Storage and States on Prehistoric Crete: The Function of the Koulouras in the First Minoan Palaces


  • Thomas F. Strasser California State University, Sacremento



Mediterranean Archaeology, Knossos, kouloura, storage


Arthur Evans discovered three large stone-lined circular pits, known as koulouras, in the West Court of the first palace at Knossos. A fourth kouloura was found under the Theatral Area. Since Evans's discovery four, or possibly five, koulouras have been found in the West Court at Phaistos, and eight in the southwest corner of the palace at Mallia. All were constructed and used during the first palace period. Like many features of Minoan palaces, the koulouras seemed to be a recurring architectural feature. Evans thought the koulouras at Knossos were 'rubbish-pits' or 'blind wells'. Since then, many scholars have interpreted their function as granaries. This paper contends that the koulouras at Knossos and Phaistos were not granaries, but those at Mallia were. Consequently, the storage capabilities of the first palaces of Knossos and Phaistos have been overestimated. The storage facilities of the three palaces did not function identically, and the role of grain storage in the emergence of the first Minoan palaces has been exaggerated.

Author Biography

Thomas F. Strasser, California State University, Sacremento

Thomas F. Strasser is a part-time Lecturer in the Department of Humanities and Religious Studies at California State University at Sacramento. He received his PhD from the Program in Classical Archaeology, Indiana University in 1992. His research interests include the origins of agriculture and the emergence of states in the Aegean. He is now conducting field research in eastern Turkey.



How to Cite

Strasser, T. F. (1997). Storage and States on Prehistoric Crete: The Function of the Koulouras in the First Minoan Palaces. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 10(1), 73–100.