The Heraklion Archaeological Museum, officially founded in 1908, is one of the oldest museums of Greece and world-renowned for its outstanding Collection of the Minoan culture, which is considered the first European civilization. Rebuilt in the 1930s to plans by the modernist architect P. Karantinos, it underwent from 2007 to 2015 an extensive renovation project with European funding including the restoration of the building and redevelopment of the exhibition.

The museum exhibits are displayed in 27 galleries and span almost seven millennia, from the Neolithic (7th millennium BC) to the Roman period (3rd century AD). The creation and establishment of the first powerful central administration with organized bureaucracy in Europe, together with the dominance of the seafaring Minoans in the Aegean sea are highlighted by the unique artefacts of Minoan art, while the incorporation of Crete in the cultural structures of the Greek world is illustrated through ancient Greek and Roman Collections.

The famous female figurines of the "Snake Goddess", the mysterious clay Phaistos disc with impressed pictorial signs of writing, the fine gold bee pendant from Malia, the impressive ritual vessel in the shape of a bull' s head, the luxury pottery of "Kamares" ware, the golden rings engraved in miniature scale, the colorful frescoes reflecting the Minoan love of nature, are all masterpieces of Minoan artistic creation. A series of architectural reliefs from Gortys and the temple of Prinias highlight the contribution of Crete to the development of Greek monumental sculpture, while Roman portraits and copies of known statue types of Classical antiquity reveal the flourishing of art during the Roman period.

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