Site of ancient acropolis from W, Prinias

Summary: Early Iron Age Cretan refuge settlement in mountains.
Type: Settlement
Region: Crete


Late Bronze Age

Dark Age






Near the modern village of Prinias in central Crete is a site possibly to be identified with ancient Rhyzenia. The small, unwalled settlement was established on the plateau (called Petela) of a steep and almost inaccessible mountain. In addition to Archaic house remains, 2 small temples of the 7th to 6th century B.C. are located near the center of the plateau. There is also evidence for a later cult to Athena at the E end of the plateau and on the W end are the walls of a small Hellenistic fortress with corner towers.


The settlement is one of several Dark Age Cretan refuge sites established at natural strong holds in the mountains. Its importance is attested to by the Archaic temples and their sculptures, early inscriptions and other finds. Religious activity at the site may have outlasted actual settlement which had ceased by the 2nd century B.C. at the latest.


Halbherr and J. Alden explored the site in 1894. Excavations, 1907-1908, and since 1969 by the Italian School.

Sources Used:

PECS, 739-740; Leekley and Noyes 1975, 94; Cameron 1988, 137-138

Other Bibliography:

F. Halbherr, AJA 11 (1st series, 1896) 530-31; AJA 5 (1901) 399ff. L. Pernier, "Templi arcaici sulla patàla di Priniàs," ASAtene 1 (1914) 18-111 (map & plans: final report). L. Pernier, "New elements for the study of the Archaic Temple of Prinias," AJA 38 (1934) 171-77. E. Kirsten, "Rhizenia," RE Suppl. 7 (1940) 1138-53. G. Rizza, "Nuove ricerche sulla Patela e nel territorio di Prinias," Chronache di Arch. e di Storia dell'Arte 8 (1969) 7-32. reports in BCH 84 (1960) 840; 94 (1970) 1161; 95 (1971)1055-56; ArchDelt 24 (1969) Chr.2, 414; 25 (1970) Chr.2, 454.