The Heraklion Archaelogical Museum was built between 1937 and 1940, to designs by P Karantinos. The site had been occupied during the Venetian Period by an imposing Catholic monastery of St. Francis, which was destroyed by the earthquake of 1856. The Museum houses archaelogical finds from all over Crete. Pride of place goes to the treasures of the earliest European civilization, the Minoan, which can here be admired in all its historical continuity.
The present display was organized between 1951 and 1964 by N. Platon and St. Alexiou, both Ephors of Antiquities. The order in which the exhibits are presented is based on the chronological development of the Minoan civilization and reflects both the history of the excavations and the major discoveries made on Crete at the beginning of the century (palaces at Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, ets.).
The exhibition contains objects mainly from central and east Crete, covering 5500 years of Cretan History.
Neolithic period (5000-2600 BC): Pottery, figurines and tools from Neolithic sites in central and east Crete. Pre-palatial period (2600-1900 BC): Pottery of various styles, stone vases, seals, figurines and jewellery from Pre-palatial settlements and tombs.
Old Palace period (1900-1700 BC): Finds from the palaces at Knossos and Malia, and votive and cult objects from peak sanctuaries.
Old Palace period (1900-1700 BC): Finds from the palace at Phaistos, Kamares ware vases, clay sealings, the Phaistos disk, cult objects.
New Palace period (1700-1450 BC): Finds from the palaces at Knossos, Phaistos and Malia.
Late Palace period (1450-1400 BC): Finds from the region of Knossos, clay Linear A and B tablets, ‘palace’ style and ‘floral’ style pottery.
Finds from the New Palace and Post-palace cemeteries at Knossos and Phaistos (1450-1300 BC).
New Palace period (1700-1450 BC): Finds from megara, villas and caves in central Crete.
Finds from the palace at Zakros (1700-1450 BC).
Finds from New Palace settlements in east Crete (1700-1450 BC) (Palaikastro, Gournia, Pseira, etc).
Post-palace period (1400-1150 BC): Finds from Knossos, Phaistos, Gortys, Siteia, etc.
Sub-Minoan and early Geometric periods (1150-800 BC): Finds from various sites in Crete and the cemeteries at Prinias, the tombs at Fortetsa – Knossos, the Cave of the goddess Eileithyia at Inatos, etc.
Geometric and Oriental periods (800-650 BC): Finds from the sanctuary at Symi Viannou and from tombs at Knossos, Arkades, Fortetsa, etc.
Collection of painted clay sarcophagi belonging to Post-palace times (1400-1150 BC).
Display of Minoan wall paintings (1600-1400BC) from the palace at Knossos, the villas at Agia Triada, Amnissos, etc.
Exhibits from the Yamalakis Collection dating from the Neolithic to the Venetian period.
Greek and Roman sculpture, pottery and miniature art (7th c. BC-4th c.AD) from Gortys, Praisos, etc.
Collection of sculpture of the archaic period (7th-6th c. BC). Words of early ‘Daidalic’ sculpture and Archaic metalwork.
Classical, Hellenistic and Roman sculpture from Gortys, Knossos, Chersonisos, etc. (5th c. BC-4th C. AD).