The Archaeological Museum of Agios Nikolaos was created in order to exhibit finds from eastern Crete, which, until then, used to be carried to the Museum of Heraklion.
The exhibition is not in its final form yet, but it covers a long period of time from the Neolithic times to the end of the Greco-Roman period.
The visitor can watch the development of the art of the area over time through representative specimens of various styles and times. The visitor can watch the development of the art of the area over time, through representative specimens of various styles and times. The funeral gifts from the early Minoan cemetery of Agia Photia near Siteia (3.000-2.300 π.Χ.) in the first chamber and the findings from the Palace of Malia brought to light by the excavations of the French School of Archaeology in the fourth chamber are considered to be the largest and most important sets. The most famous object is the rhyton vessel known as ““the goddess of Myrtos””.
The Museum building is rectangular with eight rooms for the exhibits arranged circularly around a central rectangular paved atrium. In front of it there is a roof-covered yard leading to the offices (former Ephory) and the preservation laboratory on the one side and a Π-Shaped garden surrounding the central building. Entering the lobby through the main entrance of the Museum, on the left there is the tickets office and a shop of books and cards with the small room of the museum attendants behind it. On the right are the toilets.
The exhibition rooms are in front of it. The visitor walks to the left clockwise and sees the exhibits by excavation sets and chronological order. In the first room are exhibited the funeral gifts found in 1971 in the seaside cemetery of Agia Photia. This cemetery, the largest in number of graves of prehistoric Crete and one of the largest in Greece, had at least 260 graves with over 1.600 vessels, some copper dagger and a lot of obsidian blades (3.000-2.300 B.C.). The vessels, made without a ceramics wheel in various shapes testify relations and influences both inside Crete (particularly with Central Crete)and with the Cyclades. The Cycladic influences in particular are so strong that we can speak of a Cretan-Cycladic culture.
In the second room is exhibited another remarkable newer collection of ceramics from the important early Minoan settlement Fournou Koryfi near the village Myrtos of Ierapetra. The most famous object of the Museum,” “the goddess of Myrtos”” is in this collection. It is an exquisite rhyton vessel (24th early Minoan period) in the form of a goddess with a very small head on a long, thin neck and a bell-shaped body. With the right hand she holds – hugging it at the same time with her left arm – a small beak-mouthed jug, the only exit point of fluid from inside the vessel.
In the past the Museum has hosted periodical exhibitions like: ““Lasith, 5.000 years of artistic expression, Nikos Sotiriadis, masks – statuettes 1997 A.D.””, ““European Days of Cultural Heritage: The immortal water” “etc. In the near future the rooms receive their final form, as the objects are going to be re-arranged, in the framework of the Museum being integrated into the 3rd Community Support Framework by the 24th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, to which it belongs.
(Author: M. Hatzipanagioti, Archeologist)