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Central Court of the Palace at Phaistos

a Pleiades location resource

Creators: Thomas Focht, Lewin Ernest Staine
Contributors: Adam Rabinowitz
Copyright © The Contributors. Sharing and remixing permitted under terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (cc-by).
Last modified Jun 07, 2018 05:41 PM History
The large, rectangular central court of the Minoan palace of Phaistos, which may have been used for ritual events such as bull leaping

architectural complex

{ "type": "Point", "coordinates": [ 24.814575, 35.051127 ] }



Google Earth and DigitalGlobe Imagery 2012


  • Middle Minoan (Crete; 2000-1600 BC/BCE) (confident)


The central court at the Palace of Phaistos is one of the best-preserved central courts that characterize Minoan palaces. It is also important for the evidence it provides for the use of these central courts. Some scholars have argued that the central courts of the palaces were where the important Minoan ritual of bull leaping took place. They suggest that the following features support this argument: a device from which the jumpers might launch themselves, space for spectators, access to the central court from outside the palace, and pens to hold the bulls prior to the event. Stones found in situ in the central court at Phaistos have been interpreted as launching devices, and while there is no evidence for pens at this palace, spaces that might have served that function have been discovered at the closely-connected palace of Mallia. Furthermore, a ramp at Phaistos is similar to a ramp at Knossos, over which a fresco featuring a bull was placed. Additional evidence for the ritual importance of Phaistos' central court is its alignment with a major mountain peak that may be an element in a Minoan sacred landscape.