Universitätsbibliothek HeidelbergUniversitätsbibliothek Heidelberg

Seager, Richard B.
The cemetery of Pachyammos, Crete — Philadelphia, 1916

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In Eastern Crete at the head of the gulf of Mirabello lies
the Isthmus of Hierapetra. The mountain chains of the Lasithi
group and the Triptite range, further to the east, are sharply
divided at this point by an almost level valley which stretches
from the northern coast on the gulf of Mirabello across to the
plain of Hierapetra facing the southern or Libyan sea. The
island is only about seven miles wide at this point and this
narrow valley must have formed in all periods an important
highway between the north and south coasts. To a maritime
people this must have been especially useful as the voyage by
sea to and from Hierapetra around the eastern end of the island
with its far-flung rocky capes was, at best, a hazardous one in
this land of sudden gales where places of shelter for shipping are
so few and far between.

The Isthmus offered an easy means of avoiding this circuit
as merchandise could be carried across from north to south or
vice versa and re-shipped to its final destination.

The Hierapetra plain is the most fertile portion of Eastern
Crete and, as it lies at the point of the island nearest to Egypt,
must have had a considerable amount of trade with the latter.
The Greek coinage of Hierapetra and the numerous remains
still extant of the Roman city show its importance in the classical
period when it ranked as the chief town of this part of the

It seems clear from our knowledge of the Minoan civiliza-
tion that, in certain stages of its development, it was in close
touch with Egypt. From Egyptian art it borrowed much and,