Overview, Karphi

Summary: An Early Iron Age Cretan refuge settlement with a temple and associated tombs.
Type: Settlement
Region: Crete


Middle Bronze Age

Late Bronze Age

Dark Age



Located on the remote upper SE slope of a high peak at the N edge of the Lasithi plain, Karphi was a refuge settlement of ca. 150 rectangular adjoining rooms representing an unknown number of individual residences. The settlement was unwalled, but in a naturally defensible position with a stepped entrance at its steep N edge. At the center of the settlement a "Great House" has been identified by its superior construction and the number of finds of bronze artifacts. At the N edge of the settlement, along the cliff edge, is a shrine or temple identified on the basis of an interior altar and ledge for cult objects and finds of terracotta figurines. The figurines follow the earlier Minoan tradition of females in bell-skirts, up-raised arms, and crowns surmounted by birds and disks.

Many stretches of the twisting passages through the settlement were paved in stone. Remains of the settlement extend E across the ridge top saddle that joins the Karphi peak to the summit of Mikre Koprana. Associated tholos tombs are located outside the settlement to the S.


A Middle Bronze Age Minoan peak sanctuary was located on the summit of Karphi, but the settlement on the SE slopes was founded at the end of the Late Bronze Age. After two centuries of occupation the settlement was abandoned peacefully at ca. 900 B.C.


Excavations in 1937-1939 by Pendlebury and the British School in Athens.

Sources Used:

Barber 1988, 159; Pendlebury 1939, 306-307

Other Bibliography: