Hellenistic city situated 5 km W of Mires. The site is
best known for its Minoan palace and underlying pre-palatial village. There was, however, a flourishing Geometric settlement there, and occupation continued in the archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods. The extensive city of the last period was eventually destroyed
by the neighboring city of Gortyn in the middle of the
2d c. B.C.
Remains of the Geometric settlement are most impressively preserved on the slopes at the SE foot of the
acropolis hill. Here several well-constructed houses are
served by a cobbled road which has been traced up the
S slope of the hill toward the old W court of the Minoan palace. Traces of a Geometric defense wall around
the acropolis have also been noted in excavation. Of the
archaic period, the only building to survive in recognizable form is an oblong structure at the SW corner of
the palace, which is usually identified as a temple, probably dedicated to Rhea. Archaic deposits have been found
elsewhere on both the hill and the lower slopes, however.
Hellenistic remains are the most widespread and best
preserved at Phaistos. They are known to cover an area
extending from immediately W of the palace, down the
slopes W of (and originally probably over) the W Court,
and thence farther down the slopes either side of a Hellenistic successor to the Geometric roadway, to the
area of the earlier Geometric settlement. On the SE
slopes of the hill, Hellenistic houses were found to belong to two phases, the earlier destroyed by earthquake
and the latter, presumably, by the Gortynians. A fine
series of Hellenistic houses, terraced into the steep hillside, have been excavated on the S and SW slopes of
the hill, but these were removed in order to facilitate the
excavation of Minoan levels. The best-preserved Hellenistic houses are therefore those standing on a platform
above the W Court. Most of the remains here belong to
a single house with a small open courtyard around which
were grouped the main domestic rooms.
Although the city was destroyed in the mid 2d c. B.C.,
it is clear that there was some sporadic Roman occupation of the site. Early excavations found Roman deposits
above the palace, and more recently an extensive though
shabbily built late Roman farmhouse has been discovered overlying the destroyed Hellenistic buildings on the SE slopes.
The city's water supply probably came from the
river Hieropotamos, which runs around the base of the
hill, and from a series of deep wells, of which a Hellenistic example has been excavated on the SW slopes. Matala, 9 km to the SW, served as the principal port for Phaistos, although Komo is thought to have continued
to operate as its port after the close of the Bronze Age.
Finds from the site are mainly in the Herakleion Archaeological Museum, although some of the pottery material is in the Stratigraphic Museum at Phaistos itself.
. 2.293; L. Pernier, “Scavi
della Missione Italiana a Phaestos 1900-01,” MonAnt
12 (1902) 21; L. Savignoni, “Scavi e Scoperte nella
Necropoli di Phaestos 1902-3,” MonAnt
14 (1904) 350;
M. Guarducci, ICr
I (1935) 272; L. Pernier & L. Banti,
, “Scavi Italiani in Creta” (1947) 39-66; D.
Levi, “Gli Scavi a Festos negli Anni 1958-60,” Annuario
NS 23-24 (1963) 377-504IP
; “La Conclusione degli
Scavi a Festos,” ibid., 27-28 (1967) 313-99IP