The archaeological museum is housed in an old government building that was central to the Venetian town of Kastelli. Kastelli took its name from the castle that existed in the town during the Venetian and Turkish periods, some of which can still be seen to this day. Over the years this old government building has served many functions, at one time being a Turkish prison.
Now it houses numerous artefacts and antiquities of the region from the prehistoric to late antiquity period. The museum is divided into sections and runs in chronological order starting on the ground floor and up to the first floor. It is well organized, informative and fascinating with many beautiful displays. For instance it documents the disasterous earthquake of 365AD which hit Crete and decimated Kissamos.
Room 1 – The display begins with a general chronological table and map marking the main archaeological sites of the area and then has a display of Minoan finds from the Nopigia and Drapanias area.
Room 2 – The display begins in the geometric period and focuses on the historical development of the major cities of the region such as Polyrinnia and Falassarna. These two cities flourished in the Hellenistic period as the main land and maritime powers respectively.
Room 3 – The display continues with Hellenistic pottery found locally and shows typical examples of the pottery style of the Western area of Crete – black emblems and patterns embossed on the amphora. This room also houses Hellenistic inscriptions and mostly Roman statues and sculptures.
By the elevator and staircase you can see remnants of the Roman baths kept in situ. The museum building was built over the Roman ruins.
The whole floor is dedicated to the city of Kissamos and the archaeological digs that have been carried out over the years. Most of the finds are Roman but there is also some evidence of Minoan civilization. The Greco-Roman city of Kissamos flourished as a port due to its strategic position, and its subsequent wealth is evident in the villas, marbles, mosaics and baths that have been uncovered.
Room 4 – The largest room of the museum houses the splendid mosaic floors, taken from villas, that represent amongst other things The Four Seasons. There is also a sundial and sculptures.
Room 5 – Here the exhibition focuses on the economy of the city, with coins and amphora used in trading, on display.
Room 6 – The exhibits here are items of daily life, household items made of various materials such as clay, metal and bone. Some of the pottery shows remarkably skilled craftsmanship. In one large display case is a scene reconstructed from the catastrophic earthquake of 365AD which marked the end of an era.
Room 7 – This last room concentrates on death and its customs. There are funeral gifts from an early 4th Century BC female burial as well as funerary artefacts with inscriptions from the so called early Christian era – a fascinating insight into the funeral customs of the time and emerging Christianity especially since the 5th Century AD.
There is also a display case of exquisite jewellery.
(texts edited by S.M. Markoulaki-Milidakis the form delivered to the museum of the JV tax prehistoric- classical antiquities D.)