Northwest of the Archanes, between the Epano and Kato Archanes, and northeast of Yuchtas there is the small hill of Phourni, where there is the Minoan cemetery of Archanes, characterised as the most important in the Prehistoric Aegean. It is consisted of 26 funerary structures of different types: five tholos tombs, many rectangular rooms and an enclosure (perivolos) with shaft graves, like those at Mycenae. A unique unlooted royal burial was discovered in Tholos Tomb A, with gold rings and other finds. The name Phourni comes from the word “phournos” (means oven, furnace, kiln) and it is related with the construction of Tholos Tomb A, which was visible.
The long usage of the cemetery, for approximately 2000 years (3000-1000 BC), the quantity and the variety of funerary structures of every architectural type to a united space, in which there were hundreds of burials, as well as the wealth and the variety of offerings made Phourni unique. It is impressive the number of species of burial customs and the burial ritual, as well as the composition and the organisation of the cemetery, with the establishment of annexes, paved roads and systems for the holding of rain water. Among the grave goods there were many clay vessels and lots of jewellery: rings, seals, necklaces, figurines, bronze utensils, weapons and tools and many others.
The Minoan cemetery had been founded at the south part of the hill, on its top and its east side. The access to it was made by south, the nearest spot of the Minoan town. A wide passage-path, in some parts paved, still survives leading from Pano Archanes to Phourni. It was possibly made in Minoan times for the carrying of the dead and the sarcophagi. As for the people who prefer the car, the access is by a rural way from the exit of the village of Kato Archanes.
Dr Andonis Vasilakis