History and Protagonists
of the Discovery of Phaistos
According to Greek mythology, Phaistos was ruled by King Rhadamanthys, the son of Zeus and Europa and brother of King Minos. Homer, calls Phaistos a "city fair to dwell in" and Diodorus Siculus mentions that it was founded by Minos himself. Strabo, finally, provides information on the distance of the city from Gortys, Matala and the sea.
These references were used by the English captain and cartographer T.A.B. Spratt
, who correctly identified the site of the ancient city of Phaistos ih his work "Travels and Researches in Crete", in 1865. Spratts identification was confirmed in 1894 by the Italian archaeologists F. Halbherr and A. Taramelli. Once Crete had gained its independence from the Turks (1898), the ltalian School of Archaeology started to study the hill of Phaistos, while systematic excavation began in lime 1900 under the direction of F. Halbherr and I. Pernier, who brought the Palace to light.
The excavations were later continued by Pernier, who was also responsible for the necessary consolidation and reconstruction work to which the modern appearance of the area is due.
A new cycle of excavations began at Phaistos in 1950, under the then Director of the Italian School of Archaeology Doro Levi, who uncovered impressive sections of the Old Palace, as well as parts of the Minoan and Hellenistic city around the Palace and at the sites known as "Chalara" and "Aghia Photini".
Excavations in the area by the Italian School of Archaeology and the Greek Archaeological Service continue to the present day.