E. Loeta TYREE
dispersed population, for the exchange of goods and information and for marriage partners.Although the evidence is not conclusive for Crete, the quantity of high quality Late andFinal Neolithic pottery, the quality of obsidian (with some obsidian cores), and the possibleoccurrence of stone
argue against both ordinary domestic use and seasonal occupationby shepherds.
Hall concludes that caves are xed and unchanging features at the periphery of thelandscape.
He suggests that they were perceived as part of the liminal world; that is, they areoften considered the juncture between ‘this world’ and the ‘other world.’ Caves are a placeboth for humans to contact the normally inaccessible spirit world and where the dead may beburied.It has long been known that some caves (other than those referred to above) functionedas burial places during the late Neolithic and Early Minoan.
During the second phase (theEarly Minoan period), neither caves nor built tombs were limited to funerary ritual butthey served a broader religious function.
For example, EM II tholos tombs of the Mesarawere enlarged and enhanced to accommodate communal ritual, with the tomb becoming thespiritual focus for the community.
Peateld believes that such communal built tombs werereplaced, during EM III/MM IA, by individual burials in larger cemeteries.
He suggests achronological correlation between the demise of communal tombs and the earliest substantialevidence (EM III/MM IA) at peak sanctuaries.
An EM III/MM IA date for the beginning of peak sanctuaries, if correct, correspondswith the earliest possible Bronze Age evidence for caves, excluding any earlier association withburials. The Idaean Cave may have been the earliest, if its EM III nds belong to a ritualdeposit.
Otherwise, the Idaean Cave and three others most assuredly began by MM IB.
Thisis coincident with the establishment of a centralized economic system in MM IB that lasteduntil the end of LM I when all palaces, except Knossos, were destroyed. Many of the sacredcaves have their richest remains from this time, the Protopalatial and Neopalatial periods.These two periods are here considered together because mixed stratigraphy and inadequatepublication of most nds often do not allow a ner distinction.
Protopalatial and Neopalatial:
Sacred caves of this period and contemporary peak sanctuaries are visually connected tothe surrounding region (Pl. IXa-b). Many are visible from the nearest palace or large settlement.The visual relationship is especially evident for Kamares cave, which appears as a black hole in
3 Fuller publication of cave excavations is needed to verify the character of the Late and Final Neolithicassemblages and to substantiate the model; nevertheless, Hall’s proposal for Crete is sound and provides awelcomed new direction.4 HALL (
n. 1) 187.5 For references see P. FAURE,
Fonctions des cavernes crétoises
(1964) 51-80.6 J.S. SOLES,
The Prepalatial Cemeteries at Mochlos and Gournia and the House Tombs of Bronze Age Crete, Hesperia
suppl. XXIV (1992) 226-242.7 A. PEATFIELD, “Minoan Peak Sanctuaries: History and Society,”
18 (1990) 124-125.8 PEATFIELD (
n. 7) 125.9 PEATFIELD (
n. 7) 125. The situation may be more complicated than this because SOLES ([
n. 6]238) sees a MM IA proliferation of shrines connected with tombs.10 These include EM III sherds and sealstones, numerous enough to suggest that the cult began as early as EMIII (A. VASILAKIS, “
Minvik} kerameik} apó to Idaíon ´Antron,
Pepragména tou ST
Dieynoúw Krhtologikoú Sunedríou
 125). The few early bronze objects from Psychro probably belong to an EM burial (P.DEMARGNE, “Antiquités de Praesos et de l’antre Dictéen,”
26  571-583; J. BOARDMAN,
TheCretan Collection in Oxford
 4; L.V. WATROUS,
Lasithi. A History of Settlement on a Highland Plain inCrete. Hesperia
Suppl. XVIII  11 n. 23, 61). L.V. WATROUS (“Review of Aegean Prehistory III: Cretefrom Earliest Prehistory through the Protopalatial Period,”
98  729-730; WATROUS  48n. 9) wrongly, in my opinion, redates these later (to the Protopalatial period, MM I-II) based on his recentbelief that gold objects were not made in Crete as early as EM.11 The others are Psychro, Kamares, and Eileithyia/Amnisos.