The archaeological Museum of Kissamos belongs to the 25th (KE) Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and it is situated in the namesake seaside little town of western Crete, below which ancient Kissamos is located.
It is housed in the old building of the Venetian-Turkish Headquarters which was inside the perimeter of the Venetian castle, fortified during the Turkish occupation.
The exhibits of the Museum give an idea of the history in the wider region of Kissamos through the times, from the prehistoric era up to and including late antiquity, i.e. the early Christian period. The exhibition is split into sections based on chronological and local criteria and it takes up the ground and the first floor of the building. This way the visitor comes across the antiquities of the region in chronological order. Moreover, the findings are presented as excavation sets and thematical units.
The exhibition of the Museum provides a lot of informational and educational material. To attract the visitors’ interest and give them a more in-depth look, there is an electronic presentation with research and evidence concerning the most devastating earthquake of antiquity in 365 AD that hit Crete and demolished Kissamos.
Part of the ground floor with the domed-ceilinged rooms, already from 1937 had been given to the housing – exhibition of the Public Archaeological Collection founded in Kastelli in 1936, while the rest of the building housed at times mostly public services like the district court, the agricultural authority, the land registry, a library etc.
Later, after housing different services successively, more rooms were added to the original ones, so the largest part of the ground floor contained the ancient objects. This is when the 25th (KE) Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities started works for the extension – re-establishment of the Collection’s exhibition.
The newer floor was gradually abandoned by the offices it hosted, deemed unsuitable.
In 1989 the building got included in the programme agreement between the Ministry of Culture – Fund of Archaeological Proceeds – Municipality of Kissamos, aiming to carry out studies, restoration and equipment works, in order to host several Collections (folklore, Byzantine icons and antiquities).
Works to restore the Kissamos Headquarters building and convert it to an Archaeological Museum started in 2000, within the framework of the 2nd Cofinanced Development Programme. The project for exhibiting the antiquities in this new Museum was placed under the care of the Regional Operational Programme of Crete within the framework of the 3rd Cofinanced Development Programme. The works were finished, and the Museum opened its doors in September 2006.
The exhibition of the Museum provides an idea of the history in the wider region of Kissamos through the times, from the prehistoric era up to and including late antiquity, i.e. the early Christian period. However, it gives special emphasis to the Roman city of Kissamos which takes up the entire floor.
The exhibition is split into sections based on chronological and local criteria and it takes up the ground and the first floor of the building. This way the visitor comes across the antiquities fo the region in chronological order. Moreover, the findings are resented as excavation sets and thematical units. The exhibition of the Museum provides a lot of informational and educational material.
Sections of the Exhibition
Room 1: The exhibition starts with a general chronological table and a map with the archaeological sites of the region represented in the exhibition. Following that is the presentation of the Minoan era with findings from the digs in Nopigia.
Room 2: The exhibition starts with the Geometric era and focuses on the development of the most important city-states of western Crete, Polyrrhenia and Falassarna, cities that peaked during the Hellenistic period.
Room 3: The presentation of the Hellenistic era continues with ceramic findings from non-autonomous cities and settlements in the wider region. Typical samples of the ceramic production of western Crete are the large amphorae with black glazing and matrix-cast emblems affixed on them. Hellenistic inscriptions are exhibited in the same room followed by the largest part of the sculpture selection of the Kissamos region, mostly works from the period of the Roman occupation.
Preserved in its original place near the lift, below the stairwell, is part of the dig of a Roman bath, on top of which the Museum was built during the Venetian occupation.
The entire first floor is dedicated to the town of Kissamos and the findings from the numerous digs. The exhibition starts around the stairwell where there is informational material, continuing with representative samples of murals and one table support.
Room 4: The largest room of the Museum is dedicated to the presentation of urban villas in the Hellenistic-Roman Kissamos. Here, one can admire the mosaic floors, a sample of opus sectile, a solar clock, sculptures and table supports.
Room 5: The exhibition of the room focuses on the city’s economy by looking at coin usage and the hidden treasures but also its commercial relationships based on the local or imported amphorae, with relevant informational material.
Rooms 6: Here the craft production is presented through the ceramic and metallurgy workshops discovered at the digs, and the items for everyday use made mostly from cheap materials like clay, metal and bone. An attempt is made to give an idea of the biblical disaster of the city at the 365 AD earthquake.
Room 7: Here are the cemeteries of the city from the digs so far. There are grave goods from graves of the early period of Kissamos (grave of a woman 4th century BC) during Roman occupation where the largest part of the grave goods come from, as well as from the early Christian period. Also exhibited are jewels from precious metals that are mostly grave goods.
Chania Ephorate of Antiquities
Stratigou Tzanakaki Square, P.C. 73400, Kissamos (Prefecture of Chania)
Tel: +30 28220 83308
8:00-15:00 Monday closed
Vana Niniou – Kindeli, archaeologist
Aggeliki Tsingou, archaeologist
More information on http://odysseus.culture.gr
The town of Kissamos is essentially the centre of the Municipality of Kissamos, flanked by two promontories and situated between the sea and the mountains. Enfolded in the Kissamos Bay, it is the base for expeditions and easy access to the more central locations of the Municipality of Chania. The town of Kissamos does not have an airport and the closest airport and harbour are those of Chania.
The Sand Dunes (or Komolithi) is one of the most bizarre and interesting landscapes in Crete. Near the valley of Tyflos River, about 35Km west of Chania, the Sand Dunes are within the administration boundaries of Kissamos.