Thursday, June 14, 2018

Cape Galatas: One Among Many

Where is Cape Galatas (C5763) in Northern Crete?

Greece is a very small country; hardly a fly-speck on a world map.  And yet when you examine it hillock by hillock, ravine by ravine, it turns into a continent.  Your faithful companions are Ambiguity and Doubt.  Is this the right cape, bight, ravine?  Or is it the next one?  Or is it one of those four or five closely huddled near the original?

Case in point.  Where is Cape Galatas?  Cape Galatas is the location of an MMI settlement.  and is somewhere on the north coast of western Crete among a jumble of other capes large and small.  But which cape is it?  Let’s look at the directions:

In Hood [1965] we read

“C. 6. Galatas
‘Psathi’ (PLATE 22). Settlement with traces of occupation in M.M. I or earlier on the highest part of a bluff overlooking the sea about 5 kilometres west of Khania (BM 1:50,000 CRETE Sheet 2, PLATANIAS, 058/569)’” [1]

What do these words mean 'about 5 kilometres west of Khania'?  Does Hood intend us to measure from the center of Chania or from its western edge?  The current city is 4 kilometers wide.  And what was the center or western edge in 1965?  Did Hood suppose that the city would always stay the same size?  To be sure he gives us coordinates in the BM which he defines as (99) ‘BM 1:50,000 = British Staff maps of the last war, scale 1:50,000.’   He must have supposed that his readers would always have access to these now long-outdated maps.  I call this writing style 'the ever-present Now' and it's characterized by a sublime indifference to the fact that it will ever be any time but the Now in which the writer is setting down his words.  It will never be fifty years or a hundred years in the future and Eternal Greece will never change.

Well, those of us who don't have access to the British Staff maps must find other means.

Fortunately Dr. Hood has provided us with a photo which, if employed properly, might give us some clues.  Here it is as it appears online:

One of the points I'm always trying to make is that there is a lot of life left in these old academic photos no matter how many times they've been stepped on by the printing and now the digitization process.  Here's what I was able to make out of this photo by judicious post-processing:

First I converted this photo to Grayscale since there's no color info.  I then stretched the brightness range overall to increase contrast and then I separately processed the sky/mountains, the rocks in the foreground, and the middle zone.  After that I selected the dark trees in the middle range and lengthened their brightness curve.  Then the photo was sharpened far beyond what caution would dictate but, in this case, I think it worked.

So what do we wind up with?  Well, the photographer is facing east and looking along the N coast of Crete towards Chania in the upper right.  The mountains on the horizon are the Akrotiri - that bold peninsula which stretches northward and to the east of Chania and where, among other things, the Gouverneto Monastery is located.  I've labelled everything in the next photo:

Now if we can just reproduce this view in Google Earth that will constitute proof that we have the right cape:

When we compare these two photos about the only thing that hasn't changed is the gross outline of the landforms themselves.  The same road along the shore is just visible in both pictures but the little houses that line it in the earlier picture have now been crowded out or replaced by a bloom of touro-junk architecture.  I looked into Google Earth and in this area I counted something like thirty fresh-water swimming pools along with a plethora of tourist 'villas' and a miniature golf course.  This desecration has even begun to extend inland over what were previously farms.  If we ignore all that, though, it's clear that the recreation has singled out the right cape and has even reproduced something like the very same angle of view.

Here's the same area in a Topoguide map:

Here we see Cape Galatas on the left (W) and there can be no doubt about which Cape Dr. Hood intended.  Here it is from directly above:

Somewhere on this plateau the MMI settlement was located.

After doing all this work I discovered a description in Moody [1987].  She says:

"SITUATION: Coastal headland
.6 km W of Kalamaki Beach.  Overlooking the E end of the Stalos and Aghia Marina beach." [2]

If I had started with Moody things would have been much easier.  Here's a map that shows what she means:

This map is from Topoguide and it shows the two beaches to which Dr. Moody refers and Cape Galatas sitting right in the middle.  If you look at the left center of this map you'll see that I placed a white 'x' there.  This marks the approximate position from which Hood's photo was taken.  But more on that in my next post.


The work of converting the site to the new maps is complete and the code (and a new DB) have been delivered.  This conversion work will be ongoing.

All the functionality of Google Maps has been reproduced except for one thing.  On the  Placekey Report and Feature Report pages you no longer have access to Google Street View.  I deeply regret this because the ability in many instances to drop directly down on the landscape was incredibly convenient and illuminating.  But Street View is one of the services for which Google is going to start charging webmasters.  You still have access to Street View from your own copy of Google Earth - it's just that you don't have the convenience of reaching it directly through

I am still integrating the Murray DB to my own.  Currently I'm working on Crete for which more than 600 sites have been integrated and can be reviewed on the website.

If you like these posts then please follow me on Twitter or Google Plus (Robert Consoli).  Please do this.

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If you'd like to have a copy of the Mycenaean Atlas database then e-mail me and tell me about your project.  And remember that useful .kml and/or .csv files can be generated directly from all the windows of the website   Try it out!


[1] Hood [1965] "C. 6. Galatas; 1. 'Psathi'", 108.

[2] Moody [1987] (no page numbers), Appendix III, Site Catalog.  "GA1; Kydonia: Galatis: Kato Stalos: Psathi"


Hood [1965]:   Hood, M.S.F., 'Minoan Sites in the Far West of Crete', The Annual of the British School at Athens (60), pp. 99-113, 1965.  Online here:

Moody [1987]:   Moody, Jennifer Alice, The Environmental and Cultural Prehistory of the Khania Region of West Crete: Neolithic through Late Minoan III,   Ph.D. Dissertation.  The Graduate School of the University of Minnesota.  1987.  Online here:

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