences. Each PALAP team member is interested in a specific aspect of the archaeological process, and each aspect assists in assembling a comprehensive picture of the Minoan past. Check out how PALAP explores these ancient remains, and join us in celebrating prehistoric archaeology!

Day of Arch - Patricia and Angela

Patricia Tabascio and Angela Baer help to strew and study thousands of pottery sherds, looking for joins, and recording the details of each deposit.

Day of Arch - Paula

By analyzing the stratigraphy of Palaikastro through the pottery, Paula Gheorghiade makes sense of the complex layers and multiple time periods of the site.

Day of Arch - Efi and Sevastos

Day of Arch - Vasiliki

Day of Arch - Jack

Efi Anaplioti, Sevastos Giannikidis, Vasiliki Anevlavi and Jack Fuller ensure that archaeological material is preserved for the future by conserving hundreds of artifacts and ceramic vessels.

Day of Arch - Christos

Once the objects have been studied and conserved, Christos Tsoumplekas meticulously draws them to scale so that a visual record is also maintained.

Day of Arch - Rachel D

Rachel Dewan helps to research and catalogue many of the objects that will be included in the final publication of the site.

Day of Arch - Christine

In order to understand the spatial features of the site and its wider context, Christine Spencer uses GIS to map the architecture and finds.

Day of Arch - Alex

Dr. Alexandra Livarda directs PALAP’s environmental studies, investigating Palaikastro’s archaeobotanical remains.

Day of Arch - Rena

Rena Veropoulidou studies thousands of shells found during excavation in order to learn more about Palaikastro’s environment and the diets of its ancient inhabitants.

Day of Arch - Rachel K

Rachel Kulick’s geomorphological analysis investigates Palaikastro’s landscape through the science of soil analysis.

And these are only some of the members of the PALAP team! It takes countless hours of work by dozens of dedicated people to make sense of it all, but when the puzzle pieces fit together (or the pottery sherds!), that’s when the real archaeological magic happens…

Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and our blog, and tell us what your prehistory looks like!

#Iarchaeologybecause: The Importance of Archaeology at Palaikastro, Crete

Now in its fourth year of study and third of excavation, the Palace and Landscape at Palaikastro (PALAP) Project works each summer to shed new light on the ancient world of the Minoans, as well as the Bronze Age Aegean at large. The modern town of Palaikastro is a small but vibrant community on the north-eastern coast of Crete, the largest of the Greek islands. Just down the beach from lively surf bars and delicious fish tavernas, more than forty archaeologists, students, conservators, and technicians have been working hard in the heat for six weeks this summer, uncovering the remains of ancient Palaikastro, an extensive four-thousand year old Minoan settlement.

The Palace and Landscape at Palaikastro Project team hard at work. Photographer: Kostis Voutirakis
The Palace and Landscape at Palaikastro Project team hard at work. Photographer: Kostis Voutirakis

The Minoans were the predominant cultural group on Crete for much of the 3rd and 2nd millennia BCE. Characterized by monumental administrative centres (commonly referred to as “palaces”), vibrant artworks, and rituals involving bulls and bull-leaping, the material remains of these people have been found across the island. Despite more than one hundred years of archaeological study, much of Minoan life remains enigmatic. The PALAP Project hopes that by uncovering more of Minoan Palaikastro and revealing the lives of the people who lived there for centuries, we can better understand Bronze Age Crete. This endless curiosity pushes us through all of those 5:00 am wake-ups, scorching days under the sun, and wheelbarrow dumps. It’s hard work, but the excitement of discovery and joy of sharing in this beautiful community’s heritage makes it all worthwhile.

So to celebrate the Day of Archaeology and show the world why we do what we do, we initiated the “#Iarchaeologybecause” campaign.* To show their passion for this field, members of our team wrote why they love their job, why they study this subject, and why archaeology is so important! Photos were shared all weekend long, so check out our Facebook and Twitter for full photos.

This is why we archaeology…

#Iarchaeologybecause Part 1 #Iarchaeologybecause Part 2

So join #PK15 in celebrating the Day of Archaeology, and tell us why you archaeology!

*We realize that “archaeology” is not really a verb, but perhaps it should be! So here’s to having fun with words and making up new ones…